music reporter

Tough? 'Shrek' scorer did it single-handedly

"Shrek the Third" hits theaters Friday, and composer Harry Gregson-Williams could not be happier. He has scored all three of the lovable ogre's films, but this installment has a slew of new characters for whom he composed original themes.

"With the new characters, it was more challenging because I had to make it new, especially for Captain Hook," he says. "There is a scene where he is playing a piano during a fight, so it's as if he's scoring his own music. It was hard to do because he only has one hand. In the end, I made it a fun piece that would be impossible to play with two hands."

Gregson-Williams began composing the score based on storyboards. "Only recently did I see the movie completely animated," he says. "It's very different than scoring a live-action film."

The composer has been very busy this year, with film projects including "Deja Vu," "Flushed Away," "Seraphim Falls" and "The Number 23." Next up: Ben Affleck's directorial debut, "Gone, Baby, Gone," and "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" for 2008.

Maroon5's highly anticipated new album, "It Won't Be Soon Before Too Long," hits stores Tuesday. It marks the first release under the newly formed A&M Octone.

In February, Octone Records entered a joint venture with Interscope Geffen A&M, which begat the new label. The partnership was the result of a multilayered transaction that brought the formerly Sony BMG-affiliated Octone into the Universal Music Group fold.

Says James Diener, who founded Octone in 2000 and now leads A&M Octone as its president and CEO: "Octone began with BMG and was always oriented on the BMG side of Sony BMG. I founded the label as an independent label to be distributed through BMG, but at the same time, I became the senior vp A&R and marketing for J Records and the RCA Music Group. Maroon5 was Octone's first signing. At a certain point in time, we joint-ventured the record with J. That's the moment when you see Octone/ J Records (formally called OctJay) arise."

Diener adds that the idea for the Interscope Geffen A&M partnership came from its chairman, Jimmy Iovine, and UMG chairman and CEO Doug Morris. "I believe (Iovine) saw in Octone the spirit of what the original A&M idea was about: long, hard work for great acts," Diener says. "And at that point, A&M was relatively dormant, more an imprint than a working label."

Diener is bullish about Maroon5's new album. The first single, "Makes Me Wonder," broke a record on Billboard's Hot 100 this month, rocketing from No. 64 to the top of the chart in the biggest jump to No. 1 in chart history. Lead singer Adam Levine also is optimistic. The campaign for the band's first hit record, 2002's "Songs About Jane," took four years. What about the critics who like to bash mainstream albums? "I understand why critics don't like us," Levine says. "We make accessible pop music, and girls like us."

Susan Visakowtiz and Logan Noh contributed to this column.