Peter Axelrad | THE MUSIC OF DC COMICS

PrintE-mail Written by Nick Spacek

After a lengthy hiatus, fans of film and television scores now have a second volume in the very excellent Music of DC Comics series released by Water Tower Music. Encompassing everything from the very recent, with Junkie-XL and Hans Zimmer's work on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the very nearly antique Columbia Pictures serial Batman and Robin from 1949, there's something which will appeal to DC Comics fans the world over.

As the press release states, this is ‘a collection for DC Comics fans, created by a DC Comics fan.’ Executive album producer Peter Axelrad produced both this album and The Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Collection, released in 2009. He was kind enough to answer some questions about the two compilations and their varied musical selections.

STARBURST: How did you determine what you put on each volume? It seems like there's just so much to choose from.

Peter Axelrad: I started out creating a huge wish list of songs and was determined to create albums that would be a fun listening experience musically from beginning to end. Using my wish list as a reference, I worked on tracking down the masters and clearing rights, which can take some time. As I located each master, the different pieces of the puzzle came together.

Along those lines, it seems that historical material is cheek-by-jowl with the most recent stuff. Do you feel that offers a sense of perspective?

DC’s characters have evolved over time to adapt to changes in society. I find it fascinating to hear how the music written for these characters has developed through time reflecting both the characters’ evolution as well as the different trends in musical genres.

Including so much music from the various DC video games really demonstrates the width and breadth of sounds available. Was there a conscious choice to include music from those properties?

Yes. video game scores have become epic masterpieces on the same level with film and TV scores. We’ve come a long way since Pac-Man.

Is it just us, or were you able to get a little more avant-garde/weird/unusual with the second volume, including stuff by the likes of Sun Ra?

The 1960’s Batman was weird and unusual and inspired some very avant-garde and funky music. I like to represent as many decades as possible on these compilations… and the 1960’s has a strong presence on Volume 2.

Is there any piece you wanted to include, but weren't able to?

I have a long wish list of songs, so I am hopeful that I’ll have the opportunity to curate more volumes.

The organisation seems really important, with Superman and Batman getting primacy. Why not just do volumes devoted to them, or maybe release something along the lines of a '66 Batman compilation?

Actually, the initial idea was to create character specific compilations for Batman and Superman. However, when the opportunity came up to compile a DC 75th Anniversary compilation, I decided to expand it to include multiple characters and celebrate all of DC’s history. In comics, I have always loved crossovers and team-ups that bring together different characters or involve the entire DCU such as Infinite Crisis or Flashpoint. I took a similar multiverse-wide approach in curating these albums. 

Volume 2 marks the debut of music from Fox's Gotham. Any chance of seeing a full release down the line somewhere?

I would love to hear a full score album for Gotham and hope to see it released soon.

Can we hope for a third instalment somewhat sooner than the seven years between one and two?

If I get the opportunity to curate another volume of The Music of DC Comics, I’ll definitely try to get a release date sooner than 2020.

The Music of DC Comics: Volume 2 is available now on compact disc and via digital download from Water Tower Music, with a double vinyl LP coming later this year.


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