By James Whittington, Tuesday 24th October 2006 Stephen Jones is the singer/songwriter behind the band, Babybird. He composed the soundtrack to the hit horror movie Blessed as well as releasing a new studio album, Between My Ears There’s Nothing But Music. James Whittington caught up with him to discover his influences and what its like to realise a long held ambition.
ZH: Stephen, how were approached to write the soundtrack for Blessed?
SJ: Blessed director, Simon Fellows, has known my work for a long time, and at first wanted to do a film through Elton John's film company and a gangster remake of Alice in Wonderland.
ZH: Did they know of your instrumental work from your Baby Bird (and Babybird) albums and singles as well as your chart success? Did they know about your multi disc compilations “1985 – 2001” and Plastic Tablets 2002” which featured instrumental tracks written for movies that didn’t exist yet?
SJ: Yep, he knew most of it. Was so nice to work with someone who likes your stuff. Like, The Polyphonic Spree/Elliot Smith and the director of Thumbsucker.
ZH: Your music has been described as being akin to nightmarish nursery rhymes; do you think this would have encouraged the producers to ask you?
SJ: For horror yes...I usually get offered horror films. I guess like Halloween and The Thing, the music is music for baby with a sinister undercurrent. An invasion of innocence.
ZH: Blessed deals with a very dark subject (pregnant women are being murdered etc) did the subject matter put you off at all?
SJ: I had just had a kid so it was not nice watching the smashing of the pregnant woman...but I didn't see that till after the fact. I do have a problem since having a child watching this type of violence. In a good intelligent film then maybe it’s justifiable, but otherwise (with pure thick-headed schlock) then no.
ZH: Did you look into your own musical archives for musical inspiration or are all the tracks written specifically for the movie?
SJ: With Simon, and most films, the director puts his favourite music to the film, and asks you to emulate it. Unlike writing your own songs, it’s a job, trying to simulate what the director, and producer, wants and sees. It’s such a different discipline. A skill rather than a creation.
ZH: Your compositions for Blessed are not the ordinary run of the mill horror fare, for example there’s no stark music stabs to emphasise some of the jumpy moments, your music is more subtle. Was this something you purposely stayed away from, so the soundtrack was less predictable and thus more eerie?
SJ: I was such a freaking novice on this caper. Piano at the end of one hand and a DVD remote in the other. Working without a computer which was film soundtrack suicide of a high degree. Partly because the film came along before I was clued up, technically, and because there was no money and only three weeks to do it. But jeez no f*****g excuses, you have to do what was required. And Simon was a friend so that really kicked my arse into action.
ZH: How long were you given to write the soundtrack?
SJ: 3 weeks, and a couple of seconds, for big changes of course.
ZH: Were you given any musical direction or were you given free reign? Did the producers try and coax you into an Omen style or Rosemary’s Baby style soundtrack seeing as this is a Devil child story?
SJ: Yep, as I’ve said, there was in fact, The Omen music, as a template...but I have to say, it’s very difficult to get away from choral orgasm on such a movie. The subject matter kind of calls for it. Rosemary’s Baby was in my opinion, s**t. At the time, yes maybe, it shocked, but it hasn't survived the riggers, as the shining, for example, has.
ZH: What was the experience like? Is it something you’d like to do more of in the future?
SJ: Film scoring is a job of service. Unless your director is a friend and he/she wants your music, as collaboration, a la Thumbsucker, or a theme like David Holmes on Out Of Sight, you have to bend and limbo under the bar of what the director wants. I have always known what I want with my own music, where it should lead etc, so its weird having to do what you're told, but as I’m so undisciplined in life, its good to get f****d in the arse creatively once in a while.
ZH: Did you meet any of the cast and crew?
SJ: No but I was told that Heather Graham liked my stuff. She’s worked with Johnny Depp, who's a fan, and I think he's passed on my delights in the past.
ZH: Was it as satisfying an experience as you were expecting it to be?
SJ: No it’s was extremely stressful...thrown in at the deep end. Using Neanderthal equipment, but totally my fault. Either you get the tools or you f*** off. There is such snobbery against musicians that write songs, in the film world, that you need to be totally ahead of the game, especially if you are not classically trained etc
ZH: What did you think of the movie itself?
SJ: Very hard to say. Haven’t actually seen it. Just the bits I worked on. Couldn’t get a copy off anyone. Would have to order it off Amazon if I wanted it. Which of course I do.
ZH: Are you a fan of horror movies?
SJ: F*****g massive. But only old things. No horror films come close...The Thing. Kurt Russell and the other fella. Immensely desolate and desperate. Shining. Great acting. No special effects getting in the way. The Thing had them, but it didn't spoil. Alien. Good directors/great actors...suspense...that special thing that's been lost to a quick thrill culture.
ZH: Your new CD, Between My Ears There’s Nothing But Music, is a return to the Babybird name and is very much a Babybird album in feel and tone. Did it feel good to record with a band again?
SJ: Its weird I have never recorded with a band with all members all at once like in the good old days of the Stones (i.e. Sympathy for the Devil film by Truffant) or Doo Wop one take wonders. Actually I think 'King Bing' (a track from the first Babybird album) was done with all of us at it at once...but would love to do that. It is great being able to sit back and listen to Rob (drummer) do his thing. With time so much comes out.
ZH: It’s a very upbeat release, tracks such as Dive, Shoutabout and Snails could have easily come from the Bugged album, was this a conscious decision?
SJ: Bugged (the third Babybird release) is my favourite band Babybird album. The Way You Are, Getaway are close to how I want a song to sound. If this new stuff sounds similar I think that's the way I work with Luke (guitars etc) and Rob. The demos are different and sound nowt like BB.
ZH: Did you record many songs for the album and how did you choose which ones to use? Will we get to hear some on the unused material?
SJ: About 50 but they were written for pleasure, always the way I used to write, for me and friends etc. We all chose favourites but worked on all 50, but we had limited time and the ones on the LP were the most finished and rounded. I hope the others will come out under another name, like 'Homesick'?
ZH: Stephen Jones, thank you very much
Posted in Frightfest, Interviews, Tuesday 15th August 2017
Ahead of her eagerly awaited presence at Horror Channel FrightFest 2017, genre icon, actress and producer Barbara Crampton talks exclusively about her latest film Replace, battling chronic fatigue syndrome and her passion for supporting new talent.
Q: Replace raises questions about beauty, body image and growing older, issues that many feel plague the Hollywood movie industry. What is your view on this subject?
BC: The best movies reflect our inner world, our hopes, our good intentions, trials and our demons. Growing old and the fear of death is endemic to all, not just the movie industry. Just when you begin to figure it out your back aches, your skin starts to wrinkle and you gain weight...SHARE: READ MORE Exclusive: Brand new poster for superb thriller Freehold
Posted in Frightfest, Tuesday 15th August 2017
The feature debut from director Dom Bridges and written by Rae Brunton (the Outpost franchise), Freehold is a dark urban morality tale with an underlying streak of jet black comedy.
Hussein, a wide-boy estate agent, doesn't realise he's sharing his apartment with a forgotten stranger, a master of concealment... until his malicious campaign of deranged sweet revenge starts to really hit home. A roof above our heads is a basic human need so why are we all fighting each other over it?
The movies is a genre riff on home invasion chillers and doubles as a searing comment on the cut-throat housing market.
Freehold stars Mim Shaikh, Javier Botet, Mandeep Dhillon, Kola Bokinniand Mic...SHARE: READ MORE Booth's Blog: FrightFest season is here!
Posted in Booth's Blog, Monday 14th August 2017
It's that time again!
I cannot believe it is nearly a year since I was presenting at FrightFest which moved to Shepherds Bush temporarily, but is now back at its true 'Dark Heart' the Cineworld and Prince Charles in Leicester Square and I am so excited to read about this years line up and returning FrightFest favourite guests Joe Lynch and Adam Green (cheeky boys those two!).
For starters the festival organisers have decided to open the 5 day event with a real crowd-pleaser as everyone's favourite pott--mouthed demonic doll is back in Cult Of Chucky. This time the one and only star Jennifer Tilly is in attendance too alongside director Don Mancini and Fiona Douri...SHARE: READ MORE 10 FrightFest flicks for 2017 - Part 1
Posted in Frightfest, Monday 14th August 2017
Heading to Horror Channel FrightFest 2017? Horror Channel Manager Stewart Bridle lists some of the fearful flicks to catch. Here's the first five from his list, the next five we'll post on Wednesday.
Horror Channel FrightFest returns to London this August and has its usual abundance of riches for the genre film fan. Choosing what to watch can be a hard and painful process every year and I often want to clone myself just so I can enjoy it all. With such a fantastic line-up for 2017 the task seems even harder but for what it's worth here's ten of the films that I recommend you treat your eyeballs to.
CULT OF CHUCKY
Everyone's favourite "friend to the end" returns to play at FrightFest once...
Posted in News, Saturday 12th August 2017
88 Films will unleash Lucio Fulci's most macabre and underrated blood-operas, Touch Of Death (1988) on August 7th, the latest addition to their now legendary Italian Collection.
Making its British bow in full HD, with a stunning new restoration for Blu-ray, Touch Of Death has been tragically underseen even though it rates right up there with Fulci's most fiendish splatter epics.
Starring the iconic B-movie maverick Brett Halsey (Return Of The Fly) and Euro-schlock veteran Al Cliver (The Devil Hunter), this fast-paced, plasma-drenched sickie tells of a cannibalistic killer who seems to be surrounded by an increasingly large amount of bizarre personalities.
Of course, this factor doe...SHARE: READ MORE Coming to vinyl for the first time, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.
Posted in News, Saturday 12th August 2017
Groove Vinyl Records has announced that they are to release (for the first time on vinyl) the classic original television show, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.
This cult classic of a series was originally broadcast in Canada on channel CHCH-TV way back in 1971 and starred Billy Van with guest appearances from the one and only Vincent Price and a collection of regular monsters!
Containing gags, songs and even a bit of education, the show had a cult following and will be released onto vinyl coming in four different colours and covers thanks to Groove Vinyl Records who are working alongside the Vincent Price Estate on this title.
The details first two versions, Igor in "Yes Mas...SHARE: READ MORE Graham Humphreys' stunning artwork for Horror Channel FrightFest 2017
Posted in Frightfest, Tuesday 8th August 2017
Horror Channel FrightFest is delighted to present Graham Humphreys' stunning artwork for this year's annual Bank Holiday event, the UK's largest celebration of genre cinema, taking place at Cineworld Leicester Square and The Prince Charles Cinema between Thursday August 24th and Monday August 28th.
Celebrating a return to one of FrightFest's former homes (The Empire) and the revival of some familiar characters to the festival line up, such as Chucky, Victor Crowley and Leatherface. were inspirations behind the concept.Graham reveals: "My image is an attempt to amalgamate the Gothic roots of horror with the 70s Monster revival that saturated the US and UK, inspiring g... SHARE: READ MORE Creepshow 2 soundtrack is coming to vinyl.
Posted in News, Tuesday 8th August 2017 Waxwork Records is thrilled to announce the debut soundtrack release of Creepshow 2. The 1987 anthology horror film is a sequel to 1982's Creepshow, which was directed by George A. Romero and written by Stephen King. The film is once again based upon stories by Stephen King, and features three horror-segments, Old Chief Woodenhead, The Raft, and The Hitchhiker, with an animated-horror wrap around story.
The score, co-composed and performed by Les Reed and Rick Wakeman, features a mix of both classic, orchestral compositions and electronic, synth cues. Waxwork's Creepshow 2 deluxe, double LP soundtrack release marks the very first time that the music from the film has been released in any format. After a leng...SHARE: READ MORE Five new horror talents shortlisted for second FrightFest Screen Genre Rising Star Award
Posted in Frightfest, Tuesday 8th August 2017 Tom Paton, Dominic Bridges, Joanne Mitchell, Matthew Holness and Danny Morgan have all been nominated for the second Screen International Genre Rising Star Award, in association with Horror Channel FrightFest 2017 which runs this August from the 24th till 28th.
The award was established with in 2016 to celebrate the work of emerging UK genre talent, with the first recipient being Prevenge director Alice Lowe. This year's winner will be announced on Monday August 28 in an event at the Cineworld Leicester Square at 6.30pm. It will be hosted by Screen contributing editor and critic Nikki Baughan and entry is free.
Tom Paton has been shortlisted for his feature debut Redwood, for which h...SHARE: READ MORE PICK OF THE WEEK
Tuesday 22nd August
Thursday 17th August
Sunday 27th August