Andy Burrows talks Life on the Road with Ricky Gervais

"We took an old school approach, just set up some mics and recorded it live."
"We took an old school approach, just set up some mics and recorded it live."

It would have been easy for Ricky Gervais to knock out a few pages of comedy lyrics over the top of a handful of chords and call it the soundtrack to his new David Brent movie Life on the Road.

But Gervais has gone right to the other end of spectrum, recruiting former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows to work on a double album full of tunes.

"The songs are catchy and in the context of the film they are really funny," says Andy of the double disc soundtrack. "Part of me thinks a lot of these songs will stand up as tunes that people just can't help but like. I have no idea how it will do, but however it does it has been a complete dream to do."

Andy first worked with Gervais ahead of the latter's live dates as David Brent at the back end of 2013. So, when Gervais decided to bring his beloved The Office character to the big screen for a rockumentary, Burrows got the call to work up some material.

There's quite a lot of drumming on it, Ricky was really into that.

Brent out of shape

"Ricky brought in all of these songs that he'd been writing ever since the conception of David Brent," Andy explains. "My role was on an arrangement level. He would send me a phone demo of a verse and a chorus and his comments about what he wanted to happen. I would come back with an arrangement idea and send it back. Then we'd get in the room with the band. We had a good two years of pre-production."

With the songs written Andy headed into the studio with his '60s Ludwig kit and was able to relax into pulling out some sublime drumming moments across the record.

"There's quite a lot of drumming on it, Ricky was really into that," he says. "When we first started I was doing fills all over the place. We felt free about it and Ricky seemed to dig the drumming so I stuck with it. We took an old school approach, just set up some mics and recorded it live. I had some good fun on the drums, it's quite fill-tastic.

"The beat on Oh La La is pretty cool. It's the kind of thing you don't get away with in pop anymore with fills between the lines. I still gave the lyrics chance to breathe though, there's no over drumming. There's a nice stadium rock ending with big drum fills on Thank F*** It's Friday as well. It was a lot of fun to be able to be so free."

Andy acting

But nailing the tunes was just the start for Andy, there was also the little matter of turning his hand at acting as part of the movie.

"Ricky said he wanted the band to be in the film because he wanted to be realistic and it would be more realistic if it was us rather than actors pretending to be a band. We thought we'd just be seen on stage and behind him, that would have been acting in the loosest sense.

"But as it went on we realised he wanted us to take part in the documentary talking heads bit. We were nervous for a little while but we got into it and Ricky guided us through. I think, and hope, we did an alright job. The audience will be the judge of whether we were any good."

Rich Chamberlain

Rich is a teacher, one time Rhythm staff writer and experienced freelance journalist who has interviewed countless revered musicians, engineers, producers and stars for the our world-leading music making portfolio, including such titles as Rhythm, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, and MusicRadar. His victims include such luminaries as Ice T, Mark Guilani and Jamie Oliver (the drumming one).