Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan on His Band's 30th Year, Scoring Films, and Buckminster Fuller
Buckminster Fuller was a man full of fascinating ideas. The second president of Mensa is remembered for being an inventor, author, and most famously an architect who popularized the use of geodesic domes.
In fact, Fuller thought the geodesic dome could solve the world's housing problem because of its incredible durability, light weight, and capability to provide the most shelter for the least amount of surface area. If you take a drive to the Miami Seaquarium, you can see one of his designs, the Golden Dome Stadium.
As for Yo La Tengo, it is a band that, 30 years into its rock 'n' roll career, is still creating fascinating music. Last year's album, Fade, was just as vibrant, assured, and cool as its 1986 debut, Ride the Tiger. The Hoboken, New Jersey trio -- consisting of guitarist Ira Kaplan; his wife, Georgia Hubley, on drums; and bassist James McNew -- has influenced a generation of indie rock.
But beyond both having deeply devoted admirers and fascinating legacies, what could Buckminster Fuller, who died in 1983, and Yo La Tengo, which didn't play its first show until '84, possibly have in common?
Photo by Charlie Villyard
Next Saturday evening at Miami Beach's Colony Theater, Yo La Tengo will provide the answer, performing its score for Sam Green's live documentary about the inventor, author, architect, and visionary.
Yesterday, Ira Kaplan spoke with Crossfade from an Australia hotel while enjoying his room's view of the Sydney Opera House to discuss how Yo La Tengo became involved with creating the music for this film, titled aptly, The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller.
"The director, Sam Green, got in touch with us," Kaplan says. "We were aware of his work. Georgia's sister is an animation filmmaker, so we knew some of the same people. He sent us scenes to look at. The temp music he had in the uncompleted form were Yo La Tengo songs, so we knew what to work off of."
Over the years, the guitarist and his bandmates have provided music for numerous films, even going so far as to put out a collection of such work, We Shoot They Score, which includes compositions from Old Joy, Junebug, Game 6, and Shortbus. Of movies that Kaplan has seen recently, he admires the score for Gravity, although he hedges, "Maybe it was only because of the 3D."
Yo La Tengo had also previously been commissioned by a film festival to score a documentary, The Sounds of the Sounds of Science. But as Kaplan points out: "That was very different, in that the director was already dead. Probably our closest experience was for Adventureland, in that we received notes and had a back-and-forth with the director. For Fuller, we didn't have as much time, so Sam Green came out to our rehearsal space and would react instantly to what we were working on. With him in the room, it was a much faster process."