Peacemaker Composer Kevin Kiner on Hair Metal, Rock ‘N’ Roll Scores and George Lucas [Interview]

For butterflies, which sci-fi did you want the score to go?

Everything is case by case. As the score went, it really wasn’t a sci-fi sound that butterfly has, it was more horror. What James kept mentioning is that there are horrible things our team is involved in, and they really don’t know what’s going on with the butterflies either. With the strings or the horns or anyone playing random notes, it can be quite grating at times. I think it comes more from the horror genre than the sci-fi genre.

When you get to the end, what size did you want the orchestra to go? Without any spoilers, how did you approach the finale?

They gave us a full orchestra and it became very important. It’s only natural that the way the scenes played out became much more of a film score and the orchestra had a more prominent place than in Episode 2. That said, we still have our foundation in the theme.” Peacemaker”, and this theme plays well with the French horns and the violins and the trombones and all the brass and things like that.

There are times when our team members really need to step up their game and we use the “Peacemaker” theme and maybe bits and pieces of it throughout the score and so on. Also, we still have the heavy hair metal groove sometimes. Not throughout every line, but it will come. There’s a line in the finale where it starts very orchestral, starts heroically. And then all of a sudden, those slamming arena drums come along with a bunch of metallic guitars, and then the French horn takes over the melody. So in terms of the frequency spectrum, we pretty much use whatever is out there.

Since you weren’t very familiar with hair metal, did you do a lot of research?

Yes. I mean, Clint really, really has a very similar encyclopedic knowledge to James Gunn. With the group Hanoi Rocks, they said: “Oh yeah, they had an influence on everything that followed. These e-mails that went back and forth between Clint and James, I cracked up, because I didn’t know anything about this group.

Say, if this is John Williams, who I’ve had to try to look like him in all the “Star Wars” stuff over the years, sometimes it’s better to study the guys he studied than to study it himself. You don’t want to be a mini-me of anything. The same way the hair metal guys were obviously influenced by Zeppelin and Sabbath, who were my influences. It is only natural to go further. Once you start using the amps and guitars and stuff that the hair metal guys use, and you hear some of the licks they use, of course you can borrow some. Really, it’s an evolution of rock, man.

So has this job given you an appreciation for hair metal?

It made. Yes. Absoutely. For example, Hanoi Rocks. I’m friends with Fred Coury, who’s the drummer for Cinderella. He actually played drums in Episode 2. Fred and I go to this composer dinner once a month, and we just became friends. I really had no idea why he was at the songwriters dinner and it turns out he’s now writing for Dean Devlin and other people. Now I listen to Cinderella because I didn’t know anything about Cinderella and then it became a big deal on “Peacemaker,” and I’m like, “Yeah, I think I know one of those guys.” And then Fred, he was really happy. Hopefully in season 2 we can use it even more, because its drum sound is just monstrous. I mean, it’s amazing.

How are these composer dinners?

Yeah, that dinner party we have over there is like Danny Lux, who does “Grey’s Anatomy,” Don Davis who did “The Matrix,” and Bruce Miller who wrote the “Frasier” theme. I mean, runs the gamut, all those cats. Sometimes we go out and talk about equipment. I remember I was at the bottom of the table trying to remember what the “Le Sacre du Printemps” rope was. There’s one thing Stravinsky did in ‘The Rite of Spring’ that’s pretty famous and someone is yelling across the table, “Hey Bruce, what’s ‘The Rite of Spring’ string?” Bruce Miller puts his hands on the table, as if he were playing it on the piano. There it is, that’s it, that’s it. So it’s a bit esoteric, I think, sometimes. Other times we just talk about life and politics and, well, more politics. It’s really refreshing, because we’re locked in our studios all day, man. It’s a solitary life that we live as songwriters, so we tend to be quite talkative.

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