Monday, June 29, 2015

LA History: Black Scorpion

Blecch Scorpion

In 1998, I nearly got to score a television show: Roger Corman's TV adaptation of "Black Scorpion". Imagine Batman. But female, scantily clad, low budget...and terrible. Designed primarily to appeal to people who have an abnormal appreciation for girls in revealing outfits fighting.

Getting the gig would have almost certainly changed the direction of my life permanently. I would have had to buy a ton of gear, learn a lot about scoring for TV, and then crank out a large amount of music in a very short period of time. It would have been thrilling, and possibly led to other work.

The show wanted to capitalize on the "electronica wave" that was happening at the time, and rather than the usual canned music, they wanted something contemporary and of the moment.

I created several minutes of all-electronic demos and submitted it. I didn't get the gig. That was OK then (even though I heard the other stuff including the "winner", and thought my bits were way better), and it's even more OK now.

As a kind of consolation prize for not getting the gig scoring the entire show, I got hired to write some "bad rock songs" for the Black Scorpion episode where the evil band "The Bleeding Eardrum" terrorizes the city. Here's a sample of the "action":

I read the script, which included some titles and lyric excerpts. I had a very short period of time to write and record 4 songs, including having the evil villainess actress (played by Shannon Whirry) come over to my, uh, garage to learn the songs and sing them.

My brother and I used Hole as an inspiration and took it in an intentionally worse direction. This is my favorite of the 4 songs that made it onto the show (but not the soundtrack album), though "City Under Seige" [sic] was a close second.

We had a fun time writing lyrics and coming up with riffs. As usual, Ryan demonstrated his effortless creativity with wordplay and was a riff factory. We borrowed the drum sounds from a record we both liked, and orchestrated the music to match the fictional band's line-up of singer/guitarist, drummer, and keyboard player. We had the tracks done in almost no time.

Of course, the guy who wrote the script demanded co-writing credit since he had done the hard work of coming up with the titles and providing small lyric excerpts.

Ms. Whirry was a total pro, and only a little visibly creeped out walking into a slightly sketchy garage studio deep in the San Fernando Valley to yell and scream into a microphone for a few hours. I suppose as an actress she'd done (and would have to do) worse. I was impressed, nonetheless. Aside from being game, she was charming and fun.

I was not properly paid or credited for this work, and it was never properly registered with the copyright office or rights agencies, which is a shame, because I might have actually earned some money!

That's Hollywood, though.

The complete Black Scorpion TV series is available on DVD. You'll be sorry.

No comments: