Is Sam Smith singing theme song for next James Bond movie?

8 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Hard evidence that Sam Smith either will or won’t sing the next James Bond theme.

On Monday, Smith posted an uncaptioned photo on Instagram that shows him wearing a ring featuring the tentacled logo of 007’s new nemesis — suggesting he recorded the opening song for the franchise’s next installment, “Spectre.” If it does turn out to be Smith, he would join an illustrious group of pop stars to sing Bond’s praises.

In many ways, honey-voiced chanteur Sam Smith is the male answer to Adele — which is why fans have been speculating for months that he could be the voice behind the next James Bond theme song. Tom Jones sang and wrote the theme for “Thunderball” in 1965, and Paul McCartney had a hit with “Live and Let Die” for the 1973 movie of the same name. That theory got dealt a blow in July, though, when the soulful Grammy winner told UK radio station Capital FM that he was “definitely not” performing the track — and suggested that Ellie Goulding had gotten the gig instead.

Other Bond muses include Carly Simon, Shirley Bassey, Duran Duran, Madonna, Chris Cornell, Alicia Keys and, most recently, Adele for “Skyfall” in 2012. In July, Smith flatly denied that he had recorded the Spectre track, telling Capital FM (via BBC), “People seem to think I’m doing it but I have no idea what’s going on. I heard Ellie Goulding was going to do it.” (Goulding was previously seen exiting Abbey Road Studios, where the theme is usually recorded.) That same month, director Sam Mendes announced that the Spectre theme had already been completed. “I can say that the song’s been recorded and it’s fantastic and I’m very excited about it,” Mendes said at the time. “You won’t have to wait long.” Smith was the heavy favorite to record the Spectre theme when British bookmakers opened up betting, with Smith given 2/1 odds over Ellie Goulding, Lana Del Rey and Adele, who won an Oscar for her Bond theme “Skyfall.” However, betting was suspended after a huge influx of wagers positioned Radiohead as a 6/4 favorite, thanks in part to one bettor’s five-figure gamble on the Kid A crew, NME reported in July. Like Adele before him, Smith was also selected to perform the 007 theme after winning Best New Artist, Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the Grammys. Smith will join Adele, Jack White and Alicia Keys, Chris Cornell, Madonna, Garbage, Sheryl Crow and Tina Turner in the club of Bond theme singers over the past two decades.

Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again. But their eyes still light up when they talk about the recent adventure they shared, recording with one of their childhood heroes. “Paul McCartney just opened up an instrument case and there’s his Hofner, left-handed bass, the most famous guitar in the world,” Cooper says, grinning. “We were standing around it like Indiana Jones looking at it, like it’s got its own light source and our faces are melting over it.” “I asked him a question about it, and he said, ‘Here it is. Pick it up,'” the Aerosmith guitarist beams. “I actually got a chance to hold it, and it was like the Holy Grail.” “Paul says, ‘It’s just a piece of wood,’ and starts playing it and I said, ‘Holy crap!'” Cooper rejoins in his typically confident manner. “To us, that bass a symbol of how we started.” The rockers have been thinking a lot about how they got started in recent years, while they worked on the debut album by Hollywood Vampires, a supergroup they formed with Johnny Depp (yes, that Johnny Depp). Although the record contains two urgent-sounding bloodthirsty originals — three, if you count the intro, in which late horror icon Christopher Lee recites a passage from Dracula — the heart of it is a collection of gritty, hard-edged covers of songs by the trio’s peers and inspirations: the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and more. McCartney happened to stop by Depp’s house, where they were recording, to sing a tune he wrote for Badfinger in 1969, “Come and Get It,” and the album — out September 11th — also features guest appearances by Joe Walsh, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, Dave Grohl, Slash and Perry Farrell, among many others.

What they all have in common is a set of musical roots. “We were both the same age when we started playing,” the 67-year-old, perennially black-clad and surprisingly perky shock-rocker says, gesturing at Perry, who is three years his junior and looks relaxed with a loose, white scarf around his neck. Now, when we’re doing these songs, it comes pretty easy.” It also came easy for Depp, age 52, who met Cooper in 2011 on the London set of Dark Shadows, the Tim Burton–directed movie in which the actor portrayed (presciently) a vampire and Cooper played another famous fictional villain: himself. He’d gotten his first instrument at age 12, stole a chord book, dropped out of high school three years later and eventually moved from Florida to L.A. to open for Iggy Pop and the Talking Heads with a poppy new-wave group called the Kids.

I feel like I’m an honorary member because I was the last guy to join.” “Joe would come down and start playing, and I went, ‘There’s the band, right there,'” Cooper says. “We’ve got two guitar players that sing, now we need a drummer and a bass player, and then everybody started emerging. We just rocked it.” The original Hollywood Vampires, Cooper’s cronies, took up drinking together in the early Seventies, when Cooper was flying high with hits like “School’s Out” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” His drinking buddies over the years included Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, but at the peak of the Vampires they most included Ringo Starr, the Monkees’ Micky Dolenz and songwriter Bernie Taupin, along with Moon, Nilsson and occasionally Lennon. One day, he shows up and he’s in full Queen of England garb.” The singer pantomimes Her Royal Highness’ grimace and signature dainty wave. “Two weeks later, full-out Hitler, and another night he’s fully in drag as a French maid,” Cooper recalls. “You’re going, ‘Wow, this is just another day in his life.’ “He’d wear you out,” the singer continues. “If he came to your house and stayed, that week was like, ‘Holy crap, I need a vacation,’ because he was so intense.

But he was also the coolest and funniest guy.” As for the other core members of the club, Dolenz lived next door to Cooper and was also one of the singer’s golf buddies, and Taupin was the vocalist’s best friend, so they would see each other almost every night. He explains, that’s when he would see what kind of drunks his friends were. “Everybody’s personality changes a little bit when they drink,” he says. “I was always the Dean Martin guy; I had the golden buzz, always laughing. Pretty soon, I’m standing between them going, ‘Guys, sit down.’ They were the best of friends, but when they drank, they liked to get political and talk about religion and everything else that causes fights.

Most of the time they were laughing.” Cooper recalls the Hollywood Vampires as having a clubhouse vibe, where only very rarely did these famous musicians talk about music. “We were in music all the time, so if you weren’t making an album, you were touring,” he says. “If you weren’t touring, you were doing something else. Yeah!'” But he also knows he couldn’t keep up with the Vampire lifestyle. “I’ve thought back on it, ‘Well, that was a great time,’ even though it was the beginning of the end of my drinking career,” Cooper says. “When you’re an alcoholic, in the back of your mind, you know that it’s a death wish. So to me, being able to survive it, I felt, in some way I should document it.” Johnny Depp plays a mid-paced metallic blues riff on Hollywood Vampires’ closing track, which is titled after one of Cooper’s favorite turns of phrase lately, “Dead Drunk Friends.” “I’m raising my glass and tossing it back but I can’t remember why,” he sings, “So let’s have another for all of my brothers who drank until they died.” The song is far from maudlin. Depp, who told Rolling Stone in 2013 that he never considered himself an alcoholic (“I don’t have the physical need for the drug alcohol,” he said), said in the same interview that he hadn’t touched the stuff in a year and a half.

The cover tunes chosen by the triumvirate of Cooper, Depp and Perry include big hits (“My Generation,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Break on Through”), as well as tunes that don’t get much classic-rock radio airplay these days: Small Faces’ “Itchycoo Park,” Spirit’s “I Got a Line on You” and Lennon’s “Cold Turkey.” As they began recording, with Depp’s Kids bandmate Bruce Witkin playing bass on many of the tracks alongside a revolving cast of drummers, which most prominently included Zak Starkey (Ringo’s son), the Vampires’ friends got wind of the project and offered some helping hands. The Led Zeppelin cover holds a special significance to Cooper, since he remembers getting a headlining slot at the Whisky a Go Go in the Sixties only to recognize the opening act’s guitarist as a member of the Yardbirds; it was Jimmy Page and the band was Led Zeppelin, and Cooper insisted they headline.

I don’t think they played two bars the same ever, but it all worked.” To create their own drum fireball on their cover of “My Generation,” the Vampires recruited Starkey, who has been playing with the Who on their recent Who Hits 50 tour, and he gamely fills in for Moon with crashing cymbals and a firm respect for keeping the rhythm in the pocket. Each guest came into the project for different reasons but in the case of McCartney, Cooper thinks the Beatle took an interest in the project because of its connection to Lennon.

While working with him, the band treated McCartney to an old-school approach to recording. “Everybody was in the studio and we recorded live, the way they would have done in 1964,” Perry says. “Very few bands do that anymore. Alice, Johnny, me, we’ve all got our own claims to fame, our own journeys, but man, the three of us looked at each other and our chins were down here.” He gestures to his knees. “You know what was great for me?” Cooper says, lifting his chin. “The second time through, he made a mistake. Perhaps the most surprising guest on the album, though, is actor Christopher Lee, who played roles ranging from Dracula to Lord of the Rings’ Saruman and recorded his own brand of heavy-metal albums before his death at age 93 this past June. Rex’s] ‘Jeepster.’ You never hear ‘Itchycoo Park.’ You never hear ‘Manic Depression.’ You’re going to hear what the computer spits out, but you’re never going to hear those deeper cuts that I feel were the cooler cuts.” The record serves another purpose, too, in his mind. “It’s almost a little educational piece for kids that are 18, 19 and in bands right now,” he says. “We’re saying, ‘Hey, don’t forget this song and that song.’ I’m hoping there are 16-year-old kids right now in a garage learning old Alice songs and old Aerosmith songs. The band will play two shows on the Sunset Strip — home to the original Vampires — at the 500-person capacity club the Roxy on September 16th and 17th.

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