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View Article - Paul Lackey Interview

Paul Lackey Interview
Paul Lackey

The Interview

mm3guy: Hey there! How exactly were you related to the creation of the first Midtown Madness games?
Paul: I was working as a Sound Designer for Angel Studios (now Rockstar San Diego) and at that time it was not uncommon for one designer to create the sound effects and write the music for a game. At first I thought I was writing placeholder music, but our publisher, Microsoft, never objected to what I was doing so the music stuck!

mm3guy: What was the composing process for the music like?
Paul: For Midtown Madness, I knew the music needed to be quirky and fun, and I immediately recalled the 70’s TV show Starsky and Hutch. The character Huggy Bear was my first visual image of what I wanted to create sonically. Over time my writing covered several different themes, but the funk guitar loops were specifically inspired by my mental image of Huggy Bear.

mm3guy: Did the music turn out as good as you intended it to be?
Paul: Some did and some didn’t. In fact the involvement of Jay Leverson, who worked with me at Angel, was specifically because I couldn’t seem to coax higher tempo pieces out of me. Before Midtown Madness, my composing was almost entirely orchestral/electronic, so writing for a racing game was definitely a stretch. Jay was great with the up-tempo stuff and the fact that he was in the next room made his involvement an easy and welcomed addition.

mm3guy: Was there any music you composed for one of these games that didn't make it to the final cut? (e.g. music that was removed)
Paul: You bet, but those pieces never got completed. After hearing a piece over and over again while composing, I sometimes realized it was not going to hold-up over time so I would just abandon the idea and move on.

mm3guy: What tools did you use to compose the music? (e.g. Hardware, Software)
Paul: For composing I used Digital Performer as my sequencer. My synthesizers were the Roland JV-1080, MC-505, and an Emu sampler. I also had an Eventide Harmonizer that I used quite a bit.

mm3guy: Until I contacted you, were you aware that there was a thriving community around the Midtown Madness series? At least, in the early days?
Paul: I have a friend who still plays MM2 with his son all of the time, but otherwise I had no idea there is an active community and that mods are still being created. Very cool.

mm3guy: What do you think of how the music turned out in the Midtown Madness games compared to the other games you've worked on?
Paul: Well since I have nothing to compare it to I would say great! The Midtown games are the only ones that contain my music. As I continued working in games and began juggling multiple products, it became clear I could hire composers who could simply write music better and faster. I still dabble in music and occasionally write placeholder pieces but my main work is in sound design and providing creative direction to sound teams. However, I remain pretty happy with the music for the original Midtown Madness as well as the MM2 theme song.

mm3guy: Where there other games/music artists that inspired you in the creation of the MM series' music?
Paul: As I said, when I started the first Midtown Madness I had an image of Huggy Bear in my head, so I bought a disk of funky guitar loops to kind of back me up as I wrote. These guitar loops were inspiring because I found I was creating bass lines and rhythms I never would have explored without the funky influence backing me up. In some pieces these loops remain, in others the loops did not end up in the final track.

mm3guy: What got you into the business of making music for video games?
Paul: I started my career in audio doing post-production work for TV and radio. My roommate at that time worked in games and his company was looking for a sound designer. I thought to myself, “games might be fun for a couple of years” so I took the job. That was 11 years ago and I have no plans to leave the business. Audio for games is an incredible challenge but so rewarding when all of your work comes together and the game jumps to life.

mm3guy: If you were to make the music for a hypothetical game (Midtown Madness 4 for example), what style of music would you use?
Paul: It might depend on the cities featured, but some sort of world/electronica. I think electronic music is great at elevating heart rates which is what you want in a driving game. Cities around the world have become so ethnically diverse that it would be appropriate and interesting to pull musical influences from many different cultures and then let the electronica provide the common thread.

mm3guy: Is there anything else you'd like to add before this interview is closed?
Paul: [N/A]

mm3guy: Thank you for taking the time to let me interview you! I hope you continue to have an interesting career!
Paul: Thank-you, it was my pleasure.

- Paul Lackey's MobyGames Profile
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