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“Scorehouse”: Scoring “The Scarehouse” with Delirium Dog

by: RFR Casket Crew Maestro Macbre

Glenn 2

My first year with Scarehouse, I met a little guy with glasses and a camera.  I was introduced to him as Glenn, everyone knew Glenn and Glenn knew everyone.  Eventually I  asked Wayne Simmons, “Who is that?”
Wayne in his ever casual, matter of fact manner said, “That’s Glenn, he writes our music.”

Wait, this is Delirium Dog? The guy that writes the incredible music for the haunt, creator of dark, unique soundscapes? This indeed was, and I was soon to find out, one of the nicest and most talented individuals I have ever met.

I would attempt to write a bio, but a great friend of mine and fellow blogger beat me to the punch, so if you are interested in learning more about Glenn, check out his interview with Gores Truly.

Fever Brain Battery,  the new release from Glenn and Undead Productions is set to release on July 29th.  The second album of music from The Scarehouse, contains new pieces from Glenn as well as some of his epic pieces from Rampage.

If you enjoy dark, ambient music that is completely unique and inventive,  you have to pick up these two albums.  I don’t want to review them just now, but that will be my next post, so look out for that!

I, however, caught up with Glenn Ricci, and wanted to learn more about his techniques and thoughts on writing such theatrical quality music for a haunted attraction.

Rotting Flesh Radio:  What are your first steps when you first receive an assignment? Do you research or do anything special to put you in a certain state of mind?

Delirium Dog:  If it’s a music track I’m being asked to compose, I like the client to send a few titles of tracks they like. Anything that captures the feeling they’re hoping to evoke. That usually gives me enough to go on. For soundscapes, I try to get the best idea of what is supposed to happen in the space the sound will play. What is the story be behind it? What will the set look like? Being in the actual room or area is the best way to go. I had a tour this past weekend of the new Pittsburgh Zombies haunt at Scarehouse and I got plenty of ideas just by being there.

RFR:  What is the Simmons’ involvement with the music and sound? Do they have any creative input? Do you provide samples along the way? Or do you have carte blanche?
DD:  For music that will be used for a trailer or a specific part of the haunt, we often go back and forth a few times with a track. I take a first pass at something and usually that gets us in the ballpark, but Scott will often ask for certain changes. By the second or third try we usually have a winner.  Scott is not a musically trained person in any way, but we have non-technical language we use to communicate. Since I know him pretty well, I can usually tell what he’s asking for even though his requests might seem vague to an outsider.

When we were trying to first establish a musical style for Delirium a few years back, he sent the tracks around to other folks on the Team to consult. I tried a couple completely different tracks before arriving at ”Delirium One,” which established the style for the rest of the soundtrack. Now, for music for Delirium, which I keep adding to, I have pretty much free reign these days.

Sometimes I make little leaps and try things out on Scott that he did not remotely ask for. When we were working on a track for the trailer that eventually became “Stay,” we started with the standard soundtrack fare. Then I decided to make a pop-song with a vocal, figuring it would be a fun exercise that would ultimately fail. Instead, Scott jumped on it. The tune took off on Myspace (which was huge back then) and ended up winning them a Silver Telly award for “Best Use of Music.” There were girls singing the song while waiting in line. It was around that time that I decided to make Delirium Dog my main music project and record a full album of music.

RFR:  Are you ever inspired by other pieces/artists? I know you’re influenced by NiN and other industrial/electro groups, do their sounds ever creep in?
DD:  When I was first asked to record what we were calling “techno goth” music for Delirium, I had not really listened a whole lot to that style of music. So I got into the mood by listen more to NiN, Ministry, Skinny Puppy, as well as online streams of harder house music. I’d just let Pandora get going and would not even know who I was listening to most of the time. It didn’t take long to absorb what I needed to get going. Of course, once I started composing, my existing influences crept in. My biggest influence for Delirium Dog was (and still is) Amon Tobin, who has made some wonderfully inventive and haunting music using samples from old records and, more recently, sounds he recorded himself. I can also hear the Pixies in some of the chord changes, PJ Harvey and Rage Against the Machine for their guitar-driven power. I should also give some credit for the tools I started using for the first time: Propellerhead’s Reason and their excellent Thor synth. I had been using Logic Pro for a while, but started getting into their synths more and more.

RFR:  How much does walking through the haunt inspire you? Is it similar to a film composer watching a film? Do certain certain scenes or characters ignite a creative spark?
DD:  That’s HUGE! For the last couple years, I’ve finally had a powerful enough portable computer to be able to compose soundscapes on-site. Before that, I would email tracks to Scott and wait for him to listen and write back. That process was pretty primitive in comparison because now I can have immediate feedback of how the track works played where it is meant to be heard. I can adjust the layers of complexity, reverb, EQ, etc., all customized for the space. I think it’s improved things greatly.

RFR:  You live in Baltimore, but write for a haunt in Pittsburgh, is to hard to keep the haunt fresh in your mind?
DD:  I still do a lot of the tracking at home but I can usually work from my notes and get the sound pretty close to where it needs to be. It’s nice that I can still tweak them when I get there, but I’m pretty used to working remotely if I need to. Since I’m only 4.5 hours away, I end up coming up quite a few times between July and September.

RFR: What programs do you use? Instruments? Equipment?
DD:  Logic Pro is my main DAW, running on a Macbook Pro. I have Reason slaved to that. Lately, I’ve been transferring my songs over to Ableton Live to prepare for performing them live in the haunt. I use a number of plugins, including Garritan Personal Orchestra and most of what iZotope has put out (iZotope’s Ozone is on every track). I also use Absynth from Native Instruments pretty often.

My guitar is an early Parker Nightfly and my bass an Ernie Ball Music Man Sterling running through a Line 6 Pod XT Live. I record them with some distortion and then end up adding a good bit more with the software. The guitars show up quite a bit on the first album, but just a few tracks on the new one. I’ve been enjoying the control over the electronic instruments more and more and using less real guitar, but it’s still definitely in the mix. It hard to tell which tracks are real guitar and which are software instruments distorted to sound like guitar.

I use my iPhone and a Zoom H4n to record sounds from all over that I use in my music and soundscapes.

RFR:  When it comes to designing sound how do you know when you got it just right?
DD:  You can only tell for sure when you’re on-site and the sound totally clicks for the space. Sometimes it’s close, but you can tell it needs more of this or that. You keep adjusting until it’s awesome, or at least good enough and you’ve run out of time. You never have enough time to make every little part exactly the way you want. Last year, we put in over 30 separate sound sources–some at the very last minute. Some of those sounds were just there to fill in space and cover up sounds spilling in from other parts of the haunt. We found that it is better to fight sound with more sound because acoustic dampening never seems to completely block out sounds from another area.

RFR:  How much of your free time is spent in the studio writing and recording? How much total music and sound goes into one haunt?
DD: I can easily put in 30 hours in an average week, much more when I’m really busy. I’m always either recording or composing or researching some aspect of it. I’m constantly trying to learn new things. I work in video as well, and will be doing more videos for my music. Between music and video software, you can easily fill up your day learning and trying new things. I never feel like a know enough and I like to learn by doing things, so I just try to keep doing new things.

At some point in August or September, I’ll spend a solid week and a couple long weekends at Scarehouse doing nothing but sound design and installation for about 12 hours a day. My wife helps with some of that because running cable can be difficult to do alone, and the place is so huge and creepy that it’s more pleasant to work on the buddy system.

All the sound put together adds up to several hours. I can’t even guess how long…maybe five hours? I like to make very long soundscapes so the actors don’t have to hear them loop every couple minutes (and eventually go insane). I also don’t like for the guest to ever notice the loop point because that takes you out of the experience. With longer, more fleshed-out soundscapes, the guests get a richer experience and the actors go insane at a much slower rate. They still want to kill me when they find out I’m responsible, but at least there is at least a bit of respect behind their murderous intentions.

RFR:  What is it like when you first walk through the haunt with your music over the speakers?
DD:  Depends on which frame of mind I bring to it. There is the critical mind that is thinking about how to tweak and improve things. Then there is the more objective mode, when I stand back and thing “whoa, I did all that!?!” I often cannot even remember how I got certain sounds or effects. It’s like it must have been someone else…and yet I know it was me. It’s sort of like an out-of-body experience.

RFR:  Do you ever attend other haunts? If so, what are some of your favorites?
DD:  It’s a shame, but I’m so busy with Scarehouse that I do not often get to see other haunts. Any suggestions?  I’ve always wanted to visit Goatman Hollow here in Maryland, but I’ve not yet had the pleasure.

RFR:  Thanks Glenn, for such great insight!  You have made creating scores and sounds for haunts an art form.  We wish you and Scarehouse the best for the future!

Make sure you pick up “Fever Brain Battery” on itunes July 29th!
Fever Brain Battery  Art by Matt Michalko

Follow Glenn at one of links below and drop him a line, a great guy with a lot of talent!

iTunes

Facebook

Website

twitter

Look for the upcoming review of “Fever Brain Battery”!

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