Interview: Composer Tyler Bates on Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2, The Punisher, Atomic Blonde & touring with Marilyn Manson

Tyler Bates and his musically talented mind has not only collaborated in taking down hordes of Zombies with Zack Snyder’s Dawn of The Dead, dealt with psychopaths in worlds created by Rob Zombie (The Devil’s Rejects and Halloween), blurred the lines with Hank Moody (David Duchovny) for the Californication TV series, but has followed the footsteps of his long-time friend and colleague James Gunn all the way to the top! First with Slither, then Super and more recently The Belko Experiment. But the one which stands taller and prouder than all those is Disney and Marvel’s Guardians of The Galaxy and now his return in scoring its sequel, Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2.

I recently jumped at the opportunity to speak with Tyler; I wanted to know a little bit more about how he manages to just keep getting bigger, better and busier. Cutting three guitar tracks while his driver was waiting to take him to the airport for his flight to Budapest and then taking my phone call while waiting for his plane, it just shows you how busy Tyler Bates gets on an average Bates day.

First, I have to praise you, I’m sure you don’t mind, I’ve been a fan of your music work since Rob Zombie’s Halloween, then Watchmen and Sucker Punch and among other works, a stand out for me was your music in one of my favourite series Californication and then you exploded into everyone’s radar with a little known film called Guardians of The Galaxy and now Vol. 2. You quite literally have not stopped creating and composing some of the biggest TV and film scores to date! How on earth do you manage it all, and do you have any plants you need to water?

First off, I have great family and friends and I continually vary my experiences. Right now, I am about to hop on a flight to Budapest with Marilyn Manson and we’re going to do a European tour for about three and a half weeks. We just completed a new record, so that offers a different experience I can bring back into the studio with me, which really gives me inspiration to write and to format TV or film with new direction.

I have great people who do work with me when it gets pretty hot in the kitchen and they are all very amazing people that are super talented, I am so thankful that I have such great people in my life.

Touring with Marilyn Manson again so soon is exciting, you’re a guitarist in the band, right?

Yes, one of them, my friend Paul Wiley also plays guitar in the band, we have been friends for a long time as well as Manson and I, so, it’s good! We like to go out and have a good time, hopefully break some things along the way.

We know you have collaborated with James Gunn in Slither, Super, The Belko Experiment and of course Guardians of The Galaxy. Going into Vol. 2, was there anything different you wanted to bring to the table for James Gunn and the new film?

Well, knowing James so well as a filmmaker over the years I know he’s constantly raising the bar and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and he’s also looking for that in his collaborators. You must mentally prepare to go into a film like that wanting to expand upon everything you had done previously, even if you feel pretty good about the last thing you did with them. The great thing about these films is that it allowed us to embrace the idea with classic scenes. By classic, I mean that it harkens back to the 50’s and 60’s type films, (especially) with the character of Ego.

The great thing about Guardians, the syntax of that movie not only allows for statements like that that are pretty rare in large scale films today, it calls for it. Within the spectrum of creating teams like that we want the emotions to be very tactile and very visceral to anyone. We don’t want it to be an impression of emotions, we want it to be truly heartfelt.

Out of all the films you have composed so far, is there one or two that stand out above all the others for you, one’s you had the most fun with?

They all have a different story, the thing about Guardians 2 is I really do love the music. It was an incredible collaboration, I am so happy for James Gunn having been a collaborator with him since Slither, which I think is deeply brilliant but truly Indie.

It was very cool recording Guardians 2, my eldest daughter was in the orchestra, she was the pianist and that was very awesome! For a 15-year-old to have that experience… I mean she is a classically trained musician, but it was amazing.

I love the work I did with Rob Zombie and The Devils Rejects, it was very dark, but being able to go into a space that is that dark and disturbing unapologetically, was really interesting. To create a sound that’s an expansion of who Rob’s persona is as a musician and an artist was a great challenge and a lot of fun as well, he is an excellent collaborator.

I love a good horror film and the music for them either breaks it or makes it!

I have not abandoned the idea of doing more of them (horror movies), I would love the opportunity to continue doing them. I have loved my collaborations with Zack Snyder and we did some great work together (Dawn of the Dead, Watchmen, 300, Sucker Punch) and I am thankful for that. I just try and do the best I can with every opportunity.

My latest film was Atomic Blonde, I can say working with David Leitch (Director of John Wick and Atomic Blonde) is exactly how I want it. If I could design my career it would be completely working with people like David, as an artist and just a great guy. The movie (Atomic Blonde) is also fantastic, we’re all very excited about it.

You have also just finished working on Netflix’s new Marvel Series The Punisher as well?

Yes, there is another person, Steve Lightfoot (creator, writer and Producer on Marvel and Netflix’s The Punisher), he’s just fantastic to work with and is constantly trying to make the task of writing the music fun and interesting. I had so much fun working with Steve and everyone involved with The Punisher. We are all super excited for the public to have a chance to check it out, I believe it’s coming out sometime in October, but I’m not quite sure yet!?

You worked on the music for Disneyland’s new ride Guardians of The Galaxy: Mission Breakout as well, did you get a chance to give the new ride a go?

Disneyland’s new ride Guardians Of The Galaxy: Mission Breakout!

Oh yeah, writing it is part of the process, we had to have meetings and ride it around midnight after the park had closed. We go down there around that time and ride it about six times at 12:30am in the morning, it’s pretty surreal. Having the opportunity to do something like that, especially in having a direct connection to a franchise like Guardians of The Galaxy, it’s not something I could have ever planned, it just happened and I am really thrilled what’s come of it. The Imagineers (the ride designers at Disneyland) are an amazing crew of people to work with. The great things that happen, are not lost on me, I am so very appreciative!

The world has now been taken over by streaming services, Bluetooth technology and extremely fast internet speeds, making music more accessible than it has ever been before, have you felt any of the huge changes impact you in anyway good or bad!?

Of course, the old business models have been impacted tremendously and the last record I did with Manson was in another era than double platinum at least. It did very well, sold several hundred-thousand, so we’re happy with that but, you must look at the current climate and see where people are placing the value in entertainment and music. It’s up to the artist to create something that will work in the spectrum of that business model or that climate. Nothing is ever going to return to the way it once was, the opportunity is there to create something in that new paradigm and with that I think it’s very exciting.

We love our video games here at The Iris and you have composed a few video games in your time as well including God of War Ascension, are you working on anymore soon?

Nothing in the near future yet, but I have really loved the experience of working on games though, I think the people are incredibly humble and through the process of working with video games I have been turned on to some of the incredible art that has inspired them. I certainly welcome to the opportunity to do that if and when it comes up. I have a couple of sports franchises that I am working with to create music for them, that excites me to because I am a big sports fan.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is Out Now on Digital and Releases on 4K UHD Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray, and DVD  23rd August 2017.

For more on Tyler, head to his official website.

Images provided