Photo by Brett Padelford
The University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band (USC TMB) was recently featured in the opening track, “Smash and Grab,” of the DreamWorks film “The Croods,” an animated comedy following a pre-historic family on the move during the breakup of Pangea.
“It was exciting and a very memorable experience,” says flute player Marcus Lau. “Getting to meet the directors and composer and hear yourself on the big screen was awesome—although it definitely made you play extra carefully and put your best out there, so you sound good.”
The recording session occurred just one week into the spring semester, during what would have been the first rehearsal of the USC Concert Band. Ninety band members performed motifs from “Tusk,” the band’s 1979 collaboration with Fleetwood Mac. The recording was then layered on top of the original score recording done at Abbey Road Studios in London.
Composer Alan Silvestri along with writers/directors Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco, a USC alum, worked with the USC students. Sanders posted a behind-the-scenes video on his blog (www.chrissandersart.com) about the recording, in which he calls the track “one of my favorite pieces of music for the movie.”
Silvestri, who also composed “Back to the Future” and “Forrest Gump,” chose TMB because he thought “Tusk” would work well for the football game-like chase sequence at the beginning of the film. Silvestri, whose son is a USC student, has been a past guest conductor of the TMB during a “Forrest Gump” halftime show.
The band members also attended a premiere screening with the film’s production crew. Everyone stayed through the film credits, and an especially loud cheer broke out when “USC Trojan Marching Band” appeared on screen.
“This was the experience of a lifetime for the band members,” says band director Dr. Arthur C. Bartner. “They got to be a part of the process and perform like studio musicians, to see what they do on a daily basis. I’m so grateful to Alan, Chris, and Kirk, and the producers of ‘The Croods’ for the opportunity.”