Howlin’ Wolf Records is a record label specializing in limited edition film scores. The record label was formed in the last quarter of 2007 by Wall Crumpler (that would be me) a long-time film score collector. My interest in film scores started as a teenager and has grown and consumed me over the years like it does most diehard film score collectors. I had the great fortune to partner with Paul Hilburger who I sought to help expand the vision and focus of the label, which he has done amazingly…he is the designer behind our website and will be adding new features as time goes by…it is also very cool that he has written an original film script and has contact information regarding this project on our website.
The current focus of this record label is horror and suspense and our intent is to produce a variety of projects ranging from electronic to symphonic scores. We see ourselves as a very service oriented label and really desire to have collaboration with other film score collectors. We are trying to promote this collaboration through our website and by soliciting involvement in the process of forging a direction. Howlin’ Wolf Records is not an exclusive club and ANYONE out there who has an interest in film scores can be an active part of our organization…. Seriously, anyone interested can go to our website and email firstname.lastname@example.org and volunteer his/her services and we will certainly find a niche and a way of involvement for anyone with serious interest.
The first two projects reflect the diversity Howlin’ Wolf Records is striving to achieve. MALEVOLENCE is an electronic film score from 2004 by an innovative, talented filmmaker who wrote, directed, produced, edited, and scored his film. Stevan Mena is not a professionally trained composer but is clearly a student of the craft through his love for horror films, his experience as an amateur musician, while instinctively possessing an understanding and appreciation for the incredible impact of a film score on helping shape the emotion and ambiance for a film.
As a distinct contrast to our first project, SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT, our second project, is a beautiful symphonic score from 1974 by an amazing and accomplished composer and conductor. Gershon Kingsley’s credentials are very fun to throw around given he is a pioneer of the early electronic music movement, an Emmy-winning, Tony-nominated composer who also just happens to be the first artist to perform electronic music in Carnegie Hall with THE FIRST MOOG QUARTET, which he formed in 1970. On top of all of this he has a US Billboard top ten tune with his instrumental Popcorn, performed by HOT BUTTER in 1972.
What is a typical day at work like... easy, hard or hell?
Generally a workday at Howlin’ Wolf Records starts around 5pm and might end as late (or early I should say) as 2am. There is always weekend work to accompany the late night hours as well. The reason for these crazy hours is that we each have other professional directions from 9 to 5. Founding Howlin’ Wolf Records has been a real journey for me personally. Since starting this project, I have served as a sound engineer working actively with the editing and mastering of tracks for the scores, a graphic artist having produced all of the art inserts for MALEVOLENCE, as well as a business manager, marketing specialist, web designer and the chief legal expert in our legal department. I jokingly wear all of these hats but in reality have genuinely had to be involved in every aspect of the label…. we are expanding our team and have taken on some intern help and will be hopefully adding new creative partners to the label over time, as well. Again, please email us if you are interested.
For me, everyday at Howlin’ Wolf Records is like a holiday (I will say Halloween in keeping with the theme of our label…or I could also say Christmas since SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT all takes place on Christmas Eve) in any event, it is like everyday is an eventful and exciting day when there is project work with the label. As they say, time flies when you are having fun and I can expire a day in the blink of an eye it seems when I am immersed in work with a project…I love every minute!
First release "MALEVOLENCE"...A film written, produced, directed, and scored by Stevan Mena. http://www.malevolencemovie.com/
How did this come about?
When I first decided to form a record label specializing in film scores, the initial step was to ask myself what films had I seen over the past several years that I was disappointed to discover had no film score release? Unfortunately for me as a film score collector, there is quite a long list of titles that fall into that category. I can honestly say that MALEVOLENCE was at the very top of the list. There was a lot of buzz on-line when MALEVOLENCE was released on DVD (I did not have the privilege to see it during its theatrical run) and I purchased the DVD and was very taken by the feeling of frightening isolation Stevan Mena created with his film. This film had such a dark mood and his score so beautifully complemented and helped set the tone. I believe I was also drawn to Stevan Mena because I am a great fan of John Carpenter’s work. I see so many parallels between Stevan Mena and John Carpenter, both being writer, director, composers.
Stevan Mena seems to be a person who wears many hats; did this make it more difficult to work with?
Stevan Mena wears more hats in film making than anyone I am aware of. I think he was involved with or solely responsible for almost every step of the process except for maybe molding the plastic cases for the DVDs (LOL). Seriously, it is quite extraordinary what a labor of love MALEVOLENCE must have been for him. I am very eager for his prequel to see how his style as a filmmaker has evolved…. interestingly, if IMDB is correct, Stevan is again serving as the composer for his prequel to MALEVOLENCE titled BEREAVEMENT, which deals with the abduction of Marin Bristol, a character introduced in the first film.
To answer your question, Stevan was and continues to be very easy to collaborate with on the release of his film score. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I do not enjoy talking on the telephone. Stevan and I collaborated to produce the film score for MALEVOLENCE completely through email…so that is but one great thing I appreciate about Stevan. Not to say that I am not determined to meet with him face to face at some point! I may just show up as an extra on one of his films if I cannot get to him any other way. Just kidding Stevan…. you do not need to beef up security on the sets yet. With all honesty, we both have busy schedules and have not had the real need or opportunity to meet in person - but I do hope for and look forward to that opportunity some day. He is a great guy, amazingly talented, and so easy to coordinate and work with. Howlin’ Wolf Records owes much of its continued existence to Stevan Mena…. without his support and enthusiasm regarding our interest in releasing MALEVOLENCE and the trust he emplaced with us on that project, we would never have been able to sign Gershon Kingsley to release SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT…. before Mr. Kingsley would discuss any specifics with me, he wanted to see the work we accomplished with MALEVOLENCE. So thank you again Stevan!
Will you be able to produce more of Mena's work?
I would love to work with Stevan again to release a score for one of his films. Again, I am very eager to see how he evolves as a filmmaker and composer. My feeling is we will see many interesting projects from Stevan Mena over the years.... I really am excited to see BEREAVEMENT and hope that possibly it will have a theatrical run. I would enjoy the opportunity to experience one of his films on the big screen.
Depending on the level of direct involvement I have with the artist and the mutual interest in a project we share…absolutely I do feel a strong bond with regard to the project. I can say that meeting with Gershon Kingsley was such an incredible and interesting experience. He is very gracious and I actually had the opportunity to sit by his side in his studio and listen to a selection of his unreleased works…. what a thrill that was. His beautiful wife was present as well and it was such a memorable experience and I am extremely grateful that he took the time to meet and talk with me. He is such an amazingly accomplished, talented, and interesting man. If you don’t believe me, check out some of his youtube interviews, which include discussions about what it was like living in Germany during the Nazi regime.
Are there going to be other releases other than "Horror"?
I think as long as we remain at our current scale, and I do not foresee any great expansion coming soon, I think it will take a great while to tire of horror/sci-fi/suspense scores. Having said that, I should qualify that we are completely open to presenting great film scores from any genre. If the opportunity presents itself for a great score, no matter what the genre, we are always excited to explore the possibilities. In my personal collection, I certainly have as many non-horror scores as I do horror/scifi/suspense.
The latest project is SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (1974) – music composed and conducted by Gershon Kingsley. This is another project that we went in pursuit of…unfortunately no one is pursuing us to develop projects yet. That is something we hope may change in time. I had of course seen the film and have always been amused by a lot of the dialogue (I find it very entertaining) and also intrigued by how eerie many of the scenes in this film are. The audio and video for the versions I have owned over the years from VHS to DVD have always been very poor…even still, I was completely captivated by Gershon Kingsley’s score for this film. I recall when I first heard the score supporting the opening credits how taken I was with the very foreboding feel he gave arrangements based on the perennial Christmas carol classic Silent Night. The sweepingly beautiful closing title theme is another highlight. I love scores heavy on strings and SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT is a beautiful symphonic score composed for piano and strings. Gerhson Kingsley composed, orchestrated, and conducted the score recorded with a chamber orchestra in Munich, Germany.
With the upcoming release "Silent Night, Bloody Night " working with Gershon Kingsley [writer, "Popcorn", "MOOG" music], with all his accomplished work. "http://www.kingsleysound.com/"
How cool is that?
It is very cool indeed… Mr. Kingsley as I stated is amazing. He told me that the key to maintaining youthfulness is to remain creative and curious. These are words he obviously lives by and would explain how he remains so creatively active and sharp. I hope that others will have the opportunity to hear some of the unreleased, very interesting pieces he so generously shared with me during my visit to his studio.
Do you feel this score had a "it's about time" moment?
I do feel that it is time SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT is heard in the form that Gershon Kingsley intended. Any score that was composed pre-digital age and not preserved in some digital format runs the risk of being forever lost. I am grateful that Gershon Kingsley digitally mastered the major themes in his score from the original quarter inch tapes; especially given the audio presented in the film is not great.
Are there hopes of producing more of Kingsley's score work?
Most definitely! I can say very honestly that I told Mr. Kingsley that if he had any projects of interest that he would like to discuss with us that he would have our undivided attention. My hope is that he will be pleased with the outcome of this project and will consider future projects. We very briefly discussed the possibility of conceiving a box-set of his work. He has generated such an incredible variety of works over the years that I think it would be a real treasure to have something like this from him.
Is Gershon Kingsley happy that this film is getting the attention it deserves? I know fans will...
I know from speaking with him that he is proud of his score and pleased that those who have appreciated the score for SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT while watching the film can now listen to his arrangement of the score.
I know and I am constantly reminded by the newer generation that digital and downloads are the way of the future. I am still a product of the record store generation and though I love how digital and download capability expands what we have access to – I will still pay a little more money and purchase a pressed CD if given the option. I like the idea of the availability of both pressed CDs and digital downloads…I believe that Movie Score Media (a fantastic label) has the right approach by releasing VERY limited pressings and concurrently making digital downloads available. I know that many of the labels are starting to adopt this strategy including Varese Sarabande and Buysoundtrax. Paul, my creative partner has expressed a great deal of interest in digital downloads and we hope eventually to make downloads available for some of the scores we release as well.
If you offer a limited release, do you feel after all your copies are sold, that traders can start trading your music?
Once a CD has been purchased and the composer/copyright holder has been compensated for their creative property, I think it is most acceptable for a collector to view that purchase as an investment and if the titles sells out or goes out of print, then I see nothing wrong with the collector benefiting from a wise investment. I think it is a problem when others purchase a creative property belonging to someone and then duplicate it with intent to profit without compensating the artist or copyright holder. My hope is that scores will be made more readily available through digital download in a manner that benefits collectors while at the same time providing the well deserved royalties to the composer.
What are your personal influences in way of score music?
Because I have appreciated films scores for as long as I can remember, there are quite a wide range of composers and scores that have influenced my interest over the years. Scores for the James Bond films by John Barry always grabbed me when I was younger and serve as a great example of early symphonic scores that I loved while John Carpenter’s very simple but VERY effective score for HALLOWEEN remains one of my favorite horror film scores. Probably the first instrumental music that inspired me when I was very young was listening to an old vinyl of Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue that my parents owned.
If you tell your patrons something about your goals, what would you say? What things can we expect from the coming years from "Howlin Wolf Records"?
Our goal at Howlin’ Wolf Records is first and foremost to have the opportunity to continue presenting films scores from great composers. We additionally hope to preserve some interesting scores from the pre-digital era, which might be in danger of being forever lost. Finally, we hope with the interactive aspects of on-line and blogging that we might be able to really nurture a collaborative spirit with those who enjoy film scores. I will state one final time that we are grateful always to hear from others about films scores or new composers that excite them.
Jeremy thanks so much for the opportunity to participate in this Q and A.
Howlin’ Wolf Records
In 2007, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS, a global phenomenon to generations of fans, became a live action/CGI motion picture event with a contemporary comic sensibility. In the holiday season blockbuster, which grossed over $350 million worldwide, songwriter Dave Seville transformed singing chipmunks Alvin, Simon and Theodore into pop sensations -- while the out-of-control trio laid waste to Dave’s home, wreaked havoc on his career, and turned Dave’s once-orderly life upside-down.
Before you could say, “Alvinnnnn!!!” talks began about a new ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS movie. Not content to rest on their laurels, the ‘Munks are preparing yet another “first”: There have been many great movie sequels. There have even been prequels. Now, get ready for the world’s first SQUEAKQUEL, in which Alvin, Simon and Theodore finally meet their match – and maybe more – in the newly arrived female trio, The Chipettes.
Alvin and The Chipmunks have been delighting audiences around the world for over 50 years. From the moment they sprung into being with their #1 Christmas hit The Chipmunk Song, the creative brainchild of singer/songwriter Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., the ‘Munks’ catchy sound has been a pop culture mainstay, for both young and old. For the 2007 big screen debut, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS, the ‘Munks underwent some important stylistic and attitudinal upgrades. Possessing a contemporary edge and attitude, they were more than just your father’s Chipmunks.
Having taken Hollywood – and the world – by storm in 2007, the ‘Munks and the filmmakers were eager to produce an even more ambitious and entertaining big-screen follow-up.
Many of the original 2007 cast and filmmakers return for the SQUEAKQUEL, including producers (as well as the voices of The Chipmunks and The Chipettes for the past 30 years) Ross Bagdasarian and Janice Karman, executive producers Karen Rosenfelt, Arnon Michele Imperato Stabile and Steve Waterman, actors Jason Lee and David Cross, and ‘Munk voice talents Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney. New to the SQUEAKQUEL is director Betty Thomas, who is one of today’s top comedy filmmakers (“The Brady Bunch Movie,” “Doctor Dolittle”, “Private Parts”), actor Zachary Levi (TV’s “Chuck”) and “Chipette” voices Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate. Herewith are their thoughts about the ‘Munk phenomenon and the making of ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKQUEL.
I have seen the trailers for this film, and I am not drawn into this yet? It will be a huge "HIT" or "MISS", not that you all have not decided for yourselves...
Spanning 20 years and 2 continents, MARY AND MAX tells of a pen-pal relationship between two very different people: Mary Dinkle (Collette), a chubby, lonely 8-year-old living in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia; and Max Horovitz (Hoffman), a severely obese, 44-year-old Jewish man with Asperger’s Syndrome living in the chaos of New York City.
As MARY AND MAX chronicles Mary’s trip from adolescence to adulthood, and Max’s passage from middle to old age, it explores a bond that survives much more than the average friendship’s ups-and-downs. Like Elliot and Coombs’ Oscar® winning animated short HARVIE KRUMPET, MARY AND MAX is both hilarious and poignant as it takes us on a journey that explores friendship, autism, taxidermy, psychiatry, alcoholism, where babies come from, obesity, kleptomania, sexual differences, trust, copulating dogs, religious differences, agoraphobia and many more of life’s surprises.
Honeymooners Nick and Lori head off to the Grand Canyon for adventure and time alone together. Upon arriving, they hire Henry as their guide, who seems to have his own idea about the outdoor excursion. When tragedy strikes, the newlyweds must fend for themselves. Discovering they are prey being hunted by something or someone, they desperately fight for survival to escape the canyon alive.
Anwers in Comments!
Planet 51 is a galactic sized animated alien adventure comedy revolving around American astronaut Captain Charles "Chuck" Baker, who lands on Planet 51 thinking he's the first person to step foot on it. To his surprise, he finds that this planet is inhabited by little green people who are happily living in a white picket fence world reminiscent of a cheerfully innocent 1950s America, and whose only fear is that it will be overrun by alien invaders...like Chuck! With the help of his robot companion "Rover" and his new friend Lem, Chuck must navigate his way through the dazzling, but bewildering, landscape of Planet 51 in order to escape becoming a permanent part of the Planet 51 Alien Invaders Space Museum.
Howlin' Wolf Records is pleased to present, for the first time, the score for the film MALEVOLENCE...A film written, produced, directed, and scored by Stevan Mena. MALEVOLENCE, released theatrically in 2004 by Anchor Bay Entertainment, has been hailed as a stunning debut by film viewers and critics alike, winning Best Feature in 2003 at both the Long Island International Film Expo and the New York City Horror Film Festival prior to its theatrical release.
Stevan Mena's score for MALEVOLENCE is an incredible combination of tension building chords, eerie and effective sound design, percussion, and haunting, beautiful, mood-setting themes. Mena's film is an entertaining, genuinely scary, and atmospheric cinematic experience and the same can be said of his wonderful score. The composition and texture of the film score for MALEVOLENCE has been likened to works by John Carpenter, Charles Bernstein, Harry Manfredini, and Wayne Bell.