Happy Walters – Interview

Happy Walters

An interview with the executive producer of the Spawn Soundtrack, and CEO of Immortal Records
by Scott Hefflon

On the Spawn soundtrack, you paired up well-known rock bands with electronic’s top DJs. In ’93, you teamed up rock/metal bands with rap/hip hop artists on the Judgment Night soundtrack. What else have you signed and/or released?
Soundtrack-wise, I’ve done maybe 20, but they’re not all like those two. Like the Bad Boys soundtrack, Robert Altman’s Ready to Wear, and a cool little movie called Love and a .45.

That had Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and Reverend Horton Heat on it, right?
And Kim Deal doing Nazareth’s “Love Hurts.” It had a little bit of everything.

Is there a theme that runs throughout your soundtracks, or is there a specific criteria a movie has to have for you to do the soundtrack?
No. If I like the project, I’ll do it. The label I run, Immortal, has Korn, The Urge, and Incubus signed to it. I used to manage all the hip hop artists like Cypress Hill and Wu-Tang Clan.

What was your favorite song off the Judgment Night soundtrack?
I really liked Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul’s “Fallin’.” “I Love You Mary Jane” by Cypress Hill and Sonic Youth was really good, as was “Freak Momma” by Sir Mix-A-Lot and Mudhoney.

I liked the dark, creeping quality of “Judgment Night” by Onyx and Biohazard, and “Another Body Murdered” by Boo-Ya Tribe and Faith No More is probably the best crossover shotgun blast, finally topping the Public Enemy and Anthrax team-up. But Slayer and Ice-T working an Exploited cover into “Disorder” really wiped everyone off the playing field as far as sheer aggression goes.
That song was really cool. Slayer is the only act to appear on both the Judgment Night and Spawn soundtracks.

If there are 14 tracks with two bands co-writing each song, that means you coordinated 28 bands/artists. How the hell did you do it?
Actually, we have extras, too. We have 34 bands in all. Basically, I picked bands I liked, talked to them about doing the soundtrack, and asked them to pick four of their favorite artists they’d like to collaborate with. Then I hooked everybody up.

Was there a lot of overlap – bands requesting other bands you already wanted to work with?
Yeah, a lot of the bands were requesting each other.

Were there any real surprises? Putting two bands in the studio together and getting back something entirely different than you’d expected?
On Judgment Night, Teenage Fanclub was like that, and on Spawn, Filter and The Crystal Method really came together well. Silverchair surprised me because I didn’t think they’d do anything like “Spawn,” and even though Incubus is on my label and I love them, I’d have to say “Familiar” is one of my favorite songs. I thought the Slayer/Atari Teenage Riot came out really cool. I wasn’t sure how that was going to come out at all, but it turned out really well.

Metallica wasn’t actually on “For Whom The Bell Tolls (The Irony Of It All)” by DJ Spooky, were they?
No, that was mostly Spooky. Kirk was involved in the Orbital track, but I don’t think Metallica recut any vocals or anything. They were into it, but Spooky pretty much did it all.

That track stands out as the most electronic-oriented song. Were there any other songs were the DJ really took control over the song over the rock band?
Most of the songs were really collaborative, the bands hanging out in the studio together. It really just depended on what each person brought to the song, and how the creative process developed between them.

Besides helping the bands stretch themselves, producing a song they might never have been able to do on their own, what was your intention when you came up the idea?
I was really kinda hoping to turn Middle America onto electronic music. Giving them a Prodigy record, a Chemical Brothers record, or a Daft Punk record and saying, “Here. Like this,” it might be a bit much. But if you give them Filter and they learn about The Crystal Method in the process, then they can follow up on the bands they’re interested in. It’s an introduction, a crash course in electronic music.

You mentioned you have more tracks that didn’t make it to the soundtrack?
They came in late and we didn’t have time to put them on. They’re really good too. We’ve got a Primus track with Meat Beat Manifesto, a Morphine track with the Power 440, Gravity Kills did a track with Moby, and we have more in the works. We might put out those tracks and a few remixes toward the end of the year. It all depends on how that would be viewed. I don’t want it to look like I’m putting out another volume just to make money, but I can’t let these tracks that have never been released just sit here.

What do you plan on releasing in the future?
I’ll keep my eye out for cool movies to do soundtracks to. I actually had the idea for this soundtrack quite some time ago, but I wanted to wait for the right movie to put the musical idea with.

How did you know Spawn was the right movie for a rock/electronic collaboration?
The movie lent itself to upbeat electronic music and well as rock, lots of chase scenes. It just seemed to fit.