Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Music Director Blog 001

My earliest memory of FORBIDDEN ZONE was seeing the tape in video rental stores when I was a kid. I didn’t think much of it at the time, though I was confused about the fact that sometimes it would be in the “horror” section and sometimes “comedy”. I attribute this largely to the fact that San Jose, CA is not nearly as much of a film nerd town as Los Angeles (unless you take “The Milpitas Monster” into account). Or I could attribute it to the idea that most store managers took a look at the cover with a frog-headed butler, Tattoo, and Susan Tyrell grabbing her boobs and said, “Screw it! Put it in ‘nature films’ for all I care!”

I have a confession to make – I never actually saw the film until last year. I’ve always been a fan of Danny Elfman and Oingo Boingo, but a casual fan at best. I love his film scores and, as a rock musician, love the fact that one of my own was able to parlay his rock singer career into that of being one of the busiest composers in the movieland. But that was about the extent of it.

Then my bandmate in Renfield, Marz Richards, approached me with the idea of being Music Director for FZ6D. It sounded like quite a challenge. I would be responsible for working with him to assemble two bands worth of musicians, learning an entire musical by ear, and teaching it to a bunch of other people. Now, I already play in three bands – Renfield, Uberband, and occasionally Batlord. I needed to ask myself if I had the time and energy for to be the sorta-conductor of this kinda-orchestra. I rented the movie.

I could list off my favorite artists, musicians, and writers for days. But suffice to say, I like it weird. And once I saw FZ, I couldn’t believe I had missed it. Richard Elfman’s Dadaist jaunt down the rabbit hole is a salad bowl of vaudevillian tomfoolery and cartoon imagery as imagined by the pimply kid who guzzles Slurpees in the hopes that they’ll get him high. It’s everything you want in a midnight movie.

I was still unsure, but I met the production team and they surprised the hell out of me. See, I used to act myself, and my experience of many theater productions was that of chaos fueled by insanity. Fulfilling, but exhausting. The people at Sacred Fools seemed organized, clear in their intentions, and astoundingly talented. As I told them at the time, I am always in hot pursuit of fun. This whole dang thing seemed too fun to pass up.

Since that time, we’ve been in a workshop stage. I’ve become a far greater fan of Elfman’s music now that I’m in the position of picking it apart. I’m amazed at the talent of my fellow musicians. And I’ve become infected with the fever anyone gets when they know they’re up to something extraordinary. I’ll shell out the details later. But you should know that I’ve found this to be extraordinary so far, and we’re still in the womb. More later.

-Ryan Johnson

No comments:

Post a Comment