| Hoop of Fire--
Big-Name Producer Tries His Hand at Xbox
March 2006 @ 17:11
After 30 years in music, after working with two Beatles and Sir Elton, producer Tom Pearce takes on Streamline's upcoming Xbox Live Arcade game, HoopWorld. Here's what he had to say at Ign.com:
IGN: Tell us about your past work experience.
Tom Pearce: OK. Where to begin? I began life as a "tape jockey" in various studios in London in the early 1970s. My job description included running the tape machines, cleaning, demagnetizing and lining up the record heads etc., setting up microphones and generally being useful. It was valuable experience though and I got to make coffee for many (at the time) well-known artists, some of whom went on to become quite famous. By the time I had mastered the espresso machine I was allowed to assist on sessions with the likes of Paul McCartney, Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Status Quo and others as well as on many orchestral sessions with the London Symphony Orchestra.
In those heady days I also supplemented my income by playing as a session musician (bass, guitar and, oddly, mandolin and banjo, I just happened to have a feel for them) and by the mid 1970's I was tackling my own sessions as an audio engineer, playing bass in my band - Scarlet - and doing a lot of live technical and audio work in various venues in and around London.
By the early 1980s I had risen to the dizzy heights of studio manager and "senior" (only!) audio engineer for Jimmy Page in his own private studio outside London. It was there that I learnt how to work with film scores during sessions on the Death Wish movies for which Jimmy composed the music. It was also here that I met Elton John for the first time while working on his Ice on Fire album in 1984 and from this I went on to join his personal staff as audio engineer in his private studio, technical engineer on all of his album projects and as back-line crew chief for all of his tours. I held that position throughout the rest of the 1980s and into the early 1990s when I went freelance as a technician and engineer from my home base on our small farm in Northern France. I toured the "world and elsewhere" with Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Jeff Beck and, of course, Elton again until I moved to Holland with my Dutch wife, Christine, in 1995 where I set up my company, Practical Music.
Since then I have been active producing various young and talented artists - Lorna Marshall, Some, CrapJam, Smitty in the Sun etc., scoring and recording music for video and TV and going on the occasional tour (my last one being South America with Jeff Beck). I also occasionally take on stage management roles.
IGN: What programs do you use when making the audio for HoopWorld?
Pearce: My main program is Digidesigns ProTools, both the full TDM system in the studio and the LE version I use at home. It is incredibly flexible, handles video synchronization with ease and, for me, feels a lot like working with tape the way we used to all those years ago. If you really want to know I am currently using version 6.9.2 on Apple OSX Tiger together with a large assortment of audio plug-ins - Trilogy, Atmosphere, Stylus RMX, Reason 3.0 and Ableton Live as well as a number dynamics and effects processors such as Reverb One, Lexiverb etc. etc. I rarely use sample CDs as I prefer my work to have a degree of originality and so ProTools is also used to record custom sound effects.
IGN: What are some of your favorite musical influences on a personal level?
Pearce: I get asked this a lot and the answer is really quite simple. I don't have really favorite bands or artists but I do have songs or albums that I really love. The exception to this would be, obviously, the Beatles, along with Cream, Pink Floyd and the Yardbirds but also from the '60s the early Crosby, Stills and Nash stuff, Dylan, of course, and a lot of the weirder English "Underground" acts such as Kevin Ayers and Pete Brown. From the 1970s bands such as Amon Duul II, Can, Gong (listen to Camembert Electrique, it was a revolution at the time) had a great effect on me. I was always fond of the Velvet Underground and so the evolution into the punk scene was something I enjoyed - especially the Clash - but I never really got involved in it professionally.
Most of the 1980s bored the life out of me, I'm afraid, although Paul Young's Secret of Association album was a work of genius. I was never really an Elton John fan until I got the chance to watch him work, both in the studio and on stage, whereupon I did rather revise my opinion.
I have always been influenced by the great record producers such as George Martin, with whom I was lucky enough to work on his Under Milk Wood album. Gus Dudgeon, of course, as he was the eccentric genius behind a lot of Elton's albums. Laurie Latham (Paul Young), Hugh Jones (Echo and the Bunnymen) and Chris Thomas (Elton, again, and the Pretenders) have all also had an influence on me.
At the end of the day there are too many to mention.
IGN: What have been some of your musical influences while making HoopWorld?
Pearce: None whatsoever! With projects like this it is important that it sounds unique and I try very hard not to be influenced by anything. I take into account the direction I get from the creative team and then just try to let the images of the game itself influence what I compose. The ideal situation for me is to have some video footage of the game being played and I can work from there. With HoopWorld, of course, we have such beautifully created environments that it was actually quite easy for me to get a feel of what they should sound like.
IGN: What's your family status and where do you live now?
Pearce: I am 51 years old - going on 15 - and live in Eemnes, a small village about 40 kilometers south of Amsterdam, with my second wife, Christine and our two daughters, Emma (aged 13) and Sam (aged 3). My first wife now lives in Canada while our 23-year-old daughter, Robyn, stayed in London where she has just finished studying theatre and drama. So, yes, I've had two wives but it is all legal and above board! Sadly for this story I was never at home long enough to have more than three daughters, the other 15 never got a chance although after nearly 30 years in rock and roll, you never know!