GZ Interview: Freeze! The FBI (Four Bars Intertainment) is bringing top-notch composers to the game industry


Freeze!  The FBI (Four Bars Intertainment) is bringing
top-notch composers to the game industry

by

Louis Bedigian


 

You know all those
great songs you hear in games, but never who composed them?  Chances are they
came from Bob Rice, CEO of the world’s largest music provider for the gaming
industry.

 


Four Bars Intertainment
(FBI) represents some of the most talented music composers in the world.  From
Jack Wall (composer of Myst III: Exile), Danny Pelfrey and

Billy Martin
, to the men behind the soundtrack to Enter The
Matrix, Erik Lundberg and

Ged Grimes
, FBI has become the world’s largest provider of music for the
video games industry.

 

FBI also represents Richard
Jacques.  Richard composed the music for Sega’s action game Headhunter, and is
currently working on the music for the highly anticipated sequel. 
Clint Bajakian has composed many memorable tunes, including those from Star
Wars: Tie Fighter and Escape From Monkey Island.  He is also a client of FBI.

 

Bob Rice, the founder and
CEO of FBI, has been involved with the music business for 44 years.  He’s
dealt with records,
film and TV, and now he’s moved to the exciting, fast-paced video game
industry.

 

Since his arrival, he has
had two dreams for video games.  “One is that I will play a significant role
in participating in the world’s first platinum-selling (not giveaway) album
made only by people who compose music for games,” he says.

 

As if that weren’t ambitious
enough, Bob also wants video game composers to receive the wealth, praise and
attention of the movie industry.  “My second one is there will be one or more
guys that I will play a major role in taking them from a major music composer
in games to being an A-list music composer for films.”

 

GameZone had the pleasure of
speaking with Bob Rice about his company, his goals and the amazing things
he’s done for both the music and game industries. 

 


What services does your
company provide?  Do you work exclusively for the game industry?

 


Bob Rice:

Four Bars Intertainment represents 12-14 composers.  What we do is create the
marriage between the composer and the video game publisher or developer. 
There are several different ways that we do that.

 

One is that we give our
people publicity in the media.  We create the spin, the sizzle, the smoke and
get them out there so that people hear of them, know of them, and hear about
and know about their accomplishments.  Right now we’re making a lot of
noise with Erik Lundberg and Ged Grimes who
both did Enter The Matrix.  We’re out there giving them a lot of press, a lot
of coverage and so forth.

 

As an example, we’ll go out
in a general sense and talk about Erik Lundberg 
who composed
Enter The Matrix with Don
Davis.
  We’ll talk about

Ged Grimes
who wrote and produced an
original song specifically for Enter The Matrix.  So we’ll get out there and
be talking about, "Okay, Erik did this, Ged did that," and so and so forth. 
So there’s a general PR, a general sort of marketing thing that we do in
publicity.  Getting our people out there constantly every month, what’s new,
who’s in what, where, how, keeping everybody informed and current of what our
guys are accomplishing.

 

The second
thing is, I get a lot of phone calls and I make a lot of phone calls.  To
publishers and developers, talking to them about what’s new, what do they got
coming up, what’s going on, how can we help you?  And a lot of times they’ll
say, "We’ve got this game coming up and we need some demos."  So what I’ll do
is send them some demos for the specific type of music that the developer is
looking for.

 

On other
occasions, publishers will call me and say, "Look, I’ve got this project
coming up and I need this kind of music.  Who do you have that you think would
be right for that?"  Then I’ll forward the appropriate demo to that particular
client.

 

The good thing
about the people I represent is that there’s a lot of guys out there in TV,
film and games who are very good composers, but very poor business people. 
What I mean by very poor business people is that they don’t respond to their
e-mails, don’t return their calls, and they sort of get lost, and here’s a
publisher and developer trying to find them.  Anybody I represent to them is a
very good businessperson.  Meaning they’re not only composers but they really
roll up their sleeves, they never take on too much work, and they return phone
calls and e-mails.  If the publisher and developer wants something, it gets
done on time and within budget.

 


How did your company get
started?  When did it begin?

 


BR:

Since 15 I have been in the music industry, except for about a year or so,
then I got into the games business.  I worked for a company called Data Age. 
I created and executive produced the first rock ‘n’ roll video game featuring
Journey.  The reason I mentioned that is because I looked at the audience of
games, I said, “Wait a minute, these are same people who buy records!”  So
we’ve gotta get music into games.  I think that was in ’72.

 

So I went back into the
record business.  And in ’92 or ’94 I heard some of the music that was being
used in games.  I called up some friends of mine that I knew from my video
game biz and I said how come you guys don’t
use top-notch professional composers?  The guys from film and TV?  And they
said that we don’t know how to get those guys, and we can’t afford their
prices.  So I went out and got a bunch of guys that are behind the scenes. 
You hear a lot of their music, but they don’t get credit.  I hired those guys
to do music for games, and one thing lead to another and boom!  Here we are
the largest provider of music for the video game industry.

 


Who are the composers that
you represent?

 


BR:

I just brought in Chris Vrenna.  He did the music for American McGee’s Alice. 
Chris was one of the founding members of Nine Inch Nails.  He also did a track
for Enter The Matrix.

 

Another guy we have is Inon
Zur.  Inon did Icewind Dale II, Baldur’s Gate: Throne of Bhaal, Fallout
Tactics, two Star Trek titles, some of Neverwinter Nights with Jeremy Soule,
and he’s currently working on SOCOM 2.

 


Did he work on the first
SOCOM?

 


BR:

The first one was done by Jeremy Soule.

 


Is he one of your clients?

 


BR:

He used to be.  He’s decided to go a different direction so we mutually
separated.

 


Who were your musical
influences growing up?

 


BR:

Wow, nobody’s asked me that question.  I’ll say two things: Motown.  I love
Motown!  And my favorite all-time group is Earth, Wind and Fire.

 

Wanna hear my three-minute
life story?

 

Sure.

 


BR:

When I was 15, all the kids loved rock ‘n’ roll music, but there was no place
in Cleveland to go hear it ’cause there weren’t any bands.  So I went to Erie,
Pennsylvania, about 90 miles away (at age 15) and hired some rock ‘n’ roll
groups to come and play in Cleveland.  We used to have what you call sock-hops
and stuff like that.  Tickets were a dollar in advance, a buck and a quarter
at the door.  The next thing you know I’ve got a sold out show.  Every Friday
night was sold out.  Then I started Saturday night.  Then I started Friday and
Saturday on the east side, and then I started Friday and Saturday on the west
side.  So I had four bands appearing on both the east side and the west side
four nights a week.  I made a fortune — a lot of money.  A lot of these
groups asked me to produce records.  So I said, "Uhh, what’s a record producer
do?"  I didn’t even know.  But I was so young and too dumb to know that I
couldn’t do it.  So I started producing records and we had a couple hit
records from groups out of Cleveland.  One of which was a group called The
Choir, which featured Eric Carman and Joe Walsh.

 

So I made a bunch of money
doing that and at the ripe-old age of 24 I moved to California and I got
involved with a company called GRT Corporation.  They had about 30 record
labels and a significant equity with several others.  I was the Senior Vice
President of Marketing and Promotions.  And to date myself here, some of the
artists that we broke were Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf, Tower of Power, etc.

 

I did that for about 30
years.  And then I got involved with my sister’s music contracting company in
the film business.  She worked with Danny Elfman, Elliott Goldenthal, Michael
Kamen, and so forth, working with them to put together film scores.  And then
about ’92 or ’94 I started FBI – Four Bars Intertainment.

 

I get a kick.  I have a
tremendous passion for music and I have no talent, I can’t sing; I go to
birthday parties and people are singing happy birthday and they tell me to
shut up.  But I really love music, it’s my passion, I work hard, and I will
tell you: the guys I represent, probably one or more of them will become a
major record star, and one or more of them will become a major film scoring
composer, and I will be heavily involved with the world’s first
platinum-selling album of all game music.

 

I know EA talks about
shipping platinum.  Their first platinum-selling album they gave away with the
game.  That’s not selling.  I’m talking about stand-alone CDs that people pay
$12 or $14 for because they want that music.

 

And I’ll tell ya, I’ve spent
some time in the film business, and there are some guys in the games business
that are as good as the A-list film composers.

 

You had mentioned that when
you were 15, you didn’t know what a record producer did.  What exactly does a
record producer do?

 


BR:

That’s a good question.  When you think about it, in television and film,
etc., the producer or executive producer is exactly that.  They don’t really
do anything.  But what they do is bring together the people, they somehow get
the money to get the recordings done.  And they also, in many cases, will
actually sit there while the record is recording and say, "No no no, don’t do
it that way, do it this way."  They will be the eyes and ears representing the
potential record buyer.  You know, saying, "No, do it this way, do it that
way, take this part out, I wanna hear more guitar, less drums."  That sort of
thing.

 

A record producer also
acquires songs.  They might have a great group, but not the right songs.  The
record producer will go out and hook up the publisher and songwriter and say,
"Look, I’ve got a great band, I’m looking for some tunes."

 

Which game composers do you
feel have had the biggest impact on the evolution of music in video games?

 


BR:

Great question.  I’d have to say #1 is Tommy Tallarico.  #2 is The Fat Man
(George Sanger).  He goes way back.

 

Thank you for such an informative
interview. 

 

BR: My pleasure.