The London Games Festival has begun, and on the first day of the event a horde of video game fanatics are getting prepared to watch a spectacular concert dedicated to our favourite pastime. Video Games Live is a show unlike anything you’ve seen before – imagine your favourite games taking the stage as a huge symphony plays tunes reminding you of your childhood. All with the added bonus of meeting the very people who made those melodies that have been stuck in our head since we held a controller.
Masterminding the live concert is Tommy Tallarico, composer and luminary. You can thank Tommy for the music in Earthworm Jim
, Advent Rising
, and even Metroid Prime’s
‘sound design’. He’s one of the reasons the video game music industry has evolved the way it has, and his establishment of Video Games Live with partner Jack Wall is reasoned as a pure celebration of everything to do with gaming.
SPOnG managed to get a lengthy chat with Tommy before this year’s performance in London, the second year Brits have been able to enjoy the concert. Read on for why Beethoven would be a video game composer today, how a Turbografx T-shirt won him a position in the industry, and how the British audience are a loud bunch of buggers – not as much as Brazilians though!
Thanks for joining us today Tommy, how are you?
I’m good thanks, how are you?
Not too bad! It’s great to be able to talk to you actually because I went to last year’s Video Games Live concert in London and I really enjoyed it – I felt a bit sorry for you, didn’t you have a sore throat then and ended up losing your voice?
Ah yeah – man, that sucked! (Laughs) My voice was totally gone, oh, my God.
Never a good thing to happen when presenting something like that is it? Well, for our readers of SPOnG out there, could we first of all get a little bit of background information on you? Were video games and music always a big part of your life?
Yeah, my whole life all I ever wanted to do was become a composer, and to work in music. My two greatest loves growing up were video games and music, but I never thought I could ever put the two together.
Music had always been around my family – I actually have a pretty famous cousin, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith. His real name is Steven Tallarico, so I always kind of grew up idolising him and the work that he did. So, I never thought it would be out of my reach to do something similar.
My parents were products of the 1950s so I started playing piano when I was three years old, to Great Balls of Fire
(Otis Blackwell and Jack Hammer), Elvis Presley and stuff like that – but I always played by ear. It wasn’t until the late 70s, when I started to hear these amazing film scores from things like Star Wars
, Raiders of the Lost Ark
that I felt like I wanted to be a composer.
That’s when I started getting into classical music – my favourite being Beethoven – and that’s really how I learned to write scores for symphonies and orchestras, by listening to John Williams and Beethoven (Laughs). Those were pretty much my influences.