Take a little Alfred Hitchcock, mix in some Steven Spielberg, and add a killer (literally) car chase scene and what do you get? The Sept. 26 release “Eagle Eye,” starring Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan in a big brother-esque thriller.
Composer Brian Tyler has become known for his intense driving scores in movies like “Constantine,” “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” and “Bangkok Dangerous,” and with “Eagle Eye” he ups the tension by usings off-kilter instruments alongside a full orchestra.
Billboard talked to Tyler about what it’s like to compose things that go bump – and crash, and bang, and boom – in the night.
What was your inspiration for the score?
What would the music sound like if Hitchcock was doing a movie now and Bernard Herrmann had access to all of these modern [technologies]? We have the modern elements to the score- but then we have the most classical thing: a full-size symphony. It’s kind of the same thing with the story of the movie. The movie’s got this very classic kind of storytelling style, the man on the run, but its set in a very modern setting.
What kind of instrumentation did you use?
I play a lot of instruments so I kind of take advantage of that. I’ve got tons and tons of drums and drum kits, probably 20 guitars, a Steinway and vibrophones and glockenspiels; I was using instruments from Morocco, percussion instruments, we did things like electric cello…and a huge array of taiko drums mixed with marching drums to give it a real kind of sense of propulsion.
The mixing process must be crazy.
It was incredibly difficult to mix because we had so many tracks. The number of instruments to mix down sometimes would be towards 300. Physically, I would go in and write out every part for every instrument. I think we recorded something like 108 minutes of music. I’m not sure how many pages-it was thousands and thousands of pages of music.
When you first get a script, what do you do?
I go from more of a songwriting starting point, which is writing the themes, writing the musical ideas. There’s a lot of interesting characters [in “Eagle Eye”] and you don’t know who they are in the [beginning of the] film, so you want to come up with unique sounds. It’s almost like doing a few different albums at once.
How did you decide to get into film music?
My earliest memory of that would be Star Wars…getting the record and reliving the movie by getting the record. The good thing about film music is that it kind of has a dual life. You have the life of the music and it supports the film…but then it has this other life as the soundtrack, and people can listen to it on its own and it stands on its own – almost like a concept album.