RS2! My New Album Now Shipping!

I’m thrilled to announce my newest soundtrack CD, Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back, began shipping yesterday from La La Land Records.  While technically a soundtrack, it’s really more of a rock concept album.  These tracks represent my sick and twisted musical imagination unleashed.  This is my third feature film score, and believe it or not, the third in my epic trilogy of “Horror Film Scores Performed by Bluegrass Band,” following Rest Stop: Dead Ahead and Wrong Turn 2. Autographed copies are still available from the label, but they’ll go pretty quickly.

The sequel to WB’s 2006 hit Rest Stop: Dead Ahead, Rest Stop:Don’t Look Back tells the terrifying tale of three teenagers who encounter unimaginable horror when… uh, when…

… let’s be honest here.  This is another solid entry in a genre that’s been done a million times.  You either love these kinds of movies, hate them, or ignore them.  I’m certainly not about to sway any of your opinions on the cinematic merits of “Attractive Teenagers in Peril” films, nor would I want to.

However, this soundtrack CD is very special to me, and I encourage all of you to consider checking it out, even if (especially if) Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back isn’t your kind of movie.  If you’re a “Bear” fan (and I assume you are since you’re reading this), you will find a lot to enjoy here.  

The first thing you’ll notice is that this score sounds nothing like contemporary horror scores.  I’ve must confess that I loathe modern horror music.  When I was hired on for both “Rest Stop” films, I made it clear early on that I had no interest in doing the cliched “orchestral-screaming” score, the kind of Ligeti / Penderecki rip-offs that dominate almost every horror film out there.  The approach here is much more lyrical, more… musical.  I wanted these scores to feel more like the melodic horror scores of the 70s and 80s that I adored: The Omen, The Exorcist, Poltergeist and Alien.  (Clearly, Jerry Goldsmith was a big influence here, as was Ennio Morricone.  My first blog entry about Rest Stop: Dead Ahead details how The Driver’s theme was actually inspired by Morricone’s score to Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West.)

The instrumentation for both “Rest Stop” films is particularly unique: basically a bluegrass band.  A distorted, almost disfigured, banjo signifies The Driver, who is essentially the shark in Jaws.  Like Williams’ approach in that film, the banjo theme occurs literally every time the guy’s on screen or to suggest he’s lurking around the corner.  I know that idea sounds completely ridiculous, but in fact, the end result is quite creepy and genuinely scary.  It doesn’t sound like a banjo at all.

However, when it came time to score Don’t Look Back, I knew I had to raise the musical stakes, so I incorporated a full rhythm section.  The sound I was going for could best be described as “Lynrd Skynrd Trapped in Hell.”  (I know that’s hard to explain, so click on any SONG TITLES coming up in this entry to hear an audio clip.)

Infused with a lethal dose of Southern rock and blues, the unique instrumentation from the first film came back and created the meanest, most aggressive rock score of my career.  Yet, it also includes Tom and Marilyn, which turned out more beautiful than I’d ever hoped.  Spooky and gut-wrenching, at times mournful and heart-breaking, the Don’t Look Back score lived up to my very high expectations.  And I think I can safely claim the current World Record for “Horror Score with the Most Constant Use of Cowbell.”  (On almost every track).  

I was also thrilled to contribute more songs to the Rest Stop universe.  I collaborated again with my brother, Brendan “Bt4” McCreary, whom you all will recognize from Battlestar Galactica‘s All Along the Watchtower.  Brendan sang the bittersweet Lonely Woman for the first film, and I wanted to give him a chance to let loose on Rattlesnake on the Highway.  I know I’m biased, but damn, this song just kicks ass!  Brendan brought his unbridled energy to this piece that serves both as the End Credits of the film and also as the music that the villainous Driver actually listens to on his stereo.  I imagined that when the Driver and his truck became ghosts, his stereo was perpetually stuck on a demented Southern rock song for all eternity, twisting his mind and his soul.  That idea is woven throughout the song, inspiring it’s off-kilter 6/4 meter and the electric bass and guitar solos that sound like rabid coyotes howling at the moon.

I also had the great fortune to collaborate again with Rev. Buford “Buck” Davis.  He and his band bring such vibrant energy to my gospel tunes, which were, in truth, nothing more than vague sketches.  Buck and his guys took these songs and expanded them and made them their own.  Down Home Salvation was one of the perverted highlights of the first film, and they’ve topped themselves yet again with the stunningly horrific Jesus, He Forgives You Too.  There’s a demented preacher character in these films, and these are ghoulish and twisted gospel tunes playing on his stereo.  If you aren’t listening carefully, they can sound like totally normal bluegrass spirituals… which are they are most certainly not.  🙂  

Speaking of gospel, in the prologue of Don’t Look Back, the preacher character beats someone to death and this cue, Cleansing the Sinner, provided the perfect, ironic backdrop.

My new CD not only includes the complete Don’t Look Back score, but also my personal favorites from Rest Stop: Dead Ahead.  Here’s the full track listing…

Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back

1. Rattlesnake on the Highway
   performed by Brendan McCreary
2. Roadside Assistance
3. Main Title
Tom and Marilyn 
Cleansing the Sinner
Jesus, He Forgives You Too
   performed by the Rev. Buford “Buck” Davis and
   His Minstrel Singers
7. Creepy Gas Station
Marilyn’s Blues
9. On the Bus
10. Nicole’s Ghost
11. Powertools
Tom to the Rescue
The Last Stand
14. The Driver Gets Marilyn

Rest Stop: Dead Ahead

15. All That Remains
   performed by Raya Yarbrough
16. Lonely Woman
   performed by Brendan McCreary
17. Trapped
Gravely Mistaken Identity
19. Nicole Fights Back
Down Home Salvation
   performed by the Rev. Buford “Buck” Davis and
   His Minstrel Singers 

(Battlestar Galactica completists will probably recognize the song All That Remains from a quick appearance in Season Three’s “Takin’ a Break from All Your Worries.”  The other Raya Yarbrough performance featured even more prominently in both that episode and Season Four’s “Escape Velocity” is her original song Lord Knows I Would, available on her new self-titled debut CD.)

I consider this disc the definitive “Rest Stop” collection, representing all the diverse facets of this bizarre, horrifying, beautiful, twisted, tragic and vibrant musical universe.  I hope that all you Galactica fans out there will give this CD a try, because I’m sure you’ll enjoy these tracks as much as I enjoyed writing them.  



UPDATE!: My score for Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back and various other projects will be featured this week on Visions in Sound, hosted by Rob Daniels.  He does some of the best composer interviews out there and it’s an honor to be invited back his program.  It will air Saturday, October 25th from 2 to 4pm on FM98.5 CKWR.  You can listen online by going to their website and clicking on “Listen Live!”.  Or, it will be posted on my website in a few weeks.

UPDATED AGAIN! January 6, 2009: Visions in Sound‘s Rob Daniels just announced his top 10 soundtrack selections of 2008 and Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back made the list at number 5!  I’m honored to be on his list for the fourth year in a row, and especially that he recognized this little gem of an album.



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