Mixing a love of horror and cult movies with vinyl records, Waxwork Records have quickly caught on with fans as a niche provider of obscure and not-so obscure film soundtracks. Launching the business with a soundtrack for Re-Animator, the label has consistently seen its records sell out to a rabid fanbase that is only growing larger. Earlier this week the label released the soundtrack for Chopping Mall and next month they’re releasing the soundtrack for Friday The 13th. We caught up with the label’s founder Kevin Bergeron, asking him various questions including what are his favorite ’80s horror movies.
EB: Let’s start with the name Waxwork — is it taken from the 1988 film starring Zach Galligan?
Kevin Bergeron: Not at all. Although, that movie is awesome. And, no, we are never releasing that soundtrack (laughter).
How did you go about forming Waxwork, and what was the initial idea of what you wanted to do?
My band had just split up. I was the guy in the band who did everything. Publicity, screen printing merch at 3AM before leaving for tour, writing the songs, paying for studio time, paying for the records, shipping everything. It was an uphill battle with four other guys fighting me every step of the way. That sounds really bad, and sounds like I’m whining, but I’m not. That experience sort of conditioned me to take control of sticky situations and make big decisions. So, I decided to apply the work ethic I developed during my time in the band to doing something else. I wanted to continue to release music. That’s how the wheels started rolling for Waxwork.
How do you go about obtaining the scores you release? Do you have any interaction with the filmmakers or studios?
We always work with either the movie studio or the composer. We work with whoever owns the rights. We do everything legit, and it feels good to know everything is “official”. We work out a licensing agreement with the rights holders, and every release is different and requires a lot of patience. There’re some other players in the soundtrack game that release some of their stuff under the radar. That’s sort of insane to us, and super disrespectful to the rights holders. We run a tight, clean ship. If that means releasing five or six soundtracks a year as opposed to 15, so be it. It’s nice being able to do this knowing that everyone is happy, whether that being the composer, director, or movie studio. No one is ever going to slam us in the press or call us up claiming that they didn’t have a clue that we released a recording of their hard work.
Aside from Rosemary’s Baby, all of your releases are ‘80s horror films. Is this because the ‘80s were a great decade for horror movies?
We’re children of the ’80s, and we have an affinity for the horror movies that were released in that era, but by no means did we set out to release mostly film scores from that period. It was a FUN decade for horror without a doubt, but in my opinion, the best cinema came out in 1960’s and ’70s. We have a lot of releases from the 1970’s through present day in the works.
If you could name your top 3 horror movies of the ‘80s, what would they be in no particular order?
Creepshow, The Thing, and any of the Friday the 13th movies.
Seeing as how many of your vinyl releases are SOLD OUT, I’d say the reaction to Waxwork has been very positive. Were you surprised by the response?
In the very beginning, I knew it was a huge risk. It loomed over me day and night. We worked hard for six months learning, locking in titles, just getting the gears turning. Lots of late nights, and all that. We were getting some decent press, but nothing major. We put a whole lot of money into Re-Animator, and on the night before pre order, I was really nervous, actually. Was anyone going to care about this? It nearly sold out the next morning.
Will any of the SOLD OUT releases be available again in the future?
We’re already starting to repress the out of print titles. A lot of people out there are just finding out about Waxwork Records, and didn’t have a chance to buy a title like Re-Animator or Day of the Dead, so we want to make sure everyone that wants our releases can have them.
When I was reading through comments on your Facebook page, I thought it was funny that most people were talking about collecting the limited vinyls rather than just being excited about the music contained. Take us through the process of vinyl design — how do you come up with the various colors or distinguishing traits of the records?
We usually revisit the film and take notes. It’s like fun homework. We try to tie in the movie’s central theme with every aspect of the packaging in a Waxwork release. We work with the best artists, in our opinion, and they really have a lot of great ideas on how to make each release amazing.
Releasing the score for an obscure gem like Chopping Mall is kind of a ballsy move because it’s lesser known than films like Creepshow or Rosemary’s Baby, but it’s great to see for horror fans like me who remember the film. What made you want to release it?
Numerous reasons. Part my love for the movie, part middle-finger at Hollywood, part ego trip. I’ve always loved Chopping Mall, and it was on my wish-list of titles I wanted to release.
The owner of an old school soundtrack label that specializes in releasing CDs told me that he could license Chopping Mall to Waxwork. He told me this elaborate story about how his record label released it years back, and that that he owned the rights outright. I was super hesitant. This is something that we run into. Old sketchy Hollywood dudes claiming to control the rights to something, and trying to license it to turn a buck. It’s shitty, and easy to see through. When Waxwork had our Day of the Dead screening and soundtrack release show in LA last year, this particular guy literally showed up to a restaurant where I was having dinner with George Romero. Literally, tried pulling me away from the table, gave me his business card, and tried working out some half-assed Chopping Mall hand-shake deal right there on the spot. It was insane. Super sketchy. So, obviously, that was another red flag, and I never spoke to him again.
Apparently, other labels were looking at Chopping Mall, as well. They had been trying to figure out how to lock it in for over a year. My immediate reaction was, “Oh, yeah? Watch this!” I literally made one phone call to the movie studio and locked it in in less than 24 hours. I didn’t know who I needed to speak with. I just dialed a random extension to speak with anyone at the studio. I went into it completely blind. The random extension I dialed turned out to be the head of licensing! I gave them my pitch, and we worked out an agreement between the studio and composer Chuck Cirino. The true rights holders.
Obviously we have the Friday the 13th score to look forward to in August, but what else is on the horizon for 2014 and beyond? Anything big planned for Halloween this year?
We have something massive planned for Halloween. Halloween is ours this year! Down the road we have The Warriors, more Friday the 13th films, and some stuff that I don’t think anyone would expect us to ever release. Can’t give out too many details about all the fun stuff we have up our sleeve at the moment.
What would be your dream film score to release through Waxwork?
Black Christmas 1974.
Anything else you want to tell us about Waxwork?
We’re super grateful for the support and the huge response from the fans. No kidding.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions.
Be sure to show Waxwork Records some love by visiting their website. Check out their cool releases and maybe educate yourself on some scary movies in the process!