Irvine Welsh: Trainspotting musical will be 'darker' than the book, film and stage show
The Edinburgh author has pledged the production, which is planned to be launched in London's West End, will be a "proper musical" with more than 12 original songs.
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Welsh revealed the show would feature versions of Lust for Life and Born Slippy, the celebrated Iggy Pop and Underworld anthems from Danny Boyle's iconic film.
Each character from the novel is expected to have their own anthem in the show, which will also introduce several brand new characters.
Welsh has joined forces with producer Phil McIyntre, who has worked with Steve Coogan, Billy Connolly, Ricky Gervais and Peter Kay, as well as song-writing partner Steve McGuinness on the Trainspotting musical.
He said they were looking for a suitable venue in London and would be waiting for a recovery of the theatre sector from the impact of the pandemic before launching the new musical.
Welsh, who was being interviewed at the festival by the poet and writer Michael Pedersen, also discussed the coming TV series, which will be based on his Begbie novel The Blade Artist and will see Robert Carlyle return to the role.
Welsh was at the festival to launch a new novel focusing on the character Ray Lennox, with filming also underway on an adaptation for the TV series Crime, with Dougray Scott reviving his role.
The author told how he was asked about a possible Trainspotting musical by McIntyre, after the latter had produced Welsh’s first original stage play, You’ll Have Had Your Hole.
Welsh said: “It was a very dark play. Everything went wrong with it. A couple of the actors got very sick. We lost one venue and had to move to another one. Audiences likes it, but the critics hated it.
"Phil was great. It wasn’t really his thing, which is more mainstream entertainment, but he stuck with it because he really valued the relationship.
"He said to me ‘why do you do Trainspotting as a musical and we will licence all the tracks from the film?’
"I said to him ‘nah, I’m not interested. I can’t see at as a musical at all’.
“My music partner Steve and I started messing around. I realised that he was really great at doing songs in every genre.
"I said ‘how would you fancy it if we sat down and wrote the songs for a Trainspotting musical?’
"We told Phil that we really wanted to do a completely different piece that wasn’t going to be like the movie, the stage play or the book.
"I wanted some new characters involved, I wanted to freshen it up and I also wanted it to be darker. I think it is.
"Ironically, the book for the musical is darker than the actual book or the stage play. It’s certainly darker than the film.
"We wanted it to be a proper musical, and for the songs and the music to tell part of the story.
"When you go to the West End and look at some of those musicals, they are either plays that have been made into musicals or they are like music biopics and are there to showcase what the artist has done.
"The producers insisted that we licence Lust for Live and Born Slippy as the book-ends, but the rest of it is our own tracks. We wrote about 20 songs and used about 12.
"We are basically just waiting now on the West End coming back. It’s been very badly hit during Covid. We need a suitable theatre for it.”
Discussing the documentaries he will be featuring in, Welsh said: “It’s very strange.
"Like most people, I’m not very aware of myself and how I interact with the world.
“I just think of myself as being a bit of a boring b****** who doesn’t really do anything.
"But I’ve been looking at the footage coming out of Leeds, Brighton, London, Dublin, LA, Ibiza and all these places I’ve been in the last year and thinking ‘f*** me. I am probably quite interesting’. But not to myself. I’m more interested in other people.
“It is very exposing as well. I find it quite strange. I am pretty private. You throw this kind of mouthy, sweary t*** out to the world. It's like a scarecrow you plant in a field. You can get on with doing your own stuff.”
Award-winning Edinburgh author Jenni Fagan is adapting The Blade Artist, Welsh’s stand-alone Begbie novel, into a six-part drama. She has said it would be “underpinned by the dual energies of creation and destruction”.
Welsh said: “I thought Jenni would bring a whole different approach and perspective to it, and that it would really benefit from that.
"The last thing I want to do, when something is being adapted, is to see the very same thing that I’ve already written up on the screen.
"I want it to be different from that and for it to amuse, challenge and interest me. I’m not really interested in a kind of c**p version of the book on screen. I want it to have its own identity.
"I thought Jenni would bring something different to it. She’s been a bit shy about showing me what she’s done. I keep hassling her. I’m sure it will be fabulous. The ideas that she has talked through with me for it have been really great, so I’m very excited about it.”