David Arnold on scoring 007: “A common criticism of song writing can be ‘this sounds like a Bond song'”

The award winning composer joins Bowers & Wilkins at Abbey Road to celebrate 60 years of James Bond.

“I can’t believe I became part of this film series,” says composer David Arnold. “I did five Bond films – Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace – and it still feels like an enormous honour.”
Arnold is in Abbey Road Studio Two, reminiscing as part of a 60 Years of Bond shindig. There’s a Martini Bar in one corner of the studio and Bollinger on tap in another, while a sizzle reel loops on the wall.

The themes for Spectre and Skyfall were recorded at Abbey Road. What’s more, the recently released Bond 25 album, featuring Bond themes played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, with brand-new arrangements, was also recorded in Abbey Road Studio One.

The orchestra is on hand for the night, playing Monty Norman’s theme, as well as the themes from Goldfinger and Skyfall, for specially invited guests.

David Arnold says that his first encounter with Bond was at a Christmas party when he was eight years old. “I saw it projected (on 16mm film) at a children’s party and within the first five minutes I had heard John Barry’s extraordinary strings for that amazing opening song, Nancy Sinatra singing, and saw a giant spaceship eating a smaller space ship; a hollowed out volcano and ninjas!

“I’ve always said that when you’re from Luton, everything seems exotic, but this was truly exotic. Ever since then Bond has been a part of my life. Bond has become a cultural touchstone. An icon. It’s remarkable.”

“A common criticism of song writing can be ‘this sounds like a Bond song.’ It’s an easy thing to say. Whenever a new Bond movie comes out, someone will produce a list of songs that could have been a Bond song but weren’t…

“Yet it’s evasive. McCartney’s Live and Let Die sounds nothing like Billie Eilish’s No Time to Die, and neither of them sound like The Spy Who Loved Me, yet they’re all Bond songs. The Bond name shoulders an awful lot.”

Talking about the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Arnold says: “The RPO made me want to be a composer. I wanted to be a part of something that made such an incredible noise. When you’re in the studio with the RPO at full blast, it’ll make you want to become a composer. Just don’t become too good. I can do without the competition…”