Steven Van Zandt Stone In ‘Not Fade Away’
A-listers abound in the nonstop music, the true star of the film while no Hollywood heavyweights were enlisted to play the aspiring rockers in Not Fade Away.
The Display pulsates with a soundtrack that showcases ’60s icons Bo Diddley, The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and James Brown.
Moby Grape, the Moody Blues, Johnny Burnette The Rascals and the Chambers Brothers crop up do Lead Belly, bluesmen Robert Johnson and Elmore James.
Though licensing prices sucked up a fat chunk of the small budget of Fade music manager Steven Van Zandt aimed for the stars and hit every goal. Films allot 2% for music; Fade shelled 10% out.
“That is an extremely high percentage,” says Van Zandt, 62, guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and creator of Little Steven’s Underground Garage show on Sirius XM satellite tv. “it is a lot dollar-wise, too. We invested in the neighborhood of $2.5 million. That’s where the authenticity and psychological base of this story started.”
The cost tag for the roughly 50 tunes of the film might have zoomed without Van Zandt’s capacity to cut prices with friends in other bands, The Beatles and the Stones.
“I understand some individuals,” he says.
He is also very cozy with Sopranos creator David Chase, who tapped Van Zandt to play with the HBO Mob series’ Silvio Dante, subsequently enlisted him to curate noises for his debut.
“I had been moved by his enthusiasm to produce this movie,” Van Zandt says. “Studios would have given him $200 million to create any movie. He chose to make this little movie about stone ‘n’ roll”
The coming-of-age drama chronicles the fitful evolution of a New Jersey garage group, the Zones that are Twylight, galvanized by the British Invasion. Music plays a huge part in the characters’ lives, at the arrangement of the story line of Chase and at the depicted growing counterculture.
Van Zandt, tasked with designing the Zones’ sound shared Chase sensibility and fixation on accuracy.
“We’re both fanatics about credibility,” says Van Zandt. “Separately, we’re pretty serious. Together, forget it. We have all the right microphones . The wires, the amps, the guitar picks. The attention to detail is crazy.”
They diverged on an integral issue: Van Zandt’s request to audition rockers instead of celebrities was refused by Chase.
“I begged him to employ musicians, but he simply could not do it,” says Van Zandt, who put the artificial band through an intensive school of stone for three weeks, recording on analog with vintage gear. “The main three guys had never touched tools and, in the end, they learned to play from scratch. They actually turned into a ring.”
Van Zandt recognized his childhood in Fade, such as the fireworks between aspiring rocker Douglas (John Magaro) and his estranged daddy (James Gandolfini).
“Gandolfini is enjoying all our dads,” he says. “When I think of what we put those poor guys through. It was the true generation difference. The generations were far apart as they had ever been in history, which has been hard to survive.”
A flashback for boomers acts as a history lesson for later generations. Van Zandt expects that younger music lovers will be motivated by the dazzling soundtrack and that budding rockers will “understand that this is a craft and that you must work in it. It looks glamorous on the surface, but greatness must be learned and earned.”
Fade recalls the age of the domination of music before it and a background of entertainment options that are ubiquitous blended.
“You get a precise image of what it had been like if radio was everything,” Van Zandt says. “There were no video games and computers. There was audio, and it meant a lot more. It was a basic part of the civilization, and it’s hard to imagine getting through these teenage years without stone ‘n’ roll”