Texas Frightmakers: A Chat with Brian Davis of Grave Tone Productions
At Texas Frightmare Weekend I came across Grave Tone Productions' booth and had a chat with main man Brian Davis. Grave Tone's horror and metal music combination intrigued me. I learned Davis and his partner in mayhem have a lot of irons in the fire, and we discussed them all.
Mr. Dark: Who the hell are you, and what do you do?
Brian Davis: My name is Brian Davis. I am the primary composer, arranger and drummer for Grave Tone Productions. We make music for the haunt/horror industry.
MD: Grave Tone Productions got started doing custom horror music. How did you get into that business?
BD: We built a database of haunted attractions and started sending out postcards and some demo CD's to them to try to spread our hybrid sound of traditional horror scores and aggressive music. From there we got involved doing film scores through some connections we made at Shriekfest Film Festival in Los Angeles.
MD: Tell us a little about how that custom music process works.
BD: We speak with the customer and get descriptions of the rooms/areas that they are wanting music for. If they have ideas about what they want, we start there. If they don't have any ideas and leave it to us, we're huge horror fans so we usually have plenty of ideas. Then we begin creating the tracks and start sending the customer rough versions.
MD: With the Music to Be Buried By CD (review here), you're blending more traditional horror music with heavy metal. What inspired you to do that?
BD: I noticed that most of the current horror soundtracks were either traditional horror scores or a compilation of metal bands. Being fans of both styles of music, we attempted to fuse those styles to give the listener both elements of horror. Music to Be Buried By is a soundtrack without a movie. It's what we'd like to see happening in horror movies.
MD: There's a very clear Pantera influence to many of the riffs on the CD. Who are some of your other influences?
BD: Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Fantomas, Mr. Bungle, John Carpenter, Danny Elfman, Marco Beltrami, S.O.D., Midnight Syndicate, Angelo Badalamenti, Tomandandy - to mention a few.
MD: On the CD you have quite a few musicians involved with the music. Who is the core of Grave Tone, and who are the guests?
BD: I am the primary composer, arranger, and drummer. Jay Brooks, my brother in darkness, is the bass player, co-composer, and core member of Grave Tone Productions. The rest of the guys are friends and bandmates from the past. I'm fortunate to have a group of guys to call on to create any style of music that is required. We are finishing up the score for a 1940's zombie noir film called Hungry, which calls for exotica smooth jazz type music. We really can do ALL styles of music.
MD: I understand you have a horror short coming out. Tell us about that.
BD: We are working on our first short film, Who's There?, which was written and directed by myself and Jay Brooks. It began as a way to sharpen our film scoring skills, but it is and has been a blast on so many levels. We are waiting on a picture lock but have already started work on the score. The plan is to submit it to some film festivals and try to get some exposure. There is also a plan to release it on DVD together with the soundtrack.
MD: Can you see Grave Tone's metal/horror hybrid turning into a band, perhaps with live performances?
BD: That has been discussed a few times, and I'd love to see it happen in the future. We have a ton of ideas to take it live and perform, and hopefully we'll be in a position to do that because both Jay and I both have tons of live experience with our past bands.
MD: There's definitely a Texas flair to the music in the Pantera influences. What is it, do you think, about Texas that inspires folks to get spooky and make horror?
BD: I think Texas, in general, is known as a badass. I remember being on tour with my band years ago… I was in Canada and I met more than one person who typically didn't like Americans, but when they found out we were from Texas, they were like, 'Oh… Texas, that's so cool.' The Canadian Border Agency absolutely did not believe us when we told them that we didn't have guns in our van. That was their perception of Texans. Then there was that little movie about Texas and a chainsaw. That and the fact that you can drive all day and never get out of Texas... that scares people.
MD: My traditional final question: What's your favorite horror movie?
BD: Off the top of my head without thinking about it, John Carpenter's Halloween. I remember seeing that when I was around 8 years old. It scared me, and I loved it. In recent years, The Strangers!
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