Mark Salisbury, a writer based in Britain (whose blog is right here), makes a guest appearance on the Hero Complex and will be writing more in the future. Today it’s a somewhat startling revelation that two of the classic rock era’s most eccentric frontmen lent their voices to “The Wolfman,” the Universal horror film that opens today. Mark interviewed Joe Johnston, the director of the movie, and here’s what the filmmaker revealed.
MS: Is it true that KISS singer Gene Simmons is the voice of the Wolfman?
It’s partly true. Gene Simmons came in and did some howls for us that were amazing. He has this amazing voice and range and sustainability. He did these howls that went on and on and on, and we kept thinking he’s got to run out of breath any second, but he’s got this amazing lung capacity. He did some howls for us.
They are then electronically enhanced and the sound people are working with them now. I’m not sure how much of the stuff that Gene Simmons did is still in the movie or will be in the movie, because you add things and change stuff — it’s a process of evolution. So it is true in the sense that he did some Wolfman howls for us.
MS: Whose idea was it to use him?
JJ: We were looking for really interesting voices and people who could interpret what a sound might be with their own voice, and we showed him the scenes where he howls and said, “What would you do? It’s an open mike, just do what you think is right.”
You have to start with something; you have to have a canvas to paint the howl onto with all kinds of electronic processing and enhancements and stuff. I forget who had the original idea, but we said, let’s see what some of these rockers can do, you know.
And it was interesting. It was lot of fun because these guys, having had the careers they’ve had, they’ve thousands of stories to tell.
MS: Who else did you get in?
JJ: We did David Lee Roth and another couple whose names I don’t remember. We also did an opera singer. We did a woman who was a singer. We did some babies.
We used all kinds of different sounds as places to start from to build these bizarre sounds. Oddly enough, the one thing you don’t want it to sound like is a wolf. You want it to be a human interpretation of what that wolf howl would be, and it’s still evolving.
What you want it to be is that sound that tingles your spine when you hear it, when he’s howling from the rooftop in London, you want it to be these really eerie, blood-curdling sound.
— Mark Salisbury
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Photos: Top, Gene Simmons in Uncasville, Conn., in 2009. Credit: Mark Mirko / Hartford Courant. Bottom, the beast on the prowl in “The Wolfman” Credit: Universal Pictures.