Larry Groupé (Composer, 'Straw Dogs' - 2011)
'Who Let The Dogs Out?!'
Film composer Larry Groupé reunites with Director Rod Lurie for Sony Pictures’ 'Straw Dogs,' which opens nationwide September 16.
The score album is available on Screen Gems Records.
The film is written by Lurie with an earlier screenplay by David Zelag Goodman and Sam Peckinpaw ('Straw Dogs,' 1971) and stars Alexander Skarsgård, Kate Bosworth and James Marsden.
Groupé’s score is eerily original, yet reminiscent of the music created for the 40s noir films with its progression of discomfort… to tension… to dread, with dexterous use of strings, minor chording, and sustained tempo.
Chatting recently with Larry Groupé himself, I first wondered, as 'Straw Dogs' was just the latest of his many collaborations with the multi-hyphenate director Rod Lurie, what was it about him and his work that keeps bringing him back? "Rod Lurie is a first-rate director and writer. The collaborative process with him is always engaging, and I am expected to bring 100 percent of my artistic abilities to every project. I re-earn my stripes every time."
The first project you did together was a short film called 4 Second Delay. How has your working partnership evolved since those early days? "Both Rod and I have grown with every project since 4 Second Delay. I have learned a lot about music and story arc from him. He has always been respectful of my contributions, and we still go through agreements and disagreements alike, as is the way for all fruitful relationships."
Lurie's 'Straw Dogs' is closely based on Gordon Williams' original novel The Siege of Trencher's Farm, as opposed to the original Straw Dogs film (starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George), now celebrating its 40th Anniversary. Was your scoring for this new film version inspired by Jerry Fielding's 1971 score, perhaps? "I have seen the original two times in past, but deliberately did not view it again when the project was officially green lit, so it has been some years since I have seen it. Nor have I seen it since I finished. I do know and love the Jerry Fielding score, and I can guarantee you there is absolutely no connection between my score and his."
"There are several reasons for that, but the main two were that I wanted to do something original and not reminiscent of his and that our picture really is a very different film, so the score requirement was inherently going to be different."
Your score to 'Straw Dogs' is very eerily reminiscent of the music of '40s noir films. Was this purposeful from the conceptual stage on through recording? "From the script alone, I conveyed to Rod Lurie (director) that I felt the score should be bold and only concern itself with story. Right from the beginning, a strong theme is presented over images of a southern rural swamp. I knew that everyone would be completely onboard with a Zydeco- or Cajun-based score with all the expected instruments. I went 180 percent against this and made a deeply Gothic and film noir-influenced theme and score which ultimately complemented the rich tones of the cinematography and also added significant depth to the characters and their struggles."
"A 'Southern'-based score would have been safe and totally accepted, but it would have sucked. Luckily, I work with a strong collaborative director who stood behind this approach, and we held to it to the end. The intent was not a period 40’s score, but the film noir approach turned out to be correct. I don’t think film noir stylistically requires music or acting or directing to be from or of the past."
Soundtrack scores to movies such as 'Straw Dogs' are not your usual niche. Looking looking through IMDB, you seem to do more different genres of music. Given that, was this score a challenge for you? "I have been grateful that I have been able to compose and produce a wide variety of music for my projects. I enjoy not doing a 'repeat' score. There are, of course, many ways to skin a cat, and you just have to find the right way for the film and for yourself. I will say that what I like about my score as compared to the 'other' ways it could have been done is that this score is compositionally rich and solid. There is no reliance on motor rhythms or beat patterns that can often infiltrate contemporary dark actioners."
Please tell us more about your upcoming soundtrack work on both 'Deconstruction Red' and 'Sleeping with the Lion.' What we can expect to hear from both? "I am afraid it is too early to forecast what those scores will be like. As I said, I like to find fresh ways to do common genres. If it’s a thriller, then let’s find a way that is not stock and trade."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves penguins ... do you, perhaps? "What?! I don’t know if this some kind of inside thing, but, if you mean the actual flightless birds, then yes. Who doesn't like penguins? If you mean the hockey team the Pittsburgh Penguins, then yup. Love them, too!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
'Straw Dogs' CD Purchase Link
Exclusive Magazine is pleased to announce that we have several signed-copies of 'Straw Dogs' on CD - autographed by composer Larry Groupe to giveaway.
So, if you would like to win a SIGNED copy of this new CD, just answer this easy question: Which political TV drama, that juxtaposes the stories of a young female F.B.I. agent and a mobster, did Larry Groupé score back in the early 2000's?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful new signed CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before November 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: STRAW DOGS SIGNED CDs to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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