Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross Interview: ‘Watchmen’ composers
Composing the sprawling score for HBO’s “Watchmen” was “a super rewarding and extremely difficult and fulfilling project to be involved in,” reveals Trent Reznor, who joined his frequent collaborator Atticus Ross in our exclusive video interview. Watch the full video with Reznor and Ross above.
In “Watchmen, ” masked vigilante superheroes are treated as outlaws by government agencies in an alternate reality 2019 where actor Robert Redford is the President of the United States and cities are deluged by storms of squid falling from the sky. They band together to fight a nefarious white supremacist cult and other otherworldly forces led by Oscar and Emmy winner Regina King, who plays Angela Abar (a.k.a. Sister Night), a Tulsa Police detective by day and nun’s habit and balaclava wearing crime-fighter by night. Acclaimed writer/producer Damon Lindelof (“Lost” and “The Leftovers”) developed the series for TV based on the 1987 DC Comics series created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, which debuted late last year to rave reviews from critics and fans, a decade after the Zack Snyder film adaptation of the same name.
“Watchmen” contended as a drama at various awards earlier this year, winning Best Drama Directing at the Directors Guild, Best New Series at the Writers Guild and the Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Drama Actress (King) and Best Drama Supporting Actress (Jean Smart). HBO has since re-classified it as a limited series for Emmy contention as Lindelof has decided not to proceed with a second season.
Nine Inch Nails front man Reznor and fellow multi-hyphenate musician/composer/songwriter/producer Ross relished the chance not only to join forces once again, but also because they were keen to work with Lindelof, as fans of his work.
“Being a fan of Damon’s work, and I think Atticus would agree, he seemed like he would be one of us, if we got a chance to meet him and as it turned out and things lined up, we very much feel that way,” Reznor explains when the opportunity arose and Lindelof enlisted the Oscar-winning duo (Best Original Score for “The Social Network” in 2010) to compose the show’s immersive, meditative and often propulsive retro-electronic score.
“We included a lot of things really early on with Damon that were beat driven and it could have been in another direction like a Nine Inch Nails demo perhaps and normally we wouldn’t have the opportunity to venture into that space in a score,” he says. “That was a lot of the stuff that really clicked with him.”
“Damon will not settle for anything less than excellence and that is what drives us as well and it allowed us to play in a sandbox that we don’t get to play in that much for scoring and we got to get into distortion and guitars and rhythms and drums.”