Frank Klepacki is a musician well known for his work with various video games such as Dune II: Battle for Arrakis, Command and Conquer: Tiberian Dawn, Command and Conquer: Red Alert and most recently End of Nations. In addition to making music for video games, Klepacki has played in several bands and he has also made numerous solo albums. Currently he works as a full-time Audio Director at Petroglyph. GameReplays.Org's Jani Vivolin had the pleasure to talk with him recently.
GameReplays:First of all thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Would you like to start by telling us how you started making music for video games? Were you initially approached by a game developer or were you just producing music and the developers showed an interest?
Frank Klepacki: Actually I took interest in music at an early age and had a head start with writing and recording and performing professionally. I pursued music and audio for games after being exposed to Westwood Studios as a game tester. It all just clicked for me quickly.
GR:You've been working for Petroglyph since 2004; how does working for Petroglyph Games differ from working for Westwood Studios or Electronic Arts?
FK: It has it's own company culture, a unique dynamic and chemistry of people on the teams. It feels like an extension of Westwood being that about 20% of the staff is X-westwood, but it definitely has its own identity.
GR:Were any of your earlier soundtracks inspired by Paul Hardcastle in any way?
FK: I do recall listening to some of that back in the day but not as prominent an influence as others.
GR:What has been the most demanding soundtrack you've worked on so far? Is there a soundtrack or song you're particularly proud of?
FK: Most demanding is a tie probably between Star Wars: Empire at War and the latest one I've worked on, End of Nations. Star Wars in that there was an incredibly high standard already set by the almighty John Williams that I had to write new material for to fit into that context, and being such a fan, I was not going to rest until it felt right to me. End of Nations in that the quantity of music was huge, and has a cool hybrid of styles that make up its sound. I feel its some of my best work, and all of it was recorded live. Both were demanding, but in different and positive ways.
End of Nations - Main Theme
GR:What has been your biggest musical inspiration?
FK: Well I have had several key inspirations along the way. My parents inspired me to be a musician. John Williams & Vince Dicola were my main inspiring composing influences. Louis Castle was for opening my eyes to game development, and Paul Mudra for mentoring me in game audio and pushing my compositional skills. Thats just the beginning. There are several bands, people I've worked with over the years and throughout my career, that I've been inspired by in some way.
GR:What is your favorite genre of music to listen to in your free time?
FK: Depends on what mood I'm in but mostly funk, metal, and rock.
GR:How do you balance your music with everything else that you do on a day to day basis?
FK: I love my work so much it doesn't stop when I leave work. I then will go home and into my own studio and write more music for my next album, or produce another artist, or practice and perform with different bands, the key there though is I spread it out and schedule myself to still have time for family and friends. That's something I've gotten to be better about in recent years whereas in my 20's I was always performing and recording and missing out on lots of other fun stuff.
GR:What was your first experience with video games?
FK: I was taken to my first arcade in the early 80's and I think Donkey Kong was the first game I played. The arcades and local stores that had games became my regular hangouts ever since. The Atari 2600 also took up a lot of my time as well. My favorite retro stand-up arcade game of all time is 720 degrees.
GR:Have you played any video games recently? If yes, do you have a favorite game or game franchise to play?
FK: Some of my favorites are Batman Arkham Asylum & Arkham City, Magic The Gathering Duel of the Planeswalkers, Red Dead Redemption, GTA 4, Transformers: War For Cybertron, Infamous 1 & 2 - lately I've been really addicted to the physical card game version of Magic though.
GR:Do you have a favorite musical instrument to play and is there an instrument you'd like learn to play?
FK: Drums has always been my first and favorite instrument to play. Don't feel the need to learn another instrument, but I always wish I was better at the others that I do play. You can never stop learning that's for sure.
GR:In your opinion, why is music such important part of modern games and real life?
FK: Music is the soundtrack of our lives. It's important to games because it sets the mood of what you are doing. If you had a great experience then it sticks with you and reminds you of that. Same in real life, certain music may remind you of different times in your life, bring back good memories and you associate that and also develops your personal taste for what you like.
GR:Once again, thank you for your time. Is there anything you'd like to say in closing; and can you shed some light on your current or upcoming projects?
FK: Would just add I hope everyone enjoys playing End Of Nations when its out - it's been having closed betas recently, and you can preview the soundtrack in it, we brought back the jukebox mode!