L.A. IS A DEEPLY EVIL PLACE, and it appeals to half my nature,” says the alternative-pop sensation Matthew Sweet. “Someday I’ll have to move there, and that’s a little disturbing.”
Sweet’s love-hate relationship with L.A. is fueled by his fixation on the town’s greatest export – B movies. The twenty-seven-year-old, who was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, claims he never met a rental film he didn’t like. “I’m obsessed with teen movies – bad teen movies,” says Sweet. He counts Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Caddyshack and Three O’Clock High among his favorites. His love song “Winona,” from his breakthrough album, Girlfriend, got its name when he was stuck in a Heathers loop —– although he wants to dispel the myth that Winona Ryder is the object of his desires. “I like the name Winona, I think she’s a talented actress, but the connection is purely random,” Sweet says. “Whatever happened to our capacity to be metaphoric?”
The title track of Girlfriend reached the ears of director Fran Rubel Kuzui, who asked Sweet to contribute something like it to the soundtrack of her new summer comedy, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. “I read the script and loved it —– definite camp,” says Sweet. “But I don’t think I’ll ever write another song so supremely dumb again.” Instead, Sweet culled from his archives a track entitled “Silent City,” filled with graveyard imagery and underworld allusions. It proved a perfect fit.
Thanks to his rounds through the B-movie video bins, Sweet was a fan of Buffy star Kristy Swanson before he was tapped for the soundtrack. “I’ve been into Kristy’s work for a while,” says Sweet, who no doubt rented Mannequin 2: On the Move, with Swanson coming to life in the title role, on a latenight binge. “She seemed really cool to me.”
According to Swanson, whose costars include Donald Sutherland and Luke Perry, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer is the tale of a “mall doll who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing, secure in her life as the popular high-school girl.” Lest you think life imitates art, Swanson is quick to point out that the homecoming-queen scene is “a bunch of obnoxious crap.” Buffy’s world gets rocked when Sutherland informs her she has been chosen to rid the town of vampires.
Swanson, who relates more to the slayer Buffy than the ditsy one, isn’t fazed by the Hollywood thing. “I’ve been an emancipated actress since I was fourteen,” says the twenty-two-year-old. “I think I’ve got it under control.” Maybe she can show Sweet the way around town.