Until as recently as 1981, citizens of Denmark's first city drew their entire water supply from a hidden ark under Frederiksberg Hill; these days it serves primarily as an insanely atmospheric exhibition space, its own 'permanent' exhibits formed from the calcium deposits that drip in long tendrils from arches.

The space also serves as a useful setting to introduce the madness, monomania and mysticism of The Laze's feature length soundtrack to the 1925 silent classic The Phantom of the Opera.

Since the turn of the millennium, The Laze have been a chaotic force in their adopted home city of Liverpool (they actually hail from the Wirral peninsula, on the opposite bank of the River Mersey). Restless operatives in the local scene since forming nearly 15 years ago, this is nevertheless The Laze's first label release, having self-released three previous albums and assorted singles and EPs.

During that time, the group have developed their sound from a kind of freak-funk and metal hybrid towards more traditional heavy progressive rock. Demo's from their gigantic Phantom piece attracted the attention of Belgian soundtrack specialists One Way Static Records, who agreed to fund a multi-format release. I spoke to David Perry about their experiences.


Taking on one of the giants of silent film is pretty brave. How are your horror credentials?

What do I know about horror...I know that prosthetic make-up and animatronics are way freakier than any CGI. I know that VHS should always be the format of choice for home viewing. I know that the 1988 remake of The Blob stars Matt Dillon's younger brother Kevin.

How did One Way Static get involved?

I became aware of One Way Static as they specialise in releasing horror soundtracks, generally older and discontinued scores like The Hills Have Eyes and Cannibal Ferox. I contacted them and the label owner Sebastiaan was interested. He came up with the idea of the vinyl release of 40 minutes of highlights from the score with an accompanying free stream of the movie synced with our full 80 minute score. This was perfect for us and Sebastiaan has been totally awesome to work with ever since.

Where did the idea for the score come from?

We toured independent cinemas performing a version of the score back in 2011, setting up in front of the screen and arguing with sound engineers who weren't used to seven piece's rocking up with banks of synths. It's been an obsession.

The project appealed to us at first as a chance to play with different genres and atmospheres, dark and light, horrific and romantic. Plus the narrative promised us triumph and shit. OK, it's not that the Phantom himself is actually triumphant, more that he promises triumph to his belle. He's not altruistic. It is on the condition that she becomes his, to love and to hold. It gets awfully lonely being a disfigured criminal in the sepulchre.

We decided to have repeating over-arching themes that blended with character tropes and mutated as the mood of the film changed. We also wrote some ridiculous balls-out nonsense to add some energy and absurdity into the proceedings. This can re-contextualise the scene, add to it or make it totally inane... all are fun. For this project, as a re-score of a film that has had many re-scores, we really did try to keep some of our own sound in there as well as serving the film's needs. But yeah... mainly it was just self-serving showboating and chest-beating.

Phantom has had a pretty tortured history. What are the key influences on this new soundtrack?

We took influences from the masters... Carpenter, Goblin, Frizzi, Vangelis, Badalamenti, Herrmann... This is the music we grew up with as horror film watching kids. I'm sure so many people our age are familiar with those dudes, the music is imprinted without you realising. Recent scores I have enjoyed have been Gianni Rossi's score for Star Vehicle, Broadcast's score for Berberian Sound Studio and Mr Oizo & Gaspard Augé's score for Rubber.

A huge influence was the Dune score by Toto, which we decided was one of many, many films that contained the archetypal horror riff.

If you listen to horror soundtracks, or dark music in general, for long enough a certain procession of notes seems to occur again and again, throughout history. Bernard Hermann to Black Sabbath to Mica Levi, the troubadours during the Dark Ages were probably dropping this riff too, on down-tuned lyres. Joseph Campbell might call this "The riff with a thousand faces". Jung would have headbanged in agreement.

What is it about the character of the Phantom that appeals after 100 years?

He's a despot, a mad man, a freak. He finds the joy in murder, but he's a romantic and an occultist as well. Oh and he's a failed musician too, so we had a reasonable amount of sympathy/empathy for him.

This is your first label release, and it's been a long time coming. How does it feel to have a release date?

After having so many disasters, with failed releases in the last 5 years, it is fantastic to finally have a painless experience and an end result that we are all happy with. This is entirely down to Sebastiaan Putseys at One Way Static. He has been a total pleasure to work with from beginning to end, we have nothing but praise for the man and his label.

The positive experience has inspired us to look back at one of these failed releases and look at remixing/remastering/releasing it. Our 2008 concept album Spacetime Fabric Conditioner was intended to be released with glorious Sci-Fi art from Dan McPharlin and an accompanying short story but problems with a label stopped that from happening. We are now hoping to release it, as it should have been, early next year.

We also have a new album, working title "Heavy Meta", about 50% recorded now. So hopefully we will be splurting new music out quite consistently.

How do the years of playing together, self-releasing and touring look like, looking back at them?

It has been great, a vital part of our lives. We have basically been together 14 years now. We are a family, even if shit goes wrong and circumstances distance us in some ways we will always be family and always have fun. Lots of bands might have split up if they had experienced some of our obstacles but we just enjoy playing together so why would we ever split? I've just electrocuted myself by crying uncontrollably into my laptop, thanks for that.

You're toured the live score around independent cinemas before. Any plans to tour it again?

We won't be touring the Phantom score in its entirety as we are currently working on a new album and we want to play that. When we tour again we will play some scenes from the score. Maybe Joe (Roberts, keyboard player) can dress up as the Phantom and the rest of us can all run around the stage like scared ballerinas. That is always an option.

You've clearly committed a huge amount of time to the process. What other scores would you like to have a go at?

We have been asked to do other scores but not been able to due to commitments, which was a total bummer. One of the ones we were asked to do was The Fall of the House of Usher, the 1928 French version directed by Jean Epstein, another story with multiple adaptations. I would still love to do that as the film is so trippy and dark, amazing stuff. It would be great to do a more minimalist, disorientating and disconcerting score this time around and that film would be perfect. We would also love to score a new film because the new ones have people talking in them so you don't have to write as much music. Piece of piss. But ultimately I think we can all agree that re-scoring Jurassic Park would be the dream. But purely with acid house and acid jazz, oh and throw a couple of Acid Mothers Temple tracks in for good measure.

The Laze's soundtrack to 'The Phantom of the Opera' is available now through One Way Static Records.