Interview with Rob Hubbard

Published in Domination #8
Performed by Jazzcat

Welcome reader to the regular Interview section of Domination. This time we have some interesting profiles from the past and present.  In this chapter the Domination magazine is proud to introduce a legendary C64 musician from the past. Music from such commercial titles like Commando, Mega Apocalypse and International Karate 1 + 2. I proudly present to you... ROB HUBBARD of ELECTRONIC ARTS

This Interview was originally conducted for the legal publication Commodore Fever by Everlasting Style, but after its release, I feel it deserves publication in this magazine for 'scene recognition' and for those who respect Rob Hubbard, as one of the most original and possibly best musicians on this machine.

Welcome to the media, and this magazine, I am quite sure most people know who you are, or at least seen you in the credits page of Commercial software. But could you please state who you are and give the audience some knowing of what you do.

I started in the computer scene in 1982 and moved to the USA in 1988 working for Electronic Arts. My job title is Audio Tech. Director, better known as Rob Hubbard.

On C64 I remember your musical work for such classics as 'Mega Apocalypse'. There are many other titles Iíve long forgotten, how many games have featured tracks you have composed? Is it possible to name them all?

Action Biker - Masteronic
Hunter Patrol - Masteronic
Monty On The Run - Micro Projects/Gremlin Graphics
Gremlins - I don't think this was published
Master of Magic - Digital Computers/Masteronic
Chimera - Firebird
The Last V8 - Digital Computers/Masteronic
Battle of Britain - P.S.S.
Human Race - Masteronic (Originally called "Evolution")
Spirit of Adventure - Masteronic
Phantom of the Asteroids
Thing On A Spring - Gremlin
Gerry The Germ - Firebird
Commando - Elite
One Man and His Droid - Masteronic
Zoids - Martech
Rasputin - Firebird
Crazy Comets  - Martech
Geoff Capes Strongman - Martech
Show Jumping - Alligata
Formula 1 - Masteronic
Thrust - Firebird
International Karate - System 3
Kentilla - Masteronic
Vollyball - Masteronic
Samfox Poker - Martech
Spellbound - Masteronic
Video Poker - Masteronic
Warhawk - Firebird
W.A.R. - Martech
Ninja - Masteronic
Chain Reaction/Zoolook - Kele line Games
Flash Gordon - Masteronic
Sanxion - Thalamus
Sigma 7 - Durell
Knucklebusters - Melbourne House
Lightforce - Gargoyle Games
Thanatos - Durell
Tarzan - Martech
Food Fued - Firebird (2 versions that never shipped)
Dragon's Lair 2 - Software Projects
Deepstrike - Durell
Wiz - Melbourne House
Shockway Rider - Gargoyle Games
Delta - Thalamus (special interactive loading tune)
Ace 2 - Cascade Games
Sabotuer 2 - Durell
Monty On The Run 2 - Gremlin
Nemesis The Warlock - Martech
I Ball - Firebird
Virgin Atlantic Flyer - Maxwell Technology Ltd
International Karate Plus - System 3
19 - Cascade Games
Pulsator - Martech  (can't remember what this is)
Trojan - Durell (can't remember anything about this)
Pandora - Firebird
Starpaws - Software Projects
Wolf - Gargoyle games (no idea what this was)
Bmx Kids - Firebird (has samples in it)
Big 4 pack/Arcade Classics - Firebird (uses samples)
Rainbow Dragon - Firebird (uses samples)
Mega Apocalypse - Martech (follow up 'Crazy Comets')
????? - Firebird (some kind of train game)
Skate Or Die - Electronic Arts
1 on 1 - Electronic Arts
Kings of the beach - Electronic Arts
Hockey - Electronic Arts

Other miscellaneous stuff from the 1980's

Thunder Cats - Atari St
Jupiter Probe - Atari St
Hydrafoil - Amstrad - Spectrum
Extirpator - Atari St
Goldrunner - Atari St, based on Human Race tune
5 A Side Soccer - Amstrad only
Music score for Knight Tyme

The most popular musicians seemed to have always adapted to the development of their own music editor. JCH, JEROEN TEL, FALCO PAUL etc.. did you code your own editor? and have you used other musician's editors??

I used my own source code and driver. Everything was done in machine code. I have not used any other editor on C64, but I have used many MIDI sequencer programs.

You have been on several computer formats for quite a few years now. Please give the readers a history on when you first started and what has happened up to the present day.

I started in 1982 learning BASIC programming and then got a C64. I learned 6502 and later moved to Z80 for Amstrad and Spectrum machines. I did projects on the Atari 8 bit machines and then on the Atari St and Amiga. In 1988 I moved to the USA and started working for EA. I did projects on the PC, NES, SNES and Sega Genesis. I have supervised other projects on the Playstation and Sega Saturn.

Nowadays I am not writing music anymore, but doing more management of the projects.

What are your favourites:

Food: Italian
Drink: Red wine
Movie: Star Wars Trilogy
C64 game: Thing on a spring
PC game: Most adventure games
Amiga game: Populous
Demo group: -
C64 musician: Martin Galway or David Whittaker
C64 graphician: -
C64 programmer: Tony Crowther or YAK

Real life music group: Lots of bands

What Computer/musical related equipment do you own?

I own a PC Pentium and I still have an old C64. I have a Piano, but no other music equipment.

Which musicians do you respect? and why??

I like many classical composers ranging from Mozart to Stravinscky. I also like Ralph Vaughn Williams and Prokovief.
There are some film composers that I like such as John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith. I respect these people because I have studied their music in depth. They all have natural ability and mastery of melody, harmony and rhythm.
How much time do you spend on a music? and which one is your longest amount of time spent on?

Most of the C64 projects were done in a day or two. The longest project was spread over 2 weeks (Delta).

Do you like conversions of music? If so, how should it be done to be accepted by the public?
You have to do the best you can when you are doing a conversion from one platform to another. You have to make reasonably intelligent decisions about how the music is going to be ported. In extreme cases, it is often better to rewrite the music for the new platform.

Which skills have you improved most over the years? Improvisation? musical theory? techniques?

I have always been good at music theory and composition techniques. I have improved greatly in film music styles and orchestration.

What do you think is your best work on C64?

There was a middle period which produced the best stuff. The early games were very safe and generally middle of the road. I think Sanxion would have to be my favourite.

What style of music do you think it best to improve a musicians skills. Classical? Jazz? Spanish Guitar even? Or does it matter per individual?

Classical music is good to study as you can generally buy the scores. You can study the score and learn about arranging melody development and harmony - it just takes a lot of work. Jazz is more about playing - it is more fun to play than to listen to, unless you are listening to the great legends of Jazz. In all music you should always try to find the elements which make it good music as opposed to trite music.

What has ELECTRONIC ARTS got planned for the future? Can you reveal any secrets?

We are always pushing the new technologies here at EA. That means, graphics, audio and game play. Check out our new Playstation titles MADDEN 97 and SOVIET STRIKE.

We meet with people like Dolby Labs and Intel and try to influence the direction that new technologies are going.
The new things are Dolby surround sound and then DVD - ROM with AC-3 audio. In Europe the audio is MPEG 2 7.1. These are very cool audio technologies and should be standard by 1999! The big  problem for software companies is the huge cost of development - that means that your product HAS to be successful and that the companies don't take any risks.

Did you get paid much per game? Which title reaped the most reward in:

Back in the mid 80's I was making (for me at the time) fairly good money. I think the biggest I got paid for was DELTA. The most satisfying were SANXION, KENTILLA, THING ON A SPRING and MASTER OF MAGIC.

Have you had any serious disagreements with the production team or distributing label?
I've had my disagreements - I still find it insane that many producers make decisions about audio without any real knowledge of what they are talking about. Nowadays I just try to help them as much as I can and inform them of the various implications of their decisions. I try not to get involved with their choices and feelings about music content, unless it is really bad.

I am quite sure over the years you have accumulated quite a lot of friends and acquaintances. Here is your chance to say hello.

Just to say hello and thanks to everyone Iíve met over the years.

Thanks for your time, any last words to leave a final impression on the audience?

The C64 era was great fun, and we developed a special culture that will never be recreated again. We all had a blast doing those games.

Thanks once again pal, enjoy life and prosper!