Celebrity interview: Tim Wheeler

MOVIE COMPOSER: Tim Wheeler, who has co-written the soundtrack to British film Ashes.
MOVIE COMPOSER: Tim Wheeler, who has co-written the soundtrack to British film Ashes.
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Tim Wheeler, born in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, is the frontman in Ash. He’s also co-written the soundtrack to British film Ashes. He reveals how he turned his hand from pop master to movie composer.

DID YOU CHOOSE THE FILM BECAUSE OF THE NAME?

I’d like to say yes, but no, that’s not the reason, it’s just a coincidence. There were quite a few other coincidences that led me to it.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED?

My father had Alzheimer’s, and died about two years ago. About a week after that, I was passing through London on the way to New York. I stopped off at Coldplay’s studio. We’re all friends and they were making a record at the time. We had lunch, and Mat Whitecross was there. He’s made a few of their videos and he’s also the director of Ashes. I was talking about my dad, and it turned out his dad had been through the same thing.

He then said he was making a film that was related to Alzheimer’s, and I was intrigued. We met again a few days later, he talked me through the ideas of the film and I said I’d love to be involved.

HAD YOU WANTED TO DO A SOUNDTRACK BEFORE?

Yes, for a long time. He already had a composer on board, who it turns out is a good friend of mine too. He’s called Ilan Eshkeri, and we’d been trying to find a film to work on together for some time, so it was strange how it worked out. Elan was really up for it.

HAD THE FILM BEEN CAST WHEN YOU STARTED WORK ON IT? WAS RAY WINSTONE AND JIM STURGESS’S INVOLVEMENT A DRAW FOR YOU?

Ray was signed up, and at this point Mat was trying to get Jim on board too. They shot the film on the Isle of Man, so I went out for a day and hung out with Ray and Jim. We didn’t start working on the music until they’d finished filming.

WOULD YOU HAVE TRIED TO DO THE SOUNDTRACK ON YOUR OWN?

I would have had a go, but I don’t think I could’ve managed it. Elan is so experienced, so it was made easier by him, plus we had a great time working together. I had no clue how it all worked, it was such an education.

WHAT DID YOU LEARN?

All the basic things, I knew nothing. I write songs for Ash, but here we were working on 90-second sections, or recurring motifs or sometimes you just need an odd noise, or to hold the same note for a whole scene. You don’t need choruses and pop-song structures that I’m used to. A soundtrack is quite technical, trying to fit music into a specific space.

* Ashes is available on DVD now.

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