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Here comes the son: Dhani Harrison follows Beatle father's footsteps into movie music

For Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013

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The musical end of the new supernatural romantic drama "Beautiful Creatures" is a case of like father, like son.

Back in 1968, the Beatles' George Harrison made his solo debut with the soundtrack to "Wonderwall Music." Now his 34-year-old son Dhani Harrison and his band, thenewno2, make their own movie music move for "Beautiful Creatures," hand-picked by director Richard LaGravenese.

"It's definitely a right of passage," says Harrison, who's released two albums so far with thenewno2 and was instrumental in creating The Beatles Rock Band video game. "I"ve always really loved film. When you're writing a (regular) song or album, you have to come up with your own life story or your own life experience to draw from. whereas when you're writing for films you're trying to tell a story that's already there.

"Sometimes you write a song in the outside world, outside of film, and you don't know what it's about for a long time. But with film it's direct -- you're seeing the picture and you're immediately regurgitating your feelings out onto tape."

Harrison may be the biggest "name" in the band, but both thenewno2 and the "Beautiful Creatures" project were a team effort. Bandmate Jonathan Sadoff has done several movies, including "Good Old Fashion Orgy" and "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," while Paul Hicks, the son of Hollies singer Tony Hicks, is an award-winning engineer who's worked on reissues of many of the Beatles' band and solo albums as well as the "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter" series soundtracks. It made for a three-headed monster that Harrison says worked very smoothly together.

"Paul was in his supermix genius, Jon was in his conductor/orchestra world and I just sat in the corner until the evening time, and once the orchestra were done they let me go crazy on the band stuff," Harrison recalls. "We all got to function in our different guises. We broke it up into little bits, and three days (of recording) went by very fast.

"And (LaGravenese) really let us go to town with it. We did such a good job because he gave us free reign.

The project also gave Harrison and Hicks a chance to record at EMI's famed Abbey Road studios in London, where their fathers made so many of their legendary recordings.

"It was epic," he says. "It was weird more than emotional. It was just interesting to see where my dad must have been sitting all day long next to his amp, smoking cigarettes and drinking tea. When you're working there, too, you're actually in the same boat.

"And they haven't changed the room at all. We got to play Mrs. Mills, the piano that's been on everything, which is insane. It's just a studio; it's the music that's been made in there that's the important thing. Jon said it's like a high school gymnasium, but a high school gymnasium that Michael Jordan used to dunk in."

Besides instrumental score pieces, the "Beautiful Creatures" soundtrack also includes a new version of "Make It Home" form thenewno2's sophomore album "thefearofmissingout" as well as the new songs "Run To Me" with Harrison's Fistful of Mercy partner Ben Harper and the Duke Spirit's Liela Moss, who also sings on the album-closing "Never Too Late." thenewno2 is starting to eyeball its third album and will be touring this spring with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but Harrison is certain this won't be the last film project the group takes on.

"We love touring and we love making records, but I could see us doing a lot of film work," he says. "We'll be keeping ourselves busy in the conventional sense, but as soon as we get a chance to do another film, I think it's something we all want to come back to, so we're all open to any more suggestions for films that come our way."

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