Since surfacing in the early '90s, Spindrift has pioneered a genre of psychedelic spaghetti-western sci-fi music: wailing whistles, rolling bass lines and campfire melodies. What began as experimental music has evolved into a mixed-media effort, partially owing to the fact that the band moved to Los Angeles from Delaware — Spindrift's latest album, Classic Soundtracks, Vol. 1, contains scores created for nine independent films. The Pitch recently spoke with Kirpatrick Thomas (guitar, vocals) about his background in filmmaking and producing, his love of Sergio Leone, and what projects and inspirations the band is currently into.
The Pitch: Spindrift has relocated and been through some lineup changes. How have those things affected the way you make music and the band's overall sound?
Thomas: In 2001, when I first moved to Los Angeles, the Southwest was a big influence as far as being exposed to some of the different bands that were playing out here. We toured a bit with Brian Jonestown Massacre, and we all started exploring the desert and were influenced by that. It was definitely an eye-opening experience and an influence on the music.
Has film always influenced your writing process and production?
The initial birth of that was the interest I had in the spaghetti-western genre, which was Sergio Leone and Italian Westerns that came out in the '60s. We did The Legend of God's Gun, which was the previous movie and album we did before Classic Soundtracks. And after doing that, we got to work with many other directors who had heard about us, and we started working with them and doing films for them. So beyond that, it just started multiplying into more and more work, so we decided to just do full-on movie scores and make an album that's kind of a musical résumé for us.
Are there any directors you'd like to work with or genre films you'd really like to work on?
Definitely. We're kind of more into independent films these days. Of course, we excel in writing [music for] Westerns or action films, and we also have a very psychedelic sound, so anything that's kind of offbeat would work: semi-horror or science fiction. In the past we've done Bollywood stuff and film noir, espionage films. We could do anything country, country-western. The list could go on and on. That's the good thing about working with cinema.
How well does living in L.A. lend itself to working on independent films?
It took me a long time to really connect with a lot of the independent filmmakers and directors out here, but once I worked on this project, it's finally made itself into sort of a little scene. And that's the album — there are nine different directors that the band worked with. Next thing we know, it's like we created a little independent film scene with the music that's going on, too. So we've actually made some good contacts and have directors now, and it all came together with this album.
Do you incorporate any of the film at your shows?
Yeah. At our latest official record-release show in L.A., we screened all the directors' films to each separate song when we performed live. So it was like a visual, aural presentation. We've been doing that more and more at our shows.
Do you guys have any plans after the tour?
We're going to be working on some new material. We want to put something out in the spring. It's going to be a nod toward the old cowboy campfire songs. It's going to sound like Sons of the Pioneers. It's going to be a backward step, like, about 80 years.