Holy Shemp! Making Real Music for TV Bands on Castle


Andrew Marlowe, the top dog and creator of Castle, sent me the script with a brief note: "Call me." I could see why - the (brilliant) script centered around a band and the murder of their lead guitar player. In Castle tradition, we would need to make everything as authentic as possible, that meant creating songs that ABC could own that sounded like real songs, coaching actors to mime instruments convincingly to the songs and personify musician-ness, plus it all had to be done weeks ahead of time, for the shoot day instead of just within the editing bay. In short, there's really nothing that creates more work for music supervisors than bands on-screen ... but nothing more fun either! I tapped Simon Petty, one of my favorite songwriters of all time (see: Minibar: Road Movies for just one example) who turned around the killer song that closes the episode, "Back Out On The Road Again", in an extremely short amount of time. Per the script, the song had to sound like a new direction for "Holy Shemp", the TV band, as well as feature bass prominently to go with the storyline, and additionally needed to allow for backing vocals that "Esposito" would chime in for the final scene. After delivering on all counts on the songwriting front, he teamed up with Los Angeles via New Zealand producer/songwriter Greg Johnson to record the song in Greg's Santa Monica studio and delivered it just in time to get final approvals and take to the set for the shoot! Simon accompanied me on shoot day to coach the musicians and we had fun being mini-TV moguls for the day. (Which really meant we tried to stay out of the way and do exactly what the director wanted at all times.)

The other song in the episode, "Lies", is rehearsed by the band when Castle and Beckett confront the lead singer, and it has a story all its own. This episode was written by Castle co-producer Rob Hanning. His son Noah is an extremely talented guitar player and while Rob was working on the episode he heard Noah composing a song that he quite liked ... you guessed it, Rob added some lyrics and that song ended up becoming "Lies" - a team effort!

So I think you can tell, a good time was had by all ... after 11pm west coast time, there will be links below for a (24 hour) free download of "Back Out On The Road Again" and a behind-the-scenes-interview with Jon Huertas (Esposito) in the recording studio with Simon & Greg! Meanwhile you can use the links below to follow this story to some good songs!

Free download of closing song "Back Out On The Road Again"

Simon Petty official site (for his latest project Solomon's Seal)

Greg Johnson official site

Behind The Scenes with Jon Huertas ("Esposito"), Simon, and Greg

Minibar - Road Movies (one of my top albums of all time but don't stop there get all the Minibar albums)