Hi Christopher, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. First of all, tell us about yourself. How did you get started in the video game music industry?
My first game was MOH:Rising Sun. A good friend of mine who worked at 20th Century Fox recommended me to Steve Schnur from EA. He liked my music and we went from there. It was a great title to get started on.
How does it feel to be chosen as replacement composer for the very popular Medal of Honor series?
It was very flattering and exciting, but also a daunting task to take over for Michael. He really set the bar high for the series and game music in general. I had a lot of fun doing the MOH series.
Did you listen to Giacchino’s Medal of Honor scores or did you start from scratch? What other (film-) composers have influenced you on this particular project?
Of course I listened to the other scores as well as Williams and Goldsmith. That was where Michael was coming from as well. Because of the setting and storyline of Rising Sun, we didn’t get to use as many of the old themes as we would have had we stayed with the same characters in Europe.
You’ve written music for a number of Medal of Honor projects. How would you compare the scores? What did you learn about composing and orchestrating from project to project? Is there any MoH-score you are especially proud of?
I personally took the scores in a much more classical direction as I went on, mostly because European Assault lent itself to that kind of language. We did make a conscious effort to play more of the drama in the last game and I think that worked, and allowed the sound effects to play with less competition. I’d have to say European Assault is probably my personal favourite, because I think the theme really translated well throughout the score.
Did you enjoy working with a real orchestra? How much does the overall composing process differ when using a live orchestra as opposed to a sampled score?
I always prefer live orchestra and I try to avoid using synths to fake a real group. I tend to use samples more for the percussion and specialized sounds.
You’ve also scored a number of movies. How would you compare movie and game scoring?
They are actually quite similar musically. They mostly differ in construction…how pieces fit together. But as far as drama and action go, they are very similar. As long as the project is inspiring, I’m happy to do either!
Are you pleased that your scores are being discussed / compared with film scores? For many years the direction for "crossing over" has been from game scores to movie scores (e.g., Giacchino), but more recently movie composers have gone the other way (e.g., Schifrin, Elfman & Shore). Any thoughts as to why this latter flow is happening?
I think it is a combination of increased budgets and the fantasy setting of many games. This allows composers to really impact the game and write grand music that is very inspirational. I think this appeals to most film composers. In the end, you want to write interesting music that matters, and if a game allows for that, then why not?...
Where do you see game music in five to ten years from now?
I think that by that time, there will be much less of a line between features and games as well as their music. Composers will be crossing over and back all the time and there will be a lot of really great music to discover.
What is, in your opinion, the most difficult / challenging / enjoyable task when composing for a video game?
The most challenging thing is the amount of music, much of which is action oriented. It can be exhausting. The enjoyable thing about game music is the ability to write grand music…expressing yourself thematically where you can finish phrases and ideas, not being tied to a linear event.
What other composers / musical styles have had the greatest influences on you? What is in your CD-player right now?
Well, John Williams was my introduction to film music, but after I dove in…Jerry Goldsmith, Morricone, Hermann, Nino Rota, All the Newmans. I worked for Basil Poledouris and Michael Kamen as well as studying with Chris Young and Elmer Bernstein, so they were all big influences as well. Right now my CD player has: Salton Sea by Tom Newman, My Chemical Romance, Sanctuary by Arvo Part, Black Angels by Kronos Quartet, Freedomland by Newton Howard, and Sinatra’s Christmas Album.
What are you currently working on?
I just finished a game for Sony and am just starting two new titles for EA. I’m also scoring my TV show, Supernatural, for the CW and starting 2 new films: The Comebacks for Fox and This Christmas for Screen Gems.
Do you play PC or console games yourself?
I play mostly Console games…and besides my own, I’m a sucker for sports games like NCAA 2007 and the new Godfather game.
Is there anything you’d like to say that I didn’t cover?
Just Thanks for listening!!!