There’s a video on YouTube in which someone — likely one of Breaking Bad’s many obsessives — looped Better Call Saul’s 14-second theme song for 10 hours straight. It has nearly 50,000 plays. In the comments, fans analyze the guitar tone: Would it be considered a surf riff? Is it played on a Fender Stratocaster? Comments on similar clips compare the theme to Mac DeMarco, Dick Dale, the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, and the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” with impressive fervency given the hook’s brevity.
Others mention that they hope the full version of the theme ends up playing on the show’s season one finale — which aired Monday on AMC — but little do they know that a full version doesn’t exist. Little Barrie never wrote one. The most they have is this extended cut and its accompanying live clip, which Flavorwire is pleased to premiere below.
As Barrie Cadogan — the leader of the London garage-rock trio behind the infectious Better Call Saul theme — tells it, there wasn’t a need to write a hook longer than 30 seconds for this particular task. But he did need to write about 30 of these potential intros, at the request of Thomas Golubić, Vince Gilligan and AMC’s music supervisor of choice. The former Six Feet Under music sup and KCRW host reached out to Little Barrie after following their music for some time, which surprised Cadogan and co. Despite a few stateside tours and relative success in their native U.K. over the last decade and a half, Little Barrie has never had a definitive moment of U.S. breakthrough — until now.
“Thomas was a fan of the band and had all our albums, which was quite interesting because there’s not many people we’ve met who’ve known about us in America for that length of time,” Cadogan tells Flavorwire. “He wanted us to maybe do something for the show, so I had a few conversations with him about what they wanted and the certain things he liked in our songs.”
With a brief in hand and a bit of research on Saul Goodman under their belt, Little Barrie got to work writing, recording, and mixing tens of riffs over the course of three days. After they sent Golubić 17 potential themes, he wanted to double that number in the span of another three days. “It was quite an exciting way to work,” Cadogan says, adding that Golubić ultimately ended up selecting a riff from the initial batch they sent him. “To see your stuff on YouTube with people in all corners of the world playing it on their guitars is pretty amazing.”
Though their Better Call Saul theme is so brief, the band has considered incorporating it and some of the other riffs they wrote for Golubić into future full-length songs now, as they work on the follow-up to 2014’s Shadow, their fourth album and third produced by Edwyn Collins.
“It’s a different way of writing when you think, ‘All I’ve got to do is capture something within 20 seconds or less,'”Cadogan says. “Now we have all these little pieces of music where we wonder, ‘Oh, where could we go from here?’ I’ve always liked the thought of doing music for a film or for TV because it’s a different way of thinking: you might have some pieces of music that are 15 seconds long, you might have some pieces of music that are 10 minutes long.”
There’s only one thing left for Cadogan to do now: binge-watch Breaking Bad.
“I was one of the only people who hadn’t seen it,” Cadogan admits, saying he knew he’d get caught eventually. “It was — and is — massive here in England. For ages, a lot of my friends were saying to me, ‘Come on man, you need to watch Breaking Bad.’ Thomas filled me in on Saul and I did a lot of research; what I’ve seen of Better Call Saul has been really great — a fantastic character [played by Bob Odenkirk] and so well written. Maybe not seeing Breaking Bad gave me a different viewpoint [to write the theme], but now I have to see the series.”