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Godzilla vs. Kong Composer Made a Drum So Big It Wouldn’t Fit Through His Door


How does one begin to write the music for a Godzilla vs. Kong movie? If you’re Tom Holkenborg, you start by asking for a big-ass drum. Holkenborg – aka Junkie XL – is no stranger to writing the music for big blockbuster epics like Mad Max: Fury Road, Alita: Battle Angel, and Terminator: Dark Fate, but the upcoming Warner Bros. epic Godzilla vs. Kong posed a unique challenge, one for which he was more than up to the task.

The film follows in the footsteps of Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters as it brings the two very large monsters face to face for the first time in this particular Monsterverse series of movies. Adam Wingard of Death Note and You’re Next fame directs, and the human ensemble is littered with familiar faces (Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler) and folks who are fresh to the franchise (Alexander Skarsgard, Rebecca Hall).

RELATED: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’: 51 Things We Learned While Visiting the Set of the MonsterVerse’s Epic Smackdown

When I spoke to Holkenborg recently about his work on Zack Snyder’s Justice League, I had to ask about Godzilla vs. Kong – in particular a very large drum that he had created specifically to sample for the movie’s score.

“I work with this incredible instrument maker from San Diego. He made some drums for me for Tomb Raider. He comes from a Dutch family, but he grew up in America. And they have Indonesian descent in their family, so that’s why they’re drawn to instruments from Indonesia and the Pacific islands out there. And so, I needed that for Tomb Raider. And he built proper instruments that are really the character of these Pacific Island drums. And for Kong, I thought, he’s taken from these Pacific Islands and basically shipped to America in the first couple of movies. That’s the sound that he comes from.”

Tom Holkenborg Drum
Image via Tom Holkenborg

As Holkenborg got to work, he hit upon the idea of using a massive bass drum, so he reached out to his friend to see how big of a drum he could make:

“To a certain extent, I was able to utilize the percussion I already had from Tomb Raider that has that character. But I was like, ‘Now I need a bass drum. How big can you make it? Seven foot? Eight foot?’ And he said, ‘Well, there are limits to a drum.’ And I said, ‘Well, why is that?’ He’s like, ‘Well, it depends on the biggest cow skin we can find.’ I didn’t even think about that. So, he found a big skin, and it turned out to be five feet in diameter. But boy, that thing is big.”

Holkenborg recorded most of the score during the COVID lockdown, so he had the drum delivered to his house. It was at that point that he realized just how big of a drum he had asked for:

“I didn’t know how big that was. I mean, it’s five feet in diameter. And then it’s like six and a half feet long. And it got delivered here on a massive truck. And it’s like, ‘How do we get this thing inside?’ We couldn’t. So I was able to roll it with six people into the garage. It barely fit under the garage door. And that’s how we got it inside. So I sampled that thing extensively. And it sounds wonderful in that score.”

Image via Tom Holkenborg

So when you hear a big drum in the score for Godzilla vs. Kong, just remember it was so big it couldn’t fit through Tom Holkenborg’s door.

Look for much more from Holkenborg on The Snyder Cut and other upcoming projects in my full interview on Collider soon.

Image via Warner Bros.

KEEP READING: Tom Holkenborg Reveals His ‘Justice League’ Theme for The Snyder Cut

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