Interview: Edgar Wright Discusses The Legacy & Music of Sparks

Acclaimed director Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Shaun of the Dead) is back with a great documentary on the critically acclaimed band Sparks. Called The Spark Brothers, the feature from Focus Features takes a deep look at the band’s legacy as fellow musicians and artists discuss the impact of Ron and Russell Mael. The film opens on June 18 in theaters.

Ahead of its release, ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Wright about Sparks’ legacy as “your favorite band’s favorite band,” and the unique way the documentary has been edited.

Check out ComingSoon’s interview with Edgar Wright below or read the full transcript:

Tyler Treese: Editing for a documentary is so important and what I really liked about this film was it’s just as energetic and creative as the subject matter. You have some really cool animation, there are old film scenes. There’s a lot of variety. What your mindset when it came to editing for this doc?

Edgar Wright: Well, In a way like Sparks is a subject to like a gift. Because I guess we have a shared sensibility in terms of like what Sparks do in their music is that they’re really sincere about what they do and they’re really serious about their songcraft, but it doesn’t stop them from kind of having fun with the form as well. So I guess I approach the documentary in the same way is that I’m really passionate about the subject. I’m totally serious and sincere about doing this, but it’s kind of fun to make fun of the music documentary form at the same time. Then because through that stagecraft and their music videos and the album covers that they’ve got such a great visual sense and a great sense of humor. It just sort of gave me the opportunity to sort of do this mixed media and the way it’s edited and the use of animation and the use of graphics. It was just a gift. You know, there’s a lot of bands where you couldn’t do this approach with it, so it was just amazing to do this with Sparks.

Going through their career, you see just how much adversity they face. In this current stretch, they’re doing some of the best work that they’ve ever done. How inspiring is it as a creator to just look at how they persevered and are still just killing it today?

I guess that the aspect of it is why I wanted to make the documentary full-stop cause I was sort of well aware of that even before I met them. I met them for the first time like six years ago, but I was already by then, I was sort of in awe of how they were not just survivors, but they were doing it without being like a legacy act. There’s like a lot of bands that have been going for that long, at a certain point [they] just start being like a greatest hits act, and Sparks has never done that. They’re creating new material and they’re doing complete curveball projects. Like, Hey, let’s do an opera about Ingmar Bergman. Let’s do a whole album with Franz Ferdinand, you know? So it was every time they kind of zagged when you think they zigged, I was just like, this is extraordinary, and they’re like in their like fourth or fifth decade by this point.

So all of those things were sort of why I wanted to tell the story because I felt that in a lot of other documentaries about bands who started in 1971, the bands are not going anymore. Or even if they are, they’re just kind of like a tribute act to this point. You can have a documentary about the golden years where it doesn’t kind of cover like what they’re doing now because it’s maybe less interesting, but with Sparks it’s like a 50-year body of work. It’s wrong to say that there’s like a golden period of sparks, because like you said, all the recent stuff is amazing.

I loved that in the film that your title when you talk in the documentary, it just said, “Fanboy.” How excited are you about being able to introduce their music to a wider audience?

Just on a very simple level, if somebody watched the documentary who didn’t previously know Sparks and then starts listening to Sparks, or maybe even buys a Sparks album, then job done. That’s all I wanted to do is bring them to a wider audience they deserve.