Midge Ure looks back at composing music for MAX HEADROOM: 20 MINUTES INTO THE FUTURE
By Bob Gourley | Published on February 7, 2015
Iconic ‘computer-generated TV host’ Max Headroom is best known for his music video/talk shows and Coke commercials, but he was also the star of the innovative 1985 British TV film “Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future.” Set in a Blade Runner-esque, cyberpunk future dominated by TV and megacorporations, it provided a fictional backstory of how Max Headroom came to be. The visual style and editing were highly influenced by music videos, making the score by Ultravox’s Midge Ure and Chris Cross an important and memorable part of the film. By email, Ure reflected on the project.
I remember really liking the “Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future” soundtrack and thinking it was very effective. How did the project come about and what was the experience like?
Midge Ure: Chris and I used to direct promos for Ultravox, Visage etc so the obvious move forward was to do some soundtrack music. We had, after all, been doing it in reverse for quite a while. Making the soundtrack and adding pictures afterwards, while movies have the images first and music after.
The cinematography and editing seemed strongly influenced by music videos. Did your own experience with music video have any impact on how you approached the soundtrack?
Midge Ure: The directors, Rocky and Annabel had directed many promos before doing Max so they had a great understanding of how music and pictures gelled together, as Chris and I had. It was a good combination of people with like minded thoughts.
Looking back, what are you thoughts on the overall concepts of the film, particularly the portrayal of the media of the ‘future’ vs what we have today (the internet, reality tv, etc)?
Midge Ure: It was way ahead of it’s time and the subsequent Max Headroom tv programs took music and television way beyond where it had ever gone before. I just wonder if we are all being exposed to ‘blipverts’ and just haven’t noticed! [Blipverts were highly compressed commercials with the unfortunate side effect of sometimes causing people to explode….]
In 2014 Midge Ure released a new solo album, “Fragile,” and he as been touring extensively. Check out the interview with did with him about that album, and visit his official site for the latest news.