Hero Worship: Elliot Goldenthal

Helmet founder Page Hamilton traces his mentor in film scoring back to God

Feature by Page Hamilton | 15 Oct 2014

One of the longest relationships I’ve had in music is with film composer Elliot Goldenthal. He has this strange legacy – a direct link back to God, basically. Let me explain; he studied with Aaron Copeland, who is one of the greatest composers ever. Copeland studied with Paul Vidal, who arranged for the great Franz Liszt, who in turn as a 12 year old played for Beethoven himself.

He originally invited me to work on the movie Heat back in 1995 to record the guitar parts. At the time I had no idea it could turn into this landmark soundtrack. I got over to Los Angeles for the gig and he said ‘You should be scoring movies.’ So I took his advice and started studying orchestration. He invited me into a collaboration; straight away, he had a lot of ideas that he wanted me to try to execute, at other times he’d simply encourage me to improvise – putting my guitar skronk to work.  

I’d have to say that he’s the one collaborator I’ve had that pushed me forward the most; our ongoing partnership has influenced where I’m at now, both as a player and writer. I’ve since helped score four movies for his company and we've been lucky enough to play on the same films as the London Symphony Orchestra on the soundtrack to the Neil Jordan movie The Good Thief. We even recorded a Frank Sinatra cover with Bono. The seeds of all of that were planted by Elliot. 

Helmet play Glasgow Cathouse on 29 Oct http://www.helmetmusic.com