PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE - "I'M GOING TO GET IT TO YOU BECAUSE I CANNOT IMAGINE THAT YOU WOULDN'T LOVE IT"
In a FaceTime video call conversation for Interview Magazine, Edgar Wright talks movies and music with Wet Leg's Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers. When asked by Chambers to name one of his favorite movies, Wright tells them about Phantom Of The Paradise:
WRIGHT: So, you’ve been sitting on this amazing debut for nearly a year.
TEASDALE: Yeah, we finished recording, but then we had to do all the artwork and get it mixed and mastered. It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year, it feels like we only really finished it six months ago. When you finish a film, how long until it’s released?
WRIGHT: It depends on when it’s supposed to come out. Hot Fuzz came out like a month after it was finished. It was really down to the wire. But Last Night in Soho was disrupted by the pandemic, so we shot nearly all of it in 2019 and 2020, and it came out in 2021. It’s really emotional for me to watch that film, because it feels like so much happened in the space and time of the production. So it depends on what it is, really, and whether there’s a global pandemic or not.
TEASDALE: When you watch your own stuff, are you transported to that version of you? Do you put yourself into your art and your characters?
WRIGHT: Oh, yeah. That’s what’s strange—Shaun of the Dead is a film about a zombie apocalypse, Hot Fuzz is a film about cops in Somerset, Last Night in Soho is about a Cornish fashion student coming to London with supernatural powers—and I say, “Oh, they’re all really personal.” [Laughs] People are like, “How?” But you do put yourself into them, and you’re dramatizing your own mundane experiences into something more exciting. You guys are from the Isle of Wight, and I grew up in Dorset and Somerset, so a lot of what I’ve done is the product of being bored as a teenager. Somerset a very picturesque and beautiful place, but when you’re a teenager, picturesque is not what you want—you want to get to the city. Now I’m older and I think more fondly about my bucolic childhood in the country. So, all of the things you make become like love/hate letters to the place that you’re from.
TEASDALE: Yeah, I can relate to that.
WRIGHT: I can feel those country vibes in your work as well. The album seems to have themes. One theme is that it seems like you guys get annoyed at house parties a lot.
TEASDALE: Yeah. FOMO is such a thing, isn’t it? And you’re always trying to “live your best life,” but sometimes you just need to listen to yourself, and maybe just don’t don’t go to the party. I’m not able to do that quite often.
WRIGHT: I didn’t have Instagram when I was growing up, so I was always thinking that there must be something cooler going on without me. I grew up feeling like I was never going to the cool parties, but it seems like, from your album, that you’ve been to the cool parties, and you’re not impressed.
TEASDALE: Yeah, that’s it.
WRIGHT: I think it’s a good message to tell the young people out there: don’t worry guys, you’re not missing that much.
CHAMBERS: We’ve dipped our toes in the little pool of music videos, but you are a filmmaker. We are not filmmakers, but if you had a tip for us, what would it be? Also, what’s one of your favorite movies?
WRIGHT: Well, what makes you think that you’re not filmmakers? That doesn’t make any sense, because you already have a point of view and an aesthetic. You can tell what a Wet Leg video is just from the four that you’ve released already, which is great. Why don’t you make a Wet Leg movie? Here’s the pitch: every attraction at Blackgang Chine comes to life, and only Wet Leg can stop the chaos from spreading across the rest of the world.
TEASDALE: [Gasps] The Mouth of Hell.
CHAMBERS: The Weather Wizard!
TEASDALE: The Rumpus Mansion!
CHAMBERS: There’s also a really scary Humpty-Dumpty there.
WRIGHT: Okay, I’m going to suggest a favorite film of mine. If you haven’t seen it, I can’t imagine you guys not loving it. Have you ever seen the 1974 musical Phantom of the Paradise?
TEASDALE: Phantom of the Paradise? No, I haven’t seen that.
WRIGHT: I’m going to get it to you because I cannot imagine that you wouldn’t love it. It’s like a rock musical. It’s Phantom of the Opera meets Faust, it’s got a ‘70s score written by Paul Williams, and it’s fantastic. That’s one of my favorite films that I think you guys would dig.
TEASDALE: I’ve written it down. One last question, do you have a DVD collection?
WRIGHT: I do, I can show you. Hang on, we’ll take a little walk. Buffalo ’66 is not there because I looked for it earlier. Look, here you go, this is what I was doing during the lockdown.
[Wright shows Wet Leg his substantial DVD collection]
TEASDALE & CHAMBERS: Wooowwwww!
WRIGHT: Physical media—it hasn’t gone away! Who knows when the internet will go? I’ve still got a lot of Blu Rays to organize. I can’t stop buying them— I went on a bit of a crazy Amazon kick during the lockdown. The Oxfam around the corner from my house has had a steady stream of the ones I’ve been giving away. I donate a lot of horror films to the Oxfam. I wonder about the kind of the person that goes in there and finds all these really hardcore horror films. Somebody’s going to have a wild afternoon.
TEASDALE: We love horror films.
WRIGHT: What are some of your favorite horror films?
TEASDALE: Evil Dead.
CHAMBERS: I like Death Becomes Her, I think that’s such a funny film.
WRIGHT: I saw that at Bournemouth when I was at art college. I haven’t seen it since— I don’t want to guess a lady’s age—but probably before you guys were alive.