|Dave, it must be
nice to see that people still care about what you did
back in the 80's. Could you even imagine getting fan mail
after all these years?
Well, I've had a bit, but it kinda died-off when I moved
to the USA.
But people must have contacted you over the Internet?
Only a few - and only people I don't know, like yourself.
Mostly Scandinavians for some reason.
What did you have as an occupation
before you started to do computer music?
I had many crappy jobs that I hated - too many to mention.
I was also in a band full-time, but I never made any money.
That's about the time that I got into computers, 1981-2.
Tell us about the first years (how much you knew about
computers in general, how and when you first got in contact
with the C64 etc).
I used to read about the ZX81 in computer mags (1981/2),
and dreamed of getting one, but I couldn't afford the
cost of the whole thing (about 80 pounds UK). About that
time, the VIC-20 came out, and managed to get it with
just a deposit of about 10-20 pounds, and paid the rest
over time. My first few games were on the VIC-20, for
Mr. Micro (bastards). All were written with just a machine-code
monitor, no actual assembler program. Very painful. I
later got a C64 from Mr. Micro as I was doing several
games for them, but I didn't get a disk-drive for almost
2 years. All tape-based.
How did you get in touch with the
game companies? Was that your primary goal, to produce
music for games and live on that?
a) They called me, because of my reputation. I never called
b) Yes, I decided (and was able) to live on producing
music & FX for games. I did game programming at the
beginning (like Lazy Jones C64, etc.) and about 10 others.
Was Lazy Jones an independent release?
Kind of - it was released by Terminal Software, in 1984/5.
That was run by Andy Hieke, who then became Binary Design
Ltd. I did everything in those days - coding, graphics,
audio, front end, etc. Believe it or not, but I wrote
all the individual little games in Lazy Jones in Basic
first, to make sure they all worked properly - and then
converted them, almost line by line, into machine-code.
Looking through the games you've
done music for, there's a couple of coding teams that
pops up here and there. Code Masters, Binary Design and
Sculptured Software to name a few. How was it to work
with these teams?
It was OK, until I realised that I was being ripped-off,
financially. You make a lot more, working for yourself
- but then you have all the responsibility - so there
are pros and cons.
Except from these guys, which old
working partners do you think deserves to be mentioned
and for what reason?
My favourite company was Audiogenic - I was on really
good terms with Peter Calver - he always paid!!! - and
What was the deal with Musicon Design?
I was a director of that company in 1987-88. They ripped
me off, so I left.
Were you the only musician or were there someone else
using your music driver (like in Andy Capp)?
My partner at Musicon Design was Jason C Brooke. And yes,
we shared our various drivers. In fact, he re-wrote some
of my drivers when we were at Binary Design together.
Talking about your compositions
in general, I must say that you kept that quality sound
on your tunes throughout the years, which I'm very pleased
about. How do you rate the quality on your compositions?
I have to admit that I'm not much of a composer - no training
or anything - I think Ben Daglish said it about himself
in 1986 (when we all went to a magazine interview at Zzap64),
"I'm just a tunesmith". I'm very lucky really,
rather than talented.
Why did you go freelance? Were you
afraid of losing the freedom to do whatever you felt was
I was working in-house at Binary Design, but I was being
paid peanuts, so I left. Mainly for the money.
Were there any freelance contracts
I rarely had contracts and tried to avoid them. Mainly
the USA companies wanted them, but I didn't like them
- too much trouble - I didn't like getting tied-down to
Because of the fact that you were
able to compose on almost every platform, did that give
you an advantage over the other musicians when the game-companies/creators
were gonna choose the musician for their game?
In the old days when you were sitting
infront of the computer and just about to compose a new
tune, how did the progress look like?
Just plonking away on a keyboard and using what sounded
What approach did you take and what
techniques did you apply to when creating a game soundtrack?
See previous answer.
out the top five of your C64 compositions and give them
all a small comment.
I honestly can't remember much, but I think I was quite
pleased with some of the stuff I did with Binary Design,
like Feud, Amaurote, Max Headroom, Glider Rider.
And these, concerning your old tunes
The first one to be used in a game: Dunno.
The best one: Dunno.
The worst one: Dunno.
The best arcade conversion: Probably R-Type (1 or 2) -
GameBoy, I think.
The most complicated one to compose: Sentinel and maybe
The one composed in shortest time: Most of them, I can't
remember. I rarely spent more than half a day on any one
- and probably 2 days, at the most. Once, I did a job
where they called me up at about noon, and I had music
and about 20 FX done in about 2 hours.
Why did you spend such short time
on each tune?
a) Because music was much simpler in those days. b) Companies
used to get (cheaper) stuff from other people, but often
they would be let down, or the stuff they got was crap
- so they came to me at the last (urgent) moment, which
is why I had to do it very quickly - quality came second
- their decision, not mine.
you didn't compose titles like Bmx Simulator, Defcom and
Cosmonut under such circumstances, did you?! I mean, those
tunes are great and the quality is AMAZING!
No, not all my projects were last minute jobs. But I would
still rarely spend more than a day or so on any tune.
How would you say that your composing
and music style changed throughout the years? Did your
increasing music knowledge and the evaluation of the music-players
Not much change really. Just better 'toys' and equipment.
I am still rather stuck in the vein of early 80s synth
There must be some good stories
from the past you can tell.
The only (good) thing I can (and want to) remember from
those days, is going to the computer shows, and meeting
up with my buddies, like Rob Hubbard, Jim Baguley, Tony
Crowther, Ben Daglish, etc. And we would just stand at
the bar all day and get sloshed.
Now on to your personal side;
Birth place and date: Bury, England, April 24th 1957.
Reside in: Bury, England.
Interests: Computing (duh!), Music (duh!), Motoring (in
my 7.4L V8 4WD Suburban (like the ones in the film Clear
and Present Danger)), Vacationing, Flight sims (mainly
FS98 & 747-400 PS1).
Music taste: Let's face it, I'm getting old - in the car/truck
I get mainly easy-listening radio and light rock, preferably
from the 60s-80s) ...but I used to be (and still am) really
into early 80s synth/techno bands, too many to mention
- also Bowie & Roxy.
What makes you happy: Sitting at home at my computer,
or watching TV, with a beer in my hand. Playing my Strat
Goal in life: To stay healthy and not to have to worry
about money (like now).
How does your life situation looks
today (married, kids, house, dog etc).
Married. 2 dogs - a Dobermann and a Bassset Hound.
When did things head off for the
Rob Hubbard gave me a call, in January 1993, asking me
if I wanted to come, as EA was desperately trying to find
someone in the USA to work on Genesis (MegaDrive) and
SNES, but no-one existed who could just jump in and start
without any training. So I came for an interview in March
and liked what I saw, and moved in June.
You recently moved back to England.
We (especially my wife) were home-sick, from day one.
We had everything you could want, big house, pool, boat,
money, but were still unhappy. Then EA laid-off a third
of the internal "studio" in Feb 2001. From that
day on, I decided that we'd had enough - and so made plans
to return - and in July 2001, we did.
What will you miss the most of the
The money and the weather.
Who will you be working for and
what will you be working with?
I've recently finished the dialogue for EA's Medal of
Honor - Allied Assault, in French German and Japanese.
I am on the lookout for more dialogue work, either freelance,
or full-time. I use ProTools on a G4 Mac.
What's your future plans?
Just to keep doing what I do best - dialogue production
- preferably from my home studio.
Will you return to do something
on the old 8-bit machines, just for fun?
No, sorry (I don't have any of the 8-bit machines any