"We have all these recordings of us doing actual soundtrack stuff, which we've played around town for years," says guitarist Devon Goldberg, aka Devon E. Levins (Creedle, Rust), who founded Morricone Youth in 1999, a year after moving to New York from SD. He'd gone to college here and played in bands like the Holy Love Snakes. "But part of the reason we never [issued the recordings] is, by law you have to pay mechanical royalties on somebody else's compositions...at eight cents or more a track, if you have ten covers and release even just a thousand CDs, that's at least another $800 you have to come up with." As a result, the band performed bits and pieces of actual film soundtracks.
After a 2004 gig in Brooklyn, a chance encounter catalyzed the band's decision to write originals.
"This guy approached us, kinda drunk, raving about the music; said he was an in-house engineer at Electric Lady [the NYC studio built in the '60s by Jimi Hendrix], he had the keys, and he'd love to record us for fun after-hours. But his enthusiasm waned when he found out we did all covers, and he asked, 'Have you guys written any originals?' 'We can,' we told him. So, turns out the guy was for real, we wrote a bunch of originals, and eventually he tells us, 'Okay, come down this weekend, studio's free, let's do it' -- but it turns out Dave Matthews showed up to do some vocal mixing and it never happened. After a couple of these false alarms, we decided to record the new stuff elsewhere."
Goldberg has also played in New York City rock trio Pretendo with fellow M.Y. member John Castro. Castro moved from SD in 2000, after years playing bass in the Rugburns (for which he still comes west to do occasional reunion shows). Morricone Youth drummer Greg O'Keefe played in aMiniature while he lived in San Diego during the '90s. Vocalist Dreiky Caprice, who joined M.Y. in 2003, was known for years as one of three drummers in San Diego's defunct Crash Worship.
After six years together, and one re-imagined soundtrack release (Magnum Force), Morricone Youth released its first original CD in late 2005. Silenzio Violento is full of sounds that recall noir thrillers, monster movies, and spaghetti westerns. Though reminiscent of work done by cinematic composers Lalo Schifrin, Henry Mancini, and Ennio Morricone, the tracks are originals.
Spindley, Caprice, and O'Keefe eventually left the band. A long period of inactivity ended in 2016 with two EPs, The Adventures of Prince Achmed and Night of the Living Dead, followed in 2017 by two albums, Mad Max and Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans.