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Author Topic: Wag The Dog - Official Interview  (Read 167 times)

Offlinejbaent

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Wag The Dog - Official Interview
« on: July 13, 2018, 10:19:00 am »

Knopfler brings beat to Wag the Dog

By Gary Graff – Reuters, 1998

Mark Knopfler hasn't yet seen the final version of the film "Wag the Dog," even though he wrote and performed the score.

But the British guitarist and sometimes leader of the band Dire Straits imagines "it must be good fun watching it in the States right now."

"Wag the Dog," directed by Barry Levinson and featuring an Oscar-nominated performance by Dustin Hoffman, is a spoof about a presidential administration immersed in a sexual scandal involving a the president and a young girl.

A Washington spin doctor played by Robert De Niro enlists a Hollywood producer portrayed by Hoffman to stage a ficticious war, using special effects trickery to deflect the public's attention and rally the populace behind the president.

The irony, of course, smacks against the real-life White House sex scandal involving Monica Lewinsky and the contemporaneous U.S. military buildup against Iraq in the Persian Gulf. "It's great timing, isn't it," former schoolteacher Knopfler, 48, says with a laugh.

Working in Nashville, Tenn., Knopfler constructed music for the movie with Dire Straits keyboardist Guy Fletcher and the local musicians who made up the band he used on tour to support his 1996 solo album, "The Golden Heart."

Knopfler wound up with eight numbers. The bluesy title piece is the soundtrack's lone vocal, but the most memorable song from "Wag the Dog" is "Working On It," a rootsy, acoustic guitar-driven piece that became a recurring theme throughout the film.

"Barry wanted something to propel the action along," Knopfler explains, adding that when Levinson sent him some footage from the film, it included instrumental passages from "The Golden Heart" that had a distinct Louisiana bayou flavor.

"He liked that music because it was just moving the story along. So it kinda got me thinking on those story lines, that kind of tempo and other things to keep the momentum going."

Knopfler is, of course, more famous for the rock hits he's had over the years with Dire Straits, starting with "Sultans of Swing" in 1978 and peaking in 1985 with the "Brothers in Arms" album, a worldwide smash that sold 20 million copies and launched the hits "Money For Nothing," "Walk of Life" and "So Far Away."

But Knopfler also is a veteran of movie music, having started with the score to "Local Hero" in 1983. Among his other credits are "Cal," "The Princess Bride," "Last Exit in Brooklyn" and the upcoming "Metroland." But the guitarist says he actually approaches film work with less confidence than his songs.

"I had a spell where I thought I shouldn't really do anymore," says Knopfler, who lives in London with his wife and their three young children. "I still feel - and I'm being dead honest here - as though I'm kind of an imposter and shouldn't be doing it.

"Every time I take one of these sort of things on, I find myself asking, 'Why did you do this? What do you think you're doing? Somebody who really knows what they're doing should be doing this."'
So why does he keep taking them on?

"It seems to me to be a pretty good exercise," Knopfler explains. "It keeps you in touch with something, psychoacoustics or something like that. It keeps you in touch with the business of providing a service. It's helping paint the picture, if you like.

"So it's a good exercise, especially if you're a songwriter and you get to record your own songs. Then there's plenty of opportunity for expressing yourself. But I like being part of a team as well, doing your bit to help something come about."

That said, Knopfler doesn't seem to have much interest in being part of a band these days.

Asked about Dire Straits, which has been inactive since the early '90s, Knopfler says he remains friends with the other musicians and says the group "might very well one of these days do some charity stuff."
"It was always good to do those things, like Live Aid ... It was always a privilege to do those things, and a pleasure," he says.

As for future recordings with Dire Straits -- or his other band, the Notting Hillbillies -- Knopfler says only, "it's possible. It's always possible. Who knows."

It appears unlikely, however. With his solo career and the film scores, Knopfler seems content with his lot -- and with the group of players he's working with.

"That's the team I like to make records with now," he says. "I feel as though with these guys, I can take on a lot more than is probably safe for me. I feel as though I can take on quite a lot ... and once having gotten into trouble, they can help me out of it.

"We have a lot of fun, telling lots of jokes. The great thing is with this band, we can really play it. I like making records that way. With these guys, you're in the business of making records pretty quickly. I like that."
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