Monday, January 7, 2008

Cult Soundtracks: Perseverance Records Interview

Robin Esterhammer issues interesting soundtracks through his Perseverance Records label. His releases include The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Martin, Dark Skies, Bloodsport, Kickboxer, The Punisher, and a new Jim Menzies collection that contains excerpts from

  • Bloodsurf
  • Leatherface - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre III
  • The Life and Times of Eddie Presley
  • Lurking Fear
  • Pumpkinhead 2
  • The Escape Clause
  • The Story Tellers

What inspired you to start your label?

I have been collecting soundtracks for the past 30 years as a fan. My big break came in 1997 when I was hired to work on Babylon 5 with Christopher Franke, who was doing the score for the show. I stayed with him for the next three years and also got involved a little bit in his Sonic Images record label that produced several soundtracks. Finally, in 2000, there was no way for me to go but leave. I had enjoyed my stay immensely, but after three years there was no room for me to grow, and they didn't want me to move over to the label, which is something I bitterly regret.

After a brief interval of of unemployment, I finally decided to produce a CD on my own, and within a few months I released David Bergeaud's beautiful music to Prince Valiant with a limited run of 1000 units, 400 of which went to the composer. Then followed Dr. Phibes Rises Again with MGM, and so on, and so on.

What are some of the challenges involved in securing a title and producing the final product?

The biggest challenge is that when you are small nobody wants to do business with you. Although most people are aware that film scores are not huge sellers, some still do think that they can put their kids through college by someone releasing their soundtrack. This goes for studios as well as composers. So getting the rights to do a soundtrack, especially a big one, is by far the most difficult thing. Once you have that, and you have access to the masters, the rest is more or less an easy task.

What are some of your favorite soundtracks?

Highlander by Michael Kamen and Queen, Conan, the Barbarian by Basil Poledouris and Chaplin by John Barry

What new projects are you working on?

Right now, we are working on an expanded version of Richard Band's Mutant score. We have all the music, and it will be mastered next week. Only artwork is hard to find.

Simultaneously, I am working with Hunt and Tony Sales on their first solo Blues album. They were in Tin Machine with David Bowie and toured with Iggy Pop and Todd Rundgren in the Seventies and Eighties. At one point they were scheduled to replace the Blues Brothers on Saturday Night Live, but Tony had a fatal car accident and was dead for a few hours. Luckily, they revived him, so now he is collaborating with me on this fantastic album. If you like Sam & Dave or the Blues Brothers, you will like Hired Guns.

What question do you wish someone would ask, and what is the answer?

What is the answer to the meaning of life, the universe and everything? 42.

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