Last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Age of the Nerd had the opportunity to sit down with prolific composer Bear McCreary for a quick one-on-one interview about his recent work on Godzilla: King of the Monsters. While our expanded roundtable discussion will be available in the coming days, our exclusive interview focused on McCreary’s remake of Blue Oyster Cult song, “Godzilla” for the film.
During the interview, we discuss what McCreary nerds out about, along with how he balances being a fan and a creator. After that, we discuss how his approach differed to the original when remaking the classic song for a modern audience. In addition, the composer discusses how Serj Tankian came aboard the project. So without further adieu, here’s our full interview with Bear McCreary!
(Note: This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.)
Age of the Nerd: Since we’re at Comic-Con, the first thing that I wanted to ask you was a little icebreaker question. What do you nerd out about?
Bear McCreary: Man, I nerd out about so many things. I mean, for me, science fiction and horror was the – well and even one thing that isn’t science fiction or horror – but the holy trinity of movies when I was in high school were Highlander, Aliens, and Braveheart. Those three were like, the movies that I saw – each of them – 50 to 100 times. And so it’s movies like those that have this big scale. And obviously, there’s like horror, sci-fi, and fantasy elements in all this stuff. So that informed me growing up – and even today as both a fan and a creator of content, that’s the stuff that excites me.
AOTN: Absolutely. Can you talk a little bit about treading the balance of being a fan and a creator? Do you find that to be a struggle, or does it come naturally to you?
McCreary: It comes somewhat naturally. I feel, to a degree, I have to be a fan of something to want to spend that kind of time with it. I don’t know – it’s weird. Especially in the modern era – partly because of the Internet, partly because of the technology that makes it so easy to make content and share it with people – there’s this huge gray area between content creators and fans. In so many ways, we’re all the same – but I get to play around on a larger scale when I get to do a really big movie. But at the same time, the things I nerd out about – I watch Red Letter Media and Cinemassacre on YouTube and I make my own little YouTube videos. I follow what those guys are doing. Sometimes the weirdest thing is when I see a new Red Letter Media video and it’s like – oh my god they’re reviewing Godzilla and Child’s Play. They’re reviewing the things that I’m working on and suddenly like, the shoe is on the other foot – and I’m like oh my god. Most of the time, I’m such a nerd and I love watching stuff on YouTube.
AOTN: Speaking of Godzilla, let’s talk about your rendition of the Blue Oyster Cult Song. What did you want to bring differently for your adaptation of that classic song in King of the Monsters?
McCreary: That’s a great question. I’ve always loved the song. It’s always been one of my favorite songs – and maybe my favorite Blue Oyster Cult song. The thing that I always loved about it – it has a lot of things. It has a sense of humor, it has a sense of swagger – in the way that it swings. The third thing that it has is this weight with the main guitar riff, and I wanted to make it heavier. Because I always felt that – (starts pantomiming the rhythm of the song) – I was like, what if we made that heavier?
McCreary: And that’s why I wanted to bring a metal band aesthetic into this, and take out some of the (makes rhythmic drumming sounds) of the original. I remember talking to Gene Hoglan, the drummer on the song, and he goes: “so are we doing a kind of a loose thing, or do we want it really heavy?” And I was like – Gene, I want this super heavy.
AOTN: Gene is an absolute beast on the drums.
McCreary: Totally, but I thought it was cool because he knew exactly what I meant. Are we up here on the ride cymbal doing that swing? Or are we on the double kick pedals? It was fun because I was like, no – we’re doing the second thing. The Blue Oyster Cult version, in that regard, can’t be topped. It’s got so much swagger and swing. So that’s why I thought I had something to say that would be different.
AOTN: My time is running out, but can you talk quickly about working With Serj (Tankian) on the song? I thought his vocal style was a perfect fit for this rendition of the song.
McCreary: I’ve known Serj socially for years, and I’ve always been looking for a project to collaborate with him on. You know, we’ve talked about working on this or working on that. And I just had the idea that his voice – especially over a really, ultra-heavy metal setting – would be perfect to carry that vocal. So I thought, hey let me ask him if he would do it. So I called him up and he was totally down, and that was it.
AOTN: That’s awesome man. Thanks so much for your time and really love your work.
McCreary: Thanks man, take care.
Make sure to look out for our full discussion regarding McCreary’s broader filmography and the “Music of the Monsters” in the coming days. In the meantime, you can listen to McCreary’s rendition of “Godzilla” below.
What are your thoughts on the new version of the song? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!