About the Music
When making the film, Red Roses and Petrol, director Tamar Simon Hoffs had plenty of musical inspiration close at hand. Her daughter, Susanna, is the accomplished singer-songwriter of storied 80s girl band, The Bangles, with platinum albums and hit singles “Manic Monday,” “Walk Like an Egyptian,” “Walking Down the Street,” and “Eternal Flame,” to their credit. The Bangles’ most recent studio record, Doll Revolution was released in the fall, 2003, to high praise. “They’re skilled enough to revamp garage rock, Byrds’ style psychedelia, and hippie folk… making room for a lot of magnificence,” said one New York Times review.
As executive producer of Red Roses and Petrol, Susanna lent her voice to two songs on the soundtrack. A haunting and romantic rendition of Donovan’s “Catch the Wind” floats above a tender love scene. Keeping the audience in their seats during the end credits is a folk-tinged version of the traditional Irish ballad, “The Water is Wide” (arranged by Susanna and the film’s composer Seth Podowitz).
Susanna was instrumental in helping her director mother choose Podowitz as the film’s composer. His elegant score for Red Roses and Petrol integrates traditional and contemporary elements of Irish music. He flawlessly navigates the story’s brash emotional outbursts and subtle moments of introspection, without becoming overly sentimental or maudlin. “It’s a wonderful film filled with passion and humor,” Seth says of his experience. “I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Tammy and help bring her vision to the screen.” Seth was ably supported by the artistry of music editing team, Dick Bernstein and Michael Bauer (Runaway Jury).
From the opening credits of Red Roses and Petrol, music sets the scene. As the camera pans the Irish countryside, we watch a dying man, Enda Doyle, aimlessly driving though Connemara, while Flogging Molly’s “The Worst Day Since Yesterday” plays on his radio. The song, with its mixture of humor and pain, hints of what is to come.
Flogging Molly’s seven-members, led by Dublin-born singer-song writer Dave King, have released three albums on the 26F label and provide six songs for the Red Roses and Petrol soundtrack. The band first came to public attention playing rousing gigs at Molly Malone’s in Los Angeles, and took its name from that pub where the band’s live shows flogged the place into worship. They have since toured the world many times over.
Tamar describes Flogging Molly’s provocative lyrics as being “tailor-made for the film, with a poignant edge that perfectly underscores the conflicting themes of loss, love, and redemption.” Although created in America, the music is reminiscent of scrappy Irish pub sentimentality and instrumentation. Indeed, director Hoffs first heard them at Finn McCool’s (Santa Monica, CA), where band members Bridget Regan and Dave King were playing a brilliant, breathless two-hour set.
Lending an authentic Irish ingredient to Red Roses and Petrol is the legendary Charlie Lennon, composer, musician and PhD physicist. Charlie’s boot-thumping jigs resonate throughout the movie. He has recorded classical and popular albums, and when the moon is out he can be found playing a wicked fiddle in a local Galway pub! Hoffs met Lennon in Ireland while producing her TV series, “Horrible Histories,” for which he did the music.
A final note for pop aficionados: Max Beesley (Johnny) has been touring Europe as the drummer for England’s top-selling singer and universally acclaimed hell-raiser, Robbie Williams.