I had the privilege of interviewing composer Kurt Dirt.
Q1: So what made you want to make a career in music?
I always loved bands who put on a show like Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Thrill Kill Kult, The Cramps, Alien Sex Fiend etc and when I started going to local gigs I was shocked that nobody was doing anything like that so I decided to take it upon myself, even if I sound like a cat in a blender hehe. It was a great healthy way to curb my growing homicidal urges. And talk to girls.
Q2: Your stage show is known for being ‘out there’, what has peoples reactions been to it?
There seems to be a trend these days for people being outraged rather than being outrageous. I’ve had the odd pint glass thrown and I’ve had instances where people try and read things in to my act which aren’t there. It’s true we’ve had girls in cages but we’ve also had guys too, we’re equal opportunity sadists. Once the guy being the cage gimp unwisely took acid and started freaking out and just burst out in to the audience half naked and in to the street! On the whole I think most people see it for the splatter punk grand guignol its intended to be and even if they hate my music they enjoy the madness to some degree.
Q3: How did you feel when you found out you’d be working for Troma?
It was a total dream come true! As a kid I was obsessed with “Toxic Crusaders” so my parents let me rent “The Toxic Avenger” from the video store thinking it was a kids film as opposed to a horror comedy featuring head crushing, melting flesh and 80’s boobs. My life was changed forever haha, after that I rented or bought every Troma film I could find and watched “Troma’s Edge TV” religiously. I’d had the pleasure of interviewing Lloyd for a fanzine once so when I found out he was making another “Nuke ‘Em High” movie I offered my services, never expecting anything more than a polite refusal next thing I knew they’d put the demo I sent them in the movie and wanted more! I felt like I’d got to ride in Santa’s sleigh or something haha.
Q4: Talking of composing work, who are your favourites?
Ahh there’s so many, the first though not strictly a movie was Jeff Wayne’s War of the worlds, I love the unique sounds he got out of those early synths and the way the music perfectly captures the tension and excitement, the same goes for John Carpenter who is probably my most obvious influence. I also thieve errr, I mean take inspiration from Goblin, Chu Ishikawa (Tetsuo) and Harry Manfredini who did Friday the 13th etc. I wrote to him when I first began work on Nuke Em High and he sent me some great advice and encouragement.
Q5: Talk us through the process of composition work
Most of my composing work is done at 3am while I’m sat in my underwear, creativity only ever comes at awkward times hehe. Firstly I’ll get a brief from a client and then follow that up by having a chat with them fan to fan and finding out what kind of scores / movies they love and what they have in mind then I’ll sit in my garage studio which is full of old Synthesisers, VHS tapes and monster figures and play around with different sounds and keyboard riffs. Sometimes a scene may require something quite melodic but other times it may be a little more experimental and dissonant in which case I may also mix in some tape manipulation or percussion (hitting things with a hammer, scrapping strings..). Once I have an idea down I’m happy with I’ll send it to the client either with or without accompanying footage for them to give feedback on, then its just a case of tweaking and changing things until they’re 100% happy.
Q6: Which where your favourite Horror films growing up?
I was a sickly kid who was awake a lot during the night so I fell in love with the old Universal and Hammer movies in particular the “Frankenstein” ones. I wore out “The Monster Squad” and “Bride Of Frankenstein” tapes in our VCR from watching them so much hehe. When I got in my teens I really got in to splatter films and the whole video nasty era. The first “Evil Dead” scared the living shit out of me when I was about 7, so much so I couldn’t even get up and stop the tape! The same with “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” which is prob my all time fave, it’s so tense and the sound design, locations, props and everything really build up this oppressive atmosphere, as I’ve got older though I’ve grown to love it even more for its dark humour “Look what your brother did to the door!!”
Q7: Have you got anything exciting lined up?
Tons of composition work at the moment, my buddy liam regan’s debut feature “Banjo” is one I’m really excited about, its like drop dead fred meets basket case via twin peaks. I got to do a cameo as an obnoxious yuppie and its going to star Laurence Harvey from Human Centipede 2 & 3, Vito and Clay from “Return To Nuke ’em High” and the lead is a guy called James Hammer Morton who is like a David Lynch version of Buster Keaton. I’m also working on “Mega Foot” which is going to be amazing, it’s about a cyborg bigfoot whats not to love!? and also Heidi Moore’s “Dolly Deadly” about a mommys boy psycho in a doll mask. Kind of like my biopic in some ways. I’ve also acted in and helped produce Stormy Weather’s “Rot City” a seedy super8 mondo movie dealing with blackpools’ dark underbelly. I’m proud to be a part of all these movies as they aren’t churned out cgi laden crap, they’re made with love, sweat and blood by people who care about cinema. Some other cool things coming up are my appearance at vienna’s /slash film festival on the 19th September as part of their Troma Spectacular. I’ll be going over to do a very gory and slimy show and Lloyd will be giving his amazing “make your own damn movie” lecture.
Q8: What’s your views on the current state of the Horror genre?
It’s not as bad as the late 90’s when everything was just a “Scream” rip off but I must say I’m getting pretty tired of zombie movies, total oversaturation. There should be a ban on them until somebody comes up with something as scary as “Night Of The Living Dead”. People slag off remakes and don’t get me wrong, there has been some shockers, like Micheal Bay shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near the “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” but one of my favourite modern horror movies was the remake of “Maniac”, the whole POV concept worked really well and I’m also looking forward to Eli Roth’s “Green Inferno” which is pretty much a re-imagining of “Cannibal Holocaust”. I think the main problem is that most cinemas now are pretty much these huge chains who will only show Major Hollywood stuff, there are so many talented directors in the underground who deserve more than being relegated straight to dvd.
Q9: Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Go Back It’s a Trap!!!!! As far as composing goes I’d say as long as you have a pre-existing love for movie scores all you need to do is just sit down and record as much cinematic sounding music as you can and set up a soundcloud or even better place it over existing film clips and put it on youtube as a showreel. When it comes to clients, just make a list of who you’d love to work with and ask them, worst they can do is say no thanks but even then they will know you’re out there and what you do for future reference.
Q10: Any final words for anyone reading this?
Can I touch your eyes?