Interview by Joshua T. Gravel
Meet MARS of DEAD HOUSE MUSIC, composer, musician, horror fan and the composer of the original scores for the Stephen Romano Presents Shock Festival DVD.
Could you give the Alternative Cinema audience some background information on your career in film or the arts in general?
My pleasure. I grew up in a musical household, and have a background in music ranging from musical theatre, Classical and Jazz, thru Death Metal and Goth rock. I performed / toured in the extreme metal scene of the 1990's and decided to get off the road around 2004 or so. As a fan of genre film, who just happens to be a musician and composer, I figured that by establishing a studio in my own home I could pursue my primary career while simultaneously exploring my other passion: Horror films. I grew up on Universal Monsters and Hammer horror, and later I discovered Italian Giallo and other styles of Euro Horror. So, working within the genre just seemed to make sense.
I decided to sharpen up my orchestral chops, and I began looking for film work in 2005. I opened DEAD HOUSE MUSIC that same year, as a company dedicated to creating quality scores for independent genre film. 17 films later, I'm still on that mission.
I understand that you composed the music for various menus and intros on the Shock Festival project, what brought you to this project?
I was on Paige Davis' radar, and she called me when it came time to brainstorm for the project. She actually asked me initially to direct a trailer based upon one of Stephen's “films” that was supposed to be a lost H.P. Lovecraft adaptation. Anyone who knows me knows what a Lovecraft nerd I am. Anyway, at the time (directing a trailer) seemed like a bit of a stretch for me time-wise…so, I offered to write some music for a few of the other trailers and perhaps to do a central theme song for SHOCK FESTIVAL instead.
After corresponding with Stephen, we hit it off so well, I just kind of ran with the inspiration as it came. The result was a lot more music than I'd initially intended, but Stephan & Paige really dug what I was coming up with, so no one seemed to mind. Now the music is a really integral part of the project, and I'm really pleased that it turned out this way.
What is the process of composing music for projects like this?
I'd say it begins with 30 years of being a genre fan. Seriously, I have my bases covered when it comes to this world. Being able to reference multiple eras thru several decades of film music styles, let alone being able to reproduce those styles convincingly, by myself, takes some serious effort, I don't mean to sound arrogant, but that's the truth. But it never FELT like work, I was just indulging myself and immersing myself in the fantasy world Stephan had set up already, mixed with all the genre music I had absorbed thru being a fan for so long. The two mirror each other so closely that they crossed over.
From a technical standpoint, I used as many vintage guitars, amps, drums, and various other musical instruments as I could get my hands on. This was to get the correct tones that were crucial in making the music seem truly credible as being from the past. After that, I used selective equalization techniques and vinyl noise to “Age” the recordings properly. I think the results are pretty convincing if I do say so myself.
Are there any current or future projects you would like people to know about?
Sure. Several feature films I've done this year - ("WON TON BABY" "SAWTOOTH" & "SLIME CITY MASSACRE") hit the convention circuit before December, “LOVECRAFT: FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN” is out on DVD & Blu-Ray this month. “DEMON DIVAS AND THE LANES OF DAMNATION” should be out on DVD in 2010. And, the video & music I did for Transfuzion Comics's DEADWORLD re-launch turned out cool.
I'm past the funding stage for a film I'll be directing in 2010 (which, as everyone knows, is the hard part), and into pre-production right now. Lastly, I'm scoring an animated feature film sometime in the New Year. My Bloody Best to all the fans of horror out there.
For more information on Mars and Dead House Music, check out the following websites, www.deadhousemusic.com and www.myspace.com/deadhousemusic