Pete Townshend, guitar god of The Who, says he learned to play guitar and started a band for two reasons:
A: His nose. B. To meet girls.
About his nose he said, “It was huge. It was the reason I played guitar.” He also noted that bands (even band-members with large noses) “always got the best girls.”
“It is definitely one of the things that inspires lads to play music,” agrees Sing Street star Ferdia Walsh-Peelo.
Ask most male musicians why they joined a band and 99 out of 100 will tell you it was for one very simple reason, to meet women. Art, money and fame are often far distant second place to the lure of the opposite sex. Such is the case with Conor (Walsh-Peelo) a fifteen-year-old school by with a crush on Raphina (Lucy Boynton) in Sing Street, the new musical romance from Once director John Carney that plays like a spiritual cousin to The Commitments.
“I think that is the thing that gets Conor started and gets people started pop music,” he says. “Then you form the band and you find refuge in the music. It becomes more than just getting the girl. It’s actually a way of coping when things are crap.
“I didn’t have a great time in school and I went through all these similar kind of phases [as Conor]. I remember seeing [the John Lennon biopic] Nowhere Boy and me and this other guy at school bought leather jackets, gelled our hair back and went into school. Bringing combs with us and doing our hair like in Grease. Looking like complete twats running around town just doing mad stuff. It’s all part of the process. Finding yourself and finding your voice.”
Born and reared just thirty minutes outside Dublin in in County Wicklow, in the film the young actor is the perfect picture of an 80s rock star, despite knowing next to nothing about the decade or the music when he signed on to play Conor.
“It was a huge learning curve,” he says. “I hadn’t reached that point where I was diving into 80s music. I suppose I was up to the late Sixties. When I went into Sing Street I was playing bands and we were still in that place. I was listening to loads of country, music from Tennessee, skiffle music, bluegrass. I had been experimenting with loads of different kinds of music and I got into the 80s stuff when we shot the movie.
“It took me a while but then I got into it after watching a million ridiculous 80s videos. I just got it,” he says. “They just weren’t taking themselves seriously at all. It was just that kind of era. It was all just mad, wasn’t it? There was loads of horrendous stuff around at that time but there were a few gems. Hall and Oates are absolute gems of the pop stuff.”
The musician-turned-actor also singles out The Cure and The Talking Heads as great stuff,” but says his heart lies in folk music.
“Folk music is always where it’s been at for me. I played skiffle music with bands for the craic (fun) of it but when I came back, in my room I’d be listening to Joni Mitchell.”
It might be the most famous summer romance in movie history.
Even though John Travolta was 24 and Olivia Newton John was 30 when they made Grease, they played Danny and Sandy, teenage sweethearts who meet on summer break. He’s a greaser, she a squeaky-clean exchange student from Australia. They have a fling, but when the falls comes, and they find themselves at the same school Danny thinks he’s too cool for the virtuous Sandy.
Grease is filled with all the icons of 1950s America—hot rods, leather jackets and malt shops—and some great songs, good light romantic comedy but it is the cast that makes the movie memorable. John Travolta channels a fleet-footed Elvis Presley, while Olivia Newton John is a composite of the best of sexy-but-sweet 50s stars like Annette Funicello and Sandra Dee.
The newly released DVD features loads of extras and comes wrapped in an authentic T-Birds black leather jacket.
Although she sang with John Travolta in Grease, danced with Gene Kelly in Xanadu and recently featured her hit Let’s Get Physical on Glee, Olivia Newton-John hasn’t appeared in a full-on musical on the big screen for 30 years. That will change this weekend when she will be seen playing an overprotective hockey mom in Score: A Hockey Musical.
Director Michael McGowan wanted Newton-John, but didn’t think he’d be able to get the Australian superstar, who now makes her home in Florida, to come north to shoot the film.
“She’s funny and she doesn’t take herself seriously,” he said, “but for her to say, ‘This is the film, a hockey musical shot in Toronto, in February, seemed virtually impossible.”
When asked why chose to do this film, Newton-John laughed and said, “Because it was fun. Marc Jordan (who plays her husband in the film) is my friend and he is married to Amy Sky, one of my best friends who also produces my music, so why not?”
Shooting in Toronto in frigid February temperatures, she says, was “an experience,” but the working with the cast and crew made it worthwhile. “My memory of the movie was having fun,” she adds.
Working with her friend Jordan, who is best known as a solo singer-songwriter (he wrote the hit Rhythm of My Heart for Rod Stewart), caused to her to occasionally get the giggles so badly she could barely contain herself.
“I was really embarrassed in the end because you can break up a couple of times but you have to know when to stop, but Marc was just so hysterical.”
Ditto her director. “He is marvelous,” Newton-John says. “He has such a quirky sense of humour which fits in with mine really well. On the set he was very relaxed; he’s worked with everyone before so it was a real family atmosphere. There was no stress, there was no, ‘Oh he’s yelling at you.’”
She saves her highest praise, however, for her young co-stars, Noah Reid and Allie MacDonald who play her son and his best friend. When asked if she passed along any tips to the neophytes she said, “They are both really gifted. I probably should have asked them for hints rather than the other way around.”
“It’s a lot of good fun, but the peace message is good I think. I’m not one for violence and was brought up in the same kind of family as (the character of home-schooled-pacifist-hockey-prodigy-Farley Gordon). Maybe not quite as stringent but my father was a professor and parents were academic and peace was a big thing for my mother. It wasn’t important to win, it was important to play fair, so (Score: A Hockey Musical) kind of rung true for me.”