Being asked to write a song on relatively short notice is a tall order for nearly any artist. Asking a punk band to write a tune about mathematics for a stage play doesn’t make the task any easier.
That was the test Mark and Mickey Watton were given when Stephen Perchard of Stage West Theatre Festival approached the punk rock brothers from Meadows just a month ago.
Perchard was looking for three songs, actually, to be incorporated into the festival’s production of “Proof.” The play features a character who is the drummer for a punk band, but also a gifted mathematician. The festival wanted a song with lyrics about math, plus a slow acoustic instrumental and an upbeat punk instrumental.
Mark Watton admitted it was a little hard to find the inspiration for a song about math, but they managed to find the solution to the musical equation.
“He just said make it as punny as possible, so we tried to come up with as many math puns as we could,” said Watton.
The answer was the song “X-Why” untitled until Friday and before then simply called “The Math Song.” It contains lines such as “In school, all my problems were irrational ... Kicked out of school for being infractional ... Will you take all your time and sum it up for me ... My time’s been wasted in history” and “can’t connect all the angles in my mind.”
Mickey Watton penned most of the intended puns and both put the music to it. The song is featured during a bar scene in the play.
The other two songs, a slow song called “West Street Children” — named after the band the Watton brothers play in — and the faster one “Oh Darling, I,” are used as background music throughout the play’s performance. All three songs were recorded for the play within the past month and the recordings are used during the productions.
The Wattons had already recorded “Oh Darling, I” for their CD, but modified it for Stage West Theatre Festival’s purposes.
“Steve said he wanted something fast and punky, so we recorded it again, but sped it up a bit more this time,” said Watton.
“Proof” had its festival premiere at the Royal Canadian Legion in Corner Brook last week. Its finale is Friday.
Watton attended the premiere and was happy with how his and his brother’s music worked within the show.
“It’s a really good play and I thought the music fit almost eerily perfect into some of the scenes,” he said.