The sweet sound of zombies….
Last week I had a bizarre experience, even for me, and I’m always up to weird stuff. Head of sound, Michael, organised some studio time and recruited a group of willing volunteers to record the zombie horde for Kill ’em in the Brain. The zombies are a continuous noise heard throughout the entire show, so it’s quite important that the actors have several rehearsals getting used to this before the show.
I assumed that Michael would simply take a zombie horde loop from somewhere on the internet, but he insisted on creating his own for authenticity. We had twelve volunteers in total and Michael managed to make each one of them, including myself, feel comfortable enough to perform individual zombie sounds. At first, this was embarrassing and hilarious to everyone. Hearing the sounds in a film in context is one thing, but seeing someone stood in front of a microphone looking normal but making these sounds is quite another! After this, Michael had us all walk around the studio, groaning and rasping like zombies to create a ‘horde’ track. We then repeated this but went from ‘calm’ zombies, to ‘slightly agitated zombies’. Finally, Michael explained that we were now ravenous, he explained – “You’re irritated, you’re bored, bits of you are rotting off and you’re starving. But oh look, there’s some food! But oh no! You can’t quite reach it! You are starving and now you’re really p***ed off! Go!” And with that, he hit the record button.
Michael, second in on the left, and some of our ‘sound zombies’.
Additionally, Michael also had a few of the volunteers scream, swear and yell other panicked expressions to create a nice field of depth to play with when constructing the loop we’ll be using for the production. Naomi, the stage manager, then came up with a stroke of genius. In the play, Gwyn is constantly getting angry at the very word ‘zombie’ and insists that ‘they’re not zombies’ several times. At the end, Gwyn makes a run for it. Originally, I planned to just have the actor record some panicked noises as he ‘runs through the horde’, then Naomi suggested we record him screaming ‘they’re not zombies!’
This is what we did, and I’m now re-writing this small section near the end of the play. It’s so fitting that this phrase is the last thing we hear from Gwyn, and I think it will be funny that he still insists this even while he’s pursued by the horde. This day recording has filled me with a new energy for the production, I can’t wait to get these effects into rehearsals!