Critical bug bite
To this day I have a strong love and affinity for the orchestral music my mother would often have playing on the stereo when I was a small child, but my strongest motivation to learn an instrument came when I was bitten hard by the guitar bug at around age 16.
In over my head
By age 17 I was starting to play in local So. Cal. bands, and my gigging was off to an auspicious (?) start with one of the first performances taking place in the blacked out store front clubhouse of a very notorious outlaw biker gang, whose members were observing time honored, heartwarming customs such as angrily bursting beer bottles over each other’s heads.
I was at my full height of 6’3″ by this time, but the ceiling in the biker’s lair balcony area where the band was set up was only 6′ high. Solution: A hole in the ceiling was located that I could stick the top of my head through and then stand and play for the remainder of the evening.
My very first music composition was written around this same time at the prodding of my friend and bandmate Anthony Arizaga. This tune was given it’s impromptu title of “Kitchen Chair or Doghouse“, based on the two seating options on my back patio that I had offered Anthony on a hot and smoggy summer evening just before I performed the piece for the first time. It was the first and worst music I ever “composed”, but I’m still threatening to use it’s title for an album.
Education – both formal and street
Next up I received a good formal education at the USC School of Music, focusing on orchestral and electronic music, with plenty of guitar thrown in. I draw from this training in one way or another practically every day for my many musical misadventures.
My post USC day job – teaching guitar lessons – turned out to be valuable continuing education in itself for me. From lesson to lesson I would be asked to assimilate, distill and demonstrate everything from thrash metal to grunge to punk to various acoustic stylings, etc.
By night I continued to play live and record in the studio with the craziest assortments of bands, including reggae, funk, progressive rock/fusion, and straight ahead jazz. These styles I was required to analyze and absorb became invaluable components in my bag of tricks when I entered my next musical phase.
Music for video games and the boob tube
I was hired as a staff composer by Electronic Arts Seattle and was lucky enough to see the first game I composed extensively for become a major hit (Need for Speed 3/Hot Pursuit). I stayed at EA for 5 years, being nicely challenged by an assortment of composing tasks that included genres such as psychobilly, surf and electronica.
When EA shut it’s doors in Seattle, I joined forces with the original EA audio team that had spun off and had begun providing independent audio services. This is where a lot of orchestral composition came into play for me, and I was thrilled to finally put my USC orchestration etc. studies to work.
During this period I’ve also had the opportunity to get involved in one of my absolute favorite ventures so far – providing original music for TV shows originating in the US, Australia and Canada, and airing internationally.
I currently reside with my supremely talented singer/songwriter wife Jill Savre and her wacky dog Harpo in the wonderfully diverse music town of Nashville. I operate from my private studio where my studio ceiling is nice and high – well over 6′ – heck it’s more like 8′! :^)