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Unearthing: Crook&Flail

We speak to Crook&Flail about Alan Moore’s audio novel, Unearthing, and their performance with him in the atmospheric Old Vic Tunnels this July.

Talking to Andrew Broder and Adam Drucker, known collectively as Crook&Flail on Lex, one might assume you would be able to glean an insight into the mysterious life of the reclusive writer Alan Moore, the celebrated author of Watchmen and V for Vendetta, but even having worked on a two-hour soundtrack for his latest project, an audio novel titled Unearthing, the pair have yet to meet or even talk directly with the enigmatic man.

“So far Alan has been the mystery in the tree behind the curtain, up the mountain,” says Ducker, who is himself looking forward to July when Crook&Flail will perform alongside Moore at a live reading of unearthing in the subterranean Old Vic Tunnels, not least because it will be the first time the life long Moore fan will be able to finally meet the man he has collaborated with on this latest project.

“I’m actually interested to find out how this whole process went because Alan doesn’t apparently have the internet,” he says, adding, “I imagine Mitch going over there and knocking on a castle door and then a little hobgoblin opens it and takes him into this room with full body tiger skin rugs and Alan’s just sat there.”

Despite Moore’s lack of direct interaction with Crook&Flail, Druker was happy to take feedback due to his huge respect for the author’s work. “This is the first thing I’ve ever done like that. Usually, if it was anyone other than Alan and I hadn’t heard from them or there was any coldness in the process whatsoever, I would not do it at all. I’m not that kind of dude.”
Broder, who wasn’t previously familiar with Moore’s work, still understands the gravity of a seal of approval from him. He says, “He loves it and that’s really cool because I know that in the past he hasn’t always been so enamoured with what people have done with his work or the ways people have interpreted it so to have him be 100 per cent on board with what we did is really encouraging. I think he feels like we got it and that’s awesome.”

He also enjoyed working for somebody else’s narrative as opposed to doing his own thing as an artist. He says, “It’s a little less personalised than when you’re working on your own stuff but that’s kind of invigorating because you don’t bring your own baggage to it and I maybe I could feel more freed up to try different shit that I wouldn’t have expected of myself.”

Even Moore fan Drucker struggled to get to grips with the complex story at first, listening to the raw audio reading eight times over a two day period before the pair embarked upon their initial jams in the basement of Broder’s Minneapolis home. He describes the writing process as “utterly challenging at points”.
“A lot of times we let Alan’s reading drive. It’s like in music when you have to decide when to let the vocals just be completely alone. A lot of the sections where he is moving quickly through intense imagery we really had to let Alan go and catch up with him later.”

“We add pantomime to the reading. We have made everything more easily and easily digestible. I know, having listened to just the reading, it is hard, it’s awesome reading but it is hard.”

UNEARTHING live: Alan Moore with Crook&Flail

 A Parallel Arts and Old Vic co-production, presented in The Old Vic Tunnels. 29th and 30th July 2010 at The Old Vic Tunnels, Station Approach, SE1. Tickets £25 from, limited capacity