When the hero rode into the sunset in so many of the old-school Westerns that usually signaled the end of the movie, but Kirpatrick Thomas' westward ride marked a new beginning for his then 9-year-old band called Spindrift. It was 2001, and just before leaving his old East Coast stomping grounds behind, Thomas saw "Once Upon a Time in the West” for the first time, and heard that majestic score by Ennio Morricone. A new inspiration started kicking in as he drove through the big-sky country of the Midwest and vast, butte-studded deserts of Arizona, Nevada and, finally, California. By the time the guitar-slinger from Newark, Del., had moseyed into the wild and wooly town of Los Angeles, his new trail was clear. "I just listened to (Morricone's) music the whole way,” Thomas said in a recent phone interview from his L.A. home. "And as I reached the Western landscape, everything kind of dawned on me, that, ‘Wow, this kind of something I'm incredibly inspired by.' And things just kind of blew up from there. I was so inspired that that I was going to libraries, I was reading books about plot points and treatments and everything (about the Western film genre). I wrote more music than I had ever written, that first three months that I moved out here.” Up to then, the East Coast version of Spindrift had dabbled in several different musical genres, the most recent being the droning shoe-gaze style of such bands as My Bloody Valentine and Swervedriver, their chief influences in the beginning. But the new improved West Coast Spindrift combined Thomas' new love of spaghetti Western soundtracks with his old love of the Doors — among other acid-era and early '60s surf-craze bands. The Morricone-meets-Morrison sound can be heard on a four-song, vinyl-only EP just released on Vacancy Records called "Goin' Down,” their 2007 full-length "Songs from the Ancient Age,” and their 2006 release, "The Legend of God's Gun.” The latter is the soundtrack to a basement-budget independent Western film of the same name which Thomas wrote and produced with director Mike Bruce. Thomas calls it his "psychedelic, rock 'n' roll, grindhouse, spaghetti western.” Reminiscent of such offbeat oaters as "El Topo,” and "Zachariah,” Thomas film has been shown at Cannes and various independent festivals and screenings around the country. Its cast includes Thomas and members of Spindrift, and it tells the story of a preacher turned gunslinger who's riding a vengeance trail. "It's kind of a Western ‘Dante's Inferno where he kind of comes back from the dead to basically rescue a dying town,” Thomas said. It's been seen by no less than Quentin Tarantino, who liked Spindrift's music enough include one of their songs, "Indian Run,” on the soundtrack of his latest film "Hell Ride,” starring Dennis Hopper and Michael Madsen. "There are two people we wanted this film to get to, and they were Quentin Tarantino and Clint Eastwood,” Thomas said.
Spindrift Photo provided BY Melanie Leigh Wilbur
Spindrift•With: The Mean Spirits, the Ethereals •When: 8 p.m. Wednesday •Where: The Conservatory (all ages), 8911 N Western •Tickets: At the door •Info: www.conserva toryokc.com or 607-4805.