Talking Music with Jace Everett, Nathan Barr and Gary Calamar
July 14, 2010 by Jenny Loritiz
Music is the universal language; no matter who and how it’s played, musicians and music fans alike will talk for hours about this wonderful craft. Jace Everett, Nathan Barr and Gary Calamar are no different. APM Music created three podcasts with these musicians, better known for their musical work on the HBO hit show True Blood. All three men discuss their music, their success, and the future of their musical endeavors.
Though only six minutes long, Jace Everett shines in Podcast 65. He not only discusses how he got involved with True Blood, but he also explains how the show inspired his new album “Revelations.” The first thing Jace mentions is that while having his song, “Bad Things” be the theme song for True Blood, he must tread lightly; he doesn’t want to be known for the rest of his life as the True Blood guy.
However, True Blood has been a great opportunity and he was lucky that Alan Ball found his song. While writing, Alan Ball took a break and while searching through iTunes, discovered Jace‘s song, which he had wrote and released years ago. Alan Ball gave the song to Digital Kitchen and asked them to add visuals to the song; when the finished product was made, Alan Ball knew this was the mood and tone of the show. Jace believes having Alan Ball find his song was like a jackpot and really pulled his career out of the stagnant place it had been.
With being part of True Blood, Jace was able to create and push his new CD quickly; many of the new songs are inspired by the first season, but don’t have to be literary taken. “Burn for You” is based on the scene where Bill walks out under the sun in order to save Sookie, while “Damned if I Do” can be taken as a love song between a human and a vampire. However, the songs transcend the show and the genre of vampires.
Even if people aren’t into vampries, they can enjoy Jace‘s songs. The inspiration of a song is not always what the songs can represent. For example, “Bad Things” was inspired by a time when Jace was living in Nashville working as a bass player for someone who was pursuing a record deal. The guy owed Jace money and he was a little upset about not getting it. The original song was based on Jace doing bad things to this guy, like moving his furniture around. Soon though, he realized the idea was ridiculous and the song held more of a sexual mood than a menacing one.
Currently, Jace is on tour on the West Coast for the next ten days and moving through the country gaining fans. He does sing “Bad Things” but not surprisingly fans leave with a lot more favorites by Jace Everett than just the True Blood theme song.
With Podcast 66, Gary Calamar discusses his job as music supervisor for True Blood, the differences between “Six Feet Under“and True Blood, the Southern influences of the show and its music, as well as how the show has influenced his own work. He also gives us an inside view of Alan Ball as a songwriter.
After serving as the music supervisor for “Six Feet Under”, Gary is now working with True Blood, “House“, and “Dexter.” He also chose the songs for the feature film “Varsity Blues“, which won him a gold record. He hosts a hit radio show on KCRW in Santa Monica California every Sunday. He is also in the process of writing a book about the rise and fall of the record store, which will be released on record day.
It seemed natural for Alan Ball and Gary Calamar to work together again. However, there’s a difference between working on “Six Feet Under” and True Blood. While Alan Ball is still meticulous about the music, he seems to want to have fun with the music for True Blood. Gary felt like perhaps his initial music choices were too serious and Alan Ball reminded Gary that the show was about vampires, giving them license to get crazy with the music.
There is a strong Southern influence as the show is set in Bon Temps, Louisiana. For Gary, it makes it easier to choose music; there is such a rich music that comes out of that region, old artists and new. Gary gets to use twisted rockabilly Southern rock in Merlotte’s, while bringing in some dark and heavy death metal in Fangtasia. Gary is allowed to explore different types of music and be creative in the choices he makes in order to create a true atmosphere for True Blood.
Gary appreciates working on True Blood; given the large budget, Gary is allowed to use five to ten solid songs in one episode, which gives him a lot to work with. Other shows don’t give too much money or thought on the music of a show. While they do end up sounding fantastic, they rely heavy on the score, while True Blood is allowed to combine score and different artists to create something interesting and new.
Speaking of new and interesting, Gary tells a great story about Alan Ball and his song writing abilities. In Season 2, there was a party scene where they wanted to have a unique sound attached to it, rather than a song that was overly exposed. Alan Ball collaborated with the music editor to create a rough song called “Dig“. The song somehow managed to make it on the end credits; though initially a joke, the song ended up causing a flurry of inquiry from fans. No one thought the song would be such a success, but it is now a part of the second volume of the True Blood soundtrack.
When asked about the end credits and how the songs played at the end seem to be connected to the last gotcha of the show, Gary noted that the last song of every episode usually come from a collaboration, between himself, Alan Ball, and the writers. In the end, it truly is about having fun and creating intrigue in their fans through music. By using fun and inspiring music, fans get to view True Blood in a different and exciting way.
In Podcast 67 in the APM Music Podcast Series, Nathan Barr explains how he got involved with True Blood, what inspires the music for the show and how he has created the sonic themes for each season, and his views on himself as a musician as well as his collaboration with Lisbeth Scott.
Composer Nathan Barr has scored more than 24 feature films, including the “Dukes of Hazzards” and his most ambitious project to date has been composing the music for each episode of True Blood. His score for “Hostel” was used for the temp in the pilot, which placed him on the short stack of composers Alan Ball was considering for the show. Though he was proud of his work in “Hostel” he didn’t think it fit the mood of True Blood and gave Alan Ball a CD of his other work, which won him the job as composer for this hit show.
When it comes to inspirations for the show, Nathan wanted something that had a small and intimate feel; the show is always revolving around human interactions: couples, or close friendships. Nathan wanted to keep it very simple, using instruments such as acoustic guitar, cello, and the piano to name a few.
The best part of working for the show is that Nathan plays his own instruments, which allows him to be a part of the musical process 100%. He composes by improvisation and he finds that he can completely be involved in the process and truly infuse himself into the music and show.
Other than the instrumentation, the sonic theme of the show consists of the characters and their relationships. Bill and Sookie‘s theme, the love theme or as Stephen Moyer puts it “Bill‘s Lament” is the most famous and comes up throughout the season. Many of the characters have a musical themes: Godric, Eric, and Sam.
When he started this project, Nathan bought a few new instruments in order to mix up the way he writes and show him new ways of thinking about music. When he first saw the pilot, he new the sounds he wanted to create would be dark and scary. He had a piano sawed in half in order for his to have access to the hammers and strings.
However, Nathan doesn’t write and play alone. For the show, he’s collaborated with his ex-wife Lisbeth Scott. As dear friends and collaborators, they worked together to really create great texture in music and add lyrics that showcase the emotion of the show. Nathan praises Lisbeth’s unique voice and her talent as a singer.
Currently, aside from True Blood, Nathan is working with Anna Paquin’s brother on his first feature film “Open House“, as well as working with Eli Roth on a film titled “Cotton“. He is also composing for a film called “Mother’s Day” (starring True Blood‘s Deborah Ann Woll) and a dramedy called “Peep World“. With so many projects that Nathan will be infusing his musical skills and talents into, fans will be able to truly experience the emotion of these films.
Three podcasts with three talented musicians, who are the best in the business of film, television, advertising, and video game music. APM Music has given fans a chance to really learn and experience the music they hear in the background of their favorite dramas in a whole new different way.
The podcasts shed light on the creative process as well as inspire young musicians to look for collaboration opportunities with visual projects. These are only three out of a number of amazing interviews. Of course, because they revolve around True Blood‘s great musicians, Truebies will sink their fangs into these interviews a little faster than the rest!
(Photo Credits: apmmusic.com)