E-Notes: STEVE JABLONSKY MORPHS HIS MUSIC TO SCORE TRANSFORMERS
The composer is no stranger to working with Michael Bay on previous work and brings his expertise to robots who are more than meets the eye.
By DANIEL SCHWEIGER, Soundtrack Editor
When scoring giant robots for Michael Bay, your music had better be big and propulsive to survive the rampaging sound effects. The fact that Steve Jablonsky's score for TRANSFORMERS stands tall as its own, mighty entity is a tribute to the power, and fun of this gigantic musical machine - one that's made out of equal parts percussion, trumpeting themes and ass-kicking attitude. It's a mass of exciting notes that morphs to the occasion through TRANSFORMERS, hitting Autobot nobility, Decepticon evil, heroic humans and the film's enthusiastic destruction - all with the kind of split-second timing that would make Optimus Prime proud.
Steve Jablonsky's score for TRANSFORMERS has the kind of action-friendly beat-box sound that's the trademark of Team Zimmer, a factory of talented composers collected under the watch of mega-composer Hans Zimmer. They're usually sent into battle together for the testosterone-driven likes of THE ROCK, ARMAGEDDON and PEARL HARBOR, Michael Bay films on which Jablonsky cut his mad action skills on. But it would be on THE ISLAND where Jablonsky truly stepped up to the sole composing plate, delivering the kind of delirious musical mayhem that's part and parcel of the Bay experience. Now Jablonsky gets his biggest musical shot for the director with TRANSFORMERS, and succeeds with a joyously loud score that plays the cosmic majesty, and destructive might of the toys-turned-film icons.
But there's more than meets the eye when it comes to Jablonsky's service to the Bay machine, as can be heard with his scores for the Bay-produced remakes of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, THE HITCHER and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (as well as its prequel). All are soundtracks that are as horrifyingly dark as TRANSFORMERS is heroically bright. And those credits are just part of Jablonsky's musical cannon, which includes such videogame scores as METAL GEAR SOLID 2, the ANIME action of STEAMBOY, and the eccentric sound of suburbia for ABC's hit DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.
But with Wisteria Lane on summer break, this season is all about TRANSFORMERS, a film that is sure to morph Jablonsky to the big leagues of cinematic mayhem, if he so desires it. Now as he takes a well-deserved rest from musically saving the world for Bay once again, the composer reveals the steps to building the ultimate giant robot score.
IF MAGAZINE: HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH SCORING FILMS FOR MICHAEL BAY?
STEVE JABLONKSY: When I started working with Harry Gregson-Williams, one of the first projects I was involved in was THE ROCK. I learned a lot just being around and watching the process. What better way to learn about this business than to sit in a room with Harry, Hans Zimmer, Michael and Jerry Bruckheimer? I got to know Michael a bit more when I worked with Hans on PEARL HARBOR, and our relationship continued when I wrote for BAD BOYS 2 with Trevor Rabin. At this point Michael liked my music enough to give me a shot scoring his remake of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, which was the first film for his Platinum Dunes production company. For me this was sort of the beginning of our relationship, where I was the main composer. I scored the next Platinum Dunes production, AMITYVILLE HORROR, followed by my first film with Michael as director, THE ISLAND. I've been very fortunate in my career that people like Harry and Hans have given me the opportunity to work with them on their films. For an A-list director like Michael Bay, to give a guy like me such a big opportunity, is rare, and I will be forever grateful to him and everyone that has helped me over the past decade. I'm just glad these people seem to like my music.
IF: WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS ABOUT YOUR SOUND THAT MICHAEL LIKES?
JABLONKSY: I try not to analyze too much. He likes things that sound cool and modern. He loves percussion, and he also loves emotion in the music. So I try to find a balance. It helps that I love all of the same things, and I love to experiment. I love playing with different sounds in my computer, cutting them up and running them through all kinds of plug-ins to see what new sounds come out. I love big percussion (I was lucky enough to spend three days recording some of the best percussionists in the world for TRANSFORMERS). But what I love most is writing themes that will hopefully move an audience, and heighten their emotional connection to the film. So working with Michael allows me to do all of these things.
IF: WHAT DO YOU THINK A TYPICAL "MICHAEL BAY FILM" IS, AND HOW DOES TRANSFORMERS FIT THE MOLD?
JABLONKSY: Michael is known as the big summer action blockbuster director, and TRANSFORMERS certainly fits that description. His action sequences are second to none, and his visuals are always amazing. But in between the explosions, you'll always find humor and emotion.
Michael has a great sense of comic timi... read more0 comments | write a comment14:55, 2007-07-11posted by Fabrice