Interview with Richard Band

Richard Band is known best for scoring the film “Re-Animator”, which is one of my favorite horror scores. Richard has worked a lot in his career with his brother Charles Band specifically with scoring the “Puppet Master” series. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Richard about his scores, his favorites and what he has planning upcoming.

Mike Gencarelli: What is your process like when starting to compose for a film?
Richard Band: What I like to do is look at the film numerous times. In the old days I would sit and watch the film in a screening room around four or five times. Now with the invention of quick time and computerized digitalization I will sit and watch a film as many times as it takes to get an idea for what the movie calls for. It has to kind of speak to me in a way so that it passes from my head down to my heart. A lot of times a film has a deeper context and that’s really what I look to bring out with music. I really like to use music to bring out that underlying momentum or meaning of the film or characters.

MG: Have you ever worked on a score prior to seeing a scene or film?
RB: It happens now and then. When you’re working on a musical you have to have the music completed before they start filming. I haven’t done any musicals per say but I have done some work where a song or music was required for the scene to be shot. In that case you have to get familiar with the scene and talk with the director and producer. I try to use a similar process as when I am able to see the project that way everyone is on the same page.

MG: “Re-Animator” is one of the best scores in horror history and also one of my personal favorites. Can you tell us what your inspiration was for that score?
RB: After watching the film quite a few times the thing that came to me very early on was Herbert West’s mania. This character is clearly a genius but at the same time he is totally nuts. This was a main driving force. This combined with the fact that the film was so out there and crazy for it’s time. If the film was treated on a serious level people would probably walk out in a second as it would be too much to believe on any level. I decided the music had to have a type of humor to it that was quirky and a touch off. I began thinking about different movies that the audience could immediately relate to and at the same time exemplify just how nuts and crazy the main character is. “Psycho” came into my mind and I knew it was a film that everyone would recognize. I used some of the motifs’ and or orchestrations from “Psycho” but I added my own original theme and a quirky drum that would give it my own signature but also give it something people could relate back to.

MG: You worked on all/most the films in the “Puppet Master” series, how do you differentiate when working on each score?
RB: In the case of the “Puppet Master” series when it started out no one knew it was going to become a franchise. I think an important ingredient in any film is there has to be a very identifiable theme that could go across that film and be strong enough for people to identify with. On the sequels there was no question that the main theme had to be a driving force in the subsequent scores. The theme its self has an element of sadness combined with a circus type element that shows that no matter how bad the puppets are in their deeds the puppets are actually the good guys.

MG: You have worked throughout the sci-fi/horror genre; do you have a favorite score that you have worked on?
RB: I have done so many different kinds of scores. Of the genre stuff I don’t think I really have a favorite. I did a score that’s not really genre called “Ghost Warrior”. I recorded that with the Royal Philharmonic and it has a very beautiful score. Of the genre stuff “From Beyond” is in the top five. I did a score for Paramount called “Dragon World” which is a really beautiful score that I like a lot. It’s hard to really pin point one favorite.

MG: Do you a have film score that you have not worked on that you really liked?
RB: I have always been a very big fan of Jerry Goldsmith’s work. He has done so many good scores. The score he won an Academy award for in “The Omen” was really incredible. Even going back earlier than Jerry his teacher Nicholas Rosa did some amazing scores as well like “Spartacus”. There have been a lot of great composers through the years. I wish we had more of those types these days. There seems to be a shortage of very lush scores these days due to cost’s.

MG: How do you feel that composing has changed since your first film, if at all?
RB: Scoring has changed since I started. The first 12-15 years I did mostly large orchestral work. My upbringing and training was much more formal even though I had done some electronic work during those years. I started before computers really came into use so the work was much more meticulous back then. We had a music editor who wrote music notes while watching a piece and at the end they would hand me around 500 pages of musical notation broken down to seconds and milliseconds. Everything was done from memory and notes which was much more intimate. A lot of times in those days it was me sitting at a piano with a lot of good pencils, paper and erasers. Today you have to be both a composer and a friggin engineer to work all the gear they have now. In the older days I could put in a good 10 hr. day of writing. These days if I put 10 hrs. of work in maybe half of it is writing and the rest is screwing around with equipment.

MG: Tell us about your upcoming projects?
RB: Right now I am doing a pretty cool 3-D short that I believe will start airing at the end of the month on one of the 3-D channels. Then In a couple weeks I start on a feature titled “Shiver” which is a suspense thriller starring Danielle Harris, Casper Van Dien and a few others.

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