Please explain what just happened.

I just read your question.  No, wait, I just answered your question.



What is your earliest memory?

My earliest memory is probably watching the film Gandhi in a movie theater and having no idea what was going on but knowing that I thought the whole idea of being at the movies was awesome.



If you weren’t a composer, what other profession would you choose?

I kind of think I’d be an astrophysicist, but I doubt I’m that smart.  It’s hard not to think about how huge the universe is and how small everything else in our day-to-day lives is by comparison.




Describe a typical work day.

With the projects that I work on, there’s no such thing as a “typical” work day.  Some days I’m being purely creative, churning out musical ideas as quickly as I can.  Other days, I’m in the studio, conducting orchestras, working with soloists and other musicians.  And other days, I’m working with producers, watching cuts, and having creative discussions about the role of music, etc.  However, the only thing all these days have in common is that I get up thinking about music and continue to do so until I get what little sleep I can.



Is there a time you wish you’d lied?

Yes.  Question #3.  I shouldn’t have admitted I’m not smart enough to be an astrophysicist.





What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?

Dude, you’re going to work with the guys in Oingo Boingo!  How rad is that?!



If you could have only one album to get you through a breakup, what would it be?

Last time I went through a break up it was Breakfast in America by Supertramp.  But, I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone.



What are three websites—other than your email—that you check on a daily basis?

I usually stop by IMDB for their links to movie /TV related news.  I usually check AintItCool to find out what’s new in the geek world and to read comments from angry geeks tearing apart every show I’ve ever worked on because they don’t live up to some ridiculously high standards.  And I’ll usually check out io9 or IGN; they have great stuff.





From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?

My inspiration comes from so many different sources that it’s impossible to say.  Ideas can come from just talking to someone or flipping through the radio.  Ideas are the sum of everything on your mind at any given time.  But, of the professionals in my industry whom I’ve been fortunate enough to know, the most influential on me personally was Elmer Bernstein.



Name three books that have impacted your life.

The Rest is Just Noise by Alex Ross really opened my eyes to the history of music in the 20th Century and why it evolved the way it did.  The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller roped me into comic books in a big way.  The musicians’ union phone book .… I randomly looked up a couple musicians in it who ended up working with me for years.



If you could relive one moment over and over again, what would it be?

Performing my Battlestar Galactica score live at the House of Blues in San Diego during Comic Con. That was euphoric.



How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?

Bacon worked with writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz on X-Men First Class.  They worked with me on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  Two steps.  Bam.



What makes you feel most guilty?

Guilty?  It’s a combination of being grateful and guilty.  But either way I recognize that I have been born in such an amazing land of opportunity, and I get to spend my days writing music for awesome shows and movies and games.  Very few people are so lucky, and so I try to make the most of it and give back to society in any way I can.





How do you incorporate the work of other artists into your own?

All art is the process of incorporating the ideas of others into your own interpretations.   So, any time I write a piece of music it is being influenced (whether intentionally or not) by every piece of music I’ve ever heard in my life.  Of course, there are times when I’m deliberately making a statement on someone else’s musical themes, like I did in BSG when I incorporated Stu Phillips’ classic melody from the 70s, or on Terminator when I quoted Brad Fiedel’s iconic theme.  Those are always fun because you get to arrange and play around with a melody without having to take the time and energy to write one.



Please explain the motivation/inspiration behind the musical score for The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead is a challenge because I’m a big fan of the comic and have honestly been thinking about what a score for it could be like for years.  Some of those ideas can be translated to the TV series easily.  And others don’t fit, so I have to keep reminding myself I’m scoring the show, not the comic.  They’re totally different animals.





What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?

Stay in school.



List your favorite in the following categories:  Comedian, Musician, Author, Actor.

I’m so indecisive, I don’t know if I could nail down a single favorite in any category at all.  So, leaving room for multiple answers… favorite comedians are George Carlin, Louis CK and Dave Chappelle.  Musicians include Freddie Mercury, Jerry Goldsmith, and Danny Elfman.  Authors include music critic Alex Ross and fiction writer Laura Kalpakian.  Actors… probably Jackie Chan, Sigourney Weaver, and Denzel Washington.



If you had complete creative license and an unlimited budget, what would your next project be?

I would produce an epic movie trilogy about a film composer superhero called The Baton. I would play the title role and score the film of course.





What do you want to know?

The ultimate fate of humanity in the universe: Are we the ultimate end of evolution or just one of many bumps along the long, windy road of evolution and entropy?



What would you like your last words to be?

Well, I pretty much wrote everything I had to write.  Did everything I wanted to do.  So yeah… peace out, guys.



Please explain what will happen.

One day, I will say the above statement.


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TNB's ARTS & CULTURE section features essays, reviews, and interviews in the world of film, television, visual, comedy, and theater arts. Cynthia Hawkins serves as our Arts & Culture Editor.

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