Many a creative partnership has likely been forged over late-night movie rentals accompanied by booze and other quality-of-life enhancers.
Lawrence's Black Christmas traces its origins back to communal viewings of Dario Argento films such as Profondo rosso and Suspiria — notable as much for the Italian band Goblin's eerie proto-prog soundtracks as Argento's surreal slasher scenes. These soundtracks were revelatory to musical collaborators Dalin Horner and Mark Sanders; along with other inspirations, including Ennio Morricone and Angelo Badalamenti (Twin Peaks), they became the blueprint for one of the area's most provocative bands.
"I was looking for something that was open to more creative avenues than stomping on guitar pedals," Horner says. "You write when you're in a mood. Usually I'm alone, so it's desolate. When we get together, it's desolate — but louder."
Black Christmas has remained instrumental since its 2004 inception, preferring the creative latitude of a diverse palette that includes traditional rock-band instrumentation as well as accordion, pedal steel and lap steel. Spanish-tinged waltzes are as likely to surface as clamorous prog-rock jams, lending a versatile pacing to the group's absorbing performances.
"As a listener, I understand it can be difficult to get through a 45-minute instrumental set," says bassist Nathan Whitman. "As soon as you're instrumental, people think you sound like every other instrumental band."
Black Christmas hopes to put those assumptions to bed with the imminent release of an 11-song record. (The band sold through two runs of a homemade four-song EP.) Recorded and mixed at Black Lodge Studios in Eudora, the album needs just a few tweaks before its long-overdue unveiling. The group plans to cook up 500 vinyl copies and then shop it to labels for a CD release.
Ideally, the record will also stir interest in a soundtrack project, Horner's ultimate goal since founding Black Christmas. Local puppeteer Paul Santos has been courting the band for a film adaptation of his production The Felt Show, but a plan of action is still materializing.
"It'd be cool to score something in the vein of 2001: A Space Odyssey with minimal dialogue," Horner says. "We've thought about scoring silent films for a Halloween show, but it seems like a lot of work for a one-time deal."
Until Hollywood calls, the band will keep conjuring up lost soundtracks and renting movies. Sanders was on a Last of the Mohicans kick for about a week, but his inspiration to have Black Christmas cover the entire soundtrack may prove short-lived.
"It was, like, four or five in the morning, and I had drunk a lot," Sanders admits. "It could be really cool, but it probably wouldn't be."
Michael Mann, you reading this?