Music plays as integral a role as Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in giving "True Detective" its bayou flavor and off-kilter eeriness. Each episode is curated by T-Bone Burnett with moody folk songs and Southern revival chants. The show's soundtrack lends Rust Cohle and Marty Hart's quest to stop a seemingly inhuman serial killer an emotional tether and cultural resonance throughout the astounding series. But no song matches tones with Nic Pizzolatto's script like The Handsome Family's "Far From Any Road" - The theme song of the series. Stereotude caught up with The Handsome Family to ask them about "True Detective," songwriting, and the mysterious ideas behind "Far From Any Road."
Although they received notification that HBO was considering a song of theirs for one of their programs, The Handsome Family didn't take it all that seriously. So the first time the show premiered was actually the moment they discovered that "Far From Any Road" had been chosen for the "True Detective" theme song.
"It was pretty dang great," said Rennie Sparks of first hearing and seeing their song accompanying the opening credits of the new HBO series. Rennie and her husband Brett Sparks wrote the track "Far From Any Road" for their 2003 album, Singing Bones. "Brett punched himself so hard in the leg, he got a bruise. It was just a really, really nice moment."
The visuals that make up the opening sequence for the show include the outlines of nude strippers, rows of eighteen-wheelers in an otherwise empty lot, the show's stars engulfed in flames, and jellyfish in fluid motion. Although The Handsome Family often embrace dark and sometimes ominous imagery, Sparks insists that they write with classic, heartfelt intentions. "I don't think of us as macabre. I think of us as songwriters interested in the romantic in its most traditional form - an awed sense of wonder in the face of nature's mystery. I guess the occult overlaps into that too," said Sparks.
Although Rennie first met Brett in New York, the couple now resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It's from that desolate landscape that The Handsome Family frequently draw inspiration for their haunting melodies. "['Far From Any Road' is about] the story of the harsh beauty of the desert," said Sparks. "Everything here has a secret thorny spine."
Check out the tune below: