Craig Wedren performing at the Bowery Ballroom in 2007. (Photo by Tammy Lo)With the release of the soundtrack for the feature comedy The Ten a little over a month ago, it seems like that most prolific of musicians, Craig Wedren, is again thrusting himself into the mainstream, or at least a very large stream that connects with the main stream.  After fronting the illustrious punk-pop band Shudder to Think for over a decade, Wedren now spends his time putting forth incredibly enjoyable solo albums as well as delightfully daring original soundtracks (including School of Rock, Laurel Canyon, and most recently, The Ten).

Catching Wedren on his cell phone while walking home from a Barack Obama rally in New York City, I got a chance to discuss everything from Winston Churchill to the new His Dark Materials movie. (Wedren’s been a fan of Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy from the beginning, even titling his last solo album, Lapland, after a mythical location in the novels).

Growing up in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, Wedren, after going through the typical fireman and baseball player phases of childhood, realized that he wanted to be a musician when he first heard the infamous rock band KISS. And at the age of 12 his parents bought him his first guitar (which he claims to have finally gotten “half-way decent” at only five years ago). From that moment on Wedren was on the path that the rest of his life would follow.

By his senior year of highschool Wedren was already performing with his now well-known punk band, Shudder to Think. Though they disbanded (pun intended) in 1998, less than three weeks ago – September 18th - several members of the band joined together to play at The Mercury Lounge in New York City, an experience that Wedren says was surprisingly invigorating after nearly a decade apart. But Wedren’s not fully invested in a reunion tour yet, or even with the idea of committing himself to a new band for that matter. “Right now I’m working on a new solo album,” explains Wedren, “and I want to make sure I finish that before I get into anything else.”

What Wedren can get into, though, is the soundtrack industry. It’s a process that works well with his creative style, allowing him the freedom to create what he wants “and then tone it back when it turns out that the director just wants a more traditional sound”. But working recently with his long-time friend David Wain (director of Wet Hot American Summer) on The Ten gave him the creative license he loves. “The film is really ten short films in itself, and each film has its own genre. Because of that, the music on the soundtrack needed to jump from genre to genre.” And that’s the kind of interesting concept that only someone like Wedren can fully appreciate.

“There were so many good lines in the movie that I knew I had to throw a few in,” exclaims Wedren, “but without clobbering people over the head with it. So at first I put in a lot and then started stripping it down as I listened to it with David [Wain].” Anyone who’s heard the soundtrack knows exactly what Wedren’s talking about. Begining with a game show-esque theme bleeding into a sarcastically light pop song, it’s immediately evident that, as Wedren says, “The music itself is a joke.”

The thing about this joke though, is that it’s catchy, expressive and downright hilarious. With lines from the subversively comical script worked into techno music, love songs, and even a full-cast singalong, this soundtrack comes from a darkly funny place… no not Wedren’s apartment studio -though that is where the majority of his music is recorded (“all except the drums and the orchestra”). Giving people a “sense of the weird odyssey of the movie” is what Wedren’s soundtrack is all about. Odyssey accomplished.

For more information on Craig Wedren, visit his homepage or his myspace

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