Author: Michael Pementel
John Carpenter is a master of genre filmmaking. Halloween, The Thing, They Live, Christine – just a few examples of the brilliant films he has created over the course of his career. But alongside that of his filmmaking, Carpenter is also a remarkable composer (having created the scores for all his movies).
It is only more recently in life that the famous horror director decided to create his own personal music to share with the masses. In 2015, John Carpenter joined forces with that of his son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies, releasing an album titled Lost Themes; while entirely composed of original electronic music, the music elicits the style and presentation of Carpenter’s past scores. From there, the trio continued to create more original music, releasing two more Lost Themes albums over the course of a few years.
In this new musical career of his, Carpenter has also been offered the chance to score movies once again; him, Cody, and Daniel scored that of 2018’s Halloween remake, as well as its 2021 sequel Halloween Kills. The trio are also working on the score for 2022’s Halloween Ends.
More recently however, Carpenter and the gang worked on and just released the soundtrack to Firestarter – which is based off the 1980 novel by Stephen King. As the trio’s first scoring project not associated with the Halloween franchise, the Firestarter soundtrack is another musical entry that further highlights their stunning artistry.
We at The Pit had the opportunity to talk with John Carpenter not only about the Firestarter soundtrack, but also about metal! We talked to the famous director and composer about the creative process behind this new soundtrack, as well as his thoughts on Stephen King, his favorite Metallica albums, and of course, his adoration for Babymetal.
The Pit: How did you and the guys get involved with creating the Firestarter soundtrack?
John Carpenter: [People associated with the movie] came up with the idea of me, Cody, and Daniel doing the score. For me, it was a completion, because after The Thing I wanted to [direct the 1984 film] Firestarter; I wanted to direct it, but I was relieved of duty at that point because The Thing failed so big. So this was a way of coming full circle, so I embraced it immediately.
The Pit: What initially drew you to the Firestarter project back in the day?
JC: Well, I thought I could do a good job with the relationship of the girl and the father and the whole circumstance; the whole action of it was something I could embrace, both as a director and composer.
The Pit: You’ve worked on another Stephen King related property in the past, being Christine. What is it about King’s work that attracts you?
JC: Christine was there because I needed a job, so that was very important. He’s one of the premier horror writers that we have; his stuff is great, can be great. So when you have [a chance to work on something related to his writing], you go to it.
The Pit: Much of your score work has involved your own movies, or working on David Gordon Green’s Halloween movies (which are extensions of a film you and Debra Hill created together). For something like this latest remake of Firestarter, was there anything different about the creative process?
JC: It was a different movie, different director. Keith [Thomas, director] was very very nice; he let us do what we had to do. It worked out just fine; it was a great time, I have to say. So is working with David.
[Scoring movies], compared to directing, are you kidding me?
The Pit: If you had the chance to work with other directors – regarding scoring their movies – would you be open to that? Would you like to work with horror directors like Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Northman) or Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar)?
JC: Sure. I’ll work with anybody who has a good story and wants to hire us. That’s the whole point; we want to make music. If you have an idea we’ll do it.
The Pit: What is your taste in music nowadays? Do you like to find new stuff, or do you mostly stick to what you have always enjoyed?
JC: Not really much new. I still listen to The Beatles, believe it or not. I listen to ‘60s music a bunch. But I have to say, the new Abba album is at the top of my list. I love them.
The Pit: It’s an incredible record.
JC: I know! They’re still here, they’re still making it.
The Pit: They are one of the best too when it comes to pop music and how they write their material.
JC: I know.
The Pit: If we were to ask you for your favorite Beatles album, what would it be?
JC: Oh brother… I suppose it would be one of the early ones maybe. Boy, that’s impossible. Jeez. I guess… Rubber Soul I suppose. That would have to be it.
The Pit: In a previous interview you shared how much you love Babymetal. What is it about that band that captivates you so much?
JC: I love Babymetal! Are you kidding me? Have you seen them in concert? They are unbelievable! Their band is unreal; they are just chugging, and these three little girls come out – the performers – and they didn’t know what metal was, [so it] had to [be] explained to them [because they are] so young. [Babymetal] is such a great idea. So much fun. I can’t believe the crowds; I attend their concerts. Wow!
Anyway I love them. And Metallica, everybody loves Metallica.
The Pit: We’ve heard that you love Metallica as well. What are your top three favorite Metallica albums?
JC: Oh yeah, three would be: Metallica The Black Album, Load, and Reload. Right in a row.
The Pit: Really?
JC: Yeah I know they don’t think it’s pure. But I love it, I thought it was great.
The Pit: Yeah that’s so unique; no one ever mentions Load or Reload as personal favorites. It’s always stuff like Ride the Lightning or Master of Puppets.
JC: Yeah yeah yeah they’re okay. You can’t beat “Enter Sandman.”
[Metallica] are metal. Even when they took a detour, went down the Load/Reload road, I was with them.
The Pit: What other metal bands are you into? Are you a fan of bands like Iron Maiden, Pantera, or Megadeth?
JC: Well Megadeth I kind of enjoy.
The Pit: Would you, Cody, and Daniel ever be open to incorporating heavy metal or heavier music into your material?
JC: Sure, we might do that. We might snag a couple metal musicians to play. Sure why not, I love metal, always have.
The Pit: We are in a weird place in the world, given that COVID is still about. We know it has been a longtime, but would you be open at some point going on another tour?
JC: Sure, I guess. I’m an old geezer now, so you’d have to carry me around and get me there. But sure – it was a blast touring, I had a great time.
The Pit: Lastly, we want to ask: What advice would you give to a young artist who wants to get into scoring movies and making music?
JC: Wow, well… not so much. I can only say the same advice I give to a young director who wants to make movies: Just make music. Pure music.
Don’t worry about what it’s for, do it, and then get people to listen. And that’s the best way of breaking in; because somebody may hear it and say, “Oh this is great, I want this.” So that’s how you do it, that’s the most direct way.
We at The Pit would like to thank John for his time talking with us! You can order your copy of the Firestarter official soundtrack via this link here. You can also find John’s other musical work via Bandcamp.