Your father Albert band was a film maker and I understand that you accompanied him to Italy at one point in his career. Did you go on set when you were in Italy and if so did this have an influence upon you when you decided upon a career?
Yes, we actually lived in Rome, Italy for about eleven years. Those years were between 1959 and 1971 when Rome was considered the “Hollywood of Europe”. Both my brother and I went on set many times sometimes lasting as long as a month or more. As far as influence goes I only knew at that time that I would eventually do something on some level in films but had no clue as to what it would be nor when.
What musical education did you receive, I understand that you toured Europe at one point playing guitar, how did you go from this to being involved in writing music for films?
I toured Italy and parts of Europe playing guitar with my band from around 1968 – 1971 but it wasn’t until I returned to the US that I began studying music seriously at Immaculate Heart College and afterwards with composer Dorrance Stalvey who ran the famous Monday Evening concerts in Los Angeles.
It wasn’t until 1978 after having worked for a few years on several of my brother’s movies as an assistant director, production manager and line producer
that the opportunity came up for me to return to music to score a film he had done called “Laserblast” which I then co-scored with my friend Joel Goldsmith.
When you start work on a project, where do you actually begin, by this I mean do you like to watch the rough cut of the film first and discuss it with the director or producer or do you like to see a script, and have there been occasions where you have written music before you have seen any footage?
All of the above is the true answer! Most of the time it starts with viewing a rough cut of the film although there have been many times I started earlier by
Reading the script. There were of course occasions where I had to write music prior to any filming such as in the case of a song like “Cantos Profane” in the movie “Troll”.
You have worked on a number of movies for your brother Charles, does he have a hands on approach to music in his movies or does he let you have a freehand and maybe just etc updates etc every so often?
He likes to be in the loop but after the first year or so there was a trust established so I now have quite a free hand. Usually once he’s approved the general direction of the music and the main themes, etc, I’m left on my own to do my thing.
The score from THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM is one of my own personal favourites, this was one of FULL MOON’S most expensive movies, what size orchestra and choir did you utilize on the score and how much time were you given to write and record the music?
I remember having about 4 to 5 weeks to complete the whole project. I had about a 20 piece string section, 12 brass which included the French Horns and 10 singers for the choir (which I overdubbed).
RE-ANIMATOR is a brilliant score, in many ways I felt it was a homage to Bernard Herrmann, was this something that you set out to do when writing the score, or did this develop as your work on the score progressed and you became more involved with the characters within the movie?
Yes, I did in fact set out with that idea from the outset. It was always meant to be a ‘Humorous Homage’ to Herrmann and had the end credit I designed not have ended up being omitted (albeit by accident) I might not have received so much flack over the years. The missing credit was to be “With my most humble apologies to Bernard Herrmann”.
When working on a score, do you like to work on a central theme firstly and then build the remainder of the score around this, or do you work on secondary themes for characters etc and come up with a central theme that is derived from these?
Usually I like to compose the central themes first but there are certainly occasions whereby concentrating on secondary themes in the beginning helps bring out the central and/or main themes more readily.
You scored the majority of THE PUPPET MASTER films, how difficult is it working on a series of movies that deal with same characters to keep the music fresh and different for each instalment because being a series you obviously have to have some links between the stories. Also did you have any input into what music was going to be used on the 5 CD set, PUPPET MASTER music collection?
Where and when I had a chance to, I tried to introduce new themes for new characters or puppets though always keeping in mind that the MAIN puppets and puppet master theme were the anchor that held everything together. Luckily there were plenty of more characters and puppets introduced over the years.
GHOST WARRIOR was a movie that you scored in 1985, this had a great score, and was released on Intrada in 2008, (but needs an expanded re-issue) you used the Royal Philharmonic orchestra for this soundtrack, did you record the score in the UK?
Yes, it was recorded in London at Olympic studios. The very unique percussion though (which was supplied by Emil Richards and originally created by the famous composer Harry Parch) was pre-recorded in Hollywood with 9 specialized percussion players. We then flew to London to overdub the Royal Philharmonic.
You have worked predominately within the horror/sci-fi genres; do you think that you were typecast a little because you started out doing these types of films?
Unfortunately yes. Interestingly though, I took almost seven years off from composing any genre films during which I scored many family films, comedies, documentaries animation and TV series. I broke that self imposed rule when Stuart Gordon asked me to compose the music for the “Masters of Horror” episode “Dreams in the witch House” for which I was nominated for an Emmy.
What composers either film music or classical would you say have influenced you?
Beethoven, Wagner, Bartok, Harry Parch, Stravinsky, Jerry Goldsmith, John Corigliano, John Williams and a few others I’m sure.
When you are given a movie to score, how do you bring your musical ideas to fruition, what tools do you use, i.e. piano, pencil, manuscript, or more advanced methods?
I use all the tools you mentioned above although I also rely heavily on more advanced tools like my DAW (Digital Performer) and a slew of computers in my studio, etc.
and have you performed yourself on any of your scores?
I’ve conducted most but not all of my scores and the same goes for orchestrating.
In both cases it depends on the time given and budget restrictions.
And yes, I have performed on many of my scores.
DRAGON WORLD was a film that was a little different for you, how did you become involved with this project?
Over the years I had previously worked with the director Ted Nicolao on a few films and since Paramount was distributing at that point in time and since I had also scored a few projects for Paramount, I was easily approved and it all just fell into place.
How would you say film scoring has changed over the last twenty years?
It some ways it’s got better and in some ways a lot worse. I think the opportunities are not nearly what they use to be. While there use to be a healthy ‘Middle Ground’ of budgets in 50K – 70K range, that ground has been overtaken by many of your ‘Top Tier Composers” thus forcing the “middle ground’ composers down to the 5k-10K range. This is largely because there are so few movies being made.
At the same time the TV networks have created so many “off Shoot” small cable channels, the royalty rates for those small channels have plummeted. While there are certainly many more channels than before, their rates are PITIFUL and don’t come close to what they use to be or should be.
As we all know the amazing advances in technology have made scoring a lot more accessible to musicians who have little training and so many more unqualified people try their hand at it….thus driving the cost even lower.
Now, from a quality standpoint though, the technology has also provided amazing tools for composers and there are certainly some superb composers doing wonderful work in both films and your higher quality cable networks such as HBO, SHOWTIME, AMC, FX, etc.
Like with life it’s a mixed bag. I still remain optimistic though and just keep plugging ahead.
You recently worked on SHIVER a feature and also a documentary entitled, SAFE HAVEN THE WARSAW ZOO, what are the main differences between scoring a feature film and working on television productions?
Ultimately I don’t think there is a huge difference. The music is still trying to bring out the emotional content though the documentary approach might differ from the standpoint of some historical or factual aspects rather than fantasy. I think there is perhaps a lot less musical manipulation in scoring a documentary as opposed to a film as well.
Many of your soundtrack albums are now deleted and out of print, do you think there is any chance of any of them being re-issued for the collectors who missed out on them first time round?
Quite a few scores are scheduled for release in the next year or so.
As to those that are out of print, I still have most available though my store on my website. www.richardbandmusic.com
What are you working on at the moment?
A very cool film called “Wizardream” starring Malcolm McDowell.
My thanks to Richard for his time and patience..