Nathan Barr’s career as a film-score composer is on a torrid crescendo. In this way, it resembles the background music leading up to those shocking scenes in the very kind of film for which he has recently written. The creator of over twenty-nine film scores in all, Barr has penned (and often played) the soundtracks for such haunting household names as EIi Roth’s Cabin Fever and Hostel (I and II), HBO’s True Blood, and the recently-released The Last Exorcism, which was, appropriately enough, the top-grossing film for the last weekend of Aug 2010.
Refusing to be confined to the macabre, Barr has also scored films as diverse as The Dukes of Hazard (2005) and up-coming releases such as The Ledge, a drama of high-suspense (starring Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson and Terrence Howard), Open House, another drama directed by Anna Paquin’s brother Andrew, and Hood to Coast, a documentary about the longest relay race and the colorful characters who do their outlandish versions of running it.
Barr draws from a diverse background of bluegrass, classical, rock-and-roll, and jazz, an eclecticism that serves him well both as he moves among different types of projects and even as he works on them individually. This is especially true of what he calls his “perfect project”: getting to write the scores for three consecutive seasons of True Blood. Barr sums up True Blood’s appeal in this way: “Not only is it wildly popular, it allows me to explore my musical identity.”
Inasmuch as almost all horror-film scores end up sounding eerily alike, Barr appreciates the variety that True Blood affords him: “There are genre expectations, more so with horror films. If there’s any genre that audiences walk into with expectations, the most obvious example would be horror. ‘True Blood’ defies that expectation. It combines elements of drama, horror, and comedy.”
Subsequently, Barr finds same variety True Blood provides in torrent of recent films he has scored. Appreciatively, he says, “I never want to get stuck doing one thing over again.”