From Rock Music to Horror Films: How Kids In Glass Houses’ Iain Mahanty Moved To Soundtracks


When Kids In Glass Houses disbanded last year, fans were left wondering what projects were upcoming for the band. Music-wise, things seemed to go quiet once their final confetti cannon was fired. Bassist Andrew Shay continued making noise with the raucous En Garde, but had the other four members disappeared from recording studios altogether? Although the remaining Welsh rockers may have appeared to go MIA, guitarist Iain Mahanty did stay involved in music – he just kept it quiet. He hasn’t joined a new band or started presenting a radio show like former bandmate Shay though. Instead, he’s been working on the soundtrack for upcoming Brit horror flick, Strangers Within. But how does scoring compare to writing rock riffs? And how did this career change come about? We caught up with Iain, as well as the film’s writer/director, Liam Hooper of 2050 films, to find out.

When Liam first tried to work with Iain, he was planning for a music video but the band’s split soon put a stop to that idea – “With 2050 Films we’d always wanted to work with Kids In Glass Houses – we agreed that their music was able to paint a picture, pretty much solving half of the music video battle for us! Shortly after I approached them about working together, they announced their breakup so we continued our other projects – one of them being this feature film that I’d been developing for a while”. Although at the time, KIGH’s break-up may have seemed like the end of their collaboration, it was really only the beginning when Iain’s interest in soundtracks emerged. “I actually met Iain at a KIGH show and we stayed in touch afterwards and he mentioned to me that he was, conveniently, interested in moving into film scoring. I pitched Strangers Within to him and he really liked the premise and it went from there. His contribution is crucial to the impact of the film and I can’t wait to show it off”.

To the casual listener, rock songs and horror OSTs may seem to have little in common but in the creation process, Iain managed to find a similarity: “With all writing you’re trying to capture some sort of emotion and portray that in the music. With film it’s a little different, as obviously you’re trying to capture the sense of what is happening in the picture”. If KIGH fans are expecting to hear familiar rock chords in the background of Strangers Within however, they should prepare to be disappointed. As Iain explains, although his previous work and his new venture both focus on emotion, they do so in very different ways: “The ideal scores are the ones that let you know the tone, or even undertone of the scene without you even seeing the picture. Sound is an extremely important part of storytelling. I think you have to consider it’s not just music, it’s sound. You’re creating atmosphere, for example a lot of sub does strange things to us and makes us feel tense. It’s not necessarily music you can hear, but more sounds you can feel. I think these are extremely important to the film and what the director / writer is trying to achieve.”

Although this may have started out as a challenge for Iain, it looks like it won’t be a one-off: “I’ve always had a passion for film soundtracks and I’m always looking to push myself. As soon as Liam put the idea forward, I couldn’t say no really. It’s new and exciting ground for me and I’m looking forward to the next one”. Perhaps the pair will even work together again with Iain keen to emphasise how Liam’s direct involvement aided the process: “It helped a lot working with Liam, as he had such a strong vision for the film we were able to do pre-production for the score by chatting about what we both had in mind and what we both wanted to achieve”.

As for now, there are no immediate plans for a follow-up but we’re still excited to watch – and listen to – their finished product. The home invasion horror Strangers Within is due to hit film festivals around the world from October 2015. Last year’s Halloween may have been all about Mahanty saying farewell to Kids In Glass Houses but in 2015, the focus will be on saying hello to a promising career in film scores instead.

You can watch a teaser trailer for Strangers Within below.


Amy Jo McLellan
Amy Jo McLellan is the editor of Alt Scribe. She started writing about music in 2010 and has been dancing about architecture ever since. She became a featured blogger for Buzznet after winning their 2011 ‘Summer of Buzz’ talent search. Amy knows far too much about her favourite bands and describes herself as a “professional fangirl”. CURRENTLY LISTENING TO: Kids In Glass Houses, Dawes. SPECIALIST SUBJECT: The rise and fall of 'Emo' 2006 - Now.

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