Nick Urata knows a thing or two about writing movie soundtracks.
The DeVotchKa frontman’s already won accolades for his work on the blockbuster film, “Little Miss Sunshine.” Urata’s soundtrack skills are now starting to pay off.
The Denver performer just flew solo and composed the soundtrack for Jim Carrey’s upcoming movie, “I Love You Phillip Morris.” The film’s already been released in Europe and it will hit the United States next month.
Urata’s phone is now ringing with more soundtrack requests, and DeVotchKa’s ready to tour with gypsy punkers Gogol Bordello. Life is good in DeVotchKaland.
“It’s hard to pinpoint the best experiences I had with DeVotchKa,” said Urata, whose music career took off in Boulder in the 1990s. “It’s like having a kid. First you’re just happy it has 10 fingers — and then after a few days you want him to be president.
“But, hearing the crappy organ I recorded in my living room come on right after that iconic 20th Century Fox theme at the beginning of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ — that was a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.”
Urata is juggling his time between DeVotchKa’s upcoming album and another film offer, but he’s thrilled with his band’s career.
“Hopefully, we aren’t sucking as much as we used to,” Urata said. “It took a long time to find our legs, and I’m grateful for the citizens of Boulder and Denver that sat through those early performances.
“We’ve always had a knack for connecting with diverse audiences. We are the opposite of an overnight success.”
DeVotchKa’s been playing a lot of holiday shows in Colorado, and the band tried out some of its new tunes at the Fox’s Valentine’s Day bash.
In early 2010, DeVotchKa went to Arizona to record its new CD with Craig Schumacher. The desert environs definitely inspired Urata and the band’s recording process.
“We always end up in the desert to record — it’s very romantic to us,” Urata explained. “I wanted to put our stamp on a little slice of time for this record. This CD is a little postcard from the present that imbues all the moments we have endured in the past two years.
“This record features a lot of characters that I have met along the way, and I try to tell the story from their perspective. The record will be out in September.”
Urata’s also getting ready for the DeVotchKa/Gogol Bordello spring tour. Both bands feature Eastern European sounds, so it should be a cohesive road show. The tour starts April 18 in Montreal, Canada.
“Anytime Gogol Bordello’s in the equation, it’s an adventure,” Urata said. “We’ve actually been collaborating on shows for many years.
“I was very proud that such a seminal band would notice us on the other side of the country — and connect with our sound. They’ve always inspired us.”
However, Urata’s major accomplishment is the soundtrack he composed for the Jim Carrey/Ewan McGregor film, “I Love You Philip Morris.” The poster for the new movie includes the line, “soundtrack by Nick Urata.”
It was Urata’s task to come up with a film score that could accompany the movie’s intriguing and complicated plot.
“Before this, my only connection with Jim Carrey was growing up as a fan,” Urata said. “They were using a DeVotchKa song when they were cutting the movie, and all the composers they originally wanted weren’t available. That’s when they let me do it.
“The movie’s the true story of a brilliant con artist who escaped the Texas prison system several times without harming a soul. He worked his way to the top of the corporate culture without an education. It was all for the love of his longtime muse — a man named Phillip Morris.”
Urata was intrigued by the story and wanted to work on the project.
“I was instantly amazed when I saw the movie and I knew I wanted to be part of it,” Urata said. “I tried to write an original score, but the directors kept encouraging me to use my own style. They are extremely funny and irreverent, so they wanted to make a unique film — which they did.
“Jim Carrey’s performance is so strong in the movie. I just did my best not to fuck it up.”
“I Love You Phillip Morris” is already earning rave reviews in Europe, so this indie film should open lots of doors for Urata.
Between the new film, the upcoming record and the Gogol Bordello tour, it looks like 2010’s going to be a very good year for Urata and DeVotchKa.