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Ex-Replacement Has Bear Of A Time With Soundtrack

Of the Oakland Press

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From 1980-91, Paul Westerberg led the Replacements to a vaunted position as one of the hippest bands in the alternative rock world. He’s been a solo artist since 1993, and he’s entered the fi lm world with songs and an instrumental score for the animated feature “Open Season,” which can be found on a companion album that was released earlier this week. Here’s how he got involved:

Q: How did you get yourself into an animated fi lm about bears?

A: I was shuffl ed into the office of Lia Vollack, who ran the music part of Sony (Pictures), after spending a day trying to peddle my tunes to other film companies. It was not part of the plan to go and see if we could score a film; I was trying to get a pre-existing track into a film. We really hit it off right away. She asked me if I was interested in writing for an animated fi lm; I said sure, I could write a couple of tunes. She gave

me the basic scenario, and I wrote “Right to Arm Bears” when I got home and sent it to them. They were impressed that I worked fast and cheap, so they signed me up.

Q: Was it easier or harder than doing a regular rock ’n’ roll album?

A: Everyone I knew who had worked on movies said this was the hardest thing they’d ever worked on. It certainly was for me, especially because it was animated. I think when you have actual actors and they’re acting and emoting, you need less music. And you almost need overkill when it’s a cartoon and animated. It needs a little extra music than you would normally do for a regular fi lm.

Q: On two of the songs for the movie you reunited with (Replacements bassist) Tommy Stinson. What was that like?

A: That was a wonderful distraction from the whole neatness of making a film score. I’d go down the hall and Tommy and Josh (Freese, the drummer) would be all set up and we’d blow out a song or two. At one point, Lia took a phone call and said: “I can’t talk to you now. I’m in the studio with the Replacements.” Tommy and I looked at each other like, “Oh my God ...” That name brings heavy memories for both of us which we’ll never escape but that we’ve grown out of at the same time.

Q: You have a young son; will you score points with him for doing this?

A: My son is 8, which is perfect for the fi lm. When I started, he was going to be 6, and I thought, “Well, by the time I’m done with this, he’ll be the perfect age for it.” And it’s true. It has a lot of stuff for kids and a lot of humor for adults in there, too. I’m not sure how he’s gonna handle it, though; he doesn’t really cotton to strangers coming up to me and stuff. I asked him, “What about coming out to the premiere?” and he said, “Let’s talk about that some other time.” I think he needs to ride a city bus before he rides in the back of a limousine.

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