Bruce Springsteen made a surprise appearance in London this evening (October 29), taking part in a Q&A session following a screening of new documentary The Promise: The Making Of ‘The Darkness On The Edge Of Town’.
The singer took to the stage, alongside manager Jon Landau and the film’s director Thom Zimny, at the BFI Southbank to talk about the movie, which features unreleased footage of the E Street Band shot between 1976 and 1978.
The documentary accompanies new box-set release ‘The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story’, which is out on November 15 and features three CDs, including a remastered version of the original 1978 album, ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’, and two discs’ worth of previously unreleased tracks, alongside a DVD of the film and live footage.
Speaking after the screening of the 90-minute documentary, Springsteen told the audience how the archive in the studio footage had come about.
“The guy who shot all the footage was the kid in the neighbourhood who had the camera. He wanted to be a filmmaker at some point. It wasn’t going to go anywhere so we weren’t worried about it,” he explained.
“He’d come up the studio with his video camera and he was easy to ignore. Then he sat on it for 30 years. He was good about it, he said, ‘I don’t know, is it mine or yours?’ I paid him for that so I guess we sorted that out, but it was good of him not to do anything for 30 years!”
Springsteen also spoke about why the album had taken so long to make – having recorded around 70 songs, he cut so much for the final album.
“The lack of process was interesting. We didn’t know how to make records, we were adverse to professionalism [at the time]… I was so full of doubt that the only way I knew to get to something done was to slog away for hours and hours,” he recalled. “We did think hard about what we were doing. If we didn’t have something I could smell it in the air. We were making a record of the times… We were sniffing out the times.
“It [the album] established our band as documenting the times and having that conversation with you. We weren’t revivalists. I was very specific we were a band that documented the times.”
He added that, along with the punk revolution and US recession of the late 1970s, film noir had influenced the characters in his songwriting.
Springsteen also spoke about the songs that will be released in the box-set for the first time.
“We made a lot of music… and the music that was left out was truly a separate record,” he said. “We stumbled our way to ten songs [that made the record] and they’ve stood up over the years. There’s a lot of beautiful music we had a chance to finish over the summer and I hope people get a kick out of it.”
Wrapping up the short session, ‘The Boss’ made a point of praising Zimny‘s contribution to the project.
“Thom did all the work and he managed to capture the narrative of that moment and I want to thank him,” he declared, before jokingly offering to spank volunteers with his microphone stand before leaving the stage to a standing ovation.
For more on Bruce Springsteen’s Q&A head to our sister Uncut.co.uk for a blog on the event.