Published on May 29th, 2019 | by Landon Buford0
Rocker-Turned-Film-Score-Producer Jason LaRocca Talks “Godzilla,” “Ma” And “Fortnite“
Rocker-turned-film-score-producer, Jason LaRocca, gained notoriety as the singer/guitarist of the acclaimed punk band The Briggs, before clinching his career recording and mixing scores for such major motion pictures as “Aquaman,” “Paddington” and “The Accountant.” He recently co-produced the remake of Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Godzilla’ song, sung by System of a Down’s Serj Tankian for the upcoming “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” soundtrack.
LaRocca recently spoke to us at The Hype Magazine about all the projects that he will apart of this summer such as, Godzilla, “Ma,” Marvel’s “Morbius,” the 2019 “Child’s Play” remake, Disney’s “Togo,” “A Dog’s Journey” & Michael Bay’s “6 Underground.”
Can you talk about what sparked your love for music?
I’ve always felt that music evokes an emotional reaction in me like nothing else. For as long as I can remember, my parents had a great love of music and were always showing me different records in their vinyl collection — from Frank Zappa to Joni Mitchell to Vivaldi. I was exposed to a lot of great music and nurtured with it by my parents — it’s all their fault that I am in this mess. [laughs]
How old were you when first picked up a guitar?
Well, technically there is a picture in my mom’s photo albums of me holding a guitar when I was 2. But in a serious way, probably when I was 12 or 13. I remember one night my parents had friends over and one of them knew how to play the blues on guitar. I was so blown away by what that sound was — at that moment I knew I needed to become a guitar player.
Your band, The Briggs, reached pop culture status for the anthem “This Is LA,” with the LA Kings using it as their fight song. What was it like to go to a hockey game and hear your song?
Pretty surreal honestly. It was so unexpected. It was not long after they started using our song that the team won their first Stanley Cup and we found our song the most requested on KROQ. It makes me feel proud to have been a part of something special like that for my home town.
System of a Down’s Serj Tankian gives new life to Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Godzilla’ for this year’s “Godzilla: King of Monsters” film. You co-produced the track. Take us through that process.
This process was very fun, but also very intense. We had just a few weeks to get the production of the song done from start to finish. When composer Bear McCreary came to me about the tune, he already had a lot of the arrangement worked out. He had lots of amazing layers of percussion and some great scratch vocals by Serj already in place. He is very good with having a clear cut vision on things and such was the case with this. So my part was how to help make it as massive as possible from the live recording and mixing side. So firstly we got the hard rock rhythm section behind the TV show Metalocalypse (Dethklok) in the studio together to cut lots of great takes of the basic backbone of the song. I used every input of the console at Capitol Studio B with various strategically placed microphones to cover every angle of the band so that I could later try various things in surround sound to spread them out into a theater listening environment. The day after we tracked basic rhythm section parts, Bear went to London to record an orchestra. He had some very cool parts written out for the orchestra but there were definitely some areas where I felt we could take even more advantage of having an element like a full-blown orchestra on the tune. So I suggested we add the orchestra playing “the riff” of the song so that we can really beef up the track with as cinematic of a sound as possible, especially at the climax of the song right before it finishes. So along with his great ideas, he added mine in as well, and we got some killer performances from the orchestra. Then I began mixing, which was a lot of fun. There were about 400 tracks of audio total once I got all of the recordings together from all over the world — that included various recorded Japanese Taiko percussion, choir chants, live metal band, tons of layers of vocals and some added tracks that I layered in. I even added some special Moog synthesizer parts doubling certain guitar parts of the song to add even more weight and special color to the song, especially at the end. I knew we were done with the song when I finally ran out of tracks in Pro Tools.
Another project of yours this year is “Ma” with Octavia Spencer. When you’re working on the score, do you ever get caught up in what’s happening on screen?
Yes, I get very swept away by the film at times. When I’m seeing a scene for the first time, I often don’t even think much about actually mixing it as I do about just letting myself get drawn in by the performances on screen. I feel it helps pull the best creative potential out of my process. I am a big fan of Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney, and Juliette Lewis, so this movie was especially hard in that respect.[laughs]
What was the best type of advice you received as you worked your way up in the music business?
“At the end of the day, it’s just music.” I don’t remember who told me that, but I remind myself of it every day.
You worked on the smash hit video game Fortnite as well. Being that it is one of the biggest video games in the world today. Can you share with us some of the adjectives you feel when you hear and see people playing the game?
It’s truly a phenomenon. When I got asked to work on the music for the game by Pinar Toprak and Marco Beltrami, I had never heard of it. But very shortly after the release of the game update at the end of 2017 — that included our full-fledged live orchestra score — it was a worldwide phenomenon. By then it was all I heard anyone talking about. It has since broken many records and won tons of awards. Pretty amazing!