Who better to create a theme for a movie about superheroes than a guitar hero? That was the thought process behind tapping Gary Clark Jr. to put his signature on the Beatles classic “Come Together,” which he and DJ/producer Junkie XL spun into a bombastic, thundering remake for Nov. 17’s Justice League. The revived song has landed back on the charts, nearly 50 years after its original 1969 release, which is something of a heroic achievement in itself.
Yahoo Entertainment had the opportunity to talk to Clark about the theme song the week of Justice League‘s release — and find out what superpowers the Austin, Texas, virtuoso employed to make the cover such a raging success.
Yahoo: Can you give a briefer on how you got involved doing this particular song, with Junkie XL? You hadn’t worked with him previously.
Gary Clark Jr.: I got the phone call to come out to L.A. and record this song — I didn’t know exactly what it was for. I knew it was for a film, but I wasn’t quite sure. So I popped into L.A. and I got in the studio and met with Junkie XL. He said he was kind of familiar [with my stuff]; just thought my guitar and my voice might fit. “That funky, buzzy guitar s*** that you do, just do that.” So, I hopped in there, and I just kind of laid it down. There was not much preparation. It just kind of flowed naturally.
It’s hard to think of a cooler movie to have a song in right now than Justice League. There’s so much buzz on the film right now — you must have been stoked when you found out what the project was for.
I was super-stoked when I found out. It was the closest that I’d ever get to being Batman!
Are you a fan of comics?
I’ve had other things take over my life — but yeah, when I was a kid, I was really into comic books and trading them with my friends, so it’s been something that’s been on my radar for a while.
And, the song “Come Together” — are you a Beatles fan? Was that a particular tune that you’d been into, either past or present?
“Come Together” has been on my radar since I was a kid. My mom was a Beatles fan, so we heard that growing up around the house. As I got to be a teenager, I was introduced to Sgt. Pepper, the White Album. “Come Together” was a standout song. When I first started playing guitar, it was one of those riffs that stood out in my mind.
It is definitely a revered classic even within the entire revered Beatles catalog. Did that have any bearing on how you approached covering it?
I didn’t really think too much about how to approach it because it was kind of already set up for me when I showed up at the studio. Junkie XL had things flowing, and it was just my little flavor that they needed on it. I can’t really take any credit for any direction. I just played that riff, played badass guitar, you know? [Laughs]
Right. But sometimes it can be intimidating to tackle a song like that, just due to its history.
Oh, I was cautious at first. But it didn’t take too long. When you get a call to do something like this, you can’t be scared. You know?
Were there any specific technical tricks you tried out to make the song stand out from its original version?
Technically? I couldn’t explain it to you — I’m not that guy. It was a vibe thing; we knew what to do instinctually.
Have you heard the rest of the Justice League soundtrack? What do you think?
Well, I just saw the movie for the first time last night, and I haven’t been privy to anything else. So I heard the soundtrack for the first time [then]. I’m actually curious to go back and hear it again.
“Come Together” is back on the charts now, thanks to you! I don’t suppose you have gotten any feedback from Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr on your cover yet?
I didn’t get any feedback from either of those guys yet! If I run across them, I’ll probably wait for them to bring it up first!
Any thoughts on what John Lennon might think of it?
[Laughs] I don’t know. I think he’d probably just say [puts on different voice], “Hey, wow, this is very aggressive!”
Justice League opens in theaters Nov. 17.