'Biker' pirates, Homer keeping Zimmer busy

By Tamara Conniff
Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer sometimes talks to himself. Well, maybe more than sometimes -- especially when he's working on the epic score for the second "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequel and comedic music for "The Simpsons Movie" at the same time. Zimmer says he likes using all his creative juices at once.

He worked for five months with director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer on "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," which hits theaters May 25.

Sequels often can be a creative trap for composers, who can fall into a rut, especially on a third film. Zimmer instead wrote 80 minutes of entirely new themes, including a 12-minute suite for the Orlando Bloom-Keira Knightley romance.

"We were coming to the end of a trilogy, and everybody put in so much work," Zimmer says. "It just felt like the right thing to do -- to go and dig a little deeper and not just do the same thing. The story has evolved and the actors have evolved."

He recorded with an 80-piece orchestra in Los Angeles and London. Perhaps inspired by Keith Richards' cameo in the film, Zimmer used the Rolling Stones as his muse and approached the music as if scoring a "biker" pirate movie. In fact, drummer Simon Phillips, of the Who and Toto fame, plays percussion.

The soundtrack to "At World's End" will be released May 22 on Walt Disney Records.

"The Simpsons Movie" will be Zimmer's seventh animated feature film. More on him and "The Simpsons" in future columns.

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Singer Chris Cornell will be honored with the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award at the third annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert Friday at the Music Box@Fonda in Hollywood for his support in helping other addicts with their recovery process. The fund provides members of the music community with access to addiction-recovery treatment regardless of financial situation.

"I think MusiCares, in the big picture, is a great idea to begin with and something that I'm surprised somebody didn't think about earlier," Cornell says. "I still want to figure out ways to be more aware and do more for these people. One of the original problems that came up was how do those people know that they have access to something like MusiCares? Doing these honoree ceremonies is part of that."

After devoting the bulk of the past 20 years to bands, the former Soundgarden and Audioslave vocalist is comfortable back on his own with a new solo album, "Carry On," due June 5 via Suretone/Interscope.

"I really prefer, if I'm in a band, to focus on the music of that band," Cornell says. "But invariably what happens is I'll start writing songs that just don't work or fit."

He's reveling in the artistic freedom being a solo artist provides and, having released four records in the past 5 1/2 years, Cornell says he's intent on continuing at that breakneck pace. "Carry On," which was produced by Steve Lillywhite, was finished quickly after Audioslave dissolved in February.

Logan Noh and Marc Pellegrino contributed to this column.


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