Music

Algonquin man makes 'Monster' music, composes soundtracks for horror movies

A former child prodigy, one of Joe Becker’s jobs these days is to bring horror movies to life through music.

Becker, of Algonquin, is what you might call a traditional musician with a twist – he loves all things scary. Becker began composing music for horror movies in 2004, most recently scoring a film called “Leaf Blower Massacre 2” about “a masked killer with a penchant for yard work weaponry,” according to a movie description. A relase date is not yet set.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of horror films,” Becker said.

One of his favorite parts of working on movies is getting to see the films in advance and telling their story through music. Among other movies he’s worked on are 2016’ “Cannibal Claus” and “Cellar Secret.”

Becker has studied music his entire life. At the age of 7, he would get calls at his parent’s house in Lake in the Hills from popular radio personality Jonathon Brandmeier of WLUP–FM The Loop. Brandmeier would ask him to play guitar live over the phone. It was clear music was his passion.

“I would say it’s the romanticism involved,” Becker said.

That passion turned into a lucrative career as he became a professional musician.

“My initial goal was just to leave something behind other than a pretty corpse,” he said. “They say you can’t take it with you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leave things behind.”

Along with composing for movies, Becker has created several albums. His latest, “Monster,” will be released in February of 2018. Fans can expect a lot of new experiences from this latest project, he said.

“For one, I’m singing on this one. All of my past releases have been instrumental albums,” He said.

There will be “zero flashy guitar,” he said, a break from his usual work. Listeners will hear piano, vocals, drums and some orchestral components. “It’s actually a bit heavier hitting because of that,” he said.

Becker chose to make this departure from his previous styles because he has a goal of touching on nearly every genre during his musical career and he’s excited to add something new to his catalogue.

The inspiration for this album?

“Ever get bit by a mean, fat dog, so you yell out loud? That’s all this is. I’m just recording it in the process,” Becker said.

The goal is to make listeners feel like something isn’t quite right.

“I’m an artist. My job is to create something that evokes emotion. ... In this case, the emotion should be fear,” he said. “If I make those interested even a little uncomfortable while they’re listening, I’ve done by job.”

Becker defines the genre of this new album as “death rock.”

“It’s an outdated form of punk rock, which guys like Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson made popular in their days,” he said.

This form of rock still is very popular in the horror film industry, he said.

Becker credits his father for introducing him to all genres of music, including “death rock.”

“As I think he would say, it’s about finding beauty in something that is inherently thought to be ugly. It is an art,” he said. “It is art.”

Adding to his IMDB page isn’t the only thing that keeps Joe Becker busy. He also writes for Guitar World and “Guitar Player magazines.

“When I have the time, I like sharing some old tricks of the trade with the guitar-playing community,” said Becker, who is “extremely grateful” to his fans.

He used to spend time as a kid wondering what it would be like to write for such publications, while skimming through his favorite Dan Erlewine columns.

One of his columns, “Guitar 911,” was developed to help kids learn to get crafty while repairing a guitar in need.

“There’s almost always a fix, so that’s what I try to make ‘Guitar 911’ about,” he said. “Creative, zero or near-zero dollar solutions that keep you playing, especially if you’re a kid.”

Some of Becker’s major accomplishments throughout his career include recordings with the likes of Steve Vai and Marty Friedman, having his name on the cover of a guitar magazine with a full, two-page spread, and “being on a CD that Guitar World Magazine put out with Edward Van Halen.”

But the biggest accomplishment, he said, is just being “able to stay alive and continue to be active as a musician.”

For more on Becker’s music and his upcoming album, visit www.joebeckermusic.com.

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