New HBO series Vinyl, starring Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde and Ray Romano, is set in New York in 1973 and is about the music industry. A recent promotional event organised by the television network in Los Angeles brought together six of the cast and creators, including Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger (who participated via satellite).
What was New York like back in 1973? Terence Winter (writer): “In hindsight, it’s romantic. But it had an edge of danger. I grew up in what I call ‘Taxi Driver New York’. It was very alive, electric, scary, but thrilling.”
And it’s cleaner now? “When we shoot an exterior scene we have to bring our own garbage. It’s somebody’s job to bring garbage to the set. Usually when you use visual effects, it’s to make something look better. We have to make it look worse.”
What do you admire about Martin Scorsese? Jagger (executive producer): “Marty is a great connoisseur of music and one of the first to use rock wall to wall in a movie. Before Marty, people used music occasionally. He more or less invented the use of music that we’re now very used to and totally at home with.”
What do you admire about Mick Jagger? Scorsese (executive producer): “The music that they created, Mick and his group [The Rolling Stones … have influenced] the visualisations that I have of scenes throughout my films, particularly in Mean Streets or even in Raging Bull and all the way up to The Wolf of Wall Street. So it’s constant. It’s very much a part of my life. It was a natural for us at some point to try to do something together.”
What are you nostalgic for from the 70s? Cannavale: “Records, for one. They really used to mean something. I’m so glad I came from a generation that bought records.”
What’s it like acting out scenes with people playing your favourite bands? Romano: “It’s the closest I’m going to get to time travel. I’m getting to meet the performers. Like I’m meeting David Bowie, I’m meeting Led Zeppelin – they’re fake guys, but still. They had such an influence on you as a kid and now you’re this middle-aged guy who’s thinking about childhood with a little bit of nostalgia.”
How do you feel about masculinity and 70s fashion? Cannavale: “It was a great time for fashion. Something happens when I put those clothes on. I went six months wearing pants with no pockets – I’ve never done that – really tight pants with high waist and no pockets. The collars, hair, jewellery. They all help inform the character for me.”
Some people say rock ‘n’ roll is dead. Can Vinyl revive it? Jagger: “I have no idea. It’s a good TV show.”
Vinyl debuts on Monday, February 15, on HBO, at 10am, with a repeat at 10pm.