Already an established musician in his own right, things have recently taken an exciting change of direction for Cookstown singer-songwriter Denver McCord.  To be invited to have one’s music included in the soundtrack of a major independent movie may seem like a dream for most unsigned musicians, but that’s just what has happened. 

Through his day job as sound technician in the Burnavon Theatre, Denver chanced to be working alongside Greg Malone, a lighting technician for a Rod Stewart tribute act booked to play there, and he happened to give him a copy of his 2015 album Confessions, Questions and Tales. He had no way of knowing what that simple gesture would lead to.

Confessions, Questions and Tales

Unbeknown to Denver at the time, Malone was working on a new independent feature film Lucas and Albert about a couple of ageing East End gangsters on the trail of one last heist. By happy coincidence the movie’s director Darren S. Cook heard him listening to Denver’s album and asked, “Who’s this guy?” before immediately dispatching him to ask Denver if he would be interested in putting forward any music for the movie.  It was a chain of events almost worthy of a movie plot of its own.

Albert & Lucas

Not surprisingly, Denver took his arm off and sent the music right away, back in November of 2018. It was an exciting opportunity but remained a mere “maybe” until the summer of this year when he was contacted again with the news that four of his songs had been selected for inclusion in the soundtrack, including three from the album (“Real Eyes”, “Sparkle & Fade” and“Get Your Act Together“) and the brand new single, “Come Home.”

From that point on things moved quickly and on 17th of September Denver found himself walking the red carpet at Leicester Square’s Prince Charles cinema for the premier of Lucas & Albert. He recalled his excitement at being invited to attend the prestigious event; the buzz around the cinema was palpable he told me, with lots of people lining the street to see what was happening. 

Denver with director Darren S Cook

On the night Denver met the director and the stars of the show, James Osborne and AG Longhurst as well as cameo stars John Altman (better known as Eastenders Nasty Nick Cotton), Michael McKell, Kim Taylforth (yes, that’s right, sister of Gillian), Sidney Livingstone and Robert Putt. Denver was touched by the gratitude and sincere accolade he received from Cook who was clearly enamoured with his music. “There I was, saying to him ‘Man, I’m nobody!’” Denver confides, “and this established director is telling me, ‘Nobody? Are you mad? Sparkle and Fade is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life!’”  It took some convincing, but Denver may finally be ready to admit that all the other contributors to the movie saw him there as their peer – and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.  One of Northern Irish music’s most charming, self-effacing practitioners is beginning to get some of the recognition he deserves.

Denver with director Darren S Cook

So, what was it like to hear his own music coming from the big screen, in a real cinema in Leicester Square, in the heart of London’s famous movie district?  I was dying to hear. “And did you cry?” I asked. “Tell the truth!”.  Denver admitted that it was certainly an emotional experience, particularly since the songs have such a prominent role in the plot. “Sparkle and Fade”, he explains, comes in about thirty minutes into the film and it completely dominates one scene, played almost in its entirety.  “I mean I wrote that song, and I know what it is about, but to hear it in the context of the movie it took on a different meaning – even for me.”  The premier ended with the director name checking and thanking Denver personally for his contribution – “Denver McCord, you are fucking awesome!” High praise indeed.

Three more of Denver’s songs feature prominently in Lucas & Albert; “Come Home” is played on the car radio as the main protagonists of the movie drive along, the reprise of “Get Your Act Together” closes another scene in the car, while the intro to “Real Eyes” is looped to build the suspense of another scene. This is not mere incidental music, it’s a vehicle to showcase Denver’s music to a broadening audience. On the flight home, Denver remembers, the enormity of that suddenly hit him, “I was thinking, my God, five hundred people in that cinema just heard my songs who wouldn’t have heard them otherwise.” Let’s hope it leads to greater recognition for this rising star.

And what is next with regard to the film? Well currently the filmmakers are in talks with Odeon who are extremely interested in showing it in all their cinemas. Not only that but a major American cinema chain has shown interest in distributing it stateside.  Eventually it is expected that the movie will come to Netflix which would allow Denver’s fans here to experience his first major involvement in feature films for themselves.

As if all that weren’t exciting enough, Darren S Cook has so fallen in love with Denver’s music that he has asked Denver to allow him to produce a music video for “Sparkle and Fade.” Watch this space!

Besides the movie business, Denver’s main priority is his music of course, so it was particularly thrilling for him when he recently learned that his first single “How Long (‘til I See You Again)” had charted at number 13 on the Australian radio station, Banks Radio Australia. That came totally from left field and Denver was as surprised as anyone to learn that his music had found a loyal following in the antipodes. His classic rock sound clearly has a broad appeal.

I can only imagine where things will go for Denver McCord from here – it looks like the sky’s the limit.  Having travelled the world, pursuing his love of all things music and movie related, Denver is no stranger to rubbing shoulders with celebrities. Now though it looks like he may well soon be an A-lister himself. “For the makers and stars of this film to treat you on a par, to treat me like I am as much a part of Lucas & Albert as they are, was a complete head-melter!” I think perhaps he’d better get used to it.

Check out Denver’s music for yourself and keep track of the latest news on the film here