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Branchage: Teeth of the Sea

The band discuss producing their spectacular score to accompany Neil Marshall's Doomsday film at last week's film festival in Jersey

Branchage Film Festival crashes to a whimsical close, but the warm cloud of glamour is yet to settle. Resembling a film-festival cross-dressing as an exuberant carnival, Branchage remains one of the most enjoyably unique film events that lies within spitting distance of London. Amongst the Bordées, sonic installations and collection of dubious grunge covers bands, it was the live scores that gave the festival its spectacular shape. Rob Da Bank blew King Kong back to the barley fields of a 90s rave while Simon Fisher Turner smoothed a haunting dirge into the recent re-mastering of the surprisingly jovial footage of Captain Scott’s trip to the Antarctic. Without a doubt the most back-breaking piece of brilliant mind-fuckage was Teeth of the Sea’s score to Neil Marshall’s fantastically calamitous Doomsday.

By inventively chopping up the film into four distinct sequences they managed to close in on a more concentrated emotional core that smashed audiences’ faces between humorous psychedelia and nerve-grating horror, and lifted the imagery to a brilliance far above their confused origins. Definitely the most imaginative musically inspired rendering of a film for a long while. Outside in the aftermath groups huddle round groping cigarettes like shafts of life preserving sanity. Dazed Digital caught up with Teeth of the Sea to surmise how much perverse please they derive from abusing and uplifting an audiences’ sensibilities.

Dazed Digital: That bordered on sadistic...
Teeth of the Sea:
Because of the kind of art and music and films we like the idea of something being sadistic isn’t an insult, I like being punished by films occasionally. One of the things we were trying to avoid is that there’ a tendency for things to be a bit innocuous and a bit nice in scores, what I certainly wanted to do was the antithesis of that, we were definitely looking to fuck people up.

DD: What made you pick Doomsday?
Teeth of the Sea: I saw it when it first came out and thought it was the most amazing film I’d ever seen in my life. We all love trashy sci-fi films, it’s just one of the things that brings us together, I said to everyone else you have to see this it’s totally insane, it’s such a nuts film. It’s a totally audacious cocaine fuelled nightmare.

DD: It is often considered one of the shittest films ever made.
Teeth of the Sea: In many ways it is dreadful, if you look at in terms of narrative structure and the fact that it lurches from one pastiche to another throughout, but these are all the things we love about it. It kind of works in the context of Teeth of the Sea as well because when we make music it tends to, not lurch, but flow from style to style, and I can identify with that.

DD: Were you familiar with any other live scores by bands?
Teeth of the Sea: We were trying to veer away from the typical post-rock band clichés of silent film soundtracks, that kind of stuff. Where there’s a set of conventions already in place for bands playing soundtracks to movies, which we wanted to totally avoid, we wanted to try to do something more fresh.

DD: Why did you choose to edit the film rather than perform a score to the entire film?
Teeth of the Sea:
We like a challenge. It’s almost like we were going to do a remix of a song then why not try to do a film like that and try to do a remix of the film.

DD: How set about choosing the clips to edit?
Teeth of the Sea: I actually just sat down in front of it and time coded the whole thing, every interesting shot which I then tried to organise thematically. One of the things I noticed is that Neil Marshal is a fucking brilliant filmmaker, he makes really intense and well shot set pieces. We toyed with the idea of editing the film so the narrative would still be there but it would be totally twisted and round the wrong way, we abandoned that and just wanted to create a kind of experience and moods, and the last one’s definitely to be really fucking horrible.

DD: Do you ever use imagery when writing??
Teeth of the Sea: A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. off the last album’s based on an imaginary sci-fi film. We’ve got a friend who lives in Portland who runs a fictional film blog. Every week he comes up with this ludicrously detailed concept for a film that’s never been made and he did one called ACRONYM, which was like a Logan’s Run type thing. Basically we’ve constructed that track as a theme tune to the imaginary movie.

DD: Did you work at bringing humour out in the edit?
Teeth of the Sea: There’s a lot of humour in the film. Trying to get away from what the film actually is would be pointless, we couldn’t really have made it anything it isn’t because footage is footage. And it’s absolutely hilarious if you find carnage hilarious. We just ramped it up. While we were rehearsing it there was a memorable line, ‘when the gimp hits the caravan bring the drums back in!’