David Chase: Not Fade Away

Interview

Friday, December 14, 2012

David Chase on the set of Not Fade Away David Chase on the set of Not Fade Away (Barry Wetcher / Paramount Vantage)

David Chase launched a golden age in television drama when he created The Sopranos. But Chase always wanted to make movies, and now, 40 years after entering show business, his first feature film comes out next week.

Like The Sopranos, Not Fade Away takes place in New Jersey — and the resemblance ends there. It takes place in 1964, as The Rolling Stones and the Beatles first appeared on American television. Chase was 18 at that time. “It blew me away,” he tells Kurt Andersen of watching those bands on The Ed Sullivan Show. “It really set my course.” Chase wanted to make a movie that captured the impact of the British Invasion on Americans of his generation.

His movie’s hero, Douglas, plays the drums with friends in the basement, as Chase himself did. Where Douglas sets out for Los Angeles to pursue music, Chase went there to pursue film. He ended up in television, as writer and producer for shows like The Rockford Files, Northern Exposure, and I’ll Fly Away, until creating The Sopranos in his 50s.

Many see that show as paving the way for a new generation of serious, complex TV dramas like Deadwood, The Wire, and Breaking Bad. Chase is reluctant to take credit. “It never connected with me at the time,” he says of The Sopranos’ legacy, “I’m glad there’s better shows on and if I had any influence on anybody about it, great.” And he says it’s unlikely he’ll create another television show. “I don’t think I could do it as well,” he tells Kurt, “I don’t think I’d have the energy for it. I think I put everything into The Sopranos. I don’t know where I’d get more.”


→ What song woke you up to the world as a teenager?
Tell us in a comment below.

    Music Playlist
  1. Body and Soul
    Artist: Louis Prima
    Album: Buona Sera
  2. Subterranean Homesick Blues
    Artist: The Twylight Zones
    Album: Not Fade Away (Music from the Motion Picture)
    Label: ABKCO Music & Records, Inc.
    Purchase: Amazon
  3. Not Fade Away
    Artist: Buddy Holly
    Album: All the Hits
    Label: Dance Street
    Purchase: Amazon

Guests:

David Chase

Produced by:

Michele Siegel

Comments [4]

Wow! Thanks for fielding my question, Kurt.

Such a detailed and complex answer! I'll bet he gets asked this often.
It must be exhausting for him to always explain, though the answer
isn't easily found on the web.

His surname has always been a matter of curiosity to me. He's not part of the
generation that mandatorily lopped off vowels to be accepted in showbiz
(he mentions Dean Martin, etc.). So, I thought the reason had to be fascinating.
And it is.

Words are important and names are words. The surreptitious division of his
kin (that had resulted in the name change) undoubtedly created an aching in
his immediate family. It's safe to say, given what is widely known about his
childhood, this familial aching contributed greatly to the heart of his genius.

He was very gracious. I'm looking forward to seeing his new work.
I remain a big fan of both David Chase and Studio360.

Lisa Giordano

Dec. 21 2012 06:45 PM
Steve MacIntyre from Beaver Dam, AZ

Kurt Anderson is perhaps just slightly too young to remember, but the Stone were not the first English band to follow the Beatles into America; in fact the Stones weren't even part of the first wave of the British Invasion at all. That first British band behind the Beatles was The Dave Clark Five. And yes, there really was an attempt to create a rivalry of allegiance between the reigning British rock bands, but it was not between the Beatles and the Stones, as Mr. Anderson imagines, but between the Beatles and The Dave Clark Five. It was not to last, of course, and just as have most of the other bands from that first wave (Manfred Mann, Herman's Hermit's, et al.), The Dave Clark Five has faded away.

The Stones were part of the second wave of the British Invasion which was a much more enduring and included such rock groups as The Who, the Kinks, the Animals, Them and many others we still regard as important. To the extent that there was a rivalry between the Beatles and the Stones, that was a marketing illusion created by Stones manager Andrew Oldham, who had previously been a publicist who had done work for Brian Epstein and the Beatles. It was rather clever: There was the Beatles and there was everybody else. And if Epstein had created a clean-cut image for the Beatles, then Oldham would try to launch the Stones into a similarly lofty firmament by counter-programing, making the Stones the bad boys to the Beatles good one. It worked, creating the marketing image which Kurt Anderson recalls as a kind of rivalry. It also, Mick Jagger has said, damaged several of the band members personally as they strived to live up the image.

Dec. 16 2012 03:23 PM
Ginnie G from Cayman Islands

Pink Floyd "Echoes"
Pink Floyd was introducing me to myself since "Interstellar Overdrive" but hearing "Echoes" for the first time in 1971 late at night in the dark home alone froze me into deep musical meditation. Afterward I slowly reached to switch on a lamp and a large roach (of the sort we get in South Mississippi) tumbled out of my hair. I shrieked as I got up and another large roach came out of my hair. I ran hysterically through the house tearing off clothes. I got over the roaches, but the music inspired me to keep dancing on the edge of sanity the rest of my life.

Dec. 16 2012 03:13 PM
Steve Nichols from Mobile, Alabama

Mrs Robinson.
It was the year-end class party for a very upscale class of 8th grade boys from a very old and established southern military school. My working class parents sacrificed much to send me for the past two years. I did well, but I never quite fit in. Regardless, I was too easy going to really notice or be to give it much thought. That Saturday afternoon was rainy, a soft, spritzy, almost mellow intermittent rain that we really didn't mind since we were junior high kids and the party was beach and pierside on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. We all had fun, myself included, but it all came together (or apart) when it was time to pick up and leave. After everything was loaded into the cars, including my classmates, I found myself as odd-man-out, left to wedge into the back-end of a station wagon along with the volley ball nets and such. As I laid back on the party gear, I found myself watching the rain fall between the tall pine and listening to the chatter of classmates, it suddenly dawned on me that my presence didn't matter to anyone else in the car and I was suddenly glad for the damp rain on my face. After a few moments of feeling sorry for myself, I suddenly became aware of "Mrs. Robinson" playing on the car radio and for a few stark moments the song, the rain, and my melancholy fused... and then it all passed. By the time the song had ended, I no longer cared about fitting in with my former classmates. Rather I was wondering what life would bring in the summer and even moreso in the fall at my new public high school. When my parents picked me up at the rally point later, they didn't know it but I was in essence a completely new person. I was me. I've never looked back; and I've never been the same. Since then, whenever I hear Mrs. Robinson play on a radio, I am back in the rear of a station wagon looking up at the rain and clouds. After all, it was the day I came of age.

Dec. 15 2012 03:34 PM

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