“I’m just a fan of high school movies,” says composer-lyricist Joe Iconis. “Joe [Tracz] and I are super inspired by film. The thing that I loved when I read Be More Chill is this really exciting and specific high school story. They were archetypes, but they were complex. Everyone is sort of in between the boxes.
“Then to have this sci-fi element, it felt like the best of teenage sci-fi horror movies. Halloween or Scream, it was a very natural thing that should absolutely be the way we tell these stories, using these influences to tell this story that has all of this stuff: anxiety and depression and mental illness—all of these things that people struggle with.” The harmonic manifestation of those influences fuse in Iconis’ sci-fi leaning score (cue the heavy synthesizer) with a rock ’n’ roll energy.
“It felt like what a cool way to talk about that using this lens of John Hughes meets John Carpenter,” says Iconis. Not to mention, Iconis and book writer Tracz feel a horror/sci-fi backdrop fits the hormonal, emotional experience of adolescence. “It's scary to be a teenager, too, sometimes you feel like you're a monster.”
That teenage energy drove Iconis’ rhythmic choices as well.
“This is one of those shows where even the ballads move,” Iconis quips in the video above. “Everyone has this urgency, and part of that is youthful energy. Part of that is just being a human being in 2018—there's so much going on, we're so overloaded with information it feels like people are in a place of always being stimulated. There's an urgency that runs through the world today, and to me that feels like punk music. That feels like music with a drive to it.”