Sizzling sounds

Local music abounds in the 'Haven Brothers' film
By CHRIS CONTI  |  June 4, 2014

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REPPING RI Olneyville Sound System.

Jeff Toste may be making his directorial debut with Haven Brothers: Legacy of the American Diner, but he’s a card-carrying veteran of the Rhode Island music community dating back more than 20 years. So it comes as no surprise that the accompanying soundtrack features a wealth of Rhody-based greats in just about every genre imaginable. Clocking in at a whopping 42 (!) songs, the soundtrack is stacked higher than a triple-decker Murder Burger.

Toste’s old-school roots reach to the early ’90s as part of the indie-rock band Laurels, and his start-up label Heparin released landmark PVD records from Bossman, Olneyville Sound System, and Arab On Radar; singer/guitarist Toste is currently in the grimy blues duo Detroit Rebellion (pick up the new full-length debut The Man ASAP) with drummer Mikey Lamantia. OSS is featured twice in the film and AOR alums Craig Kureck and Eric Paul’s Doomsday Student are also included. A pair of trailers released in March was proof-positive that Toste was deeply invested in the soundtrack, cranking up the Silks’ “Living In the World” and unearthing Lightning Bolt’s “Assassins.” The sorely missed Brown Bird is also featured, and Toste included a memoriam for David Lamb in the closing credits.

I caught up with Jeff this week as he prepares for the big premiere on Saturday.

It must have been pretty painstaking to narrow down both the artists and songs you wanted to incorporate into the film.  Have you ever tried to coordinate with 28 different musicians? Definitely a complicated situation. I spent months researching and listening to the music of every Rhode Island composer, musician and band that I could find. I wanted the music to not only provide the right emotion, but also have lyrics and/or song titles that “gelled” with (or added to) the narrative of a particular part of the story. I’d try out 10 different pieces of music for one scene. There were countless bands I wanted to work with, but in the end it was a matter of trial-and-error. I did my best.

Did you consider using some of your own music on the soundtrack, either Laurels or Detroit Rebellion? No. Initially I was basically going to go in one of two directions: compose an all-instrumental original soundtrack either solo or with RI musicians willing and available to record with me. But in the end, since I wanted the film to be a story about Rhode Island as much as about the diner, getting existing contributions from Rhode Island musicians seemed like a better idea. For my debut film, I wanted to keep my projects separate. I want each to stand on their own.

Any chance of releasing an official soundtrack of some sort? Or maybe a show or two with some of the bands featured? Yes, I have thought about it, but I’ve had to do so much work to promote the film that I simply haven’t had the time to discuss the idea with the artists. I did reach out to attempt a soundtrack showcase back in March, but everyone was on their way to SXSW and I couldn’t make it happen. If the bands are willing, maybe we can get this together over the summer.

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