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  • Interview: Mick Gordon

    [05.17.11]
    - Darren Yeow

  • Knowing the gloriously tumultuous nature of our industry, were there times you wanted to throw in the hat?

    MG: No way man! Definitely not! My first and only regular "job" was as "track maintenance personnel" for the Rockhampton horse racing track. This sounds fancy, but all I did was walk around the track after a race filling in the holes that the horses made with a bucket of sand.

    This took 15 minutes, and there was a race every 45 minutes, so for the rest of the time I'd sit on the big tractor they gave to me which I sometimes used to shift the barriers.

    One day, the final race was on for the big Spring Carnival and as the horses sped passed in front of me one of them tripped and threw the Jockey a few meters.

    I rushed onto the track just as the Ambulance arrived but the Jockey was already back on his feet. Then I saw the horse.

    The poor thing had broken its fetlock, half of its leg was torn opened and understandably it was very distressed. As I knelt down to comfort the animal, the Jockey stormed over and started cussing at the downed animal, calling it all sorts of profanities.

    The Ambulance officer arrived and told me to wait for the vet as he helped the jockey into the Ambulance.

    As the vet arrived, the horse pulled himself up on his three good legs and the doctor instructed me to hold the reins as he pulled out a big syringe filled with some nasty looking blue liquid.

    He injected this straight into the horse's neck and it fell down immediately with a terrible thump. He then asked me to take the horse down towards the back of the property past the big hill and rushed off.

    I drove my tractor out onto the track, back it up to the horse, rope its lifeless body to the back brace and drag it down the back.

    I'd never been down the back, but I knew I was in the right place when I saw horse bones scattered on the ground. I unhooked the horse and buried it the best I could. I felt like crap. I put the tractor away and walked up to where the punters were.

    Absolutely covered in blood and horse waste, I walked right through the crowd of campaigned girls with expensive fancy hats and the drunken yobbos guzzling cheap spirits. There was one guy there screaming at the bookmaker about how his $300 bet was forfeit due to the horse not finishing the race. It was quite a big day for a 13 year old.

    So nah man, this job is easy.

    Tell me about some of the projects you've been working on.

    MG: I've got two projects that are in full production at the moment - Need for Speed: World and a Marvel game with Spider-Man, Hulk, Ironman and all the other cool ones.

    Stylistically they're polar opposites with NFS being full of hard-edged aggression and adrenaline, and Marvel being more epic, mysterious and, well, heroic.

    I've got three other projects in pre-production which will kick-in with a massive workload in the immediate future and then there's a handful of fun indie stuff as well. The game industry is super secretive so I can't really say much more than that, sorry guys!

    Earlier this year I finished scoring M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender which was a stack of fun and required a ton of music to be written in a few short weeks.

    James Newton Howard is scoring the film but I had to score the game before he started writing music for the film. So, the challenge came from trying to predict what sort of music he'd be doing for the movie and then translate that into my score for the game.

    I think it came out pretty well and it gave me the opportunity to work with some amazing musicians, such as the talented Jeff Ball on violin as well as recording Duduks, Ney Flutes, Ouds, Mijwizs and Bansuris -- awesome fun!

    Early last year the Museum of Victoria called me up to produce and install the audio for their blockbuster exhibition entitled "A Day in Pompeii" which featured a large collection of artefacts from Pompeii which of course was destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79AD.

    My awesome team and I ended up producing 13 hours of audio!

    We wrote and recorded three hours of Latin dialogue, I wrote and recorded a stack of music, we installed 21 speakers in the venue and developed a dynamic playback system that ensured the audience was always going to hear something different.

    We were able to treat the venue as a large, real-life game level. The exhibition was a huge success and is now in New Zealand, then it heads to Singapore, then off to the USA.

    Earlier this year at GDC the awesome people at G.A.N.G. awarded us with the "Best Audio -- Other" award for our work on the exhibition.

    Then later on through last year the groovy people at EA Black Box brought me on to do some work on Need for Speed: Shift.

    This was amazing as I joined a team of incredibly talented and world-renowned audio-peeps and I learned so much from everybody.

    My whole concept of "good work" completely changed for the better and I was blown-away at how quickly these guys produce award-winning work.

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