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When Cave writes a script, he simultaneously is considering the score. For “Lawless,” he wanted to avoid the Americana route, wary of competing with T-Bone Burnett’s “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack. Instead, he and Bad Seeds violinist Warren Ellis went for a “raw, punky feel.”

The score is thus full of countrified versions of more recent rock songs not typically done that way, most notably bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley singing the Velvet Underground tune “White Light/White Heat.” Cave believes the song, which is about methamphetamine use, connects the film’s criticism of Prohibition with contemporary anti-drug policy.

Though Cave now finds himself an in-demand screenwriter, he says it reenergizes him for his “bread and butter” occupation.

“Screenwriting is something I use to help keep the process of songwriting alive,” he says. “If that’s all I was doing, I would have dried up or gone into a real decline years ago with songwriting. I’m always coming back to songwriting. In fact, I’m always running back to songwriting screaming.”


Contact AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle at: