And it was written that rock & roll music, which had been a tool of the Devil, became legitimate in the eyes of the Lord, and maybe even the flock. And it was cool. Heathenians 2:69.
At least, that’s the hope of Guapo Records, which has produced a rock soundtrack to the much-hyped LDS comedy, The Singles Ward. The film, which features a cavalcade of cameos by LDS luminaries (Steve Young, The Real World’s Julie Stoffer, Danny Ainge, Gordon Jump, et al.), affectionately skewers LDS culture, specifically the—forgive a cross-theological metaphor—kosher meat markets called singles wards. It’s the first of its kind, an LDS-produced film poking fun at Mormon culture, and a bold move, considering the church’s often uptight comportment. Accordingly, the soundtrack would have to be equally daring.
“This is a really big statement for us to make,” says Guapo president Gerry Hart. “We believe the soundtrack has to take chances with expectations while at the same time staying true to the respect all the artists felt for the songs they covered.”
Guapo and the film’s producer, Kurt Hale, assembled a lineup of local and once-local rock bands to resurrect LDS standards as hip hymns. The chief source would be Guapo’s own roster, which includes the indie one-man band, Mr. Fusion, Magstatic and San Francisco garage-rockers Slender (ex-members of erstwhile Provo skankers, Swim Herschel Swim). Slender’s “C.C.Y.S.,” a rocked-up version of “Come, Come Ye Saints,” had already been a hot request on X96. The band would contribute that song and two others, a rousing “Battle Hymn Of the Republic” and a rendition of the primary chorus, “When Grandpa Comes,” for which the band wrote verses worthy of a Farrelly Brothers joint. Guitarist Kent Carter explains: “Imagine a bunch of kids singing the songs about the grandfather who is actually kind of a disgusting, despicable man—but you still love him because he’s your grandfather.”
Also featured on the soundtrack are Numbs MC Cornel, a.k.a. Rooster, with a kaleidoscopic dance hall performance of “Popcorn Popping.” Magstatic’s “We’re All Enlisted” and “The Church of Jesus Christ”—the film’s main theme, Mismash’s pseudo-seductive “Do What Is Right” and pastoral “I Feel My Savior’s Love,” Jamen Brooks’ halcyon rendering of “God Be With You.” And PipeDream, who do what many Mormon kids fantasized about in Sunday School: give the classic dirge “Book of Mormon Stories” a stomp-rock makeover, with imperial riffing front and center.
Additionally, Ponchillo (formerly Moontubes), Mr. Fusion and Mighty Mahogany contribute to the record, which is fun without making fun. The artists, LDS or not, treat the songs with respect for their cultural significance. Even Magstatic’s Terrance DH, who showed up for his sessions with his guitar and a six-pack, injects reverence into his tracks.
“Though some of the songs run the tongue right along your cheek,” says Hart, “there is a respect that all the artists, LDS or not, felt for the material, like Hendrix playing the national anthem through dirty guitars at Woodstock. This is a new generation appropriating these tunes in ways that are more meaningful to us.”
Retailers and distributors obviously concur, as Hart is already getting orders for the Singles Ward soundtrack, despite not having begun to promote the record. “We have preorders of a couple thousand,” says Hart, who envisions much larger numbers once word spreads. The record hit the streets Jan. 29 in most record stores and can be ordered online at www.singleswardthemovie.com. Singles Ward the film began its engagement on Feb. 1.