True Blood Music: You’ll Never Guess Which Song Nearly Didn’t Make it!

August 13, 2014

True Blood’s Music Supervisor Gary Calamar Spills the Beans:

True Blood Season 3 Cast PhotoFor fans of HBO’s True Blood, the iconic song (Bad Things by Jace Everett) that rolls out across the screen along with the opening credits for each episode of the show is just as important as the actual episode! But what if that song had never made the cut? Would the show still have the same vibe? After all, there was recently a mock up Cheer’s version of True Blood released – could you imagine if that had been the opening credits all along?

Well, according to the show’s music supervisor, Gary Calamar, Bad Things was only meant to be a ‘filler’ until a better song came along – but, of course, nothing did:

It was supposed to be kind of placeholder — I had some other ideas — and then it ended up sticking. I think it really provides a great template for the rest of the show.

But there we other songs that never did actually make the cut. Calamar was particulary saddened to see a collaboration with Jenny Lewis to do a cover of The Animals classic Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, when the season had to be shorted to accommodate a pregnant Anna Paquin (who plays main character, Sookie Stackhouse). He was relieved to see the song did eventually make it onto the soundtrack though.

For Gary, each episode’s song choices begin for him when the script is sent to him. Considering each episode is named after a song title, this is his starting point for his musical choices for the rest of the episode.

But what are his favorite song choices so far? You can view his list below:

Sookie Stackhouse:
The Watson Twins – “Just Like Heaven”

Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band – “Sookie Sookie”

Bill Compton
The Marvelettes – “Don’t Mess With Bill”

Eric Northman
Rob Zombie – “I’m Your Boogie Man”

Jason Stackhouse
Zac Brown – “Chicken Fried”

Sam Merlotte
The Byrds – “One Hundred Years From Now”

Lafayette Reynolds
The Dramatics – “What You See Is What You Get”

Jessica Hamby
Taylor Swift – “Haunted”

Madonna – “Like A Virgin”

Alcide Herveaux
X – “Hungry Wolf”

Sarah Newlin
Sammy Kershaw – “Louisiana Hot Sauce”

Maryann Forester (the Maenad)
PJ Harvey – “To Bring You My Love”

What are your favorite songs from True Blood? Let us know by commenting below!

Source: Huffington Post – ‘True Blood’ Music Supervisor Gary Calamar On Why The Vampire Soap Is ‘A Dream Show’

(Photo Credit: HBO Inc.)


VIDEO: Todd Lowe and Gary Calamar Discuss True Blood’s Season 6 Music

June 27, 2013

Adam Weissler Talks to True Blood’s Music Director:

Todd Lowe (Terry Bellefleur) appears on & talks about HBO's True Blood Season 6Fans of HBO’s True Blood know Todd Lowe as the lovable (but damaged) Terry Bellefleur, but did you know he is also a musician?

Hear what he has to say about True Blood’s Season 6 to’s Adam Weissler (“Extra’s” Senior Music Correspondent). True Blood’s Music Supervisor Gary Calamar also stops by for a chat.

Lowe and Calamar discuss what goes into choosing a song for True Blood. Calamar also talks about what happens when an episode title is changed at the last moment (since each episode title is named after a song). And exactly how does music placement in TV series, such as True Blood, helps music artists get their music sold – especially with how easy it is to download songs on iTunes? Find out in the interview below.

Make sure you listen to the end to find out how Terry Bellefleur will fare in True Blood’s Season 6!

You can watch the full interview below:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Source: – An Inside Look at the Music on ‘True Blood’

(Photo Credit:


The Spares Featured on HBO’s True Blood

July 30, 2011

On the Soundtrack for “I Wish I was the Moon”:

True Blood LogoCHICAGO (July 27, 2011) — The hit HBO vampire drama True Blood will feature a song by Chicago Americana group The Spares in its July 31 episode, officials from the show announced.

“The haunting twang and dark sexiness of The Spares mixed very nicely in the world of True Blood,” says Gary Calamar, the show’s Grammy-nominated music supervisor. True Blood was also nominated for four Emmy Awards earlier this month.

Calamar chose the song “Mexico” to include in an episode entitled “I Wish I Was the Moon” (Season 4, Episode 6). The track was written and recorded by The Spares in 2005 for the group’s first CD, Hand Me Down. “Mexico” was also named “Country Song of the Year” in 2006 by the Independent Artists Company.

“‘Mexico’ is about someone who is frustrated with day-to-day life, and who dreams of making a dramatic change to shake up that routine,” says Steve Hendershot of The Spares, who wrote the song along with lead vocalist Jodee Lewis. “What I had in mind at the time was wanting to quit my job at Northwestern University to be a musician. But I can see how it would apply equally well to the people and vampires of Bon Temps, Louisiana.”

The Spares have released three CDs since Hand Me Down, including Beautiful and Treacherous Thing in 2007 (a finalist for “Americana Album of the Year” in the 2009 Just Plain Folks Music Awards) and 2010’s Everything Is Easy, released last August at a sold-out concert at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music.

True Blood’s Calamar was introduced to The Spares by Brooke Blocki of KMA Licensing (, a Chicago-based music licensing company that helps musicians gain television, film and advertising placements.

“We’re thrilled to be able to introduce The Spares to millions of people worldwide,” says Blocki. “This will also draw national attention to the great independent music that comes from Chicago.”

The Spares’ original acoustic music has been described as “hauntingly gorgeous” (Maverick Magazine), “simple, aching and hearty” (NewCity Chicago), and “somewhere in heaven between Gram Parsons and Alison Krauss” (Smother Magazine). “Their sound kind of tracks their personal journeys in encompassing the range of the American heartland,” says Alison Cuddy of WBEZ (Chicago’s NPR affiliate). “That may be why, in spite of the literal spareness of their music, it can be hard to categorize.” Indeed, The Spares’ songs fuse country, folk, blues and rock. The lyrics are thoughtful and honest, just as the music is raw, beautiful and compelling.

Listen: “Mexico” is available for purchase via iTunes, Amazon MP3 and other Internet music retailers. The song is also available for streaming at

Upcoming Performance by The Spares: The Spares’ next Chicago performance is Friday, Aug. 19 at the Biograph Theater (2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago). 9:30pm, all ages, $15, tickets at

About the Spares: Jodee Lewis and Steve Hendershot formed The Spares in 2005. They write and sing twangy, bluesy, roots music about characters who are desperate and hopeful, buoyant and brokenhearted—sometimes all at once. The stories hint at love and truth in ways that the characters themselves don’t always recognize. For more information, visit

About Gary Calamar: Gary Calamar, True Blood’s Grammy-nominated music supervisor, runs Los Angeles, CA-based Go Music Supervision.In addition to his work on True Blood, Calamar also handles music supervision for House and Dexter, and hosts a radio show at Los Angeles NPR-affiliate KCRW. (

About True Blood: True Blood, the latest hit series from Emmy Award-winner Alan Ball (Six Feet Under), delves into the meticulously crafted world of novelist Charlaine Harris. The show tracks the lives of vampires and humans who coexist uneasily in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps. The show, which stars Anna Paquin as waitress Sookie Stackhouse, was nominated for four Emmy Awards earlier this month. (


Contribution credit: The Spares

(Image credit: HBO, Inc.)


Music to Vamp By: An Interview With Gary Calamar

September 21, 2010

A picture of Gary Calamar.Gary Calamar is the music supervisor for HBO‘s hit series True Blood. In an interview with IFC, Gary explained that the specific songs and music are a delicate balance when chosen for an episode, or scene location. For example, tunes for Merlotte’s is “upbeat bar music, rockabilly, southern rock”.

For the most part, Gary says the music for True Blood “has sort of a dark undercurrent to it like a lot of New Orleans blues seems to have. Those classics – Slim Harpo, Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf – those are what really kind of speak to me as the sound of Bon Temps.”

Asked if it was true that show creator Alan Ball said he did not want opera music in a vampire show, Gary could not confirm it. However, Alan did tell him he wanted non-traditional music without the overly dramatic type heard in previous vampire movies.

Actually, Alan found Jace Everett‘s “Bad Things” to use as the theme music and Gary said they got lucky with it. During a writing break, Alan found it on iTunes.

“We all liked it but we all kind of thought that we would eventually find the one. But the more we placed other songs against it we realized that it actually was the one. It was perfect and it had just that right combination of menace, romance, sexiness, and humor to it.”

Every episode of True Blood is named after a song. According to Gary, this is difficult due to budget concerns. Some licensing can be too expensive or just not available. In a few cases, the episode titles were changed because the song didn’t work out as planned. But, as music supervisor, this touch makes his job more fun and interesting.

And it’s actually the writers who provide the song ideas. With the mood they set, sometimes they’ll write a song into the script.  But it doesn’t work 100% of the time. Gary said that putting the song up against the picture will sometimes show it’s just not a good fit. That’s when Gary provides the “Plan B” music.

In one example, Gary talked about a song titled “Hitting the Floor”, which was to play during a scene of an actual severed head hitting the floor.

“But the song was not working. Well, I actually knew of a great song by P.J. Harvey called “Hitting the Ground.”  So, we changed the title [from “Floor” to “Ground”] and it still worked thematically.”

Working at night as a DJ, Gary listens to a lot of music, which helps him with ideas for True Blood. Now that he has the feel for what the series ‘sounds like’, it’s a little easier for him to read the script and find the right song to recommend. Once the music is approved by Alan, it’s Gary’s job to check on the license and negotiate the deal for use.

Nathan Barr is the show’s composer for original score and often it’s a song that leads into the score. So both Nathan and Gary need to be in sync. But what about the show’s characters?

“Yeah, each character definitely has their own taste and their own type of music that might be playing along with their theme. It depends on what’s going on in the scene, but Jason‘s taste is much different than Sookie‘s and Sam’s taste is much different than Lafayette‘s.”

In discussing the budget for music, Gary sighs when he thinks about a Led Zeppelin song that worked perfectly for a particular scene.

“But they’re just way too expensive and you know, don’t really do television unless you want to pay them an exorbitant amount of money. No TV show could really afford to have Led Zeppelin. Then it’s my job to find something that’s even better for a fraction of the price.”

I, for one, think he’s doing a really fine job.

Source: (1st part2nd part) – The Man Behind the Music of HBO’s “True Blood”

(photo credit –


“Bad Things” is True Blood

July 22, 2010

Jace Everett, who is the writer and performer of the True Blood theme song, “Bad Things”, will be performing today, July 22nd, as part of the Twilight Dance Series in Los Angeles. He will be performing along with Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux and Italian superstar, Jovanatti.

Jace had no idea when he wrote “Bad Things” that it would be the perfect opening for True Blood. Alan Ball who created the show typically takes breaks while writing scripts and hops on iTunes to do some exploring and then return to his scripts.

While taking one of these breaks Alan came across Jace and his song, “Bad Things”.  Alan thought the song was amazing but still wasn’t sure if it was “the one”.  So Gary Calamar, who is the music producer for the show, went and started looking for some other options.  Gary and Alan listened to some great songs but the whole time they admit Jace’s lyrics, “I wanna do bad things with you”, was still blazing in the back of their minds.

It became clear that “Bad Things” was the perfect song for True Blood.  It has a great mix of sex, menace, romance, and humor.  Gary believes the song even helped Alan and the writers find that unique tone for the show and he believes “Bad Things” will go down in history as one of the best television theme songs ever! I for one happen to agree completely!


(Photo Credit: KCRW)


Talking Music with Jace Everett, Nathan Barr and Gary Calamar

July 14, 2010

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!

To listen to the Jace Everett’s podcast click here.

To listen to the Gary Calamar’s podcast click here.

To listen to the Nathan Barr’s podcast click here.


(Photo Credits:


True Blood Music Supervisor Gary Calamar’s Book Release

April 9, 2010

Gary Calamar knows his music, as True Blood fans have witnessed time and again when he finds the perfect song for each episode. He has put his love of music into co-authoring a book entitled Record Store Days: From Vinyl to Digital and Back Again.

The L.A. Times featured an article on new author Calamar, describing how he and co-author Phil Gallo documented the history of the unique culture that is the record store. Their book is about the business of music, as well as the changing notion of what is cool, and what the future of the industry could be.

Gary has worked in record stores in the past, including Rhino Records and Moby Disc in Los Angeles, and says that “to this day, the first stop I make in any new town is to the weird local record store. It’s how I get my bearings.”

He views his current role as a KCRW host and a music supervisor for shows like True Blood in much the same way as that of a record store clerk–the one who helps fans find what they might like in the overwhelming range of music choices.

This weekend, Gary will be signing copies of Record Store Days at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., in West Hollywood, CA. The event is scheduled to run from 5-7pm PT on Saturday, April 10th.

His book is also available for purchase on Amazon and sounds like a fascinating read for any music lover, as is the interview we did with him for last fall.


Licorice Pizza Reunion/Gary Calamar Book Signing at Book Soup on Facebook

(Photo credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)


PHOTOS: Gary Calamar and the True Blood Cast at the Out 4 Blood Concert

February 3, 2010

On January 29, 2010 the Grammy-nominated “True Blood” soundtrack came alive with a night of music from HBO’s acclaimed series at the Echoplex with True Blood‘s music supervisor Gary Calamar, DJing and musical artists CC Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis, John Doe, Jace Everett, The Morning After Pills and Todd Lowe‘s band the Pilbilly Knights performing for the enthusiastic crowd.  Also enjoying the event were several of the True Blood cast members including Stephen Moyer, Anna Paquin, Chris Bauer, Michelle Forbes and Tara Buck.

Gary Calamar shared on his website his recollection of the evening and some photos of the festivities. As Gary states on his blog,

“There were a few bad vamps in the audience who tried to start some trouble, but they ended up retracting their fangs, drank some True Blood and rocked the night away.”

It sounds and looks like everyone had a fangtasic evening.

Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin

Chris Bauer and Michelle Forbes

Gary Calamar

Todd Lowe, John Doe, Jace Everett

Todd Lowe and Chuck Prophet

CC Adcock and Go Music's Alyson Vidoli, Gary Calamar


(Photo credits Gary Calamar on


True Blood’s Grammy Nominees “OUT 4 BLOOD” Concert

January 14, 2010

The OUT 4 BLOOD concert will be held Friday, January 29, 2010 at 9:00 pm at the Echoplex and will feature artists from HBO’S True Blood: CC Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis, John Doe, Jace Everett, and others.

The Grammy-nominated “True Blood” soundtrack will come alive in a night of music from HBO’s acclaimed series at the Echoplex on January 29. Reflecting the present-day Southern Gothic atmosphere portrayed onscreen, the soundtrack’s haunting song selections lean toward a large helping of roots-oriented, swamp-flooded, Louisiana-influenced sounds; performed by contemporary and classic practitioners of the genre.

Gary Calamar, music supervisor for ‘True Blood,’ says “I am thrilled that we are able to pull together some of the amazing artists who are on the ‘True Blood’ soundtrack for this very special show. And….we are trying to secure some surprise guests as well. It’s going to be badass !”

Out 4 Blood is made possible in part with generous support from Louisiana Entertainment and proudly recognizes Louisiana’s Year of the Song, celebrating the historic contribution of the state’s songs and songwriters.

The Echoplex is located at 1154 Glendale Blvd., in Echo Park, Los Angeles, California. Info: 213.413.8200. Tickets $10.00 plus applicable service charges available in advance at, $12.00 at the door. 18 and over show.


(Photo credit:


Nathan Barr, Jace Everett, and Gary Calamar Talk About True Blood Sound

October 24, 2009

Nathan Barr and Jace EverettThe collaborative team behind the amazing music in HBO‘s vampire series True Blood will be speaking on October 30th from 12:30-1:15 p.m. as part of the 8th Annual The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard Film and TV Music Conference October 29-30 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.

Nathan Barr is the composer for the show, Gary Calamar is True Blood‘s music supervisor, and Jace Everett is the singer/songwriter behind the highly acclaimed theme song, “Bad Things“. Moderator for the panel discussion will be Ann Donahue, Senior Editor of Billboard.

According to the conference site:

  • Full Registration – 9/12/09 – 10/28/09: $475
  • Walk-up – after 10/28/09: $499

Registration also includes a complementary non-deductible 12-month daily subscription to The Hollywood Reporter ($229 value). * New subscribers only / non-transferable.

Special offers for attendees:

  • Free trial to the Billboard Digital Edition. Sign-up to receive the Billboard Digital Edition FREE for one month. The Digital Edition is an exact replica of Billboard magazine that is delivered to your inbox or mobile device every week (email address required)
  • 6-month subscription to Billboard in print and online for only $99. Receive 6-months of Billboard magazine, plus full online access including daily delivery of the Billboard Bulletin and access to over 150 charts. (Offer for new subscribers only)

Cancellation Policy: No cancellations. Registrations can be transferred or used as a credit to any other Billboard Conference.

SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard Film and TV Music Conference site

(Photo credit:


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