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Monday, May 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  Movies

Cheney native Adam Brock adds musical talent to Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird”

Big Wang Theory members from left - Adam Brock, Max Schellabarger, Vince Nickoloff and Alan Crow, circa 2005. (Brian Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Big Wang Theory members from left - Adam Brock, Max Schellabarger, Vince Nickoloff and Alan Crow, circa 2005. (Brian Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Fifty seconds into the trailer for “Lady Bird,” a coming-of-age film written and directed by Greta Gerwig, a band appears on screen.

Viewers are meant to focus on the bass player, actor Timothée Chalamet, but Inland Northwest natives with a keen eye might be more excited to see the band’s frontman.

Cheney native Adam Brock has a brief appearance in the film and wrote the song the band performs in that scene.

“Lady Bird,” which opened Wednesday in Spokane, stars Saoirse Ronan as Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson and Laurie Metcalf as her mother, Marion McPherson. Chalamet plays Kyle Scheible, a love interest of Lady Bird’s.

Brock, who graduated from Cheney High School, got involved with the movie in September 2016, just two weeks before the band performance scene was filmed.

Filmmakers had another songwriter lined up but didn’t like the song they wrote, so Brock’s boss, who had worked on music supervision for films in the past, recommended Brock to her friend, who was working on “Lady Bird.”

They originally wanted to use a song by Brock’s former band Old Wave, but he nixed the idea after hearing that they wanted the song re-recorded without his former band mates. So he wrote a song of his own, which he describes as a ’90s alternative rock song, in a week.

He then flew from his current home base of Los Angeles to Sacramento, where the movie is set and was filmed, to shoot the scene.

Brock had never acted before, but he said he felt comfortable appearing in the film because he didn’t have any lines.

For the most part, Brock said his time on set was spent waiting, but he was tasked with teaching the actors, none of whom were musicians, how to “fake play” their instruments for the lip-synched scene.

“I was basically being the music teacher for the day to these actors,” Brock said. “It was a lot of fun. They were really receptive to it. It was cool to be around people in a different field that are really great at what they do.”

Brock recently saw the film with a friend and though he loved the movie, he wasn’t completely comfortable seeing himself on screen.

“If you blink, you’ll miss it and it’s very dimly lit, so I’m sure some people might not even recognize me,” he said. “But it was a great movie, and even though I didn’t really know much about the project, it’s really cool to be involved with something that is resonating with a lot of people. It’s telling a story that’s personal and has lots of little good moments in it about family and growing up.”

“Lady Bird” focuses on the relationship between mother and daughter as Lady Bird makes her way through her senior year of high school.

Brock has his own mother to thank for kick-starting his interest in music.

His mother plays piano, so Brock was surrounded by music as a child. He reluctantly took piano lessons growing up but became more interested in music when he took guitar lessons in middle school.

“I started learning the music that was on the radio, and that was cool to a pre-teen,” he said. “Then I started writing songs and that’s where it really gave me the bug.”

Near the end of middle school and into high school, Brock played in a band called Big Wang Theory that frequently competed at events like BOBfest and RAWK Final Four.

“Spokane was an amazing place to be in an underaged band because all the bars would actually let you perform,” Brock said. “You had to leave right after, but there were quite a few underage venues, which was pretty rare.”

Brock studied jazz guitar at Portland State University and now works composing music for ad campaigns, including commercials for Wells Fargo, Glade, Microsoft, Dairy Queen, Turbotax and ESPN.

“They need you to translate their ideas because a lot of times they’re not musicians,” Brock said. “One of the fun things that I really enjoy about it is you’re working to picture. You see the commercial, so you can build your arrangement around that and try to accent cool moments.”

He has more commercial and film composition projects in the works and is also looking to dedicate more time to his own songwriting.

Thinking back to his early years as a musician, Brock fondly recalls the support former Flying Spiders frontman and Spokesman-Review writer Isamu Jordan gave Big Wang Theory in 2005 after Brock wrote a rock opera called “The War.”

“He was really, really into it and wrote this huge article in the Spokesman for it, which as a 15-year-old, we felt we were on top of the world,” Brock said.

With experience as a musician in Spokane, Portland and Los Angeles under his belt, Brock now recognizes how important it is to support young performers.

“Reflecting back on that now and seeing how important that was to have people like that in the community who were not only listening to young kids but really believing in them and doing work to make sure they had places to play and felt like they were doing really important stuff,” Brock said. “Going to other cities, talking to other people, I think that’s unique and I think he was a really cool guy and I’m lucky to have known him.”

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