By Rupert Hine
The text below was written by Rupert Hine himself on 19 Aug 1997 on the official RH mailing list:
After three relatively successful 'solo' albums on A & M/Island between 1980 and 1984 I was finding that the typically cynical music press (particularly in the UK) were accusing me of being inconsequential through being associated with such 'hugely commercial' artists like Tina Turner/The Fixx/Howard Jones/ Thompson Twins etc. It lacked 'artistic credibility' to be involved with such success!.... (how strange to confuse the artistic 'Artist' with the professional 'Producer'..... but such is the nature of 'journalism')!
My reaction was to fight it 'from within.' I would carry on making records exactly as before but 'appear' to be merely 'working' with a new band called 'Thinkman.' As with most of my material at this time, Jeannette T. Obstoj was my partner-in-crime. We invented media-terrorists... and called them Thinkman (pronounced like Walkman)...
As the idea grew it became clear that we were writing a film script as much as an album. Chris Blackwell, founder and head of Island Records, liked the ideas too. He was enjoying some success with his newly-formed Islan/Alive film company and for a while it looked that the film too was a real possibility!
Unfortunately the visual side of the film escalated to such 'Special FX' levels (now commonplace) that the budget became utterly unmanageable. The film element of the project collapsed. However, the legacy of the movie background continued in the sense that The Formula' became an album, for me at least, that felt as much like a soundtrack as a collection of songs. The songs are mostly media-manipulation oriented or about discovery of the true self. The videos used visual 'clues' from the potential film.
Both Jeannette and I did not anticipate the 'pressure' for a 'follow-up' (that album has been the biggest seller of any RH album - though, over the years Immunity may have overtaken it). "The Formula" - Thinkman had been a would-be movie and like MOST movies the sequels are rarely as satisfying and generally amount to crass commercial opportunism. We finally capitulated, however. The result was a rather 'patchy' affair. "Life is a Full-Time Occupation" was, in fact, the combining of two distinctly different projects.
I had been working on ideas for a 'Hard-Dance' project. Dance grooves but with an aggressive guitar-oriented attitude (pre-Beastie Boys/Chilli Peppers etc). I would have put the album out under a project name (The Placebo Effect was the working-title name for the band). I was also producing 'like mad' at this time and in the end the pressure of time.... and the motivation for a further Thinkman record.... was such that I merged the two elements.
Thus we have tracks like 'Dance Yourself Sane' and 'Willpower' from the dance project mixed up with 'Watchman, Walkman, Thinkman' 'Walking on my Shadow's Head" and 'Voices in Local Time" from the trying-to-be-ongoing Thinkman project!
So why... you may ask... was there a 3rd album in the series?!
This is simply a question of practicalities. There was another album left within the contract.... and, by then, the name Thinkman had lost it's 'media-terrorist' label, I felt. So 'Hard Hat Zone' became more obviously a RH album. The songs were mostly concerned with environmental subjects and virtually nothing was left of the initial Thinkman-isms.
Incidentally some of my favourite 'Thinkman' tracks appear on that last album.... "November Whale" and "Take them to the Traitor's Gate."
The text below was a reply from Rupert Hine himself to some "follow-up" questions asked by a fan on 2 Jan 1998 on the official RH mailing list about the 1985 soundtrack Better Off Dead:
Q: The track Come to Your Rescue is credited as performed by Thinkman with lead vocals by Matthew Harte. Is this a fiction like the band itself? It sure sounds like Rupert Hine to me!
A: Yes... more 'fiction.' This was an opportunity to lay some small foundations for the up-coming Thinkman myth.
Q: The instrumental pieces are good too. Race the K-12 sounds very orchestral, but as only RH is credited it is obviously all done with synths/samplers.
A: True also. These were quiet early days for being able to do so much 'orchestral' work with relatively primitive sampling devices. The arrangements lacked any natural depth but thanks to some deft-fingered mixing from Ollie W. they don't sound too bad! It probably goes without saying but just for maximum clarity... I had nothing to do with the two E.G.Daily tracks as they had already been used in the dance sequences (with 'live' band) in the movie itself. Sadly, they had to be on the sound-track too!
"[Better Off Dead] was Savage Steve Holland's first movie and, as has been pointed out already, an early John Cusack film (I think, in fact, it was his first 'starring' role). Before undertaking the project I had only one other soundtrack under my belt... 'The Shout'. BOD was an opportunity to experience working in Hollywood with minimum pressure (being Steve's 1st movie and low-budget). Holland's own script was hilarious! Sadly his directorial skills were not at the same level. This was also a 'hands-on' (or off!) example of the now standard practice of screening incomplete movies to 'lay' audiences for feedback. Meaning... 'popular' characters get more on-screen time, unpopular or misunderstood characters get minimised, sometimes left entirely on the cutting-room floor! Unbelievable! :-o All this regardless of their necessity within the script, therefore, story-line!
"Both Howard Jones and (unmentioned in the correspondence so far) Tears for Fears were forbidden to be used in the soundtrack album for recording rights reasons with their record companies. This type of problem has been contractually minimised in recent years due to the mountains of money to be made from these projects! ;-) It was another chance to use a favourite Martin Ansell track in 'Shine.' Ultimately, the film was very much a twisted (though not enough) variation on the classic John Hughes college movies of that period like The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo's Fire etc. It was mainly enjoyable to do because Savage Steve at 26 was great fun to work with... but at the end of the day I haven't exactly scrambled to do another.... you may have noticed.
"Coincidentally, during the last month I have been asked to produce a couple of soundtracks but these are in the more familiar 'collections' mode. It's more of an Executive Producer role, in reality. Warmest New Years, Roop"
Copyright (c) 1997 & 1998 Rupert Hine.
Copyright (c) 1997 & 1998 Rupert Hine.
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