PERTURBATOR MEETS JOHN CAR­PEN­TER

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: STEPHEN HILL

Mas­ter of Hor­ror John Car­pen­ter is a badass song­writer. Syn­th­wave’s main­man finds out more.

John Car­pen­ter is the Mas­ter Of Hor­ror. His films are leg­endary, and his sound­tracks have in­flu­enced gen­er­a­tions of bands, in­clud­ing the in­creas­ingly pro­lific syn­th­wave scene. With John’s new Hal­loween sound­track about to drop, we got

syn­th­wave’s Crown Prince, Perturbator, to grill an icon

“I LIS­TEN TO MY OLD RECORD­INGS AND I FEEL LIKE SHIT”

PERTURBATOR

Much like the worlds of hor­ror and heavy metal them­selves, John Car­pen­ter and James ‘Perturbator’ Kent might not ob­vi­ously have too much in com­mon. But, such is the depth, mys­tique and lure in­her­ent in both sub­cul­tures, if you look be­low the sur­face, the link be­comes ob­vi­ous. In one cor­ner, we have the Mas­ter Of Hor­ror: a Hol­ly­wood au­teur and com­poser who took on com­plete con­trol of his films and in the process changed scary movies for­ever, giv­ing us ter­ri­fy­ing clas­sics like Hal­loween (1978), The Fog (1980) and The Thing (1982). In the other cor­ner, the young Parisian black metal mu­si­cian who loathed hav­ing to com­pro­mise his art so much that he put down the gui­tar, picked up a syn­the­siser and turned metal fans onto a whole new sub­genre, syn­th­wave – a scene un­doubt­edly in­flu­enced by John’s iconic sound­tracks.

“Hi John, I sup­ported you in Ve­gas, it was an hon­our,” says James by way of in­tro­duc­tion. “I re­mem­ber you,” replies John. “You were great.” It’s a promis­ing start as we sit down to lis­ten in on two gen­uine, one-off artists dis­cussing their re­spec­tive crafts.

PERTURBATOR: SO WHEN YOU SIT DOWN TO COM­POSE, DO YOU NEED TO GET INTO A CER­TAIN FRAME OF MIND?

JOHN: “Not re­ally. Jeez, let me think about how I do it… well, I go down­stairs in my house to do the com­pos­ing and I have a big tele­vi­sion screen, and I just put on some bas­ket­ball.”

PERTURBATOR: “…bas­ket­ball?”

JOHN: “that’s right. that gets me in the mood to work and gets me in­spired and en­er­gised.” PERTURBATOR: THAT’S PRETTY SUR­PRIS­ING. BUT IT’S PRETTY COOL. WRIT­ING MU­SIC WITH

AN­OTHER PER­SON IS PRETTY DIF­FI­CULT, I FIND, BUT IT’S A VERY REWARDING EX­PE­RI­ENCE WHEN YOU CAN GET THAT RIGHT PER­SON. WOULD YOU EVER BE IN­TER­ESTED IN COLLABORATING WITH AN­OTHER ARTIST?

JOHN: “I’d love to. But it’d have to be some­one in the syn­the­sised world, and who is adept at that. I have to warn you: I don’t read or write mu­sic, I wouldn’t be any good to any com­poser who was pro­fi­cient in read­ing mu­sic. I just im­pro­vise…”

PERTURBATOR: “So it’s like a lot of jam­ming?” JOHN: “No, I wouldn’t call it jam­ming. I’d say it’s im­pro­vis­ing. all the mu­sic that I do, it just comes out of me, and once it’s there, on com­puter.”

PERTURBATOR: “How do you feel about that? I some­times lis­ten to my old record­ings and I feel like shit…”

JOHN: “What? Why?”

PERTURBATOR: “Be­cause I think they sound like shit! I once read that you never watch your old movies be­cause you see all the mis­takes.”

JOHN: “Yeah. I think a lot of that is be­cause they have be­come tropes, you know? Some­thing I did on in­stinct from a long time ago be­comes some­thing that you’ve seen be­fore and I’d never do now. I also lis­ten to old record­ings and they sound crude and stupid. the synths I had to use in those days were re­ally bad. I cringe a lot look­ing at my old work, so I’d rather not do it. But hey, you know, once in while some­thing will come along and it’ll sur­prise me and I think, ‘Well… it’s not bad!’ But most of the time I just can’t un­der­stand what I was do­ing.” PERTURBATOR: THAT’S JUST CRAZY. MOST PEO­PLE WOULD CON­SIDER EVERY­THING THAT YOU’RE REFERENCING AS CLAS­SICS. JOHN: “Oh, no, no, no. Not clas­sics.”

PERTURBATOR: “It’s in­ter­est­ing to think like that look­ing back on your own work.”

JOHN: “I think it’s im­por­tant! You have to have a lit­tle dis­tance and to be sus­pect over the things that you did in the past so that you can im­prove.”

PERTURBATOR: “that’s true. Some­times you have days where you think the show is go­ing to be great, and then one lit­tle thing hap­pens that will fuck up the whole thing and you just stand there hat­ing the stage, feel­ing like it’s all go­ing to shit.” JOHN: “I’ve had those days. When I play live I need to have the au­di­ence stand­ing up, be­cause the en­ergy is amaz­ing. ev­ery­one is too po­lite sit­ting down. I’ve screwed up live shows big time! When I first started tour­ing in 2016 I was ter­ri­ble! I’ve got a lit­tle bit bet­ter since then.”

PERTURBATOR: “the show I saw was amaz­ing!” JOHN: “Well… maybe. But maybe not.”

PERTURBATOR: HAVE YOU EVER HAD WHAT YOU WOULD CON­SIDER A PER­FECT SHOW?

JOHN: “Perfection is not some­thing that I’ve ever con­versed with, in any medium that I’ve worked in. Perfection al­ludes me.”

“HOL­LY­WOOD LOOKED AT ME LIKE I WAS A MON­STER”

JOHN CAR­PEN­TER

PERTURBATOR: WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED AND YOU WERE SCOR­ING YOUR OWN MOVIES, WAS THAT OUT OF NECESSITY, OR WAS IT SOME­THING THAT YOU RE­ALLY WANTED TO DO?

JOHN: “In the be­gin­ning, it was just some­thing I had to do be­cause I didn’t have any money. It started in film school; I did it for my friends be­cause we couldn’t af­ford a com­poser. My first few fea­tures, I did the mu­sic to, and it just be­came a thing where I was cheap and fast! I did the mu­sic to As­sault On Precinct 13 in one day!”

PERTURBATOR: “I think ac­tu­ally I heard that on the DVD com­men­tary…”

JOHN: “Yeah, Hal­loween took me three days. I just knew that I had to do it. So, it got done.”

PERTURBATOR: HOW QUICKLY DID IT GROW ON YOU? ARE THERE ANY MOVIES NOW THAT YOU’D WANT TO SCORE THAT AREN’T YOUR OWN?

JOHN: “Well, it grew on me and it be­came an­other voice that was in­side of me. It meant that I could make my films even more per­sonal to my­self and my story. I would ac­tu­ally love to do more scores for other peo­ple, though…”

PERTURBATOR: I HEAR YOU’RE SCOR­ING THE

NEXT Fi­nal Fan­tasy FILM?

JOHN: “I am. It’s done, it’s com­pleted. It’s very good and I’m re­ally proud of the score.”

PERTURBATOR: HOW DOES MAK­ING A SCORE FOR SOME­THING AF­FECT THE WAY YOU ARE FILM­ING SOME­THING? DO YOU CON­SIDER THAT WHEN YOU’RE FILM­ING A SCENE?

JOHN: “ab­so­lutely not. the two things are al­ways in­cred­i­bly sep­a­rate for me. I com­part­men­talise stuff, the di­rect­ing stuff is al­ways very spe­cific. It’s just sto­ry­telling. But then when I do the score it has to sup­port what I do as a direc­tor. I can’t be think­ing about mu­sic when I’m di­rect­ing the story of the scene, that has to come later.” PERTURBATOR: SO NOW YOU ARE IN THE MU­SIC IN­DUS­TRY MUCH MORE HEAVILY THAN

YOU ARE FILM, I HAVE TO ASK: WHICH ONE DO YOU PRE­FER?

JOHN: “I love play­ing mu­sic now be­cause it’s a whole lot less stress. Mak­ing movies is hell! From the hours to the de­mands peo­ple have on you, it’s like work­ing down a mine. Mu­sic is more of a pas­sion. But I’ve ar­rived here just as the mu­sic in­dus­try is dead! Not like it used to be.”

PERTURBATOR: WELL, YOU’RE IN A PLACE AT THIS MO­MENT IN TIME WHEN LOTS OF MU­SI­CIANS ARE VERY IN­FLU­ENCED BY YOUR WORK. ARE YOU AWARE OF THEM?

JOHN: “No. I have no clue about that. I never re­ally lis­ten to any­thing that I think sounds like me. I know some peo­ple play syn­the­sis­ers but that’s as far as I’m aware it goes, if I’m hon­est.”

PERTURBATOR: SO WHAT DO YOU LIS­TEN TO

THESE DAYS?

JOHN: “a lot of game mu­sic. I play a lot of video games, and they have some fan­tas­tic scores.”

PERTURBATOR: “What games do you play?” JOHN: “Well, I’m wait­ing for the new Fall­out.

I just got Shadow Of The Tomb Raider. Des­tiny and Des­tiny 2 both have or­ches­tral scores that are way above any­thing in film at the mo­ment. I re­ally think that, as an in­dus­try, they are the stan­dard for ev­ery­one to fol­low now. I’m hugely into video games.”

PERTURBATOR: YOU MUST BE AWARE OF THE CON­TRI­BU­TION YOU’VE MADE TO FILM AND MU­SIC, THOUGH? HOW DOES THAT FEEL?

JOHN: “How do you think? It feels great! It’s very sur­pris­ing, be­cause I spent so long with peo­ple in Hol­ly­wood look­ing at me like I was this mon­ster be­cause of the movies I was mak­ing. So now it’s a very nice and con­fus­ing sur­prise that peo­ple feel so close to my work. I had hon­estly given up on it. Hans Zim­mer told me that The Thing was one of his favourite scores. Which is quite in­cred­i­ble.”

PERTURBATOR: “and now you’re back work­ing on the film that you are per­haps best known for, so that’s some cool syn­chronic­ity.”

JOHN: “It is. and I wouldn’t have just gone back to do it. I don’t like to look back too much, as I said be­fore, but this felt like a chance to go back and do some­thing from my past with all of the ben­e­fits of this ex­pe­ri­ence I have now.” JOHN CAR­PEN­TER’S NEW Hal­lOWEEn OST IS OUT OC­TO­BER 19 VIA SA­CRED BONES, AND HE TOURS THE UK LATER THIS MONTH. PERTURBATOR PLAYS A TRIO OF UK DATES IN MARCH

Jamie lee Cur­tis in JohnCar­pen­ter’s Hal­loween

“I love John. I first met him when he was shoot­ing Es­cape From LA:I was do­ing a song for the movie and I went down to the set and he was nice enough to hang out. I know how stress­ful it is mak­ing movies, so it was nice of him to hang out with me. He’s one of the few peo­ple whose movies I would watch just be­cause of the direc­tor.”

Kurt rus­sell on theset of The Thing

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