Barrie Cadogan, guitarist and vocalist of the London-based band Little Barrie, talks about creating the opening title theme for Better Call Saul and shares his excitement over fans' interpretations of the song.
Q: Vince Gilligan recently said of the opening title sequence, “We figured, what could we do different? The titles look so wonderful on [so many] shows, I know what we can do for sure is make ours look shi*ty. (laughs) I want to stress that our titles are purposely sh*tty, not unintentionally sh*tty." Did you know when you agreed to write the theme song that it would be playing over a title sequence that was purposely designed to look pretty bad? Did you get a look at any of the opening title sequences beforehand?
A: I spoke directly to [the music supervisor] Thomas Golubic who said they wanted a piece of music that would be cut abruptly at 15 seconds. I knew it would be abrupt and not necessarily cut rhythmically in time. That was part of the brief I had when working on it. I was shown a possible short clip of the opening title and they ended up using different ones [for each episode]. We knew it would be a harsh setting and something short with a lot of impact.
Q: What was your first thought when you saw how it all came together?
A: It was a surprise and it was interesting because I had never done anything like this before. We’ve always wanted to do something for film or TV. It was a different way of working.
Q: How did you first hear about this project? What was the process like for bringing your band on board?
A: I heard about it through Thomas. He had all of our albums and liked the band. That was cool that he knew our music pretty well. It’s great to hear that people know our music in the states. He told us what he was looking for and that it would be a tight deadline, so I had to come up with several alternatives for them quite quickly. I spent a couple of days just writing in my flat. I came up with 17 different themes. There were more, but I got rid of the ones I didn't think were strong. I got together with the band and we all got into the studio and recorded them in quick successions, mixed them and sent them off.
Q: How was the winning guitar riff chosen? Is there anywhere that any of the alternate choices can be heard?
A: I suppose you’d have to ask [the music team], really. Sometimes you pick one and think, “maybe that’s the one that stands out,” but it’s interesting when they pick a different one. It all worked out well. We have the alternates and it’d be interesting to see if anything happens with them. We can always use them. You never know.
Q: Talk a little more about working with music supervisor Thomas Golubic. What kind of direction did he provide? Had you ever collaborated with him before?
A: This was the first time I had ever spoken to him. We had a few conversations on Skype and that’s the benefit of technology. You can communicate with anyone around the world. He was quite clear, stylistically, and referenced things we had done before that he wanted. He was really good to talk to because you can tell he’s a real music fan. He spoke about the feel of the music, rather than in technical terms. He created a vibe and an atmosphere without getting too scientific about it.
Q: Were there any inspirations or musical influences for the theme song?
A: I was trying to think of something that would have a cinematic feel to it which has been an influence on what the band has done recently like in our last album, “Shadow.” I was interested in making the album almost like a soundtrack for a movie. I’ve got no idea how people make soundtracks for movies, but it was our own take. So, I was thinking about that and creating that kind of feel within the time constraint.
Q: There are a number of covers of the theme song on YouTube. Have you seen any of them? Any favorites?
A: I have! I watched a couple. That's the thing about the modern age. There's been other songs by the band that people play in their bedrooms and film from all over the world. I was pleasantly surprised by the different takes on [this]. There’s a guy who plays it on ukulele — I really like that one — and one on piano as well. It’s not something you expect at the time you’re writing these things.
Little Barrie’s new single will be available this June.