Q: Hi Chris,
thanks for taking some time with the interview! Let`s get it
on then... Do you remember when you started composing. When
did you start making music on computers? What computers / programmes
did you use?
A: I don't
think I've ever thought of myself as a composer, it sounds too
much like a full-time job involving frilly shirts! I owe my
introduction to writing music on computers to Chris Wilson (who
also coded a few
sections of Lost Patrol). Chris was looking
for music for his demos and games and I'd just recently bought
a humble A500. I think my first music ap was Activision's
Music Studio, followed by Aegis Sonix, which was better but
still a bit too bulky for file sizes, and in any case, we
didn't have player source code for it. We'd finally got hold
of a version of Soundtracker, complete with the assembly
language for the file player, so the Lost Patrol theme was
written directly on Soundtracker (the DOC edition!), on a
plain, unexpanded Amiga 500. I think the track had almost
entirely standard Soundtracker instruments.
Q: What influenced you most while composing? Were there other
artists that inspired you?
A: I had a
tendency to build songs from the bassline upwards and Lost
Patrol was no exception. (I guess I'd listened to
far too many
bands with Mark King and Pino Palladino in the 80s!) Trying to
get a "filmic", moody quality with four notes polyphony makes
it all that more challenging, and I was damned if I was going
to use nibbling! (i.e. quickly
playing, say, three notes on
one channel to give the impression of a chord being played,
often used on the C64). I've always been a fan of 80's
anthemic pop productions that were typically bathed in lots of
echo and reverb, hence my desire to get as close to that as
possible with echoing the snare drums and koto instruments.
It's fascinating to
hear how some people had interpreted the echoes in some of the
remixes of the theme.
Q: How came that you had the chance to compose commercial game
music? Do you remember how you met the guys of 'Shadow
Development'? In which way were you related to Ocean Software?
A: I had
done a number of songs to accompany demos and game projects
with Chris. As ever, it all started out as a hobby and I think
through a mutual friend of ours we got in touch with Ian. To
this day I'm not exactly sure how *I* actually got the job of
writing music for the project - must have been demos sent to
Ian via Chris, I'm not really sure! I'd at least met and
chatted with Ian. Anyway, I had no direct involvement with
Ocean, you could just say I worked for Ian.
Q: Can you share some memories of your work on the music and
of the work with the team with us.
A: I remember that I'd been briefed with the project and deadline
beforehand, but I actually wrote the main theme whilst staying
with my mum in England during a school holiday period! In true
geek style I'd lugged my Amiga and floppy disk collection with
me. I was probably 16 years old at the time.
Q: What`s the first thing that comes to your mind when
remembering these days? What are your feelings when thinking
about Amiga and the good old days in general? Whats your view
on nowadays multi-million-dollar software companies?
A: I think
the first thing that comes to me is how different the rules
are now. I like limitations - it's an essence of playing a
musical instrument, that you can get rich and musical sounds
out of something
that others can't. Computer sound chips, like those of the 64
and later the Amiga had exactly that quality. You listen to
Rob Hubbard's stuff on the SID chip and it was fantastic,
balls-out, unashamedly getting every last grungy inch out of
the chip. In the context of what sort of games and soundtracks
that were available at the time, you were really wowed by the
realism of, say, the lead violin sound on "Monty On The Run"!!
I guess as soon as games manufacturers were able to put
recorded soundtrack on a game, that whole era ended, the
musical instrument inside the computer became redundant.
That's not to say that era isn't regarded with affection even
now; I salute those who still write SID and tracker music.
Q: Why didn`t you continue making commercial music? Did you
stay in contact with Ian and the other guys?
A: At the
time I had a couple of offers to work in-house at a commercial
venture but at 16 I simply wasn't a grown-up, self contained
person to even think about moving to England. I'd worked with
Ian on a few seminal projects after Lost Patrol but really I
think from Ian's experiences with Ocean, it took quite a bit
of wind out of his sails. I still have Ian's number somewhere,
although it'll have the old city codes on it!
Q: Did you expect so many people appreciating your work, even
almost 15 years later? What do you think about all those
remixes of your tune (sid, mp3, ringtones...)?
no accounting for taste, is there?!! I have to say that my
contribution to Lost Patrol amounts to a few hours of work
compared to countless hours of development by everyone else
involved, yet loads of people still recall the music in a big
way. (I guess it played round enough times if you played the
game!) I'm amazed by the number of different versions of the
theme that are out there, it's very flattering, to say the
Q: Are you still composing music, as a hobby maybe?
A: I usually do things to order - that's not anything to do with
money or some form of hard-line business attitude, it's just
the way I am. I'm not "arty-farty" enough to constantly
produce bits of music for the sake of it, and if I do they
tend to be cast aside, rather than kept for posterity. These
days I'm playing live in bands and that's certainly keeping me
busy, and it involves beer much more!
everything that involves beers sounds good to me! Thanks for
your interesting answers and all the best for your future!