Frank Klepacki (if you do not know already) is a Musician known in the world for his amazing music, but even more so in the gaming world for his astounding sound tracks. Gameverse recently got the chance to interview Frank and what a great opportunity it was. Frank is mostly known for his work on Dune 2, and even more so for his work in Command and Conquer. He is currently working on the soundtrack for a few new RTS games and also a new MOBA created by Petroglyph. He is also a pretty laidback gentleman with a plethora of wisdom in his industry.
Gameverse: First off As usual I would like to thank you for your time, in allowing myself on behalf of Gameverse, for this interview. Secondly I would like to say that personally a few of us are big fans and were excited at this chance for this interview.
Frank Klapecki: Right on – I appreciate that and tell everyone I said hello!
GV: Firstly tell us a little about your day today.
FK: I’m juggling a few projects at once at Petroglyph depending on the priority and tasks I need to get done, and create audio or music accordingly, and then make sure it works in-game.
GV: Are your days mostly like this?
FK: Yes they are, but I appreciate the slower days when they happen because that’s when I get most of my quality creative work done.
GV: When did you first start writing music?
FK: In high school.
GV: Who were some of your aspirations?
FK: John Williams, Vince Dicola, Michael Kamen, Metallica, Sly & The Family Stone, Nine Inch Nails, just to name a few.
GV: Did you ever think that you would become popular for your music in the game industry?
FK: Certainly didn’t, it came as a big surprise to me when Command & Conquer and Red Alert soundtracks were so well received, and it seemed to just go up from there.
GV: You obviously have written a lot of music, do you still enjoy it as your career?
FK: I love it just as much as ever, and it doesn’t stop with games, I continue to put out my own albums even aside of that! I just recently released 2 albums, Face The Funk which is all funk music, and Conquering 20 Years, which is all new music that covers the styles I’ve composed over the last 20+ years. Really excited about that one, I think the fans will get a big kick out of the immense diversity on it, and really, I wanted to do it as a reminder that there’s a lot more I do besides what I’m most known for. Both are available on my website store at www.frankklepacki.com.
GV: Writing all of this music has to be tiring, What do you usually do for fun?
FK: I love movies, gaming when I can, hanging out with friends and family, and taking trips to places I haven’t been before.
GV: What is one of your most embarrassing moments?
FK: Forgot lyrics I was singing on stage once or twice…
GV: One of my favorite Musicians besides you (of course) is Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden, Who is your favorite artist or musician and have you ever gotten to meet them?
FK: I love Iron Maiden too! Just saw them a few months ago and they are as awesome as ever. I mentioned Sly & The Family Stone as one of my all-time favorite groups, and not only did I get to meet members of the Family Stone, I got to tour with them for 3 years as their drummer! Since then, their original drummer has returned and I’ve gotten to talk with him a handful of times as well – they’re all great people. I started my relationship with them by befriending their sax player Jerry Martini, who is one of the coolest guys on the planet. He has so much enthusiasm, he’s funny, and is a force on the sax. It just goes to show, if you put out the positive energy, you never know how it will come back to ya! Also, I mentioned Vince Dicola, the composer for the movies Rocky 4, and Transformers 1986 movie – he is one of the most unique composers I’d ever heard and his style really inspired me. A friend of mine got the chance to interview him once, and asked me to contribute questions, knowing I was more familiar with his work. I have since become friends with him now and that was an honor for me – and I can also tell you his composing is still amazing as ever, he has gotten into doing games as well, having contributed to Gran Turismo 4, and most recently Saturday Morning RPG.
GV: What is your favorite song out of all of the ones that you have currently produced?
FK: That’s an impossible question to answer – I have many favorites!
GV: What do you think of today’s music?
FK: Well you’d have to separate that question into categories – I’ll start by saying pop and dance music generally doesn’t interest me, because it all sounds the same. Once and a while a particular song or group will jump out at me and I’ll appreciate it simply as a well written song or style that is memorable or has something interesting about it, but for the most part it gets old quick. I suppose you could make the same argument for other styles too, but ultimately all can be distinguished by the better songs and artists. I usually make the case that the pioneers of a movement in music are generally the ones with the staying power and then you have all the clones that follow that don’t last as long. I like all kinds of music and I often go by word of mouth or sometimes use the genius feature on Itunes to discover other music I haven’t heard yet that might interest me. You know who does a great job of turning “todays music” into something a lot more musically gratifying? Dirty Loops! Check them out.
GV: Do you play any games? If so what are your favorite types of games and how often do you play?
FK: I do, generally I tend to like 3rd person sandbox style duck and cover kinds of games, Batman, Uncharted, Infamous, Transformers, etc. I also like cart racers, casual arcade games, some fighting games.
GV: What do you think of today’s games?
FK: Games and the industry go through evolvement quite rapidly so it’s a bit of a ride. I might be a bit more selective with which games I play now because I know I can get sucked in pretty easily and then I don’t leave the house. lol
GV: Have you been offered to write music for any newer games?
FK: I work full time at Petroglyph so I’m always working on something here.
GV: What is your favorite guitar chord?
FK: The one that fits the song! 😉
GV: Tell us how you came upon writing the music for Command and Conquer?
FK: At Westwood Studios I was the full time composer, and we had done Dune 2 which was the first real-time strategy game. After that they starting working on what came to be Command & Conquer, and the new technology that became available at that time allowed for a streaming audio soundtrack rather than midi -so it had all the more impact and was a fun journey of musical experimentation, where creativity was allowed to thrive.
GV: In another interview I read that you play Magic the Gathering what type of deck do you use and why?
FK: Love that game – I play all decks, and make some themed decks too. It’s interesting to see what strategies hold up to most other decks, and which are more specialized. Half the fun is figuring out how to make the best decks with the cards you’ve got available. My current favorite decks I’ve made are a green trample based deck, a green infect deck, a red burn deck, a white cat themed deck with serious equipment in it, I’m still tweaking my black discard / direct damage deck but it’s getting there.
GV: I hear End Of Nations is going to be coming out here in the near future and is one of your most recent projects. What words do you have about this project?
FK: I can’t wait for it to be released because I feel it’s some of my best compositional work to date!
GV: Thank you for taking the time out of your rockin’ life to conduct this interview. It was a pleasure personally to be able to actually interview one of my favorite musicians as well. I wish the best for you and all of your endeavors and would be happy to chat again sometime.
FK: No problem, nice chatting!