Howlin’ Wolf Records proudly presents Rocky Gray’s score for 10/31 PART III, the third installment in the gruesomely popular 10/31 Anthology Series, with segments directed by renowned cult-cinema directors Michael Ballif (THE WITCHING SEASON, THEY LIVE INSIDE US), Jacob Perrett (WEIRD FICTION, CREATURE IN THE DARK), Brad Twigg (KILLER CAMPOUT, SHRIEKSHOW), Zane Hershberger (FORCE TO FEAR, and 10/31 PART II segment “Treaters”). 10/31 PART III is a perfectly eerie companion to create your own spooky Halloween ambiance. The soundtrack pays homage to great synth scores from the ’80s which came from the likes of Charles Bernstein, John Carpenter, Alan Howarth, Brad Fidel, and Craig Safan., and also nods in the direction of composers such as Christopher Young and Jerry Goldsmith.
The score for 10/31 Part lll is also accented by flourishes and malevolent sounding undercurrents that evoke those brilliantly vibrant scores realized by the iconic Italian band Goblin and the gifted composer and musician Fabio Frizzi.
Rocky Gray is an award-winning composer of over thirty features, shorts, and video games. An accomplished musician, he was the original drummer for the multi-platinum goth rock band Evanescence, and later also performed as drummer and lead guitarist for We Are TheFallen and Living Sacrifice, respectively. He most recently earned rave reviews and a “Best Score” win for THE BARN II at the 2022 Genre-Blast Film Festival.
10/31 PART III is beautifully packaged in a jewel case with a twenty four-page booklet including a foreword by film music journalist John Mansell and notes from segment directors (Ballif, Perrett, Twigg, Hershberger) and also from composer Rocky Gray, all presented against a frighteningly colourful web of All Hallows’ Eve imagery with jack-o-lanterns, witches, bats, monsters, and demons.
The booklet features original cover artwork by Gaz Jackson at Sinister Arts and beautiful packaging designs by Howlin’ Wolf Records’ acclaimed Art Director, Luis Miguel Rojas. This is eerie and atmospheric score which unusually for a horror movie has a life away from the images on screen, standing on its own two feet as music that can be savoured and listened to as just music. The CD is available NOW from the Howlin’ Wolf Website. Click here to listen to samples and order your copy A. S. A. P. in time for Halloween. Howlin’ Wolf Records – 10/31 Part III page (howlinwolfrecords.com)
Composer Rocky Gray took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us here at Movie Music International.
Movie Music International.
Can I begin by asking how you became involved with scoring movies and was it difficult moving into scoring from being a drummer in various bands.
I had wanted to get into scoring movies for a long time but didn’t really know how to go about getting in touch with film makers to submit music, that just seemed so out of reach.
In 2014 I had this idea to create a record that would serve as a demo to show film makers what I could do because at that point I was only known for doing rock music. So, I created the Accursed record and decided I would search facebook and indiegogo campaigns for new independent horror movies that were still early in production and find out if they had a composer yet. Just trying to get my foot in the door and get a resume going.
The Barn would be the first film that I got from this, and it worked out perfectly. A few songs from Accursed ended up on the soundtrack along with all the original tracks made specifically for the movie so I was ecstatic to finally be in that world. It hasn’t stopped since then.
You are involved with the 10/31 series. Is it difficult working on an anthology and multiple directors as opposed to working on 1 storyline and 1 director?
I love working with multiple directors on one film. Not that I dislike working with one director but it’s great to have all of these great ideas and challenges one after the other and the segments aren’t long so there’s never a dull moment. 1 film, 1 director has its own challenges and those can be fun too but anthologies are my favourites for sure.
Do you have a set routine when scoring a picture as do you prefer to have a core theme and be able to build the score upon this or do you like to work on stabs etc first?
For me every film has its own way of telling me how I am going to score it. I just start from the top and roll with what they give me. The first scene will let me know what instruments are going to be my main palette and if it’s going to be aggressive or more ambient. Unless you do some kind of time jump where it starts out in the woods with a coven of witches in the 1600’s then jumps to 2022 in the city then things would obviously change in the pallette but your themes stay the same but with different instruments. It can go so many ways and that’s the joy of it.
What artists would you say have influenced you or inspired you in your career?
John Carpenter, Tyler Bates, Charlie Clouser, Danny Elfman, Douglas Pipes, Jerry Goldsmith, Christopher Young to name a few.
You are known more for your horror scores, but are there any genres of film that you would like to be involved with scoring ?
I have done a straight dramas and comedies and none of them are as fun as horror. With a good horror film, you can have drama and comedy so it’s the best of all the worlds for me. I haven’t done an action/adventure film so maybe that could be fun.
What would you say is the purpose of music in film?
To help tell the story. Stay out of the way when needed, even be totally silent, and when called for be as in your face as needed.
10/31 part3 is released on Howlin’ Wolf records do you have input into what music will be released on to any recordings?
I’m so happy to have Howlin’ Wolf Records put the soundtrack out. They have done such an amazing job with it.Yes, I have complete control of all of my soundtrack recordings.
How many times do you like to see a project before starting to experiment with sounds and music?
Once. Then I go back through and put in markers where all the music happens with some additional notes.
Have you encountered a temp track on any movies you have scored. If so did you find this helpful or distracting?
I’ve had temp scores on a few projects, and it is helpful to know what they think works for the scene. Sometimes I agree and sometimes I have a different idea and will show them what I think and see if they approve. Most of the time they are on board with my idea. I think having a temp track is better than having no idea what they want but if they trust you with just going for it, that’s great too.
How much music did you write for 10/31 and is it all on the soundtrack release?
Yes, all the music from the film is on the cd. It is edited down so it listenable in a stand-alone format but yes, it’s all there minus a long drone or something that was helpful for the scene but not very interesting to listen to on its own. The only thing that is not on the soundtrack cd is the faux trailer music and that may show up on the digital release.
Do you still perform, if so how do you manage to divide your time between scoring movies and performing with bands?
I don’t perform live that much anymore. My band Living Sacrifice, that I play guitar for, does maybe two shows a year so there’s not a ton of time dedicated to rehearsals and performing live. The band I play drums for, We Are The Fallen, haven’t played in like forever but if they pick back up there’s not a lot of prep in that stuff so it’s an easy transition doing the band stuff and working on the movies.
Do you have a favourite movie score of your own or by another composer?
I don’t have one favourite record. I listen to so many great composers. In the Mouth of Madness from John Carpenter is great. Tyler Bates’ Halloween II soundtrack is great. Dead Silence from Charlie Clouser, The Exorcism of Emily Rose from Christopher Young. All such amazing, inspiring records.
How much time do you normally have to work on a movie or can this vary on each individual project ?
I like to have four to six weeks, but in some cases, stuff happens and it’s like I need this next week. I am never happy about that but if I like the movie, it’s a little easier to jump in and make it happen. that just happened with The Barn II. I had the main title theme done for a long time to promote the movie. They started filming then things are delayed and the next thing you know the movie is being edited scene by scene and I’m doing music in chunks trying to make it in time for the premiere and a festival showing. A week later it premiers and it wins Best Score at Genre Blast Film Festival. I guess it worked out. Not how I would like to do it but it’s what we had to do to get it done in a crunch. But yeah, four to six weeks is what I would like to have.
What is your preferred set up when working on a movie?
My DAW is Studio One 6 Professional running on a 27″ iMac with Samsung T5 and T7 ssd drives.
What is next for you?
I just recently completed the score for a film called Locked In with my son Abraham Gray, our first movie score together so that was a blast. I just did the Halloween update music for Killing Floor 2 video game that is out now. Next is a winter update for that game. We will start production on 10/31 Part 4 early next year.
Many thanks to Rocky for his time and agreeing to answer our questions.
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