EXCLUSIVE – Scott Ian, Dave Lombardo, Corey Taylor + Lzzy Hale Join Forces on Netflix’s ‘Thunder Force’ Theme Song
When composer Fil Eisler began working on the score for upcoming Netflix superhero comedy Thunder Force, he knew he needed some blistering heavy metal tunes to soundtrack the film's epic fight scenes. But he didn't want just any old session musicians for the gig. Instead he went straight to the source, recruiting legendary thrashers Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo to lay down some monstrous riffs and pulverizing beats for the soundtrack.
Thunder Force takes place in a world overrun by supervillains, where the only hope for humanity is a process developed by scientist Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer) that gives regular people superpowers. When Emily accidentally equips her estranged childhood best friend Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) with super strength, the two must join forces to save Chicago from the forces of evil.
The Thunder Force soundtrack mixes Ian and Lombardo's colossal thrash grooves with soaring orchestral arrangements. The duo also joined forces with Corey Taylor and Lzzy Hale to record the film's adrenaline-pumping theme song, which is premiering exclusively on Loudwire.
You can watch the official "Thunder Force" lyric video below.
Ahead of Thunder Force's April 9 release, Eisler, Ian and Lombardo spoke to Loudwire for an exclusive interview about writing the star-studded theme song and who would win in a hypothetical superhero showdown.
Fil, how did you get the idea to work with Scott and Dave on this soundtrack?
Eisler: This is third or fourth movie that I'm doing with [director] Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy — they're married. And when they came to us, he said, "Yeah, I'm gonna do a superhero movie, and Melissa's character is kind of like a washed-up metalhead from the '80s, and she's trying to find herself," and all the rest of it. And so it's not like I immediately went there in my head, but when I started writing I was like, "Huh. OK. Well, this could be something I've wanted to do for ages."
The one thing about scoring comedies — which, funnily enough, I'm not that crazy about, although I seem to get a lot of them — is that I never want the music to turn into parody in any way. That's not a very rewarding thing to do. So if you're gonna do something, go to the source, go to the real thing. And Anthrax and Slayer were really, literally, along with maybe Maiden, the first three shows I ever saw when I was in my early teens.
How did the Thunder Force theme song come to fruition?
Ian: [Fil] would send us all the [musical] cues with explanations about the ins and outs. So, you know, it's like you're just learning a whole bunch of really short songs. And then we got together and we were going over stuff in the studio, because I was just making sure I was playing all the parts right. And then it was Fil who mentioned, "What would you think about trying to write a Thunder Force theme song that they would roll over the end credits?" And he said, "I can't promise they're ever gonna use anything." But I was like, "Why not? What do we got to lose? Let's make music."
The three of us recorded [a demo], and then I sent it to Corey, saying, "Hey, what do you think of this? You want to write to this? Would you want to sing on this and write the lyrics?" And he was all over it. So we made a demo, and then Fil had to submit the demo to Ben and Melissa.
Eisler: They loved it. The one suggestion they had was, "Look, this is a movie about two female superheroes. We need some female energy."
Ian: It's a little dude-heavy. [laughs] ... So Corey said, "I could ask Lzzy. I'll hit her up right now." And she replied immediately and she was in. So it's kind of like this dream team lineup, you know, getting to write a song and then put together this band. And [cellist] Tina [Guo], who does the insane cello on it. What an amazing thing we put together.
You basically pulled out your Rolodex of metal legends and put this together super quickly.
Ian: Well, you know, when you get a text that says, "Hey, me and Dave are doing this thing, you want to be in?" Who's gonna say no? [laughs]
How was the experience of scoring this soundtrack different than writing and recording a traditional metal album?
Ian: It was the three of us out in the big room with drums, Fil played bass, and obviously me on guitar, and we had screens so everything we could do, we had the picture. So when we're playing some really brutal, heavy part, we're getting to see the insane fight or destruction or what's going on with the music behind it. And so that, of course, makes it even that much more fun and exciting to see, like, "Oh, this super chunky part I'm playing right now, that's what's happening when we're doing it."
How did it feel to play alongside an entire orchestra?
Lombardo: There's something about chamber instruments — cellos, all the horns and the stringed instruments, the wind instruments — there's a resonance, there's a feel that those instruments give you. So for me, it inspires me or drives me to hit my drums just a little different than, let's say, guitar playing. ... I think it's a nice balance to go from one style to the other, but when you blend them together, that's where I feel that Fil really captured this marriage of music. It's a great experience, and I think everybody should experience something like this at least once in their life.
Scott and Dave, you both recently played on Mr. Bungle's The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo. Was there anything from those sessions or your previous experiences that prepared you for making Thunder Force?
Lombardo: There's a lot actually. I first experienced these snippets of music, working with short little pieces of music, with [Mike Patton-fronted supergroup] Fantomas back when we released our first record in '98 or '99. And these songs with 15 seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds, but there was so much information that we had to put in that time. You can't even imagine what concentration it takes to move so quickly within little time. You could play a typical metal song, three minutes, three and a half minutes — you're playing along, you have time to think what's coming up next. When you're working with short snippets of music, there's no time. You have to have it. And everything is just moving so quickly that it keeps you on edge. ... It's really helped me hone in the skill of working on these little short bodies of music and being as creative as possible, and executing the right emotion and the feel within that time.
Ian: I got to work with John Carpenter in the '90s. Anthrax scored about 20-ish minutes of his movie Ghost of Mars. It was a similar working environment — we were in the studio and we all had little screens and he was directing us, but in that case, none of the stuff we did was written. Fil had written all of these cues. When we worked with Carpenter, we were coming up with stuff on the spot for the scenes in the movie, so it added a whole other level of difficulty to it. But it did bring me back to that playing, because he would say, "Pam Grier's head's gonna get cut off in this next scene, so I need a big crescendo, right when she loses the head." And we're like, "OK, I've never written a riff with someone getting decapitated in mind, but Cannibal Corpse does that kind of stuff. I guess I could learn."
Scott, this is not your first time working with superhero-related music. Who do you think would win in a fight between Judge Dredd and the heroes of Thunder Force?
Ian: Well, Dredd doesn't have super physical strength. I mean, he's a badass, and he could probably figure out a way to take them down given the time, but if they just were suddenly thrust into a situation where he was fighting Melissa McCarthy's character, she could throw him across town. Although I don't know, we never actually see them get shot with any high-intensity weaponry — although I haven't seen the whole movie yet, so maybe that does happen. So you know, maybe if Judge shot Melissa McCarthy in the head, it might blow her head off. It's good a question. I'm gonna have to go with my man Judge Dredd, just, you know, out of loyalty.
Thunder Force premieres on Netflix Friday, April 9. The film’s original soundtrack by composer Fil Eisler will be released by Milan Records in conjunction with the film’s debut next Friday, April 9. Listen to the track “Thunder Force” here.
23 Actors Who Transformed Into Real-life Rockstars for Movies