Talking Music: Orbital’s Paul Hartnoll Discusses Score of Welsh Thriller – Concrete Plans

To coincide with the release of the “class war” Welsh thriller Concrete Plans, legendary UK dance music composer Paul Hartnoll of Orbital discusses scoring the film as well as his top 5 favourite soundtracks.

The Work of Paul Hartnoll and Orbital

Orbital were pioneers in the dance music scene from the late 80s with several classic albums and songs to their name as well as television and movie credit scores including The Saint, Event Horizon, Spawn, Mean Girls, Peaky Blinders and The Beach.

At the Glastonbury Festival 2010 to close their set, Matt Smith, who played the Eleventh Doctor, performed with Orbital their cover of the Doctor Who theme. The duo also performed “Where Is It Going?” live at the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Paralympic Games with Stephen Hawking speaking about the Large Hadron Collider.

Paul Hartnoll’s Music Soundtrack For Concrete Plans

Paul’s latest work is used to great effect in Will Jewell’s tense thriller Concrete Plans. Soundtracking a drama surrounding a manor house in disrepair. The landowner has a fierce temper and cash flow problem and meets his match when confronted with a bill he can’t pay. Time is running out and the builders living on his land want their pound of flesh. The film features a fantastic British cast including; Amber Rose Revah, Goran Bogdan, Charlie Palmer Rothwell,  Chris Reilly, Steve Speirs, William Thomas, Kevin Guthrie and James Lance.

Here, Paul discusses his career and love of culture and the new score for Concrete Plans.

So you are known as fairly nerdy for your various science fiction references and many big film scores and track appearances. Including playing the original Doctor Who theme…

Absolutely, that is a cover version and we did that in the mid-90s when Doctor Who was incredibly unpopular. It was beginning to be forgotten about. That’s why we did it – let’s revive Doctor Who! We eventually released it on an album, but it had cult status as it was a thing you could only hear live – a rave version of Doctor Who. And in the wilderness years between Doctors, what more could you want?

And your music is featured in so many films. The end of Mortal Kombat springs to mind for some reason…

Yeah, ‘Halcyon’. It’s been at the end of three of films; Teen Spirit, Mortal Kombat and Mean Girls. And it started Hackers. So possibly a gateway track for a lot of people.

A lot of young people got into us by watching Mortal Kombat and hearing the track at the end and going “What is that?” and then discovering us through that. I think we were helped by the promotion of those four films.

You’ve had various other tracks on big films too.

Yeah we had ‘Satan’ begin the film Spawn, which we did with Kirk Hammett of Metallica as well, which was brilliant. Did get to meet him but we passed things backwards and forwards. Back in the day it was pre-internet, so it was done with couriers. Which was brilliant as we had this crazy courier arrive to give us the tape with Kirk’s stuff on and he was this full on heavy metal guy. I can’t remember the name of the courier company, but it had gothic type face and all that. I don’t know if that was deliberate, but it was “Yeah, this is how stuff from Metallica should arrive!” It was brilliant.

Paul Hartnoll composed the score of the new Welsh thriller, Concrete Plans

So let’s talk about your latest score for the excellent new Welsh thriller Concrete Plans, and how you got on board that project.

I got on it long ago through a music journalist who lives round the corner from me, he just said to me “Would you be interested, I’m working on a film that’s got something to do with the Welsh tourist board, are you interested in doing the score?” and I said sure and over time, director Will Jewell got in touch and said he’s trying to get the money together to do this film. We just spoke over the course of a year until it finally happened, and that was it. I just kept on in the background saying “Yeah, sure I’ll do it if it happens,” and lo and behold it did happen, it was great.

It’s good to support British independent cinema and it’s been getting really good reviews.

I know it’s been great hasn’t it? Reviews have been brilliant.

Orbital are still going and you’re doing other bits and bobs, other composing too?

Yeah, I keep my hand in. I love scoring anyway, it’s always been a big passion of mine and something that I’ve always wanted to get more into, so I’m always keeping my hand in with that.

I’ve been doing stuff with a poet friend of mine Murray Lachlan Young, who’s working on a fairy-tale kinda story, that he eventually wants to turn into a stage play. He’s got form doing that, so I reckon he’ll get there in the end. We’ve just done a series of 6 podcasts; ‘The Chronicles of Atom & Luna’ and that will be coming out soon. I’ve scored him telling stories, basically, in poetic form. We work well together.

During the lockdown we did an album together, about a track a week, for Radio 6, which was a virus diary type of thing. He did a poem every week based on what was going on in the lockdown and I put it to music. We ended up getting really carried away. We’ve ended up making an album that sounds like the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band or something like that, it’s great fun.

Would you fancy doing a full score for a massive comic book movie or sci-fi remake? A huge Hollywood project?

Oh yeah, I’ll try my hand at anything. I’ve worked with orchestras. I would do something with an orchestra again if I could. It’s always great fun to wield that kind of power. But as much as I’d like to do a science fiction time twistery film – which lend themselves to my electronic palate – I’d also like to do period dramas and things like that. I like to do anything.

I like getting out of my comfort zone. I like working in something that you wouldn’t expect me to work in. It’s like going to the gym and trying a different exercise; it flexes your muscles in a different way, and you build them up. I like the naivete as well, it’s a way of becoming naïve again, by trying something different. I’ve been doing music professionally for 30 years, and another 10 before that, so it’s nice to be stretched. It’s nice to do something fresh and different.

But honestly, I would score anything as long as I like it. I’d possibly score stuff if I didn’t like it as well! Because that’s also a challenge. But I prefer to like something. But I would score anything because life is full of all the different emotions, I’d have a go at it all, really.

  • Concrete Plans is released via Signature Entertainment on Digital HD from November 23.

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