Joseph LoDuca | ASH VS EVIL DEAD

PrintE-mail Written by Nick Spacek

Composer Joseph LoDuca has worked with director Sam Raimi since the very beginning. From the 1981 cult favorite The Evil Dead through Xena: Warrior Princess and beyond, the composer has lent his skills to the Raimi's mix of comedy, action, and fantasy / horror. Most notable has been LoDuca's work on each and every iteration of Raimi's Evil Dead films (Fede Alverez's 2013 reboot being the obvious exception). This is up to and including the new series for Starz, Ash Vs Evil Dead. Those familiar with LoDuca's music might be surprised at the tone his tunes take in the series. The music – out now via Varèse Sarabande – is an excellent mix of horror, action, and rock 'n' roll themes. We were lucky enough to be able to ask composer LoDuca about his influences and plans for the series…

STARBURST: Your television work as of late has been rather more action-oriented. What's it like combining action and horror for the small screen - or do you just see Ash vs Evil Dead as a really lengthy film?

Joseph LoDuca: Good question! I read most of the scripts ahead of time, although the season finale came as a surprise, or should I say, a shock! We only work on one episode at a time, and each contains its own adventure. Still, there is an overarching set of rules and a few themes that work for the music in this world.

The Ash vs Evil Dead score seems to have a real arc to it - getting really pounding in the middle, and bookended by more traditional horror elements. Is it just the nature of the tracks selected for the Varèse release, or did you intend for the music to change over the course of the season?

The tracks generally follow the outline of the season. When releasing an album, I always put thought into having the music flow to make it enjoyable for the fans who listen from top to bottom.

As a sideline to that, the score really plays with a lot of different versions of the particular feel, with the horror elements use electronic instrumentation, as well as tense, creepy strings, for instance. Is that one of the benefits of TV, being able to play around?

I think electronic elements, when well-considered, can add another dimension, an emotional one to any style of music. I felt that since the first Evil Dead, even when the tools were much cruder.

We think we can hear the influences behind Ash's Theme, but did you draw from many others besides John Barry?

Not really. Although, ‘60s and ‘70s TV and film music was definitely the tongue and cheek referent. Ash is stuck in the ‘70s, and the lone gunman-with-a-chainsaw was my image of him as he appears in the new series.

Additionally, why so long for Ash to get his own theme?

Timing, I guess. We didn’t really consider him a hero in the first two movies. He was the tortured Shemp. In Army of Darkness, there was a ‘hero’ theme (check out Building the Deathcoaster). It is epic, albeit more of a good vs. evil thing.

This is a franchise with which you've been for over 30 years. What are the positives and negatives of such a history - for instance, do you find yourself wanting to reference past work or do you look to starting fresh with each instalment?

There are a few tongue and cheek references, some which might blow right by you. Just having a bit of fun. The approach to the music has remained the same. The music is dead serious, no matter how ridiculous things get. Only occasionally do we tip the scales in favor of outright comedic music. The retro rock card has helped a lot for the series. I really enjoyed re-recording Time Has Come Today with Bootsy Collins.

Given that we've recently seen Army of Darkness and Evil Dead II vinyl reissues, can we start salivating for the original Evil Dead?

I am in the process of re-recording the original score along with a re-imagined score of new music and am looking into the possibility of playing it live to picture in a series of concerts. Stay tuned!

You can find more information about composer Joseph LoDuca at his website (http://www.loducamusic.com/), and information on how to get the Ash vs Evil Dead score can be found at Varèse Sarabande (https://www.varesesarabande.com/).
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