TOMMY TALLARICO Interview: Questions Answered
This is a different interview than what is usually here at Northern Sounds. Below are the questions we at NS have asked Tommy Tallarico and links to MP3 files of Tommy answering the questions, answered in his own words. I have to say, this turned out very well, and you can tell he is an audio kind of guy. It is very well done, and one of the better interviews I have listened to or read.
If you are in the game industry, you should know who Tommy Tallarico is. If you don\'t, here is your chance to find out who he is and why you should know about him.
Those outside the game industry who are gamers or interested in games (or who just watch a lot of television) may know about Tommy by watching the G4 show on cable TV (see below).
I found out about Tommy by hanging out at the Game Developer Conference (GDC) when my interests were more in the software engineering side of things. Hanging out at the GDC got me more interested in game music, and as I asked questions and poked around, I heard a funny story. Actually, I probably heard the story from The Fat Man. The story goes like this: a composer hears that there is a lot of money to be made in the game business and ventures forth and enters the game music business. After a few years, the bitter composer (still scratching out a meager living) asks, \"Where\'s my Ferrari?\" The answer, naturally, it that his Ferrari is parked in Tommy\'s garage.
The point being (in case you are wondering) is that Tommy has made himself wealthy in the game biz. And no wonder. Tommy is one of those dynamo\'s who are always cooking up something and making it work, and usually profiting by it. And like many great success stories, Tommy started with nearly nothing living out of his car on the beach, and working his way up the ranks paying his dues until he landed in a huge house with a fine car in the garage.
Below is the official Tommy Tallarico BIO.
Game Audio Moderator
The Tommy Tallarico BIO:
Tommy Tallarico is a veritable video game industry icon. As one of the most successful video game composers in history, he has helped revolutionize the gaming world, creating unique audio landscapes that enhance the video gaming experience. As a well-recognized on-air television personality, Tommy brings his in-depth knowledge, years of experience, and love of multimedia and video games to the masses.
An accomplished musician, Tallarico has been writing music for video games for more than 12 years. In 1994, he founded Tommy Tallarico Studios, the multimedia industry’s largest audio production house. In video games, television, film, radio, soundtracks, toys and even on floats in the New Year’s Day Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, Tallarico’s music has been heard by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Recently Tallarico’s music was used as the opening song for Aerosmith’s last world tour. His top titles include The Terminator, Earthworm Jim, Disney’s Aladdin, Cool Spot, Metroid Prime, Maximo, Tomorrow Never Dies, Tony Hawk Pro Skater and Spider-Man as well as top selling popular game franchises such as Madden Football, Blitz Football, Pac-Man, Knockout Kings, Unreal, Mortal Kombat, Twisted Metal & Time Crisis.
Tommy recently finished designing the audio for the multi-channel DTS theatrical trailer logo appearing in movie theaters and homes across the world.
Tallarico has been featured on numerous national and international television shows, appearing repeatedly on CNN and MTV. Currently, Tommy hosts Judgment Day for G4, the 24-hour, seven-day-a-week TV network fully dedicated to the world of video games. He also hosts, writes and co-produces the award-winning video game television show, The Electric Playground (www.elecplay.com), which has been on the air since 1995. The show is syndicated internationally and airs daily in primetime on the Discovery network and MTV Canada. The Electric Playground won the 2001 Telly Award for “Best Entertainment Cable Program.”
Tallarico was the first musician to release a video game soundtrack worldwide (Tommy Tallarico’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1 – Capitol Records). He has released five video game soundtrack albums since, including the highly acclaimed James Bond Tomorrow Never Dies. He has written, produced and recorded with a wide range of talented musicians – from the Hungarian National Symphony Orchestra and Budapest Chamber Choir, to the band “Fear Factory.” Tommy was also the first to use 3-D audio in a game (Q-Sound) and was instrumental in bringing true digital interactive surround 5.1 (6-channel) to the gaming industry. From 1991 to 1994, he headed Virgin Interactive’s music and video division, and executive produced numerous “green screen shoots” for films including “Demolition Man” with Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes.
Tommy has worked in the games industry as a games tester, product manager, producer, writer, designer and heads of both music and video departments. He is the founder and president of G.A.N.G. (Game Audio Network Guild), which is a non-profit organization educating and heightening the awareness of audio for the interactive world (www.audiogang.org). Tommy is an advisory board member for the Game Developers Conference and a nominating committee member for the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.
Tallarico has appeared in myriad magazines and newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. In 1999, he helped secure official recognition of video game music by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) and the Grammy’s. Also in 1999 he co-designed the award winning boxing game “Knockout Kings” for the N64 with Electronic Arts which went on to win the “Best Console Sports Product of 1999” by the A.I.A.S. He has won over 20 industry awards for best video game audio and has worked on more than 200 game titles; to date, they total sales of more than 50 million units and two billion dollars.
Tommy has consulted for Fortune 500 companies such as Intel, Sony, Microsoft and Apple as well as audio companies including DTS, Dolby, Roland and Creative Labs. He has given lectures and speeches all over the world on audio and video games which include his keynote at the 1999 Game Developers Conference, and 2000 MILIA (the multimedia conference in Cannes, France). He also teaches courses and has been the guest speaker at many schools, organizations & universities such as UCLA & Full Sail University.
TOMMY TALLARICO – AWARDS
\"BEST SOUND IN A VIDEO GAME 1992 - MICK & MACK GLOBAL GLADIATORS\" - Video Games & Computer Entertainment Magazine
\"BEST SOUND OF 1992 - MICK & MACK GLOBAL GLADIATORS\" - In Between The Lines
\"Best Cartridge Music of the Year 1993 - COOL SPOT\" - Sega 3rd Party
\"Best Sound of 1993 - COOL SPOT\" - Electronic Games Magazine
\"1993 BEST CD SOUNDTRACK - THE TERMINATOR SEGA-CD\" - Video Games Magazine
\"Best Sound in a Video Game Compact Disc of 1993 - The Terminator CD\" - In Between The Lines
\"Best Sound 1993 - THE TERMINATOR SEGA-CD\" - Video Views
\"Editors Choice, Best CD Music 1993 - THE TERMINATOR SEGA-CD\" - Gaming Enthusiast of America
\"Readers Choice Awards, Best Music of 1993 - ALADDIN Sega Genesis\" - GamePro Magazine
“1994 BEST SOUNDTRACK - EARTHWORM JIM” - Die Hard Gamefan Magazine
“1994 Best Sound Effects - EARTHWORM JIM” - Video Games Magazine
“1995 SOUNDTRACK OF THE YEAR - SKELETON WARRIORS” - Die Hard Gamefan Magazine
“Best Music & Sound FX of 1995 - EARTHWORM JIM 2” - Sega 3rd Party
“1995 Best Soundtrack, Sega Saturn - SKELETON WARRIORS” - Die Hard Gamefan Magazine
“1995 Best Soundtrack, Sega Genesis - EARTHWORM JIM 2” - Die Hard Gamefan Magazine
“1996 Game Soundtrack of the Year: SKELETON WARRIORS” - Gaming Enthusiast Online
“1996 Best Overall Music, Sega Saturn: SKELETON WARRIORS” - Gaming Enthusiast Online
“1996 Best Overall Music, Sony PlayStation: SKELETON WARRIORS” - Gaming Enthusiast Online
“1997 Blister Award, Best Music: TREASURES OF THE DEEP” - The Electric Playground
1998 Nominated Finalist – “Best Sound in a Video Game: Wild 9” Interactive Acedemy of Arts & Sciences
1999 EQ Magazine: Project Studio of the Year, Video Game/Multimedia nominee - EQ Magazine
1999 Blister Award, Best Console Music: “TOMORROW NEVER DIES” - The Electric Playground
Best Console Sports Product of 1999: “Knockout Kings N64” (co-designer) - Interactive Acedemy of Arts & Sciences
2001 Telly Award - Best Cable Entertainment Program: The Electric Playground
TOMMY TALLARICO PROJECTS: Too many to list!
1) Hey Tommy! Thanks for doing this interview! So, where can I get a G4 TOMMY TALLARICO action figure?
2) What big projects do you have cooking?
3) Any new music technology you are really excited about these days?
4) Whoa! Reading that list of accomplishments is exhausting! I would like to know how long had you been making music before you got into game music. Also how did you get into doing game music?
5) What are the most important aspects to strive for if you want to become a game composer?
6) Where do you find the extra hours in the day to do all that you do?
7) What kind of gear are you running in your home studio now?
8) Do you ever compose for yourself now?
9) Why do you like to wear all black like me? - Ashif Hakik
10) What happened to the gold jacket?
11) Tommy, if there were no such thing as video games with music what would you compose music for?
12) Do you feel sometimes you\'re stuck experiencing music as something that always goes with pictures or are you able to experience music independently?
13) Do you think as technology and bandwidth improves for games that composers can pay less heed to technical limitations?
14) What do you think of OneUp Studios and what they\'re trying to do? \"Respect and Recognition for game music in America?\" Do you think this is a worthwhile goal?
15) Do you have anything you can elaborate on in regard to GANGS future?
16) Do you think that one day, each game title might have a \"GANG APPROVED AUDIO CONTENT\" sticker on the box?
17) Care to share any negotiating strategies or secrets? It can be like pulling teeth to get any budget from some producing companies. Are they just full of it? I have heard that you bypass the producers or developers and go to the top and get a good budget for the music, or something along that line. Most of us can all compose decent music but you seem to be the ONLY ONE who is able to make a sizable fortune at it and nail down the gigs. Do you dare share how it\'s done?
18) Out of all of the games you have written music for, which one would you consider to be your favorite?
19) Network television execs are wondering why they\'re losing the young 20-something-male audience and they suggest it might even be because of video games! Games are now a $20 billion dollar business. I know from my own experiences that a good software engineer gets $100,000 per year plus bennies. (I know from first hand experience that composers and sound designers have to be as computer literate as an engineer, and way more than producers and marketing dudes.) It seems that composers and sound designers are not getting the same respect as engineers, producers and others. What do you think?
20) With all of your success in the industry, do you still have to present a demo reel to potential clients? Could you share your philosophy for producing demos, and any helpful tricks?
21) Do you believe that your success in the games industry is due to your talent in composing and sound design, or your talent as a businessman?
22) When did you first start composing, and on which instrument? What differentiates your work from others?
23) What is your first starting point for creating a new score? Could you walk us through a quick example of your workflow from song idea to final recording?
24) What plug-ins or tools do you use to master your productions? When you are mastering a song, do you use a lot of compression? What compressors do you use? Do you add reverb when mastering?
25) Are you primarily a PC or Mac user? Why?
26) Do you have any audio engineering experience with live orchestras?
27) What\'s the most popular video game you have written music for? What\'s the least popular game you did music for?
28) What do you do for inspiration before tackling a project? Do you do some listening or reading?
29) When writing, do you ever reach a dead-end and throw out material then either re-edit or start over?
30) Do you have a backlog of unused music?
31) For me, the hardest part of a project is getting started. Do you ever suffer writers block, and if/when you do, how do you escape its clutches?
32) How has sampling, sequencing and other music technology affected your composition and arranging techniques?
33) What is your primary focus these days? Making music or business?http://www.northernsounds.com/tommyt/Tommy33.mp3
34) Do you have any helpful information to anyone trying to get to where you are now?
35) Concluding comments.
Questioners: Chocothrax, sonicthreadz, KingIdiot (Ashif Hakik), Marty, Scott Cairns, zquarles, David Govett, ProfessorOak, dwdonehoo, Jay Semerad, Boneweasel, madfiddler