You know what they say: with great monsters, comes great musical responsibility. Okay, they may not say that, but that's the lesson I learned when hitting the Hollywood red carpet premiere of Godzilla: King of the Monsters. The blockbuster return of everyone's favorite kaiju is bringing some iconic otherworldly beasts—shout-out to Mothra, Rodan and Ghidorah—back to the big screen.
It goes without saying that a visual assault of this magnitude deserves some epic aural stimulation to support the whole ride. And thankfully, Bear McCreary, music producer Jason LaRocca, and Metalocalypse's Dethklok are all here to relentlessly pummel your eardrums like a magnificent set of taiko drums.
"I did the cover of the 'Godzilla' song, the Blue Öyster Cult song," music producer Jason LaRocca tells me as a steady hum of drums and kaiju roars reverberate across Hollywood Blvd.
Did you know there was a Godzilla song? I sure didn't. Thankfully, LaRocca was here to school me. "Well, the Blue Öyster Cult song is kind of awesome and iconic in its own right," he explained. "I mean, we all are big fans of the song. It's kind of fun. And Bear [McCreary] was like, 'I think we should do a cover of this. I think it'd be amazing.' So he put together a demo and showed it to everyone. Everyone at Warner Brothers and the director [Michael Dougherty] thought it was an incredible idea. He's like, 'Cool, we're doing this.' So Bear called me, and this was the first time we worked together, and I was like, 'Holy shit. Great, yeah! Let's do this!'"
In case you need any further motivation to have this newly updated Godzilla song playing on repeat, LaRocca gave us some insight on the main players involved in the track. "[System of a Down's] Serj Tankian is singing on it. I don't know if you watch the show Metalocalypse, but we're all huge fans of Metalocalypse. So Dethklok [Brendon Small, Bryan Beller, and Gene Hoglan], the [real-life] guys that are the band in Metalocalypse, are the guys in the band behind Serj. We've got a hundred-piece orchestra. We've got Japanese taiko drums. We've got chants. We've got choirs. Everything is in this song. It's massive."
Bear McCreary came through with similar sentiments, further explaining the traditional Japanese elements he brought to the score: "We talked very seriously about this music—thinking about Godzilla is a very academic exercise. I brought in a taiko ensemble and recorded them in Tokyo. But they didn't bring their drums. They had their outfits, they had bandanas... and they were chanting. They were doing what is called 'Kakegoe,' a traditional vocalization that includes grunts and calls and chants that are distinctly Japanese, distinctly masculine, and I added it to these classic Godzilla themes from 1954."
It doesn't take much to find some epic footage of McCreary retooling these classic themes for today's audience. And aside from paying homage to the iconic films that came before this one, McCreary also wanted his updated take on the franchise to fully live and breathe in today's entertainment landscape. "It updates things in a way that preserves what I think we love about it. It adds something even more Japanese to it, and I beefed up the arrangement so it can sit at home with the blockbusters of 2019."
"If you know the Mothra song and you know the Godzilla fanfare, I want you to weep because it's never sounded so beautiful and so powerful," McCreary continued. "If you don't, I do not want you at all to suspect that some of the songs you're hearing are actually 65 years old."
Godzilla: King of the Monsters stomps into theaters everywhere on Friday, May 31st.
Check here to catch up on all of our Godzilla: King of the Monsters coverage, including Heather Wixson's review!