What would a normal "Simpsons" work schedule be like for you?
quote-leftWhen we're on a week-to-week schedule, what I will normally do is spot an episode on Friday afternoon. The music editor will prepare my timing notes on Saturday and Sunday and then I'll start writing, usually Monday morning if it's a "normal" episode of "30 cues or less." If it's more than that, I'll sometimes start on Sunday to get a jump on things and then I'll put in probably four long days—Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday—of maybe nine in the morning until 11:30 or midnight every day. And then we spot the next week's episode Friday afternoon again and I'll record the cues that I've composed during the past week on Friday night starting at seven. We usually have anywhere from a three to a three-and-a-half hour recording session to do those 30 cues. Every week is different on "The Simpsons" as you know. It really is dependent on whether it's straight underscore type of recording that I have to do or if I have to record vocals—if I have to do orchestral sweeteners of songs that I've written in the past. So, it's never a dull moment.
You recently worked on the score to "The Matrix Reloaded", and used similar material from "The Matrix". Tell me a bit about the elements you used to create this score.
Well, the Wachowski Brothers None of us were interested in abandoning what had been established in the first picture; we wanted to expand on it, just like the Wachowskis expanded on their palette. So I was definitely looking to see how I could take those motifs and post-modern concepts and pursue something bigger and more ambitious.
Coming from two successful rock groups (Faith No More and Imperial Teen), how did you make the jump into film music?
I grew up in Los Angeles, and was always into film music as a kid. I moved to San Francisco to attend the film program at San Francisco State to learn film production. San Francisco in the 1980s was a thriving art community - so it made sense to work in a lot of different fields - so I joined a band. The band took me on the road - away from the camera, and the area where I could make films. It ended up being a fulltime job for many years. So I just stopped doing film for a long time while I was touring, since Faith No More turned into a round-the-clock, throughout-the-year, fulltime job. Now, after about 15-years, it makes sense. Since I want to stay home and not do as much touring, I can get back into film.
By working on "Get Carter" you had an opportunity to take a recognizable and respected theme and re-approach it. How was it to take someone else's work and mold it to be your own?
I enjoyed it because I liked Budd's original score which I think is an interesting work of music in and of itself. He wrote the score nearly 30 years ago and recorded the entire bit for a meager 400 pounds. This includes songs, vocalists and an eclectic cast of musicians. I have a great deal of respect for any artist who doesn’t allow money to govern the extent of how far they will go to achieve the ultimate end results. I thought the opportunity to arrange Roy Budd’s theme for the year 2000 was great fun. Additionally, the visual style of the film lent itself to many interesting sonic possibilites, so I was able to incorporate a lot of unique elements into the piece as well as changing the melody instrument. Budd originally played it on a harpsichord. I used a marxophone to give it a different sound. The director and I talked about acquiring the rights to rearrange and re-orchestrate the original Budd theme early on in the project. I had yet to have the opportunity to do a project like that, so I seized it!
" Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.
" Why should people go out and pay to see bad films when they can stay at home and see bad television for nothing?
" Imitation is the sincerest form of television.
" Television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it, as well as contributing to the need for it.
" The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own.
" Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?
" The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were.
Advise to a young Richard Roundtree
" Whatever you do in this business, It's much easier than lifting heavy things.
" The faster I write the better my output. If I'm going slow I'm in trouble. It means I'm pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.
" The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter,
but, that all subject matter is presented as entertaining.…
" I can't wait to one day shoot in Detroit and say 'Let's have this double for Toronto'.
" Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by favoring to attempt.
" Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.
" The movies are the only business where you can go out front and applaud yourself.
" The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them!
" I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying.
" Television enables you to be entertained in your home by people you wouldn't have in your home.
" I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.
" Do, or do not. - There is no 'try'..
" It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.
" Kiss and make up...
but too much makeup has ruined many a kiss.
" Seeing a murder on television, can help work off one's antagonisms.
And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some!
" I'll give you a definite maybe.
" What's this business of being a writer?
It's just putting one word after another.
" Life ain't no dress rehearsal.
" I saw a woman wearing a sweatshirt with 'Guess' on it.
I said, Thyroid problem?
While attending a Production Meeting
" This is no place to ask questions!!
" No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft.
" Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic
" No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer it has chosen.
From: "Tuesday's with Morrie"
" We must learn to love one another or die.... We must!
" You don't write because you want to say something; you write because you've got something to say.
" The average American family hasn't time for television.
" The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.
To a young Eugene Roach on the subject of acting
" Don't ever let 'em catch you at it.
" I'll moider da bum!
" Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake whole relationships.
" I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book.
" I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.
" The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense
" The embarrassing thing is that the salad dressing is outgrossing my films.
Sage Advise to a Young Oregonian, Barbara Niven
" If you want to make it in show business, get the hell out of Oregon!
" I don't know anything about music. In my line you don't have to.
" It's kind of fun to do the impossible.
" Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.
" All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.
" The difference between sex and love is that sex relieves tension and love causes it.
" From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.
" The remarkable thing about television is that it permits several million people to laugh at the same joke and still feel lonely.
" My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch.
" When you're down and out, something always turns up -- and it's usually the noses of your friends.