Top Five Rock Musicians Who Became Composers, Chosen by Death Valley Dreams’ Nick Coyle
Here are the top five rock musicians who became composers, chosen by Death Valley Dreams singer Nick Coyle.
Death Valley Dreams are a synth rock/post-punk band from Pennsylvania, comprised of members of Cold and Escape the Fate and managed by former Motionless in White keyboardist Josh Balz, all making this exciting new group is more than worthy of your attention.
Last year, they released their debut album, Lust in the Modern World, with four new singles having arrived since — the latest being "Leave Me Alone" featuring a guest appearance from Crobot's Brand Yeagley. It's a swaying, delightfully danceable, upbeat track that embraces gothic elements and glittery '80s pop with a campy horror-themed music video to further the fun.
Death Valley Dreams, "Leave Me Alone" (ft. Crobot's Brandon Yeagley)
The vision of Death Valley Dreams is clear and represented well across multiple mediums and perhaps Coyle's work as a TV, film and media composer has something to do with it. He's worked on animated TV shows Teen Titans Go! and Unikitty and other programs on major networks.
So, why not highlight some other rockers who have also straddle both worlds, making music in a band and as a composer? Coyle certainly knows some standouts, as highlighted below. And he's been kind enough to include some of his favorite works from each, so you can check it all out, too!
Top Five Rock Musicians Who Became Composers,
by Death Valley Dreams' Nick Coyle
Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross (Nine Inch Nails)
I’ve been a HUGE fan of Trent Reznor and NIN since first hearing Pretty Hate Machine. Atticus Ross began his partnership with Trent as a programmer/producer for NIN and then eventually became a full time member.
The duo’s first movie was David Fincher’s The Social Network, which was critically acclaimed and even won them a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar.
They went on to work with Fincher on many more films that were also well received by critics. They’ve become a staple in electronic music scores for the last decade and don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Their latest score was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, which is also unsurprisingly amazing. I would say they are my biggest influence when it comes my own composing work (Teen Titans Go!, Unikitty and various other TV shows).
Danny Elfman (Oingo Boingo)
It’s wild to think that the guy that brought us the Weird Science movie theme song with his eclectic ’80s band Oingo Boingo (which is still an awesome movie by the way), ended up being one of the biggest film composers of our generation. After his work with the band, he went on to work with Tim Burton on his first film, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, which led to them working on over 20 more movies together including Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice among others. All of which are all cult classics.
He’s worked on hundreds of movies and TV shows and has written some of the most iconic scores, such as The Simpsons theme song and Batman theme, among many others, making him one of the most influential composers in the business today.
Hans Zimmer (The Buggles)
As the keyboardist of The Buggles, their hit “Video Killed The Radio Star” was the first video played on MTV. Who doesn’t know that song? It was the start of artists doing music videos for decades to come and is still an art that continues today.
Since leaving the band, Hans Zimmer went on to become one of the most successful and influential composers of all time. He’s been honored with numerous awards and worked on over 200 projects which combined grossed over 28 billion dollars at the box office.
Zimmer has composed music for some of the biggest movies of all time including The Lion King, Rain Man, Thelma and Louise, The Dark Knight, Intersteller, Blade Runner 2049 and many many more.
Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo)
While he’s known as a founder of the iconic new wave band Devo that brought us “Whip It”, Mark Mothersbaugh has become one of today’s most prolific and in demand TV and film composers.
After getting his start working on Pee Wee’s Playhouse in the mid '80s he went on to work on hundreds of projects including The Rugrats, Futurama, Yo Gabba Gabba, The Lego Movie, Thor: Ragnorok, and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.
He even did the music for our favorite Covid binge watch, The Tiger King, as well as the ridiculous Cocaine Bear.
Mothersbaugh has cemented himself as a staple in the TV, film, and video game industry.
Clint Mansell (Pop Will Eat Itself)
Pop Will Eat Itself’s Ich Bin Ein Auslander has always been one of my favs.
After disbanding, vocalist/guitarist Clint Mansell went on to do some amazing work in TV, film and video games. Most known for his work with director Darren Aronofsky on movies Pi, Requiem For A Dream and Black Swan, his music provided the backbone of some of the grittiest movies I’ve seen, particularly Requiem For A Dream.
Mansell's music is beautiful and dark and creates a world to immerse yourself in.
He’s also worked on TV shows Titans, Doom Patrol and one of my favorite Netflix series, Black Mirror, as well as doing the music for the video game Mass Effect 3.
Mansell is not as well known as the other four here but, I’ve always been a fan of his music and the way it make me feel something.
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Gallery Credit: Chad Childers, Loudwire