CS Score: Bride of Frankenstein and El Camino’s Dave Porter & Thomas Golubić
Hey there, soundtrack lovers! We’ve got another great batch of film score features for you to check out. First, we preview a track from the upcoming soundtrack to The Umbrella Academy 2, followed by a look at Waxwork Records’ fantastic new The Bride of Frankenstein vinyl soundtrack, an interview with renowned composer/producer Reinhold Heil and, finally, an interview with composer Dave Porter and series music supervisor Thomas Golubić who discuss everything from their work on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul to the upcoming vinyl release for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.
LISTEN TO A TRACK FROM THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY 2 BY JEFF RUSSO & PERRINE VIRGILE
Check out a track from the upcoming soundtrack, The Umbrella Academy 2 titled “The Swedes.” Composed by Emmy Award-winning composer Jeff Russo and Perrine Virgile, the track is a jaunty opener to the strikingly orchestrated album. Lakeshore Records will release the album digitally on November 6. The series starring Ellen Page, Robert Sheen, Tom Hopper, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, David Castañeda, Aidan Gallagher and Justin H Min is currently streaming on Netflix.
THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN: ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE VINYL SOUNDTRACK
Looking for a way to spook up your Halloween season? Then check out Waxwork Records’ all-new The Bride of Frankenstein: Original Motion Picture Vinyl Soundtrack, which presents Franz Waxman’s classic score to the 1935 horror masterpiece in an all-new “deluxe album featuring re-mastered audio, new artwork and likeness approvals from famed actress Elsa Lanchester’s estate.”
Here’s what you get with this terrific new release:
The Bride of Frankenstein is oft regarded as one of the finest sequels ever made. And while the film is certainly dated — the result of being released over 85 years ago — it still packs quite the punch and is, in some ways, more faithful to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein novel than the original Frankenstein film, what with its exploration of God and man and its lifting of several scenes and ideas from the text. Where 1931’s Frankenstein focused more on the basic horror elements inherit in a monster film, the sequel, released four years later to thunderous reviews and box office sales, keenly steps back and presents a sad tale of the Monster’s desire for acceptance. As directed by James Whale, Bride of Frankenstein is episodic in nature as it tracks the Monster’s dealings with local villagers, including a blind man (a scene later parodied in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein); and his subsequent desire for a mate. It all comes to a head in the explosive climax where Dr. Frankenstein, forced into submission by Doctor Septimus Pretorius, creates the titular Bride, who awakens and hisses her way to movie history.
Your love for The Bride of Frankenstein will depend on your tolerance for the classic melodramatic Hollywood style; and your appreciation for old-school cinema. Keep in mind, this film floored audiences upon its initial release; and was popular enough to spawn six additional films — Son of Frankenstein (released in 1939 and the last to feature Boris Karloff in the Monster role), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).
Similarly, your love for Waxman’s score will depend on whether you appreciate the more overwrought compositions found in Hollywood’s “black and white” era. (In other words: Hans Zimmer this ain’t.) That said, Waxman’s work here is absolutely superb, especially considering the small 22-member orchestra he was given; a feat that forced him to use an organ to enhance the sound. Yet, the music feels massive in scale despite the limitations; and caters to the obvious horror elements — as heard in the brilliant track, “The Creation,” featuring a recurrent drum beat played against powerful gothic orchestrations — as well as the film’s lighter, more comedic beats. All told, there are eight themes spread across the relatively short 34-minutes of score, with the Bride’s dreamy melody topping out as the best of the bunch, but each gets a chance to shine before merging together in the fantastic climax, “Presenting the Bride – The Explosion” and “The Creation” tracks that close the album.
Ultimately, this classic score is (surprise, surprise) solely for classic score lovers, though even contemporary soundtrack enthusiasts will likely appreciate the unique techniques at work, which served as a template for contemporary horror fare. If anything, The Bride of Frankenstein offers a unique look at early Hollywood and the extraordinary artists who created the foundations for a modern empire.
REINHOLD HEIL DISCUSSES HIS SCORE FOR DEUTSCHLAND 89
Reinhold Heil’s score for Deutschland 89 released earlier this month, and we reached out to the composer to get his thoughts on the sequel series, which follows an agent of East Germany following the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Intriguingly, Neil was present for the historic event, recalling, “In October 1989, our studio was only a few miles away from the Wall in West Berlin, and one of us always hung out in the TV room watching East-German TV, which was still mostly broadcasting Communist Propaganda but you could see and feel the façade coming down slowly. Whenever something awesome was on, the watcher started yelling and we all gathered around the TV to witness the small acts of resistance undermining the system.”
Obviously, that momentous event shaped his approach to the score.
“Deutschland 89 concludes this dramatic, fictitious but historically accurate trilogy,” Hein said. “Our main characters have to re-invent themselves and figure out how they make their way in the newly emerging political and economic landscape. So I had to re-invent their musical themes and create new ones and I had – as always – a wonderful time doing so. Nothing is more satisfying than working on a project you love with a team that supports you and teaches you new things every step of the way.”
Heil then explained how the new score builds on themes from the previous two seasons, albeit with a fresh prospective. “The main theme is much more aggressive and features Luanne Homzy and Evgeny Tonkha of the California String Quartet. There is also plenty of new material that I enjoyed working on very much because Showrunner Jörg Winger let me go a bit more experimental on the sequences with the RAF Terrorists. I’m very happy how the grand story arc unfolded and how the music evolved with it.”
A renown musician and music producer of that time, Heil got his start in the 70’s with the Nina Hagen Band, and later Spliff – one of the most popular German rock bands of the 1980s, and would go on to collaborate with the likes of Nena, Kim Wilde, and Rio Reiser. Heil became a film composer in the mid-90’s and worked with Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer on films such as Run, Lola, Run, Perfume, The International, and Cloud Atlas before leaving the team to pursue his own career, mostly composing for TV shows like Helix, Berlin Station, and the Deutschland series.
Between his experiences living in West Germany in 1989, and his storied past as a musician, producer, and then film composer, Reinhold Heil levies a deeply personal touch to his score for Deutschland 89.
EL CAMINO: INTERVIEW WITH COMPOSER DAVE PORTER AND MUSIC SUPERVISOR THOMAS GOLUBIĆ
It’s already been a year since Netflix released El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie to critical acclaim; and it’s taken that long to secure a soundtrack release for the film. No matter, the new El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie – Original Soundtrack Vinyl 2XLP is well worth the wait. Featuring every bit of music heard in the film — in the exact order heard in the film, no less — this new soundtrack is a must-have for fans of the Breaking Bad universe. If you needed further coaxing, composer Dave Porter and music supervisor Thomas Golubić sat down to discuss their work on this new release with ComingSoon.net, which you can read below.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie – Original Soundtrack Vinyl 2XLP features nearly every needle drop from the film, including songs by Lynyrd Skynyrd, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Jim White (Feat. Aimee Mann), Red Snapper, and more, plus exclusive liner notes by composer Dave Porter and music supervisor Thomas Golubić.
ComingSoon.net: Let’s talk about this new 2-LP album for El Camino, which features every bit of music from the Netflix film. How did this release come about?
Thomas Golubić: I think it’s one of those things where the Vince Gilligan universe — what is so wonderful of being part of it and being part of this one in particular — is everything is done to exacting detail. And everything is done with an investment of creativity. So like every department really puts themselves into the experience and it all channels through Vince. And this movie is a good example of that. So I think the soundtrack came together slowly, perhaps, because a lot of times you try to time soundtracks with the release of the film, but I think that we always feel that the legacy of the work is the most important thing. We had really wonderful and patient partners in Mondo. They were just absolutely wonderful to work with. And we got a chance to kind of get really beautiful artwork and really unique artwork from like another member of our creative family. So it’s like, everybody got a chance to kind of add their paintbrush, and everybody did something, I think, really beautiful. So that’s what I like about it taking a little bit longer than you’d expect. But it’s been a really, really enjoyable experience.
Dave Porter: Yeah, Thomas got it, right. If there’s anything we have learned from working with Vince Gilligan, and all the other producers of all these things is that it’s much better to do it right, than to do it fast. And so that enabled us to really take our time with this. And I think that, particularly for fans of the Breaking Bad universe, they’re gonna love this thing, because it has so much quality inherent in all the thought process that was put into it.
CS: How do you guys decide which songs to include in the film and subsequently the soundtrack?
Dave: That’s one of the things Thomas does best.
Thomas: I would love to say that it’s really easy and the first idea is the last idea, but it’s never the case. Although I have to say one of the things I love about the experience of listening to the record — I listened to it again in preparation for the interviews that we’re doing this week — is that it is in the order of the film. And so I think what I liked so much about it is that it’s a little bit like if you’re going into a clockmakers video studio, and each room has another set of clocks that are all representing of a different, you know, part of their creative process, you get to really enjoy it. And I got to walk through the movie again and everybody’s there. In a weird way, like no, the most obvious answer is we took the sequence of the music in the film and replicated it on the album. And the number of not very good ideas that I worked on before getting to that very simple solution was insane. So I kind of work circles to try to figure out the right balance songs and score and the right energy and what do we include and not include and we just did the math on it and realized, wow, these four sides time out. In other words, with the technical limitations of a record, you have enough space to have a good quality sound recording on each side, they fall really comfortably in sections. And it was like the universe was saying this is ABCD, this is a two album set. And it’s literally all the music from the film so you have the experience as you’re going through it. I feel like it landed exactly where it needed to, though we probably made it more complicated than it needed to be as well. But, in the end, it ended up being really cool.
Dave: I love that about it too. One of the things that we always talk about — not only for score but for source also — is the musical journey that we’re following along with the film and how that’s helping to tell the story of the characters and the plot as the film moves along. I approached it that way when I wrote the music, I started at the very beginning and worked through it sequentially, which I don’t always do. But it made all the sense in the world for this movie because it is such a linear journey. Unlike Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul, the TV shows where we’re hopping around from character to character, sometimes in different storylines that are interwoven into each other, [El Camino] really is a coda of Jesse’s story, specifically; and follows him and in a pretty linear fashion from start to finish. And I love that the records follow that path without any picture.
CS: Speaking specifically of the score, what was it like to go back to Breaking Bad after all those years?
Dave: It was easier than I thought it might be. And I’ll tell you, if we had done El Camino a few years ago, in the earlier years of Better Call Saul, it would have been a much bigger juxtaposition. But what we have found, as we have been working on Better Call Saul, which is, of course, a prequel to Breaking Bad, as we get closer and closer to the end of Better Call Saul’s story, musically I’m getting closer and closer to the original Breaking Bad story. That’s just how the timeline works. And we’ve been introducing more and more Breaking Bad characters into Better Call Saul; and there’s just been that cohesion building up towards where we want them to begin Breaking Bad. So when I’ve already had Breaking Bad in my psyche, as we work that way. But then, of course, it is really a shift for El Camino to be at the end of Breaking Bad, which in itself is a bit of a shift musically over the course of that series. And so there was a little jump and a little trying to figure out where to go. One of the things that I really worked hard to do is to, at the very beginning of the film, El Camino, I tried to take over very sonically as closely as I could from when we left off in Breaking Bad. But then, after talking to Vince, we really wanted a little leeway to tell a new story. And really focus on a character I didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time with musically over the course of the series, originally. There always needed to be a connection to the Breaking Bad world and the connection to the Breaking Bad timeline, but — and keeping all of that in mind — we did want to expand the boundaries a little bit and tried to explore some new territory for El Camino.
CS: What’s it like working with Vince Gilligan? Does he let you do your thing, musically, or does he have very specific ideas he presents to you?
Thomas: It depends, really, on each project, which is kind of the interesting part. I mean, Vince Gilligan is my favorite creative collaborator. Of all the people that I’ve worked with over the years, I feel more in awe of what I learned — and how the joy of contributing to fulfilling his vision and the vision of the team, it’s my favorite thing. So, going in already, these are people I have enormous respect for, obviously. I have enormous affection for them personally, and the generosity that they show me and just getting a chance to contribute. And then also celebrating that process, even when I get it wrong, is really the best thing because I think that the ability to fail with your friends is like the greatest luxury I can think of when you’re trying to be creative. And I think that is something that is really exciting as part of that process — I get a chance to really test myself and know that if I fall flat on my face, I have a group that know that I tried and it was an interesting idea. And now, let’s move on and try another one.
Dave: That’s totally true in every sense. And, of course, the beauty of having the working relationship with Vince and the other producers now for as long as Thomas and I have had, we have that shorthand; and we have the advantage of skipping past bad ideas pretty quick when we can all be on the same page to realize they aren’t working. For me personally, you know, the experience of El Camino was quite different than working on either of the series because we had the luxury of time, which you often have for score on a film in a way that you just don’t on TV. In a television series, Thomas and I meet with Vince and the writers and editors for every episode to talk about what our musical tasks are for that episode. But then I’m on my own from there, working alone in my studio, and I’m sending them finished products, which they “yay” or “nay,” or we tweak from there. But in the process of working on the movie, actually, for the first time in however long I’ve worked with Vince — over a decade — he got the comforts to sit here in my studio on the couch while I worked, which was a fascinating new wrinkle for us. We had to tiptoe our way a little bit at first because we had never worked together that way before. In the end, it allowed for a greater level of collaboration on El Camino than we’ve ever been able to do before.
CS: Does the success of Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and El Camino surprise you?
Thomas: That’s a good question. Ultimately, you’re in the trenches working on something and you hope that the world will recognize it. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ll mention some of my favorite projects to people who tell me they have never heard of that. And it’s one of those things you realize people like lots of different things and there’s so much media out there. So to be part of something which has been resonating in a really powerful way with each community that embraces it, and a growing entity that’s part of this whole universe is really wonderful because you also see how invested everybody else gets into it. Matt Talbot, who did the artwork for the album, which is really unique and exciting, he used to create these wonderful posters for episodes of Better Call Saul; and he became a friend of our creative community. And so, having his work here, it’s just such a nice way of enjoying that particular part of that expanding growing family, and the fact that he knows about us because the show thankfully got successful — people started to really notice it and notice what we’re doing. And we kept on doing the best work we always could to make the best, most interesting story we could. We just feel very lucky that people have joined us in all these journeys. We try really hard to make this the best thing we can do. I’m just so proud of all the work. You can feel it when you watch it. It feels absolutely clear about what it is and it’s really beautiful in all of its individual moments.
Dave: Thomas and I are happy to be able to work on these projects with Vince. To me, what has always been the most astounding aspect of particularly this Breaking Bad universe, is its consistency. It’s just consistently good. Part of that I believe is Vince’s overarching attention to every detail, but at the same time his willingness to take an idea from absolutely anyone — the newest intern in the room can pipe off and feel comfortable piping up at any time and it’s an idea and he will absolutely consider. And that combined too with the luxury that we’ve all had as a group to have worked this long together and creatively push each other, every year that we get together to do better and better work has led to some remarkable stuff. Thomas and I take a very small amount of credit for all of it and are mostly just feeling very blessed to be part of it.
CS: Are there any additional Breaking Bad spin-off movies in development that you can share with us or shows.spinoffs that you would like to see at some point in the future?
Thomas: (Laughs.) If it existed we couldn’t talk about it anyway!
Dave: I will say that I don’t know any better than anybody else what the future holds or what Vince Gilligan is up to. I’m certainly the last to know. I would, of course, always be delighted to further explore this universe, but at the same time I’m actually kind of excited to see something totally new that Vince and all of us around the group could tackle. I know Vince has an endless amount of stories to tell and I certainly will always be available to him anytime.
Thomas: Same here. (Laughs.)