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Hiatus Helper: The Walking Dead’s Composer Bear McCreary Talks Season 5 [Exclusive Interview + VIDEO and PHOTOS] 


Warning: Spoilers Ahead

The Walking Dead season 5 premiere is only a month away. The last time we saw Rick, Carl, Michonne, Daryl, Glenn, Maggie and Abraham, they were in some serious trouble. They’d traveled to Terminus looking for sanctuary. What they actually walked into seems to be a camp for cannibals. How will Rick get them out of this mess? Or will Tyreese, Carol and Sasha come to their rescue? If you’ve seen the Comic-Con trailer (featured below, for those who missed it), we know that Beth’s alive. But can she make it back to the group? And this wouldn’t be The Walking Dead if someone doesn’t die. Any guesses on who might be next?


TV Goodness spoke exclusively to composer Bear McCeary last month about this show, as well as Outlander and Intruders (check out those interviews here and here). For The Walking Dead, we discussed the challenges and rewards of working with 3 different showrunners, some new sounds he’s created for this season and more.

TV GOODNESS: What is the most challenging part of creating music for The Walking Dead?

Bear McCreary: “To be honest, the most challenging part of creating that show is that it hasn’t been a show, it’s been 3 shows. I’ve changed showrunners twice, so there have been 3 different people running the show and each person has had a different style and wants to take the show in different directions. So, while inherently the show has remained Walking Dead and just continued to improve and improve and improve, every time you change showrunners there’s a growth period and you have to learn the new language and you have to learn to communicate with a new person. Everyone has a different style, so it’s been really tricky for me because in season 2 I was basically starting over and then in season 4 I was basically starting over.

But the joy of it has been that the quality has remained consistent and new showunners have pushed me into new sounds. The show does not sound like it did in the first few seasons, and that’s kept me on the edge of my seat. It’s been exciting for me to be able to keep pace with all those changes and certainly in the history of television, when you change the showrunners, very often you change composers. I’ve been on both sides of that situation in my career so, the fact that I’ve been able to stay on and each new showrunner has given me a chance to follow their vision, that’s been really exciting. And I must say, season 5 is so shocking and so exhilarating. People that think the show can’t get any better are in for a surprise in October.”

TV GOODNESS: It seems like the upcoming season is going to be even more brutal and dangerous. Is there anything you can talk about in terms of the music that’s been different or that you’ve been excited to work on?

Bear: “Sure. Last season all of our characters were spread out and separated and we had these very intimate character pieces for all of them. In the closing moments of the season, we reconnected everybody so I’m starting season 5 in a very different place. The second half of season 4 was predominantly about each individual character. The first part of season 5 is about- I’m introducing some sounds that represent this place that they’re at, this place called Terminus.

So the Terminus storyline has given me a new opportunity to reinvent the sound of the show and you’re gonna hear a lot of very aggressive, distorted electronic sounds. I mean, the sound of the score has evolved one hundred and eighty degrees from the intimate orchestral sound of the first season. And while those sounds are still there representing the relationships of our characters, this new threat Terminus is represented with a new sound and I don’t know if fans are gonna notice it on a conscious level, but subconsciously the opening minutes of the show tell you that our heroes are in big trouble.”

TV GOODNESS: Any final thoughts?

Bear: “I did want to say one final thing. I’ve been saying this to everybody, I’ve been saying it to my friends. I’ve encountered a lot of fans of Walking Dead that let their little kids watch it. I’ve even signed autographs for 8 year-olds and I’ve heard every possible excuse like, ‘Oh, they know it’s not real,’ or ‘I cover their eyes during the scary parts.’ I am begging everyone: do not let children watch season 5. I’m begging them. Do not. I’m not joking. You cannot do it. I’m not gonna sign autographs for kids anymore. Do not let kids watch this. So that’s all I’m saying about season 5.”

TV GOODNESS: I’m a little surprised people let their young kids watch the show. It can get pretty violent.

Bear: “I am too, but I’m not judging anybody. I watched horror movies when I was a kid, but this is why I’m just trying to let everybody know. This season is different. It’s just different. It’s not the same thing. You can’t let your kids watch it. That’s my disclaimer.”

Edited for space and content.

Season 5 of The Walking Dead premieres Sunday, October 12th at 9/8c on AMC. Need to catch up on last season? Check out our recaps here.


Comic-Con Trailer:


All images credited to Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC.

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