Arts

Scott Pilgrim marches to the beat of a Plumtree (oh, and Metric, too)

That T-shirt Michael Cera is wearing this scene from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a hot commodity right now, and it's all because of the song that inspired the comic books, called Scott Pilgrim, by the band Plumtree.

Universal

That T-shirt Michael Cera is wearing this scene from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a hot commodity right now, and it's all because of the song that inspired the comic books, called Scott Pilgrim, by the band Plumtree.

Ben Kaplan, National Post · Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, the highly anticipated movie adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s much-beloved comic book, opens tomorrow. To prepare, we’ve spent a week going behind the scenes. Today, Ben Kaplan talks soundtrack with the film’s musicians.

Bryan Lee O’Malley, the creator of the Scott Pilgrim comic book that provides the basis for director Edgar Wright’s forthcoming movie Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, claims that the inspiration behind his title character came from a lyric sung by ’90s Canadian band Plumtree. The lyric (from the song Scott Pilgrim) goes, “I’ve liked you for a thousand years,” and it’s sung by Carla Gillis, who was 20 at the time.

“It’s definitely positive, but it’s also bittersweet and I think that’s the tone of the film,” says Gillis, today 34 and a member of the band Sister and a music writer at Now magazine. “It’s kind of a song about yearning, like, ‘This is what I want so badly, but I don’t know how to make it happen and I’m waiting and hoping.’ When Plumtree started I was 14, maybe that’s why the music still resonates for a new generation of kids.”

Kids are certainly relating to the Scott Pilgrim phenomenon, both the six graphic novels and the film starring Michael Cera and Jason Schwartzman. In both the books and the movie, Scott Pilgrim’s an unemployed indie rock bassist, and Toronto references dominate the landscape of both works.

“I’d ask Edgar where he was shooting and he’d go, ‘Pizza Pizza, Sonic Boom, Second Cup, Honest Ed’s,’ ” says Kevin Drew, the Broken Social Scene front man who worked on the film score with Nigel Godrich, the famed producer of Beck and Radiohead. “Edgar’s passionate about music and they were temping some scenes to our music and he said he felt like an idiot trying to recreate our sound; he asked if we’d come to London and jam.”

Drew, and his Broken Social Scene band mate Brendan Canning, ended up not only composing some original music, but also playing wicked little punk songs as the evil band Crash and the Boys. “Edgar got a kick out of asking us to write songs that were four seconds when on Forgiveness Rock Record we’d just figured out how to get songs down to four minutes long,” says Drew, who will be performing on Saturday in Cumberland, B.C.

Acting as the production’s entry point into the Toronto rock world, Drew turned the director on to the music of local acts Holy F--k, F--ked Up and the Born Ruffians. Both director Edgar Wright and writer Bryan Lee O’Malley were already big Metric fans, as well.

“Edgar made the early days of being in a rock band look glamorous in a way we could all relate to,” says Emily Haines, Metric’s lead singer, who insists Scott’s wicked ex-girlfriend Envy, the blond lead singer of The Clash at Demonhead, isn’t based on her.

“Sometimes in the grind you forget how amazing everything is when you’re first starting,” Haines says, “when all you care about is your band.”

With Chris Murphy from Sloan on set to help the actors look like earnestly enduring young rockers, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World might just be the best Canadian music film since Hard Core Logo, directed by Bruce McDonald. However, if any one band deserves recognition for the Scott Pilgrim legacy, it’s Plumtree, the band that inspired it all.

“There were lots of crushes when we started, we were always falling in love with boys, and they were usually musicians,” says Gillis, who has already sold a hundred Plumtree T-shirts since trailers leaked showing Michael Cera wearing one in the film. “We’re kind of freaking out about everything. We went to the movie premiere and went shopping for outfits and got manis and pedis -- all the crazy things we never did at the time.”

--Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World opens on Friday. The Best of Plumtree will be out later this week, along with a new Sister EP. For information, see myspace.com/sisterband. Also, for an exclusive live look of Metric playing their song Black Sheep from the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack last week in Toronto, see nationalpost.com/theampersand.

bkaplan@nationalpost.com

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