Pandemic, quarantine, lockdown… a harsh reality that put humanity to the test and unfortunately is still going. Inside this dark, miserable and pessimistic environment, during the first period of isolation an idea which was ignited by Chris Laney and some other musicians, who formed At The Movies, made our weeks a bit easier covering songs from classic movies of the ‘80s and the ‘90s. From YouTube these songs made it on to two albums and that gave us the opportunity to talk with the mutli-tasking Chris in a different interview where we are dealing with the inspiration of the project, movies and their soundtracks, the ‘80s, how pineapple entered the average Swede’s life, hard rock, as well as plastic productions, Ronnie Atkins and a lot more that you can actually watch in the video below and read. Interview: Yiannis Dolas Editing/Post Production: OneManArmy
Rockpages.gr: How did you start the At The Movies project?
Chris Laney: It started out as an accident, to be honest. It wasn’t supposed to be At The Movies. It started with me listening to a song from, “Music and Lyrics” with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. And the thing was my wife, she knows me so well, she’s like, “Chris, go up to the studio” -because we live in two stories – go up to the studio and do whatever it takes”. And I was like, “Did you see that?” You’d be like, I could see your eyes going like when I become a “Rain Man”-. So I went up and did that song, and I seny it off to… I think it was Alan Sorencen and Bjorn “Speed” Strid And that’s when it started.
Rockpages.gr: How did the name “At The Movies” come up?
Chris Laney: There was no plan, you know, and they loved it, and the thing was that at the same time as I did that song, I helped out Alan Sorencen, because he just bought new microphones for his little room that he has. And he did a lot of videos with Britney Spears and Ghostbusters. So, we said Oooh, wouldn’t it be nice to do a movie soundtrack? And Bjorn said “No Easy Way Out”.
And the name “At The Movies” actually came from looking for templates on movie posters because we wanted that on the first YouTube, you know? And everyone said “at the movies”, and that was like a camera and I was like “that’s the name! We’re going to call ourselves “At The Movies”.
Rockpages.gr: You were releasing a new video every week. How did that work?
Chris Laney: If we don’t talk about the first one, because we didn’t even know what we were doing, but after the first one we decided that it’s going to be released on a Thursday at 7:00 p.m. So we’re all met at 6:30 and we shared and we prepared the post and we tagged each other and had a lot of fun. And then after the first post, we started talking about “so what’s the next song?” And on the Friday, I presented a new song. And if they said “yes”, I would take away the drum machine. I would send it to Alan. And get back his drums, mix them, send them to Egberg, who would do his bass… And we had a deadline on Tuesday, because I needed some hours to mix this. It’s not a professional studio recording, it’s recording at home, you know? And then on the Wednesday, it was Egberg or Sorensen who cut together the videos and release it on Thursday. And then it was Friday again… and it would go on forever. It was a lot of fun though, a lot of fun.
Rockpages.gr: The band was formed during lockdown. Is there a plan to play live shows at some point?
Chris Laney: To start with, we haven’t even met yet! That’s why there is no promo pictures. It’s drawings because of the restrictions everywhere. I met everyone because it’s my friends and I’m kind of like the spider, you know? But, to be honest, I can’t wait to meet all of the guys at the same spot. At the same time, it’s going to be awesome. And no, we won’t go into a fancy studio because “At The Movies” should be this. So even if they would open up, I would never go into a fancy studio. Never.
Rockpages.gr: Did you ever think about playing in a movie theater?
Chris Laney: That was my main idea: to have for a release party that we would like two or five places in Europe and have a signing session and talk about the album and then show all the videos, you know, with beer, or some champagne, you know? But, unfortunately, we’re still have this disease going on, so it didn’t happen.
But on stage? Yeah, we will never tour. That’s for sure, because we can’t. I mean, everyone’s in bands that it’s like your income your real income, you know? But we said festivals… Absolutely. And we’re open to… open to that.And even though I mean, the two guys are mostly booked is Norgren with Hammerfall. And of course, Bjorn is very busy with Soilwork and the Night Flight Orchestral and now Donna Cannone, you know, it’s worse than me, you know? But we said that if we’re going out on festivals, we might call it “At The Movies featuring…”, and then we would ask people from the line up to come up and join us and take their places. The rest are actually available for this. And everyone’s agreed on it and also I’d say that I don’t see this as a project. And they don’t either, because we signed it. Everyone has signed on the record deal. Everyone splits everything. So, “At The Movies” is bigger than me or that guy or… you know, it’s just a fun thing, you know? So let’s just laugh.
Rockpages.gr: Is there a plan for At The Movies to work on another project?
Chris Laney: Well, you never know. I mean, we could do “the best of Disney” as well, or “the best of the love songs” or… as long it’s in the movie, you know? But no, I have an idea. I already thought of two songs and it’s gonna be awesome. That’s all I can say. I won’t say anything. No!
Rockpages.gr: How come you decided to cover songs from ‘80s movies?
Chris Laney: To start with, one of my favorite albums is “Top Gun”. And I mean, there is not a bad song on that album at all. I mean, even my old girlfriend back when I was like 15, she loved the Steve Stevens doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo (sings the guitar part). How many girls like instrumental to start with? So, this was quite easy because I’m born in ’72 and the whole ‘80s is very much in my DNA. And then, we went to the ‘90s and I thought, “this is going to be easy”… Fuck me, it was hard! Because, I think the last real soundtrack that was released was “Pretty Woman” or something. And then, they didn’t release it like that. It was more like… I mean, “Pulp Fiction”, I love that movie, but they had songs from the ‘50s and ‘60s, or grunge, or something… And the main difference between the ‘80s and the ‘90s is that 70s and 80s, they all had soundtracks. But, now we have like Hans Zimmer and all these great musicians. But, back then it was all about the song. And I know for a fact, since I’ve been working with music for most of my life, that they could say, “let’s have the best song of the album on hold”. And if you were lucky, you would get it into a movie and then you were like the biggest stars ever. Also, the music industry and the film industry was feeding off each other, because the band could use the clips from the movie and vice versa. I mean, that was the strength. But now it’s like, “OK, let’s just go to this guy who has strings”. Not to talk bad about it, because I love it, too. But, as I always tell my wife, the clock strikes twelve twice a day. So who knows, you know?
Rockpages.gr: Was everything about the ‘80s so perfect? Or, is it just nostalgia?
Chris Laney: I would say it was, still it wasn’t. You know what I mean… But, I was also growing up in the 70s, and I knew it was quite hard in the 70s, but when the 80s came over… in ‘83, I mean, that’s when the whole ‘80s started. And everyone all of a sudden could get loans and buy shit and have nice clothes. And the girls would, go crazy and that’s not a fucking lie. That’s exactly how it was. So, for me, being a teenager in the ‘80s… Come on, I feel so sorry for everyone now because there is so much shit going on.
Then it was kind of like, you know, what can I say? It was childish. Everyone wanted to be a child. I mean, we went on vacation with the same dresses as our parents, you know? And it said, ooooh “Lanes’”, and everyone’s okay, because everyone did it and you got pineapple for the first time in Sweden. So, every fucking dinner had pineapple in it. And if you had a cell phone, you had to had like a crew behind carrying the fucking bag with it. But, it looked cool, you know? So, I don’t think it’s just the imagination. That’s the way it was. Even though a lot of people got hurt in the ‘80s because they couldn’t figure out how to pay back everything they got, you know?
Rockpages.gr: Did the music in the ‘90s affect the movie soundtracks of that decade?
Chris Laney: Yeah, absolutely. But it didn’t start until ‘93, kind of… Because, in ‘91 and ‘92 , I think the best kick ass sleaze and hair metal albums came out. I mean, we’re talking about Heaven’s Edge, we’re talking about the Canadian band… Svengali. There are so many cool bands in the 90s, but only for two years. And then Nirvana came on and wiped the floor. And for me, the rest is just gray, gray, gray you know? So that was also hard. That’s why we did a lot of pop songs. They were the only ones having the spirit left, because all the grunge they wanted to kill themselves. That’s not me!
Rockpages.gr: Lately, we see a return to the ‘80s music and trends, which leads to plastic productions, and copycat bands. Right?
Chris Laney: Yeah, I’ve had a lot of my fingers in that. I started off with Crashdïet. That was like the first band that did that again. They were the real deal. They were, I mean, and they probably are! Because, these guys, they lived it. They wanted it so bad. And that’s why I said, “OK, I’ll do it!”. Other than that, I wouldn’t care. But, of course, now there is a gazillion of small Crashdïets. And, right now, the ‘80s is going to extreme, you know? But, they don’t know how to fucking do it. I mean, they think a picture of them looks like, “oh, we’re so 80s”. And I go like… “No”! I mean, back in the ‘80s you didn’t do that, or that, or that, or that, you know? So, I’m thankful that, I mean, I’m only 50. I mean, for me, that’s not an age. I was through the whole 80s and the 90s, and I know the drill, I worked at Polar Studios. I worked with everything. So I, if someone would like to do an ‘80s album… yeah! call me because I have all the gear to do it, and it won’t sound like you think it will, because that is a difference: they want a sound and in a certain way. But the sound… if I would make an 80s album now, they would go like, “Oh, it’s not fat enough”. No! Because it wasn’t. And that’s the truth!
Rockpages.gr: Actually, I didn’t have Crashdïet in my mind, but more bands like Nestor…
Chris Laney: Still, (they are) like Spinal Tap and Steel Panther for me. I mean, it’s absolutely fantastic music, you know, and they do a great job, they are musicians and everything. But, doing it with that kind of image, to have Samantha Fox in and have the wigs on… I swear to God, I was hoping they didn’t do it because it’s good enough as it is. But, the second you do that, it becomes a gimmick and then it’s fun for an album. And what’s next?
I mean, they’re going to show off that they’re bald and all that? I don’t know. It’s not only in that vein, it’s so much about the looks, it’s so much about the whole presentation. And they open the gateway to Babylon – I promise you they did. And now they’re “woooow”. So what’s next?
The same was with Still Panther. Everyone was laughing their asses off. But, how many times can you say “pussy” and “cum” in a song? I mean, it’s cool for a while and then go like OK… And also that Still Panther does you know, the didlee didlee dhun dsun dhun… Which is “I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You” from KISS… and that is in 1989! The first time I heard it I thought “brilliant”! And then I go like, “Aaaah”, and on the next song: “Oh, I know that song too”. So, it’s not fun anymore. I’m sorry, guys. I know you know me. But, yeah…
Rockpages.gr: Was there any songs in the soundtracks albums that didn’t work out and you decided to abandon?
Chris Laney: No, there was one that didn’t happen, because we started on this song called “The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Gets Going”, I don’t know if you know that song. But, yeah, check it out, “Going Gets Tough”. It was produced by Mutt Lange, Yeah, it’s a great fucking song, but it has some kind of in between straight and shuffle, some kind of swing. And for me to sit here with the keyboard trying to do the drums, it just didn’t work. And I said, like, “if we’re going to do this song, we need to meet and play”, but we can’t. So, we had to scrap it. It was like, “all good”.
Rockpages.gr: Did you have any guests in mind that couldn’t make it on the albums?
Chris Laney: On the ‘90s there was. Because, we had Bruce Kulick, Ronnie Atkins and Jacob Hanson on the ‘80s. So, I wanted the female thing to come in, so I wanted Joan Jett and Kim Wilde! That was my dream. Everything takes time and we didn’t have the time, you know, so no one actually turned it down. It’s more or less like it has to go through lawyers and shit. And I was like, “no, we’ve got to release the songs now”, you know? But, in the future, I still hope for that because especially, I must say, Joan Jett, because she stands for so much. I have a daughter who’s 23, and we need someone cool that stands for women in rock. And she is the one I have so much respect for her.
Rockpages.gr: What are your plans for this year? Are you working with any new bands, or artists?
Chris Laney: Yeah, well… to be honest, this last year, I’ve done two albums with At The Movies and I’ve done two albums with Ronnie Atkins, the second one will be out in March. There are not enough days in a week to make it up. And as I promised my wife, now when I turn 50, I’m going to have Saturdays off and that’s it, you know? But I have… Remember the old band Madame X? I am making an album with them. I just finished a mix with Bjorn Strid. He has another band called Donna Cannone, an Italian band so that’s done. Further than that, right now I’m actually going to breathe for a year I think and do At The Movies. I can’t work 24 hours a day, I love it so much but, the only thing I want is to go out and play. I am getting crazy. I mean, my wife just wants to kick my butt out of this fucking place, you know, “go out and just come back like normal”.
Rockpages.gr: How is Ronnie doing? How is his health?
Chris Laney: He’s doing fine. I just spoke to him. The thing with cancer is when you get it in your bones and stuff like that, it’s a waiting period. It could happen tomorrow, or in five years, but right now he’s super good, you know? But, they took away a third of his lung and all that. So, go out and play would also be a little challenge. I mean, he’s the best frontman I know… He’s running around and he’s like screaming all the time and never, ever had a sore throat, you know? And the thing is, we don’t know, or he doesn’t. So, let’s see. But, that’s the only thing we talk about, going out and play again, because, you know, we talk every day. And after two albums, you can imagine how much contact we have. So I can’t wait. I can’t fucking wait, you know?