I realize it's been a while since I posted anything but I wanted to make my fans here aware that a new CD is being released very soon to which I've made some major contributions (as producer and co-writer). As with PITY THE RICH and DPI this new music is a bit of a departure from my usual movie/prog fare, but I hope fans will give it a chance and support the idea that artists (and writers, producers, arrangers, etc.) need to stretch their horizons from time to time by embarking on a slightly (and at times even radically) different musical journey from one release to the next. I think it's fair to say that most of the time the artist and his/her fans stand only to benefit from this, and I believe that to be the case here. This CD began when a friend of mine named Michael Fleischman approached me about the idea of taking some of his musical 'sketches' and recording and producing them in my home studio. I ended up becoming more heavily involved in the writing of this material than either of us originally envisioned, mostly because I was inspired by the material Mike was bringing to the table and felt I could make some valuable contributions that would help take the music to the next level. The process was very rewarding for both of us and I'm proud of the final result of our efforts.
The name of our duo is ASYLUM 9 and the CD is entitled "Just Visiting". Stay tuned for an announcement from Travis as to when this release will become available (should be very soon). In the meantime here's a quote from one reviewer who was given an advance copy and listened to the new disc from top to bottom...
"THE END OF THE DAY...
The best way to listen to music, besides 25 feet from the center of the stage, is with headphones. Blasting a car stereo is fun but I've reached the age where I'm not exactly thrilled to be sharing my music at 90 decibels with a nice, upstanding, clean-cut family of four at a stop light who's wondering if the Gates of Hell had just opened.
Particularly if a band like Magma is firing out of the speakers. I don't take enjoyment watching everyone roll their windows up as if a tidal wave were approaching. A child's confusion and fear while compelled to stare at me and endure the beautiful cacophony of prog rock doesn't do it for me anymore.
It did in my twenties. Back then, if I could get some old geezer to wince and give me an, "I'd like to get out of this car and kick your ass!" look, I would have considered myself victorious. Of what I was never sure. And if the elderly failed to react in any way, or far worse, refused to react, I took that as a personal challenge. Maybe a little more volume was in order. I'd keep inching the knob up until they turned a "What kind of a knucklehead are you?" glance my way, or until I couldn't bare the loudness any longer. There were wins and losses. Mostly wins.
All of that childish behavior is of course no way to listen to music. Not only do you get zilch from the experience, you distract yourself from concentrating on keeping your rolling metal box away from other rolling metal boxes. It increases the odds of you winding up in a stationary wooden box. The kind without a bitchin' stereo.
Headphones have always been a mainstay for most of us. It's one listening device you can't go cheap on. After all, you have to hear every single note at the end of Karn Evil #9 swooshing from ear to ear for as long as possible until the vibrating waves resemble an acid trip. Everyone knows it's true; if you aren't listening with a good quality set of headphones, you're not hearing anything.
It had been a long time since I wore mine. I bought them in the mid-nineties and have found no reason to buy new ones just yet. So despite the fact that bits of plastic are peeling off exposing the sponge insulation, and that this plastic finds it's way into my hair, ears, and somehow gets down my shirt, it was time to wear them again.
The clock was approaching midnight. My wife was fast asleep so I closed the pocket doors separating our living and family rooms to muffle the noise coming from my beloved headphones. And there was going to be a loud noise tonight.
I looked out my window at the trees swaying in the early fall wind. The moon was nearly full, but shaped in this weird three quarter circle making it look like it hadn't been fully inflated with air. Several leaves splattered the window as a strong surge of wind swallowed the neighborhood. Nature was telling me what should be the evening listen. It was going to be an old traditional favorite, 'You' by Gong. But I had just received in the mail that day a cd from a member of Asylum 9, a Los Angeles band's first album, and although I had planned on listening to it the next day, I knew I shouldn't put it off any longer. This was the moment.
Asylum 9 consists of Mike Fleischman and Vince Dicola, both accomplished musicians who have flown under the radar far too long. It's a familiar story in the art world, every medium is overloaded with so much talent and even 10 times more crap it's next to impossible for artists with unique ability and aptitude for their trade to break in. Before Mike sent me the cd he told me it was something totally different than what I was used to hearing from him, and what to expect. He was right on both counts, and ultimately the music exceeding my expectations.
The CD is called "Just Visiting" and can only be described as a symphony of horror. In parts it reminds me of modern day Goblin with a little Eddie Jobson thrown in. But that is by no means the whole story. The songs were written by Mike and Vince, and they're quite unlike anything else going on in the prog world today. This is music written for those who are reckless enough to want their senses rattled and don't care where the journey leads. The songs range from sonic complexity to profoundly simplicity."Stone Ghosts" is an example of that simple kind of song that sticks to your ribs, having an easy but mystical melody that summons a Gothic atmosphere. It's truly a welcomed relief toward the end of the disc after all the frantic interplay between dark and light themes one has to travel through.
Vince's vast experience as producer is such a bonus to the music it feels like you're watching a movie as well. Indiscriminate sounds spring from nowhere, incomplete phone calls add tension, world leaders offer a facade of empty promises meant to soothe our fears... all are perfectly placed within the music's dark structure. He's created a rough, heavy edge to the sound, and during the delicate passages there's a ambiance of dread you know is looming in your future. He's a master composer as well.
About halfway through the listen I was thanking my headphones for doing their usual outstanding job. That was the only time my mind strayed even remotely from what my ears were hearing. As if to punish me for taking even a few seconds reprieve from the madness, my body was brought back to attention by a passage that infused me with such shock and intensity it went above levels I had experience listening to Present. But "Just Visiting" all is not all doom and gloom. There's a subtle sense of humor here and there giving more depth to the experience. Vince and Mike understand full well the idea of contrast and proper execution. It's music with tremendous balance.
It was sad to read recently that prog rock festival giant Nearfest was disbanding after 12 years of excellence in providing fans with the highest caliber of progressive music we can hope to have assembled in one place for one weekend, year after year. I'd like to thank Rob LaDuca, Chad Hutchinson, Kevin Feeley, all the devoted Nearfest personnel behind the scenes for giving us a stretch in time we'll always remember. Events such as this ought to last forever, but nothing does. And in light of that fact, we need to turn to other avenues to get what we need, which is new worlds in music, no matter where it comes from, no matter how hard we have to search for it. I'll be doing that forever, and my headphones better be up to the task."[/i]
Thanks for your inquiry and comments about the keyboard gear that was used on my Rocky IV score. You\'re correct in your observation that a few items on that gear list obviously could not have been used on that particular project since those specific items did not exist at that time. I\'ve received several requests for information about the gear that was used on movie scores and other projects I\'ve been involved with throughout the years, and considering how long ago some of these projects took place, and how much gear was used, a few inconsistencies here and there are to be expected! (I HAVE used everything on that list at one time or another for various projects.)
Regarding the Oberheim modular synth, that is definitely the name of the synthesizer my good friend (and synth programmer extraordinaire) Casey Young brought to the sessions for all 3 major movies in which I was involved with the music... "Staying Alive", "Rocky IV" and "Transformers: The Movie". (Casey also owns the Moog and Emu modular synths that were used on those projects.) I don\'t recall the number of voices on each of the modular synths we used, but I can tell you that it was pure ecstasy to play these magnificent instruments and have an opportunity to incorporate their awesome sound into my movie (and other) work. It must be mentioned, however, that having access to the gear itself is one thing (and actually less than half the battle)... It\'s the programmer/sound designer who makes a big difference, and Casey Young is excellent at what he does and has always had a great musical sensibility when it comes to creating the best (not to mention the most inspiring) starting point for a particular sound/part we\'re working on at any given time, and then following through with all the editing that\'s often required to get all parts to \'sit\' in the track just right. Casey was never one to rely heavily on synth presets, as so many synth programmers back in the day seemed to be and so many so-called "sound designers" are today - and maybe more so now than ever before. For better or worse, Casey taught me the value of \'tweaking\', and that\'s how I still approach all my programming/sound design work.)
Obviously, synths played a much bigger and more central role in my Transformers score than they did on my Rocky IV material. Since I was forced to come up with so much music in a comparatively short amount of time for Transformers, Casey and his gear played a more more crucial role in that music. We had a blast, though, and I miss the days of reaching up and manipulating all those knobs, switches, faders, etc., and coming up with so many different sounds, each of which have their own character and charm.
Casey Young quickly became a valued member of my \'team\', I learned a lot from him, and I still have a strong affinity for synthesizers in general - analog AND digital.
I hope this addresses your question sufficiently. Thanks for expressing interest.
Hello to all my fans who frequent this message board and my web site,
I wanted all of you to know that after many years of seeking ways to accomplish this on my own, another entity has finally stepped up to plate with the resources and the passion to tackle all the business issues associated with obtaining \'official\' clearance to release this collection. The master tapes have been sitting in a vault at SONY MUSIC (the are the official copyright owners) for many, many years now, but thanks to INTRADA there is finally a high-quality CD version of my entire ROCKY IV score, plus one surprise goodie that actually starts the collection off quite nicely in my humble opinion (previously unreleased track). The executive producer and president of Intrada eagerly invited and welcomed my input on the project, and he and his staff worked very hard to make sure I was completely satisfied with the final result in every way, and I can happily report that they exceeded my expectations in every department.
Once again, I am very happy to announce that my ROCKY IV instrumental score is finally available on CD in its entirety! Be forewarned, however... The actual playing time is a bit on the short side, but every piece of music of mine that\'s in the movie is on this disc, and the film required no more music than this, especially considering all the pop songs that were included in the movie (no songs on this new release, however).
I told the the head of Intrada that I have fans who have been patiently and eagerly waiting and hoping for this day to come for a long time, and I told him he can count on my fans to step up to the plate just like he did! I\'d love to hear from those who care to share comments. Even though this project happened a long time ago, I will always care about what people think of the music and whether or not it has withstood the test of time, as they say.
Thanks for everyone\'s patience and understanding. And please know that I myself was terribly frustrated and discouraged by all the legal roadblocks I came across. I wanted to be in a position to make an announcement of this nature years ago. However, it\'s here now and that\'s all that matters today, right?! I hope the majority of you will feel the wait has been worth it once you have the final product in hand. Hope you enjoy!
Wow - I haven\'t ever seen a request for this piece! It\'s been about 25 years now since I even heard this title mentioned! Unfortunately I am not aware of any good digital copy that exists of this piece of music I myself would like to have it on CD (my only copy is on a very old worn out cassette).
Just wanted to respond and say thanks for mentioning this piece. That was actually the first instrumental piece of music I ever composed for film so it holds a special place in my heart. I imagine Paramount has all the master tapes to "Staying Alive" somewhere in their vaults, but I can\'t imagine them ever having a reason to release any material above and beyond that which has already been made commercially available over the years. If you ever do happen to come across a good clean digital copy of this piece, please let me know!
I would just like to thank Photon for his post of May 31. I really appreciated your kind words. The fan support for my work has been tremendous and I consider myself quite blessed to have the opportunity to hear from people like yourself who care enough about my music to post such supportive comments. I know I\'m speaking here for all artists/composers/songwriters who have been hard at work on their craft and have remained totally committed to the cause when I say that it\'s comments like yours that keep us going when things get overwhelming and challenging (as so frequently happens in the music business!).
Thanks again and please keep the words of support and encouragement coming! There\'s some really good music coming down the pike here over the next several months so stay tuned.
I\'ll do my best to address the part of your email that pertains to my pieces of music, but Travis will have to address the other part regarding his studio. The scores to ROCKY IV and TRANSFORMERS were recorded in the same studio - Scotti Brothers (no longer in the studio business) - and engineered and mixed by the same engineer - Tony Papa. Also, many of the same musicians played on both. I used the same synth programmer/sound designer on both projects as well, so there are bound to be some similarities. There may be several reasons why the 2 tracks sound different to you:
a) Even though I was writing the music for both and they were recorded in the same studio with the same engineer, the nature of the 2 projects was pretty different and the music needed to reflect that.
b) Guitar plays a bigger role on "Escape" than it does on the Rocky piece.
c) Obviously "Escape" features a tempo that\'s considerably faster than "Training Montage"; consequently there\'s more weight to "Training Montage". Even though both pieces are energetic, the half-time feel of "Training Montage" makes it appear more like a march at times. There\'s more of a drive to "Escape" as a result of the drums playing in regular double time there.
d) Even though my good friend and associate Casey Young did most of the synth programming on both scores, Casey always tried to change things up from project to another, and since the synths played a major role in both of these scores, I think Casey did a great job in making sure we didn\'t repeat ourselves too much from one project to the other.
e) The sound of the drums and the approach we took for that element of the music were very different on both projects.
There are of course some \'staples\' which I felt had to be featured on both scores, like the triumphant synth brass playing some of the melody parts here and there, and a few effects to mark the \'bad\' guys. (Those similarities were actually intentional on my part, by the way.)
At any rate, I hope that addresses your question to your satisfaction. Thanks for writing. It\'s quite amazing and gratifying to me when I see this kind of interest in music I wrote and recorded so long ago!
I did submit some music for the movie ROCKY BALBOA and hope to make that material - as well as some of the music I submitted for the live action 2007 Transformers movie - available for purchase at some point. Thanks to all for the continued support and interest.
PS: It was ROCKY IV that I scored and co-wrote one song for.
I had a great time at BotCon \'09 and I\'m hoping there will be some video up on YouTube shortly. I know Hasbro took some footage at the concert at Paramount Studios, and that event went very well. The crowd reacted very favorably and enthusiastically for both my set and Stan Bush\'s material, and when we came back on at the end of the night to play a cover set, that part of the evening was received very well also.
Regarding the convention itself, once again I found myself pleasantly surprised by the number of fans who continue to express support for my original score from the 1986 movie, and I\'m so grateful to all those who continue to attend these conventions and express interest in getting my autograph or their picture taken with me! It\'s quite rewarding and gratifying, and it continues to motivate me to keep doing my best.
Yes, the section of "Concerto" you\'re referring to does show up in a few different places on various collections that have been previously released. And yes, the piece does have special meaning for me as it was originally conceived (more than 15 years ago) as a tribute to my parents. The original title of the entire piece is actually "Concerto from a Grateful Son" but I decided to shorten it for the "In-VINCE-ible!" collections.
I can\'t recall that particular section being included anywhere on "Protoform Sessions" but I\'ll go back and check that out.
When I performed at the NAMM convention years ago, Doane Perry and I performed a different version of "A.P.B." that featured this passage as well, but we also included a prog rock version of Led Zeppelin\'s "Kashmir". I also performed this version with an entire band at a concert I did in my hometown of Lancaster, PA, back in May of 2000. There are recordings of both, but I\'m not happy with the recording quality of either so I don\'t know if I\'ll ever release them.
The nice thing about an instrumental statement of this nature is that it can presented and it sounds effective in either a rock or classical context. Thanks for your comments about it.
I\'ve never seen any sheet music for any of my film music, although I imagine that at least some of my STAYING ALIVE, ROCKY IV and TRANSFORMERS material was published at some point and is available somewhere online. Then again, maybe you\'ve already done a search (?). I never really had a need to have any of my film music set to manuscript since there was very little orchestra involved and most of the fantastic players we used learned everything by ear. I do seem to recall that a copyist was hired by the film companies, but I do not personally have any sheet music to any of my film music. (If you find any, let me know!)
Regarding the question at the end of your post, I was hoping to have some good news to report about the upcoming Transformers movie but unfortunately I just found out there is no opening for any score music on that project. Steve Jablonsky - the composer who scored the 2007 film - is scoring again. At any rate, when there\'s any new movie music news to report I will certainly do so here.
Sorry for the long delay in my response here. I\'ve addressed this issue a few times already here but I\'m happy to do so again. Yes I do have decent recordings of the original film versions of my ROCKY IV music in my possession. However, after several attempts over the years I have not yet received permission to release this material on my own. I\'m still working on this and will make an announcement here if and when I\'m able to overcome this hurdle.
Once again I sincerely appreciate all the ongoing interest in this material.
Thanks again for the kind words about my work. Always appreciated.
All the vocals - lead and background - on "I\'m not in Love for Nothing" are me. If I had to pick my personal favorite amongst all my vocal performances, this is it. I don\'t really consider vocals my strong point, but I\'ve been influenced by so many great singers, and I\'ve had the opportunity to work with, produce and arrange for some of the greatest singers in rock, that I feel I can get my point across in certain instances from a vocal standpoint.
Regarding the music of the Beatles, I\'m obviously just one of millions of fans who continue to be inspired by the music and sound of these great icons. I discovered their music pretty late (around "Seargent Peppers" and especially the "Abbey Road" record), but they have so much great material, and the timelessness of a lot of it continues to amaze me (along with countless others!). That whole time period of music was the best in my opinion, because record companies were usually 100% supportive of their artists \'pushing the envelope\' and trying different things. Today\'s music scene can\'t even compare in my opinion (no offense intended to anyone who may feel differently!). It seems to be mostly about following trends these days instead of reaching for new heights and setting trends.
"Something" was sung by a dear friend of mine who passed away a few years ago - Roger Voudouris. Roger had a huge hit in the 1970\'s called "Get Used To It" as a solo artist (co-written and produced by Michael Omartian). Roger actually created the opportunity for me to do both my solo piano CD in 1986 and my contributions to "Artfully Beatles" around that same time period (Roger co-owned Artful Balance Records, the label that released both those projects). It was a thrill for me to have Roger appear as a guest singer on "Artistically Beatles" and he did a great job.
The singer on "You Never Give Me Your Money" is me.
I remember you well! Great times with Joe and Dave playing all that ELP stuff! I\'ve kept in touch with Dave quite a bit throughout the years and Dave runs into Joe from time to time. It sounds like everyone\'s doing well back there. Great to hear from you and I hope all is well. Thanks for writing!
PS: I know Beth will be pleased to hear that I received a message from you here, and I\'m sure I\'m speaking for Beth in saying what a pleasant surprise it is to hear from you after all these years!