Christopher Young in conversation, 1999

Interview by Jonathan Broxton and James Southall

James Southall: You’re in London at the moment working on a new film, Bless The Child. How did you get involved with the film?

Christopher Young: Bless The Child came about because the director, Chuck Russell, had just seen the film and heard the score I had written for The Hurricane. The films have nothing to do with each other – they are miles apart in terms of content – but he liked the way it worked, and he was impressed with what my music did for that film. He was aware of my other work, and I know he listened to a number of my scores. But, fortunately, this was not a case where I got a job because of a temp score, where a music editor had temped in my music.

JS: Russell’s other films, like Eraser and The Mask, both had very conventional scores. Was one of the reasons he hired you because of your “unconventional nature”, or was there pressure on you to conform?

CY: Well, I don’t really know. I saw Nightmare on Elm Street III, which Chuck directed, and that certainly wasn’t conventional in any way. I didn’t see his remake of The Blob, but I believe that had an all electronic score. Really, all Chuck wanted was for me to be passionate about the film. It’s about good and evil, in the classic sense – devils versus angels – so it couldn’t really be that conventional.

Jonathan Broxton: From the music we heard yesterday, you’ve gone down the big, gothic path again.

CY: Yeah, that was from the end of the film, which is still sort of in “flux” – they’re changing some special effects shots and all sorts of things.

JS: Does this kind of thing happen a lot – when you’re recording a score and the film is still changing, or being edited?

CY: I wouldn’t say it happens often, but it’s not surprising for me to get changes just before I go in to the scoring session. Usually, by the time I go into the session, it’s all finished, but it does happen. The one film I remember which was real crazy in that regard was Species. When a film has that many special effects you can be pretty much assured that you’ll be scoring the movie based on some pretty rough-lookin’ footage, and Species was a case where the footage was really, REALLY rough.

It’s interesting now, though, because editors work on Avids, machines which are able to edit very quickly, and it’s not such a big issue for them to make a change in the film, right up until the night before the recording session. Before you had to do everything by hand, and cut it back, so it all HAD to be done a certain time in advance before you went in to record. Now, making an edit is no big deal. I joke about this, and I’m sure it’s been written about in magazines, but I’m sure that some day movies will be “beamed” into theatres, and what they’ll do is open up on Friday night and see how it does, and then go back and re-edit it for the Saturday crowd if it does badly. (laughs)

Technology is such that they can be changing a film constantly, and it makes… oh God! Generally speaking, composers are miserable now that Avid technology is on the go.

JS: If they chop two seconds off a scene, it completely ruins the cue you’ve written.

CY: Totally. You know, Bless The Child has 74 or 75 minutes of music, and 53 minutes of those required revisions that I didn’t get until ten days before we got here. There have been more revisions in this than in any other film I’ve worked on. There’s this major sequence that I had to re-write a cue for, and it was one of my favourite cues in the whole movie, and it just breaks my heart that I had to cut it down. When it ends up in the film it’s gonna be like a one-legged giraffe, you know?

JS: Do you ever get pissed off when you’re sitting there, at a premiere or wherever, hearing the film’s sound mix, and you realise that you can’t always hear your score under all the people shouting and everything?

CY: Yeah, I do. You know, I don’t even go to the theatre any more. I think it was Alfred Newman who said, “A film composer’s immortality lasts from the scoring stage to the dubbing stage”. That’s right on the mark, because it gets so depressing. I used to go to the dubs, but I stay away from them now because how could it not hurt? It gets you upset if you care about what you do, but when you go to dubs you have to be Mr Nice Guy. You pick your moments to fight for what you think is right, but you cannot be cantankerous during the mixes or you’re gonna walk off the project with a director having bad feelings about you. Whereas two weeks before on the scoring stage he was hugging you, now on the dubbing stage he’s shouting, “Get the fuck outta here!” And I’ve had that happen. I’ve actually been thrown off a mix stage because of being too “vocal”.

JB: But it’s understandable, when you’ve worked so hard on the music, just to hear it getting buried…

CY: Yeah! It’s completely understandable. You know, when I first got involved in scoring, I was told, “Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams don’t even go to the dubs anymore”, and I used to think, “Jeez, these guys don’t even care what happens to their music anymore”. Me and my aspiring film composer friends would go, “Yeah, this is a true indication that they’re just hacking it out now”, but the fact of the matter is that they didn’t go because they care too much, and it would upset them. You can imagine, it’s so depressing. But that’s the nature of the beast, and that’s what you do in film music. You have to adjust yourself to the fact that people go to the movies to see, first of all. Then, in terms of the aural text, it’s dialogue first, sound effects second and music third.

JB: But I don’t always think that’s the case. I read a quote somewhere where someone said that 50% of the emotion you experience in a cinema is through the music.

CY: I agree totally. However, the fact of the matter is that when they’re dubbing a movie they’re not thinking that necessarily. They’re thinking, “I see a clock, so we’ve got to hear ticking”. But, you know, at the same time, I have a great respect for the sound effects guys. It’s not like in the old days – when they arrive on the dub stage now they’ve got everything taken care of. That’s their job, to have a multitude of complex sounds for a director to choose from.

JS: Mission To Mars has just been released over here, and it has been rubbished by everyone. The score is mixed loudly, and every review I’ve read had said, “The music is terrible” – because you can hear it. It’s so prominent.

CY: Is that what it is? Because it’s loud? Or is it inappropriate?

JB: I think it’s very appropriate.

JS: So do I. It’s different, but it’s not inappropriate. People go on and on about how everyone’s too conventional and how they are conforming to what everyone has done before, but yet as soon as someone comes along and does it differently, they don’t like that either.

CY: Is that what it is? Do you think people don’t like it because it’s mixed loudly, or is it because of what it’s saying? If it’s not conventional in what it’s trying to say, maybe it’s too hard for the audience to cope with. Because, let’s face it, and I don’t want this to sound demeaning, but when audiences go to movies, there is a certain vocabulary of music that seems to put everybody at ease. You don’t put Schoenberg against a love scene, you know? I hope there will come a day when you don’t have to write a nice pretty melody when people are kissing, and that you can do more than just that, but that day has not yet come. Maybe it was just that they couldn’t handle the novelty of what Morricone was doing. Maybe if he’d used traditional space music it would have been better received.

JB: Just going back to Bless The Child… what kind of approach did you ultimately take there? How would you describe your own score?

CY: Well, the thing that made this picture special for me was the fact that it deals with good and evil in its purest sense. God and Satan. That’s pretty potent stuff. I admit I was a little bit apprehensive beforehand, thinking, “What the hell am I going to do for those religious moments?” There’s great potential, but at the same time it’s a very scary prospect for a composer to try to figure what to do that’s going to work for moments like that. What came easier for me was the music for the end of the movie, where there’s this kind of Satanic ritual going on, and I’m thinking, “OK, this is gonna be fun!” (laughs)

You don’t actually see the bad guy engaging in any of this ritualistic stuff until right at the very end, and that’s one of the reasons why it pains me that I have to cut so much of this particular cue down. The way I originally envisioned it was that, in main title, I was going to lay in really hard like I did in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, but this time with lots of dark text, moaning and groaning, and then I would finally pay it off at the end of the movie. We hear it at the beginning, but then we don’t ever hear it again until right at the very end. But, by having to cut down my end piece, it sort of dilutes the meaning of what I was doing in the main title. I have written an “optional” main title which is not as bombastic and dramatically overwhelming in its advertising of this whole ritualistic thing, but I really hope my first version makes it into the movie. Chuck loves it, but at the same time he thinks it may be saying too much, and may be a little too over-the-top, and he’s afraid the movie doesn’t deliver what the music claims it will.

Finding the correct material for the angels was harder. But normally what I do when I’m writing scores is, rather than start by feeling my way through the picture and working on short scenes and moving out, I force myself to decide what I’m going to do with the main title and the end title – the bookends. Get my themes right. So, even before I started to write the underscore for the film itself, I’d written two main titles and a seven-minute end title piece, even though the credits only run for four. Hopefully, if we can get a CD deal, it will be on there as written, but in the film it’ll have to be edited down.

JS: You mentioned that you were hoping to get a CD deal there. When there isn’t one you, more than other composers, press your own promos. Is that for the fans, or is it primarily for your own promotional use?

CY: I do it for a number of reasons. The practical application of it is that, if you put it on CD, you can hand it out to music editors and picture editors, and before you know it you might get a job because they used your promotional CD on a temp track. For instance, doing the promotional CD for Head Above Water got me the job of writing a big commercial for the Oscars. They have these little commercials advertising the Oscars telecast, and the only reason I got to score those is because the guy who was the editor got hold of this thing, put it up against the scene, and everyone loved it! For sure, it works for your benefit to have it available.

Secondly, as we mentioned earlier, is because of the heartbreak of having the score buried underneath the sound mix, and it allows people to hear the music for what it is. You know, things have changed since the album days. You could never press an album at home, but now you can make CDRs, the costs are smaller, and there are companies like Intrada that are willing to do these promotional things. For me, pressing the CD resolves the work that I’ve put in to the film. I don’t think that any work I’ve done for a film is concluded until a CD is made, or at least until I’ve sat down and said, “This is what I would do with it”, and made a mock. Whether it goes out or not is secondary; I’ve sequenced it in a way that makes the score listenable, and it’s in a format that I would like it to be remembered by. And then I guess the last thing is that, I’ve got a couple of kids, and when daddy’s no longer writing music it would be nice for them to be able to go, “What did daddy do?” That’s important to me.

JB: We wanted to ask about The Big Kahuna. Personally, I would have thought that finding a tone for that movie would have been very difficult. I mean, how do you come up with music for a film about three guys in a hotel room?

CY: The first thing you do is think, “How the hell am I successfully going to be able to break the silence with music and not draw to much attention to myself? How subtle do I need to be here?” I was a little dictated by the fact that money was restricted, but actually that worked to my advantage, even though I wouldn’t have been foolish enough to have stuck an orchestra on there anyway. The whole movie takes place in a room about the same size as this hotel room, and you just can’t put orchestral music against it. So the first question you ask yourself is what can you put there?

JB: So what did you do?

CY: Well, I’d like to say that the film was handed to me without temp music, but the tragedy is that is had temp on there, and it was a big influence. The director (John Swanbeck) already knew what he wanted to do. What I ultimately did do was use a 14-piece group that had an eclectic combination of instruments. There was a string quartet with stand-up bass, hammond organ, accordion, guitar, a drum set, percussion, piano and celeste. How would I describe it? It’s humorous. The film, even though it’s a very serious movie ultimately, has a lot of smart humour in it. There’s only 17 minutes of music in there, which is the fewest number of minutes I’ve ever had, and I would say that about six of those deal with moments where it’s dramatic as opposed to comedic. The thing about it, though, is that because there is so little music, and because the emotions and the characters move forward in such a way, I don’t have time for much development. Normally, a composer likes to tie the film together with some kind of recurring theme, but I couldn’t do that here. It’s not like I spend the entire 17 minutes just re-working a couple of themes. I state a theme in the main title which only appears again at the end; everything in between is an entity unto itself. It’s diverse, I guess, thematically, but what keeps it together is its attitude, and the fact that’s it’s all being played by a similar-sounding group.

JB: The other thing about The Big Kahuna is that there’s no obvious starting point from which to derive the music. There’s no specific time period, no specific geographical setting, and it doesn’t automatically belong to any recognised genre of music…

CY: Right. There’s no musical convention, like there would be in a space movie or something. It’s interesting how that works. It’s the life and death of film music because, over the years, it’s been often said that Hollywood music is 20 years behind the times. When the first 12-tone serial score came out in the 1950s, which was written by Leonard Rosenman for The Cobweb, serial music had already been around since 1923. I’ve always said that the reason for that is not because Hollywood composers are stupid idiots, or that we’re not with it baby, but because it takes about 20 years for a musical language to be assimilated into public consciousness, to a point where when you use it in a movie it generates a certain kind of response. That’s what it’s all about – you write music, you generate a response from the audience. Like I said, wouldn’t it be nifty if, during a romantic scene, you could play some serial music and the audience would go, “Yeah, that makes perfect sense”, instead of going, “What the hell is that?!?”

JS: With a project like The Big Kahuna, obviously there’s not a lot of money involved, and many of the other A-list composers shy away from things like that. But you still get involved. What attracts you to something like this?

CY: Well, it certainly didn’t hurt that Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito are in the movie. But, as you know, although my repertoire of films has expanded I’m still trying to shake off that reputation of, “Oh, he’s a horror guy”.

JB: Does that annoy you? Still being known as “Chris Young the horror composer?”

CY: No, it doesn’t bother me. It would bother me if I wasn’t getting any promise, and I suppose it would bother me if, in my heart of hearts, I thought that I really wasn’t capable of handling dramatic movies.

JB: But I think your dramatic work is better than your horror work! I think Murder In The First is one of the best scores of the last ten years, and I’m amazed that you didn’t get Oscar nominated for The Hurricane this year.

CY: Well, thank you. It’s the first time I’ve ever been seriously considered for a nomination, but the film had a lot of unfortunate bad press. When the Golden Globes came out, the big question was, “Which film is going to get the award: American Beauty or The Hurricane?” But then, a month later when the Oscars came out, The Hurricane was out of it. Denzel Washington was the only one who got a nomination, and it was all down to the bad press. There was one of the real-life boxers who claimed he wasn’t beaten that easily, and then there were the folks who still believed that Carter WAS guilty. And then there were the people who claimed the film used too much “dramatic licence”, that it had taken too many other liberties. Why they chose to dump their anxieties about Hollywood never having made an accurate biopic on The Hurricane I don’t know, but it ruined the film’s potential overnight, and the studio never did anything to try to put out the fire. It was very weird.

Even when I was working on Murder In The First, the buzz was that the picture might get Oscar consideration, and we were assuming that the film was going to be released just before Christmas 1994 so that it would be “nominatable”. Then, all of a sudden we hear it’s not being released until January – the “graveyard shift” – and the movie disappeared. So did the director for that matter. Marc Rocco hasn’t made a film since that one.

James Southall: What can you tell us about Wonder Boys?

Christopher Young: That was a great project to work on. I was surprised when I got the call to do it, because I assumed that Curtis Hanson had a rock-solid relationship with Jerry Goldsmith, but I guess that for one reason or another he was unavailable, and they ultimately decided they wanted to go down a different musical route anyway. So working with Curtis was great.

JS: The movie hasn’t been released in Britain yet, and of course we’re still waiting for the CD.

CY: You know, I don’t know what the hell’s going on with that. It was actually quite bizarre, and it’s the first time this has ever happened to me, but Curtis wanted to see the list of cue titles for the CD, and wanted to make some changes. Usually directors couldn’t care less. So the release of that slowed down because everyone wanted me to make changes to the credits and the titles. But here’s the situation on the CD – the film is worth seeing, it’s a very good film, and you’ll get a good sense of what the score is all about – but the CD has a lot of stuff that never was in the movie. What I did on that one was, the night we finished recording the score formally, I paid to have the musicians stick around, and I created some cues based on existing material, but which were much longer than the film allowed. The film has a lot of short cues in it, and it’s combo stuff, close to The Big Kahuna in terms of ensemble, but with more of a cajun/zydeco flavour to it. So I wrote the cue in again for the film, and then just let the musicians have fun with it, especially the rhythm players. Yeah, they’re great at reading it off a chart, but if you really wanna take advantage of them, give them a chart and let them take off somewhere! So the CD is a much more engaging listening experience than the music for the movie itself.

Jonathan Broxton: Can you tell us how you got involved with Playing By Heart? You wrote a replacement score for John Barry there.

CY: The reason by I got involved with Playing By Heart was because I’d just finished working on Rounders for Miramax, and I was the “hot guy” over there at that time. What happened on Rounders, as you may or may not have heard, is that I wrote one score for it, and then I had to come back and re-write another one very quickly. It didn’t veer too far away from the original one, but they wanted it to be “beefed up” at certain moments. They were thrilled that I was able to get what Harvey Weinstein was looking for at such short notice, so when they were having problems with Barry’s score I came in to salvage things. I hated doing it – you know how it is – but if I hadn’t done it someone else would have, and I’ve had it done to mine. It’s an unfortunate situation to be in. But the one thing I did do was save that score from being ditched entirely. When I was first brought on, there was a certain camp who thought the whole score thrown out. Harvey wanted the whole score to go.

JB: I actually thought the music – as a record – was a terrific piece of music, and the last scene in the film when they are all dancing together at the party, with Barry’s music, was superb.

CY: I agree, it was a great film. But it was an uncomfortable moment for me as you can imagine. But they had made up their minds that what Barry had provided was not right, and that was the second score he provided for the movie. He had already written one score, which he then had to revise. So there was this one camp who wanted to have it thrown out entirely, and there was another camp who wanted to retain as much as they possibly could. They knew they were going to have to get rid of some of the Barry score, but out of respect for Barry they wanted to hold on to as much as they could. So Miramax looked to me to be the doctor who was going to diagnose what was right and what was wrong. If I had said, well, I think the whole score is not working, they would have gone ahead and replaced the whole thing. What they wanted was something more contemporary. As great as Barry’s stuff is, it’s 50s jazz rather than 90s jazz. And Harvey hates jazz to begin with! But he had no choice. Rock ‘n roll wouldn’t work…

JS: Can you tell us about anything you’ve got in the pipeline?

CY: When I return to the States I’m going to be working on a film called Soul Survivors, which is a film directed by an old friend of mine named Steve Carpenter, with whom I worked while I was at UCLA – the very first two films I worked on were with him.

JB: That wouldn’t be The Dorm That Dripped Blood would it?

CY: Yeah, The Dorm That Dripped Blood! He was co-director on that. But he chose not to direct for a while, so he’s been writing, and re-writing other scripts, and this is the first film he’s directed since those days. It’s a low-budget film – I can’t even tell you the names of the actors or anything. That’s about it. Then I’ll be lookin’ for work, if you know what I mean.

JS: Have you ever thought about writing anything not film related? Maybe some jazz?

JB: You’re really good at jazz aren’t you?

CY: Am I?

BOTH Yeah!

JB: I didn’t know you could write that kind of thing until I heard Rounders, and it really surprised me. And then I heard Norma Jean & Marilyn and The Man Who Knew Too Little, and all the others, and then I found out you originally wanted to be a jazz percussionist…

CY: That’s right. My first experiments in writing were with jazz groups, because I used to play in them and I’d say, “Hey, guys, I got this idea, let’s try this out…”, and then when I went to North Texas University, that’s like the big band capital of the universe, so I was able to write for big bands there. If I hadn’t have gotten into the film music business I might have gone down that road.

But to answer your question, yes I have had thoughts about doing something other than film music. I have those thoughts about twice a week. I used to have them much more often a few years ago, but that’s because I wasn’t working as much then as I am now. I used to worry about what I would do if I wasn’t working in films. What should I do? Should I work on the jazz thing? What? The one good thing about film music is that you don’t have to worry about that because you are a film composer and you write what the film requires. One thing I would say is that I like doing kinda wacky stuff, like The Vagrant, Invaders From Mars, stuff like that. I think I would do more of the experimental kind of stuff.

I spend all of my time as a composer for hire, doing what is asked of me and I’m producing a product which, although it is not commercial strictly, it is a part of a product which is released for commercial reasons, and if I didn’t have to do that any more I think I’d just want to sonically finger-paint. I’d not worry about whether it has any commercial potential, not worry about whether anyone was interested in hearing it at all. One part of me still wants to write the great all-American song, and I’d love to have a hit on the radio, but I really do love all the experimental jazz stuff.

JB: What’s it called – musique concrete?

CY: Boy, you guys have really done your research! (laughs) Yeah, musique concrete. That’s a French term for all those initial experiments in electronic music that were headed by the two composers, Pierre Schaffeur and Pierre Henri, who used to tape sounds and manipulate them. Once the tape recorder became available, it didn’t take long for composers to work out that they could use it to record sounds and do stuff by changing the speed of the motor. I’ll never forget when I first got a record and I put it on the machine, and instead of setting it at 32 I set it at 16 RPMs, “aaand iiiiit caaaaame oooooout something like thiiiiiiis”. That was a really cool sound! (laughs)

JB: My favourite experimental score of yours is actually Bright Angel, which nobody ever talks about. I really like that score, but I don’t know why. There’s something about it, the way you use those slide guitars, that just captures you. It’s evocative.

CY: Thank you very much. You know, it’s funny, I hadn’t heard that score for years, and I was asked to put together a demo for a film which I never got, but it was set somewhere in the west, and I thought I should check into Bright Angel. I literally hadn’t heard it in like six years, and I put it on, and you know when you haven’t listened to something for a long time, I was half expecting to think, “Oh, fuck! What the hell was I thinking when I wrote that!” So I put the main title on, and I had totally forgotten what it was like, and I ended up spending an hour listening to the whole thing. It holds up really well after all this time, I was surprised. For sure I made some mistakes, but the successes outweigh the mistakes.

One of the things I remember that got criticized about that CD was that it was way too long. Surprisingly, if you see the film, there’s actually much less music in the movie, but back when I was doing those electronic/instrumental scores, what I would do is I would track it like a pop record, and have them do a board fade. It’s like you would do with a song – while they’re still singing the chorus, you have them fade out. I haven’t done that in a long time. I had one of these cues that had a sound concept, or a groove, that was just going on and on, and if I knew that in the film I was going to fade it out eventually rather than make it one of these pieces that would resolve on the last chord, so I would say, “This cue is only a minute, but screw it man! Let’s just keep it going over three minutes!”. A lot of that stuff is improvised. They’d read what was written for the cue in the first minute, and the next two would be me instructing them what do with that material.

So that CD was issued by Intrada, and Doug was like, “Let’s put it all on!” CDs were still quite a novelty then. So my criticism of that CD is that I would have dropped quite a lot of stuff of it if I was doing it now. I’m much more into editing my stuff now. It’s much harder to let go of your own material, but there’s nothing worse than putting a CD on that you can’t get through, or isn’t entertaining. I try to keep it down to around 42 or 45 minutes.

JB: Hellbound was like 70-something…

CY: Yeah, but again that was because CDs were still a novelty. Ford Thaxton was saying to me, “We want everything! We’ve got to fill this CD up to the max.”

JB: You put Highpoint on there…

CY: That’s right. That was when we wanted consumers to think they were getting more for their buck. Now when you spend your money, if your CD has only got 32 minutes of score, you’ll bitch a little bit, but you’ll still get it. But those kind of records didn’t do any harm to film music way back when. When Jerry Goldsmith’s scores for Bandolero and Planet of the Apes were first issued on vinyl, it was like a record low of minutes per side! 13 and a half minutes or something like that. But they were great albums – and if you wanted to hear more, you went back to track one and played them again!

JS: But Goldsmith still does that to some extent now. I don’t know whether it’s through choice, or re-use, or issues to do with the label, but he seems to favour the shorter albums.

CY: The re-use is a big issue. Like with Varèse Sarabande, you don’t get a lot of scores lasting longer than 30 minutes, and that’s all down to the re-use. But there’s nothing wrong with that. It can be that if it’s a one-theme score you get bored after 20 minutes anyway. But, even Goldsmith will put on as many as he is able. Not necessarily the ones he recorded in the States, but certainly the ones he did during that period when he was recording in Europe a lot. Didn’t The Russia House have an endless number of minutes?

JS: Yes, and everyone said it was too long!

JB: One of the things that always comes across about you and your work is your humour; you always seem as though you’re having a great time with whatever you’re doing. Just as an example, your cue titles are amazing!

CY: Oh, you think so? (laughs) Well, you know, that’s one of the reasons why Wonder Boys got slowed down. Curtis Hanson would come up to me and say, “Chris, what you mean by this?” and I’d say, “Who cares?” It’s really weird, it’s assumed that with CDs for movies that your titles have to pedantic, and they have to represent what the scene is about. I had this whole discussion with Curtis, and he was saying, “You know, Chris, the fans are going to be really upset if they’re not able to locate which scene this cue is accompanying.” I said “Curtis, I love you and everything, but I think you’re wrong. I don’t think the fans could give a hootenanny squidaddle about whether or not they can work out if this particular cue is for this particular scene”.

JB: We like it because you take care, and you take an interest in the finished product. I mean, you’ve got this cue here from The Man Who Knew Too Little: ‘Licking Salt Off Water Weasels’. Where the hell did that come from?

CY: Nowhere. I was just having fun with the titles. Do you know who was really great at doing this too? Henry Mancini. He was the only other guy who did this, but that may be because he had this other career as a pop artist as well, and had commercial records which sold big. He’d have gone, “I can’t sell these things to the public who want to by my records and call a track ‘The Dog’.” (laughs)

I thought that, on Wonder Boys, I may have had to make do with what Curtis was expecting because of what Jerry Goldsmith always does. Jerry’s titles are very, very cautious. You know: ‘The Tank’, ‘The Door’, ‘The Bridge’. Very literal. He’s probably got 1001 tracks on CD called ‘The Chase’. (laughs)

JB: James Horner has one called ‘The Wedding’ on virtually all his scores now.

CY: I like having fun. Just because we’re film composers doesn’t mean we can’t come up with fun titles.

JS: There’s a nice Elliot Goldenthal track on Demolition Man called ‘Obligatory Car Chase’.

CY: Here’s a funny story. Did you ever notice how terrible the track titles are on the Hard Rain CD? Listen to the titles here… ‘The Church Chase Part 1’. ‘The Church Chase Part 2’. ‘The Cow’. (laughs)

JB: You did that on purpose?

CY: You better believe I did, and I’ll tell you why. This was the first time I’d ever really lost my cool with someone, and it was because I had the record label tell me I couldn’t use the titles I’d come up with. David Franco used to be the soundtrack co-ordinator for Milan, and whenever you did a Milan CD David Franco came on board and he’d co-ordinate everything. So we’re mastering the CD and I turn the titles over to him and he says, “You gotta be kidding me! You can’t do this!” I say, “What do you mean I can’t do this?”, and he says, “I’m not gonna allow you to do this! We need some titles so the audience will know what the scene is for.” I got so pissed off I said, “Well, fuck you! You want literal titles, you got ’em! The Jet Ski Chase. The Cow. Go fuck yourself.”

JB: So what were the original titles?

CY: I can’t remember right now. I got a list of them back at my office, but they were certainly more tongue in cheek. They may have been a little too out for the film, and I may have gone a little too far to the left, but what the hell do you say for a film like that with titles? The Cow. The Rain. More Rain. (laughs)

The other thing I always do with the credits is I hide the name of a composer in there somewhere…

JB: I know you do – I’ve got a list of them here. ‘Bax Max’ from Species, ‘Too Morose’ from Bright Angel. ‘Barrytone Sex’ from The Man Who Knew Too Little. ‘Brought On By Night’ from Hellraiser.

CY: Yeah, that one was two people, Bruce Broughton and the orchestrator, Peter Night. But it’s funny you should mention that, because just before I left I was getting ready the CD for The Big Kahuna and I on my way out and I had to include a composer’s name, and I came up with Hans Salter. I don’t think I’ve ever used him before, so watch out for that.

JS: I take it there isn’t one on Hard Rain, unless ‘The Cow’ is somebody special (laughs)

CY: No, this is the first record that broke that tradition. The first commercial record. On the CD for Hush we decided to go with “Hush Little Baby Don’t You Cry Momma’s Gonna Buy You A” as the titles. That was Doug Fake’s idea, he thought we ought to try something different. And then there are some of those scores which are just “Suite From…” something don’t have them. So I hope I haven’t used Salter on anything.

With very special thanks to Ray Costa of Costa Communications, the people at CTS Studios who didn’t throw us out immediately, and the wonderful Chris Young.

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