Command & Conquer is very much a part of what my style...was founded on, combining the various elements of rock, electronic, hip-hop, and contemporary edge with some orchestral and some what-not—it comes down to not having limitations on what it is you can do, and when you have a project like this that allows you that freedom and that creativity to thrive, you can really take advantage...I think the biggest difference now is, imagine my mindset and the way I was thinking and writing when Command & Conquer first came out, and add about fifteen years experience to that—I think that's what you can expect from Universe at War.
The first song I ever wrote back then was the song that landed me the job as composer at Westwood Studios, which was remarkable for me at the time. It was basically an acoustic guitar song with electric guitar leads and keyboard strings, and raining sound effects in the background. If I had to compare it to anything, it was probably similar to an interlude Queensryche song. I never released this song before, but I've recently been thinking about re-recording it with the experience I have now and really making it sound proper. Maybe one day.
(When asked what shaped his musical preferences) That comes from many directions. My parents, relatives, and friends shaped a good part of that, and whatever I heard on the radio and mtv growing up (back when MTV was actually a music channel instead of a teenage reality show channel) and movies I loved, just wherever it came from that exposed me to it I would weed out quickly what I did and didn't care for. My music tastes have always been diverse, though I tried to kid myself at certain times that I only like this or that, no matter what everything I ever liked has still stuck with me so I learned to embrace that and not close myself off to things.
(When asked about his Westwood experiences) Westwood was a fantastic place to work, with great people, great games we created, and we all really loved what we did. We were passionate about it. I have so many great memories there, and the ironic thing is I actually regret not having attended more of the fun company functions and parties while I was instead playing club gigs with bands with the mentality of trying to get signed or discovered. Granted thats the kind of thing you try for when you're young, but it took awhile to sink in, that my real future and career was already under my nose. Lots of funny stuff happened. Office pranks, fun extra content we created, certain personalities that always made you laugh. Just all of life's experiences along the way whether it was staying in an awful hotel on a business trip, or trying to set-up an embarrassed co-worker with a date, it's all great stuff you can laugh about later. When Westwood closed it was truly the end of an era, but in a way it has been resurrected at Petroglyph where I am now. Half the company are old Westwood employees and although it's a different time in the industry, we are all thankful to still be working together and making the best games we can.
(When asked about pop music) Pop music has become the largest farce in music history. It is soul-less, mechanical, and only made for the sole purpose of making the fastest dollar possible, with more emphasis on imagery than the music. I would much rather remain an independent recording artist who can dictate his own creativity and make it available to a smaller community of fans then sign with a major label under conditions of compromising my work just to sell lunch boxes and sound like every other thing out there. The only artists that have any longevity are the ones that pioneer a movement not follow a movement. The hundreds of following wannabes always get left in the dust or remain one-hit-wonders.
(When asked about gaming) I have a few favorites: Stand-up arcade game - 720 degrees, RTS - Command & Conquer & Star Wars Empire at War, FPS - Unreal Tournament 2004. As far as RPGs, I prefer good old D&D on paper for that. The game industry is as strong as the music and film industry now, and crosses over into both as well. I still play all the games I just mentioned every now and again. I find it intriguing that retro-gaming has come back in a big way. All the old arcade games from the 80s seem to have found their way back in the form of built in joysticks that plug into TVs. Xbox360 has live arcade downloads, the Wii has classic Nintendo and Turbo Graphix downloads, it's very interesting. I think people are recognizing once again that simple short fun experiences are just as good as having long huge production experiences. Theres something out there for everyone, and gaming is as much for adults as it is for kids. I love variety in gaming. For a good while there was too much of the same types of games year after year, and it feels like we're seeing more creativity again, which is a good thing.
(When asked to reflect on his career) Music is the emotion of the experience. Regarding whether someone knows composers by name, it comes down to how much the music had touched someone that they then care enough to find out who composed it. Myself as an example, I get a dozen or so fan emails every single day, from all over the globe. Most of the time it's new people that are just now figuring out who I am after all their years of playing games I've done, and that I composed some of their favorite game music or just their favorite game in particular. And it never gets old even though I've been reading them and answering them ever since I launched my website www.frankklepacki.com about seven years ago. You can't beat knowing you've had that kind of impact on people on a regular basis. I am always very grateful for it. Some of my fans cared enough to spread the word about my career that they made a full feature article on Wikipedia. That blew me away!
(Continued) The ironic thing is that my original goal in life was to be in a famous band, tour the world and sell millions of albums. Although that didn't quite happen, I got something else just as gratifying. Instead of being in a famous band, I gained some fame in the industry as a game composer. Instead of touring the world, I receive fan mail from around the world. Instead of selling millions of albums, my music is on millions of games! And I sell enough of my own albums that allows me to keep releasing them. So in a different way, I kind of got what I wanted after all. And I'm more than happy with that. The most fulfilling part of it is that I feel I contributed something that mattered to a significant number of people, and more importantly, I got to be a part of projects that mattered a lot to my life personally, like Star Wars!