Composer Tyler Bates is not only one of the nicest people in the music business, he’s among the most thoughtful and philosophical, and just plain fun to be around. So when the Production Music Association asked me to return to their annual conference to do the keynote Q&A with him, I jumped at the opportunity. Bates, who has scored not only the two hugely successful Guardians of the Galaxy films but also this year’s fun Deadpool 2, talked about his composing process and his other musical pursuits ranging from TV’s The Punisher to concert tours with his friend and musical collaborator Marilyn Manson.
According to the Sony Classical label which released it, the soundtrack album for Deadpool 2 is the first score soundtrack in history to be released with a “parental advisory” warning on its front cover. That alone was reason enough to check out the movie, the score and the album, and composer Tyler Bates was kind enough to spend a few minutes talking, and laughing, about it for this story in Variety. Bates, perhaps best known for his Guardians of the Galaxy scores, invited director David Leitch to pen a few profane lyrics — entirely appropriate for the endlessly irreverent comic-book hero — for a Hollywood choir to sing.
There is tremendous excitement among Marvel Comics fans about the upcoming Inhumans series on ABC, which has a a big orchestral score by Sean Callery (24, Jessica Jones). But, in fact, the Marvel TV universe encompasses a wide variety of musical sounds and styles, which I explore in a piece in this week’s Variety. In addition to Callery, I interviewed Bear McCreary (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Ali Shaheed Muhammad (Luke Cage), Jeff Russo (Legion), Trevor Morris (Iron Fist), Tyler Bates (The Punisher), John Paesano (Daredevil, The Defenders), Siddhartha Khosla (Runaways) and ABC music exec Dawn Soler.
If you left Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 unexpectedly moved by the finale, you can thank composer Tyler Bates, whose symphonic and choral work was perhaps his most accomplished yet in films. Bates, a former rock guitarist who still goes out on the road with Marilyn Manson from time to time, has not only built an entirely new career composing for films and television, he has built a very loyal clientele. As director David Leitch (the soon-in-theaters Atomic Blonde) told me for this latest Billion Dollar Composer section in Variety: “I don’t want to do a movie without Tyler Bates.” And as Guardians director James Gunn put it in a second story: Bates is “the most undervalued part of both Guardians films. They aren’t the Guardians of the Galaxy without Tyler Bates.”
Oscar-nominated, Grammy- and Emmy-winning composer Alan Silvestri received BMI’s Icon Award Wednesday night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. His was the top honor among dozens distributed by the performing-rights society. The evening was a who’s-who of composers, songwriters and music supervisors active in films and TV. Variety asked me to cover the event, so I managed to sneak in a little time with the composer of Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, TV’s Cosmos and so much more. Among others in attendance: Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy), Brian Tyler (Fate of the Furious), the legendary Mike Post (Law & Order), W.G. Snuffy Walden (The West Wing) and many others. Excerpts from my red-carpet interviews are included in this video.
Today’s event was among the most enjoyable in ages. Disney asked if I would moderate a panel of its composers for comic-book and mythical-universe films and TV shows, and I was delighted — especially when I heard who the panelists would be: Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy), John Debney (Iron Man 2), Kevin Kiner (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and Brian Tyler (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron). This was at WonderCon in downtown L.A., and the fun stories included George Lucas’ involvement with the animated series, Marvel vs. DC Comics adaptations, Marvel’s penchant for secrecy, the role of orchestra and strong themes, and much more. Wish we’d recorded it for posterity!
It was a fun day at the Newport Beach Film Festival, where I moderated a 90-minute panel of film and television composers discussing “The Art of Music in Visual Media.” From left to right, they included Jason Miller (The Odd Couple), Matthew Margeson (Kingsman: The Secret Service), JB, Ryan Shore (The Millionaires’ Unit), Roque Banos (the upcoming In the Heart of the Sea) and Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy). We covered everything from the current climate for composers in media to nuts-and-bolts issues like budgets and compressed time schedules. Thanks to Ray Costa for putting this together and inviting me.