BioGamer Girl: Composer Kevin Riepl talks “ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES”
by: Amanda Dyar on: 2013-01-26 18:02:15
Fans will be able to get their hands on ALIENS: COLONIAL
MARINES on February 12, 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. We recently sat down
with the video game’s composer Kevin Riepl to get the inside scoop on the Xenomorph chaos that lurks ahead!
FANGORIA: The ALIENS
film series is obviously one of the most recognizable franchises in cinema
history, and your work for ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES has to go down as one of
your biggest projects to date. As a composer, did you approach ALIENS: COLONIAL
MARINES any differently than your previous works and how did it feel to work on
a series with such a huge following?
KEVIN RIEPL: Creating the score for ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES
definitely required a different approach than previous projects I’ve worked on,
mainly because of it being an existing franchise and having an enormous amount
of music that has been established in the previous films. I needed to have an
approach where I could reference and pay homage to those existing themes and
motifs while at the same time creating an original score for the continuation
of the story. Having this task set out in front of me was extremely exciting
but also a bit daunting at first, because of the franchise’s huge
following. Right from the start I felt
that this score had to meet expectations of fans, support the story, sound
familiar and be original all at the same time.
FANG: The ALIENS series had a long history of soundtracks
and composers for you to draw inspiration from as you were creating a new,
original soundtrack for the game. What were you able to take away from previous
entries in the series in order to create the ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES
RIEPL: There are
quite a few times in the score where I pay homage to Goldsmith’s ALIEN and
Horner’s ALIENS. I thought it was essential to touch on those previous themes
since the story is canonical. The score needed that familiar sound that fans
are so attached to, helping to bring the experience right back into the world
from where the story had left off. There was plenty of material in the previous
scores that influenced how I approached certain aspects of gameplay.
Goldsmith’s and Horner’s use of synths and strange sounds were a huge influence
on how I contoured the music for tense and stressful scenes. The same goes with action sequences. I would
write brand new material with both their styles in mind, at the same time
keeping my voice as the center piece for the cue. This is something that can be
heard throughout the score. I don’t believe there is one piece that sounds like
it could come out of left field. The score was tailored to fit nicely in with
the ALIEN universe.
FANG: ALIENS is a series full of both horror and action, and
a score for any movie or game in the series has to create a variety of mood-setting
tones in order to be effective. Which original composition was the most
difficult for you to create for ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES and why? Also, which
of the many songs on the soundtrack was your favorite? Which do you think will
quickly become a fan favorite when the game is released?
RIEPL: The most difficult piece to write was the first one.
I don’t recall what exact cue that was because it went through a few
iterations. Finding that right balance of a new original score with influences
from the first two films was the challenge. Agreeing on how much influence from
Goldsmith and Horner would be in there and how much of Kevin Riepl would be in
there… Getting that exact balance was the key.
My favorite track has to be the last track on the album,
“Retreat.” The main melody in that track, which is eventually stated fully in
the middle of the piece, was heavily inspired by Hicks’ spoken line in ALIENS,
“Drake, we are LEAVING!” The soaring horn then trumpet melody over
the intense orchestra and percussion echoes the cadence and the pitch of the
line over the gun fire, explosions and screaming in the film.
I am unsure of what a fan favorite would be. Main themes are
usually the most popular (which is also one of my favorites). There is so much
material (over 90 minutes)!
FANG: ALIENS: COLONIAL MARINES is not your first venture
into shooters, with your resume already including plenty of work on the GEARS
OF WAR and UNREAL TOURNAMENT series. What continues to draw you to these types
of projects and in what ways does you unique sounds best fit this form of
RIEPL: I love sci-fi, action, and horror. These genres have
been my favorite since I was a little kid (even before I ventured into music in
4th grade.) To me, it’s inevitable that these genres would have some sort of
influence in how my sound would be shaped as I grew as a composer. Being a
gamer myself and enjoying shooters increases my interest in these styles of
games. These three genres combined usually allow a composer to reach outside
the obligatory “musical box” and use any technique and method known to create
the scores for such a genre.
FANG: Did you get a
chance to play the upcoming release and what did you think of the game? Also,
can you tell us a bit about your work with CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO and any
other projects that you are currently working on?
RIEPL: I have not yet had a chance to play the finished
game. However, I’ve seen plenty of other people at Gearbox Software play it and
it looks amazing. I honestly can’t wait to play it.
I haven’t started work on CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO yet.
That film came about as a result of working with director Kaare Andrews on his
contribution to Draft House Films’ anthology film ABC’S OF DEATH.
Also being released early this year is Microsoft’s fantasy
action title, ASCEND: NEW GODS.