“The Road to Sparta makes for highly entertaining and engaging viewing. The music sets the tone and the story lets you in. A beautifully told account of the human will to succeed against all odds.”
Gillies Mackinnon, Film director (Hideous Kinky, A Simple Twist of Fate)
When Barney first began to think about telling this story, he immediately began to focus on the music. He saw it as a vital part of the process; a means to help the non-running viewer get inside the heads of the runners as they ran, walked and shuffled down the road to Sparta.
As happened throughout the film, he turned to people he knew and trusted, not just to create the music but also to engineer the music. This extended all the way to the studio we used in Athens.
The first person Barney spoke to about the idea was Tryfon Lazos. The two had met in the studios of Athens International Radio back in 2006 when Tryfon and his colleagues in Old House Playground arrived to do an interview and live session. Both went well and, after the show, everyone repaired to the cafe at Technopolis for a refreshing cold beer. Friendships were forged.
Tryfon (guitar, vocals) is one-third of the band Old House Playground which, although founded in Athens, is now based in Manchester. Andreas Venetantes (percussion) and Londoner Jago Furnes (bass) make up the trio that has lit up The Road to Sparta with their original score.
Tryfon and Andreas, supported by their videographer Vasilios Alexandrou, came to Greece for the shoot which allowed them to meet the runners and understand the race. They even started composing the score in the back of the van, not the usual approach for matching music to film.
It is not the band’s usual style of blues and rock but it is wonderful nonetheless.
A chance encounter at a Puressence concert in Athens in 2006 led to Barney meeting up with Clive Martin who would go on to produce the music for The Road to Sparta.
Clive’s music career started in 1980 at the legendary Trident Studios in London where, among many great moments, David Bowie recorded Life on Mars and Changes. After five years working with so many great bands such as The Cure, Sting, Queen, Nick Cave and Soft Cell, he went freelance.
He worked closely with Les Negresses Vertes as well as Brit bands such as Reef, Puressence, Mansun, Echobelly, the Llama Farmers and Stereophonics.
He also had his first taste of working in film; he spent a year working with David Byrne on the soundtrack of The Last Emperor. That soundtrack won an Oscar. We are hoping that Clive can maintain this record.
Another musician who used to come in for the occasional session at Athens International Radio was Simon Bloom. He is a pretty decent musician and while Barney was living in Athens, Simon made a number of appearances at the legendary Gagarin venue, supporting the likes of Sophie Solomon and Pavlov’s Dog. And there was a great night with Jeff Martin too.
In the decade since, Simon has set up Shakti Sound Studio in Kifissia, one of the northern suburbs of Athens. And he made it available to us in the summer of 2016 to complete the soundtrack which had been started in Manchester.
According to the lads, it is one of the best studios they have ever set eyes on. Even Clive, who has seen a few corkers in his time, was awed.
It was here also that we recorded Renos and Malamatenia delivering the poetry of AE Stallings.
So, many thanks to Simon for playing his part in the making of The Road to Sparta.