Exclusive: Lindsay Jones breaks down Marvel’s Wastelanders

UKRAINE - 2021/08/31: In this photo illustration a Marvel logo is seen on a smartphone and a pc screen. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
UKRAINE - 2021/08/31: In this photo illustration a Marvel logo is seen on a smartphone and a pc screen. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

Bam Smack Pow sits down with Tony Award-nominated composer and sound designer Lindsay Jones in this exclusive interview discussing Marvel’s Wastelanders. 

Lindsay Jones is a Tony Award-nominated composer and sound designer. Lindsay’s impressive career spans the realm of Marvel comics, from his new project Marvel Wastelanders to the smash Broadway show Slave Play.

Recently, Lindsay worked on Marvel Wastelanders, a 10-episode podcast series for Marvel. It is a conclusion of a multi-year, multi-series about all of the beloved heroes in the Marvel Universe and their final battle against Valeria Stark.  To note, Lindsay created all the original music for this series, which officially started this week.

I had the opportunity to (virtually) sit down with Jones to discuss his career, including what it’s like working for Marvel and a dream project. Jones and I also touched upon the integration of music in the realm of the film while expanding on the imagination and success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and a few other things.

This interview has been edited for clarity. 

Lindsay Jones talks Marvel’s Wastelanders (Interview)

Thank you for doing this interview. My first question is, how did you get into music as a career?

I’ve always been obsessed with music since I was a young child, just from the time I can remember, And when I was young, my father was a huge jazz music fan. So I would sit in front of the record player, listen to his jazz records, and read the liner notes. And so I’ve always been completely fascinated with music.

As I got a little bit older, I became interested in acting. And I started doing that I started working in theater, and I went to the North Carolina School of the Arts, where I ultimately got a BFA in acting.  But I started my career writing music for theater, and I have transitioned to film and TV, and I do lots of film and TV scoring. So the gigs have never dried up. And I’ve just been super lucky. And I’ve learned a lot of stuff along the way.

Do you want to touch a little bit about Marvel Wastelanders and what drew you to the project?

Marvel Wastelanders is a podcast series built and connected to five other podcast series. It is set in a distant future, where The superheroes that we know are considered to be villains by everyone else. And the people we know as villains are now the rulers of these broken territories, and they’re actively hunting down the superheroes to try and eliminate them. It’s fascinating because the wasteland part is that the world has been destroyed, and it’s a ruin of what it used to be.

How does one get into the Marvel Wastelanders Saga? What are the other shows if somebody wants to follow along?

The four series that came before it are Hawkeye, Black Widow, Dr. Doom, and Wolverine, and the series that I worked on is the culmination of where all of them team up to be this one big force. It feels like the Avengers, but then again, it’s not. The premise and a simple tease of the series are our heroes fighting against Dr. Doom and Valeria Richards, the daughter of Reed Richards. The twist is she’s had her mind corrupted and succumbed to the influence of evil. So it’s, it’s a fascinating show.

Does Marvel Wastelanders take inspiration from other Marvel material or even the MCU? 

The world gives off the impression of a dystopian world. And the music for that is sort of glitchy broken, and electronic, but it feels like something’s wrong with it. It takes place in this idealized world, which we call Marvel city, like this fantasy world in Valeria Richards’s mind. That is this place where it’s exactly like you, the superheroes are the good guys, and the villains are the bad guys. And to keep it simple but also familiar to fans.

I emulated what the current Marvel Cinematic Universe film scoring sounds like. For example, you can notice orchestral sounds and a flair for superhero gestures. If honest, it was interesting going back and forth between electronic and broken, to a classical orchestral cinematic experience, rewarding the moment with a huge payoff type of stuff while a sense of reality glitching back and forth between those two things.

How do you feel about writing and constructing music for the superhero genre?

I love writing music for superheroes. It is really fun. It’s so much fun. I love this sort of action of it and the fantasy, as well as the energy of it because it’s inspiring. For example, it sets up the energy and the pace of the action, especially most notably during big superhero moments where you’re trying to understand the scale.

Music, in this case, is a tether to the audience for laying out that vital sense of context. While on the other hand, music is integral to illicit and gives you a way to put yourself in the same emotional state that the character is in.

So what is a dream project you want to do besides Marvel? Would you ever go to DC, Lucasfilm, or even a different company?

First of all, absolutely. I would be thrilled to work for any of those companies you mentioned. I would say this is sort of like my first really big superhero project. I would go anywhere because I  had so much fun doing this. However, you mention the Batman: Unburied series on HBO MAX that series is certainly really interesting to me. Batman is a fascinating character.

For a variety of reasons, but one is due to his complex story of having internal demons while longing for a sense of morality. It’s a tough stance to write music for a character, somebody who has that kind of a complex story. It’s appealing to me because of this emotional struggle where the music has to be multifaceted to highlight all of those different parts of it.

What was your favorite part of working on Marvel Wastelanders? Are there any surprises in store?

Now I may be giving away something I’m not supposed to tell you, but the Fantastic Four show up in this Marvel Wastelanders for a second. I can’t tell you how, but I have found a newfound love for the Fantastic Four. I’m really into them now. Because the Fantastic Four is like four different people, right?

You’ve got Reed Richards, who’s kind of the egghead kind of scientist. In the case of Susan Richards, she’s a bit more empathetic. The Human Torch is this total hothead and flies off in every direction all the time, right? And then you’ve got The Thing, a wisecracking guy with massive strength and no problem using it. And the four of them are a bizarre mix of people.

So when writing music for them, you’re tasked to highlight all their individual and distinct personality traits. That being said, I would like to pitch myself for another Fantastic Four project. I would be so into that because I think they’re super cool.

Did your experience in theater prepare you for the world of superheroes?

I have done 36 of 37 William Shakespeare plays, which is crazy. But all those Shakespeare plays felt like training camp. However, when you look at the work of William Shakespeare and the grand scale that those plays bring to life. There’s a direct correlation between the fantasy elements of Marvel, DC, and Classic Literature, such as the works of Shakespeare and Greek Tragedy.

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