Sundance 2011 Interview: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN composer Darius Holbert

Allison Loring

by: Allison Loring
February 10th, 2011

To complete the trifecta of HOBO composer contributors, Darius Holbert, the third and final composer to work on HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, chimes in. Along with Russ Howard III and Adam Burke (click on their names for our interviews with each), Darius helped round out the group and the sound for the film.

Darius shares his perspective on his part in the collaboration, how he came to work on the project, and the answer to, "What do you call a bunch of people working on a movie about a hobo?"

That answer, and the rest of the interview, after the break!

How did you begin composing for film and television?
I started studying composition and piano performance around the time I was four years old or so. Not that a toddler is any good at composing. Except the toddler Mozart, I hear. I got better at it as a kid and won some minor awards. I went to a Performing Arts high school in Dallas and got a little better at it. Then I studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and the University of North Texas and got slightly better at it there too. I moved to LA from Texas to be a session/touring musician, but I got sick of the road fairly quickly – plus I wanted a little more career longevity so I came back around to composing for film, TV and new media. I've been crazy fortunate so far in my career and it's all I want to do now. Of course it's all I can do, so it works out nicely.

How did you get involved with HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN?
Jason Eisener hit me up a few years ago to be involved with their bonkers short TREEVENGE. I don't remember how he found me, but he sent me a clip and I was immediately in with both feet. It went to Sundance that year and that was the first time I met those zany Canadians in person, including Adam Burke, another one of the HOBO composers. I call them the "Hobros" now.

What made you want to work on this project?
Jason emailed me and said there was a feature in the works. He said it starred Rutger Hauer, but he had me at, "Hey, wanna work together again?"

Were you a fan of grindhouse films prior to working on HOBO?
I really like some of the grindhouse stuff I've seen over the years, but I'm definitely not as passionate and knowledgeable about the genre as Jason and the rest of the Hobros.

You were one of three composers on the film – did you know the other two composers? Had you worked together before? How did you decide who would compose what components of the film?
Yeah, Adam had also worked on TREEVENGE and we hit it off at Sundance a couple of years ago and have stayed in touch. I just met Russ at Sundance this year and he's a stellar guy. The film was broken up into scenes/cues by Jason and Rob (the producer).

What was the process for creating the music for the film? Did you begin creating prior to seeing it or did you compose along with the film itself?
It was a fairly short turnaround for wall-to-wall music so I scored to picture right off the bat – there was very little time to kick around themes.

What influenced you in creating this score (other films, styles of music, etc.)?
Jason is heavily into the genre so he carefully chose temp music that he cut the film to. A lot of John Carpenter and other horror/splatter film scores from the late ‘70s-‘80s. He had a very specific vision and although it's not the kind of music I'd typically write, it was a blast trying to recreate those sounds and that feel.

How long was the composing process (a week, a few months)?
Just a little under a month for me. But even if it was a year, I still would have liked a little more time!

What do you have coming up next?
I'm signed on to two features that I'm really excited about. One is in production and one starts principal photography in April. Plus I've got a number of TV shows, pilots and commercials that I'm contributing to over the next few months. I'm also musical directing a worldwide tour that starts next month for House of Pain/Everlast so I'll be on the road on and off for a while. It's the only touring I do anymore since it's great music and a stellar band who are some of my best pals – and I'll have my own tech to run my mobile rig so I can continue to score from the road. Should be a stone cold gas!

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