Wie is opgegroeid in de 00’s en 90’s zal de naam Ron Wasserman niet veel zeggen maar toch hoorde jij zijn werk overal. Hoe dan vraag je je af? Nou zijn aller bekendste voorbeelden zijn Spongebob, Power Rangers, X-men en DragonBall Z. Hij componeerde, zong of schreef de score of thema songs van deze bekende TV series.
En met de film “Power Rangers” in de bioscoop was het even nodig om de man achter het muziek van jouw favoriete series eens wat vragen te stellen.
Zie hier de transscript van het interview.
Thank you for your time for this interview! How have you been doing?
Actually been doing great! After 24 years of an intense schedule, I’ve finally got it down to a reasonable schedule of you know.. 6 days a week instead of 7. But not as brutal with the hours. Although this week it has been 16 hours days to keep up.
But in general, I’ve been doing great. I feel better than I’ve ever felt and I’m having a great time in life. Cause I can sneak out and go mountain bike for a few hours or I can just hang out at home with my son and my wife for a little bit and whenever I’m back to the studio and do work…
Like I’m here now it’s 11:28 pm I’m just wrapping up a day that started it at 10:00 am.
What was your favourite song that you’ve made and why?
Ehm.. for Power Rangers was “we need a hero”, it’s because back in the 90’s I was starting to sense that nobody had a leader any longer. There was nobody representing any people, not just certain ethnic groups or any races… it’s just… there was nobody to look up anymore everything was just kind of declining and as we have seen and this is no jab at the current administration in the US.
But as we have seen things have really deteriorated to whatever just constant fighting even if two people are on the same side. They end up fighting each other. I swear.. If we had a civil war now, everybody would shoot everybody…. it’s just the oddest thing to watch what is going on. So that’s my favourite Power Rangers song.
My favourite Fisher song is “I will love you”, which broke…
My wife’s the singer Kathleen Fisher in the band Fisher which led to us to be the biggest thing online with MP3 downloads when that’s started. Then we got a deal with Universal and had a great adventure and all of that sells well to this day. We did a whole bunch of CDs.
What is your inspiration to write these songs for cartoons/series and how do you come up with them?
I’ve been playing the piano when I started when I was three and when I was five I started writing and I’ve been blessed with this.. thing… that when I get called to write for something.. the idea instantly pops into my head and I’ve had times that I’ve been on with show producers, in where they have said; “Oh ah.. Cedric the Entertainer needs a gospel song, here is kinda of a basic direction I’ve got” “HOLD ON!” and I grab a handheld recorder and I recorded in the idea and I’ve said; “Good, now I just have to work it out”.
So that’s the process I’ve had.
Sometimes I do get into a jam I used to on commercials and then I’ve found that just walking into a circle phasing whenever it would be for 5 minutes or for 3 hours, the idea would suddenly hit me and then I just sit down and go through.
It’s fun, but at the same time it’s a lot of technical stuff, so you know.. it’s a labour of love than creating the track getting it out of my head and into my audio program “Pro Tools” and you know… to where it is presentable.
Which franchise would you love to see a reboot of and do the main theme song or soundtrack of?
I’m thinking of Dragon Ball Z but I don’t know how.. since I cannot figure out if it should be a live action thing or if they could do really high-end animation. Sort of but the characters should look the same, of course, I think the show has a big enough following. To where it would be really interesting to see it turn into a movie. But I’ll give to more thought and If I come up with another idea, I’ll let you know.
Do you see the series first?
This almost never happened, it only happened a few times. I have a show called ”First dates” that is coming out on April 7th on NBC on Fridays at eight o clock I think.. and on that one, I received a locked cut. Initially started writing stuff for it. So that’s not common though, sometimes I just get some artwork and sometimes I just literally get a three or four paragraph breakdowns of what the show is going to be and I start just start writing.
How does a typical day of a composer look like?
Well for me, generally up around 8 am, takes around an hour to get my brain moving, then I go get breakfast. Usually, in the studio by 9:30, the first thing is to check if there are any software updates. Go through that. Make sure my backups are going, answer some emails. So let’s put that down on 10 o’clock. 10 o’clock the work starts and I pretty much go straight through until 5:00 or 6:00 pm. Go home for dinner. (My studio is only a block and a half from home). Hang out for an hour, hour and a half, depending on what the urgency what still needs to be done.
Back to the studio and stay there till the project is complete that day or whatever needs to be complete that day.
So with the lighter schedule, I’m actually able to get out by 9:30 pm or 10:00 pm, but tonight work is up till 11:30 pm and I just finished a commercial. Right before I’ve started this interview. So It’s a shitload of work, you are the last one getting hired, you are the last one to get notes, you are the last one that ever knows about any changes in the show or you know different cuts and you have to be able to pull off miracles these days, even on the “sound stage” you will have music changes. So you have to have your laptop and a tiny wienie keyboard and hope it isn’t too complicated or build a huge library with stuff like I do, so I can quickly music edit and you know address any network notes at the last minute.
How did the industry change for you from.. let’s say 25 years ago and now?
Well, the technology sucked ass back then. The studio was at Saban and you had two tape machines that had a lock on each other. So you had 23 tracks on that, so you only had a total of 46 tracks to record on. That sounds like a lot but it is not when you are doing songs. It was a slow, slow painful process to work with that ancient technology and then to do a tonne of vocals and I had to layer everything so…
“do a verse, go back, hit rewind, wait for the machines to lock, now I’m waiting a minute, listen to that take.. “okey okey I’ll keep that”, now start I’ll double it or start I’ll start the harmonies.” So it took a lot of time, In which today’s technology. It’s instantaneous, I can have markers in the song, I can go back to check a chorus or loop any part of it.. instantly.
For me it is mainly technology, the business side is never changed really. You have some production places and producers that are absolutely remarkable to work with and others that are just lost, they try to get overly involved in the music and have no musical knowledge what so ever so the notes are very difficult to decipher. So that is all part of the business.
What was your favourite moment during the Saban period?
That was right after Power Rangers hit because why? Because I’ve spent from ’89 to ’92 working my ass off to get in as a composer. I worked there but I was working with other people’s stuff and I was writing for some direct to home video stuff and that was really rough.
So once Power Rangers hit, I was golden, I was in, I was left alone, I worked all night. I would get in at 6:00 pm and stayed till 5:00 am. I did that because It was in an office building and I didn’t want to get interruptions. Because, at no disrespect for non-creatives.. the thing they don’t get is once you are in this ”zone” while creating.. anything that can throw you off but lose an idea.
For all I know, was I there during the day just as I was just starting “Go Go Power Rangers”, someone could have walked in and said; “Hey, I wanted to ask you about your parking place” or something like that and could have lost the idea. Because back then I didn’t have any handheld recorders everywhere I go like I do now. So that’s why I choose to work at night and that was my favourite time.
So… why did you Saban?
Because I had two reasons: I was doing 80 hours a week there, I was doing Power Rangers, Xmen, VR Troopers, Sweet Valley High, their commercials, their promos and anything the execs wanted personally. So I was really exhausted. This was a deal called; “work for hire” even though I ended up with a peace on nearly anything and it is done to this day to major film composers (I won’t mention names). This is how the business works when you are breaking in. They take all the rights.
So after having created all these amazing themes and the scores, with Power Rangers and X-men being so big and I went in and said; “How about we do a deal where in I have a fair share of everything I write” They said “No!” and I was exhausted so I decided to jump without a safety net and I left. It was no hard feelings, we had a very nice meeting about it and that was it. It was done, two weeks later I was working with a producer named Bob Ezrin who worked with Pink Floyd, did the wall and did other sorts of big albums back then.
He said: “I’m starting a gaming company, so come on over!”. So I did my first game on the PC, this would be like 1996 with Ace Ventura and worked with Monthy Python, worked on some of their games. So I became pretty happy pretty quick. It has been a great ride ever since.
Why didn’t they go with your version of the Power Rangers Mystic Force theme (I think the original is better)?
Actually, originally when I delivered the rock version. Disney called; “We love it, slam dunk! We love it!” and then 3 or 4 days one of the excesses called and said: “Well, some of the producers were driving into this morning, was listing to rap and got it in their heads that the Power Rangers should have a rap vibe. So that it would speak to the kids more than rock”. So that’s why they went with that. Which didn’t work out, wasn’t hip and now sounds extremely outdated. Some people may disagree with me, but for the most part rap and the rangers don’t go together very well.
Now maybe if Eminem would do it, something cool would have happened.
How do you feel about that your original score from Power Rangers is still being used/remade/covered by so many other people? (like in the new movie)
I’ve listened to the soundtrack, I heard the “Go Go Power Rangers” theme on the end credits for the new film and thought it sounded really good but was odd.. and it may not affect anyone else, it seemed like when the drums kicked it anywhere part of the soundtrack, the cymbals were kind off mixed strong, they were overbearing and too harsh. But I have the ultra sensitive hearing and overall it sounded real.. really great. Although it is still odd for me to hear it as an orchestral version because it is just meant to be rock. Although it is powerful, huge and he did everything that anyone could do with an orchestra to do that theme it still turns into a bit of ‘muzak” for me. Just my personal opinion.
I’m thrilled about all the people doing covers, I’ve seen some stuff recently, one with a girl playing the bagpipe and doing a lead and it is off the charts. She’s doing the triplets on a bagpipe and other parts in it! It is unbelievable
You’ve made in 2012 of the REDUX soundtrack of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers music. Will you ever create a second album? With like ZEO music etc?
No, here is why anything that I did on PR REDUX, anything I cover has to been released on an audio-only device. So all those songs had been obviously released on the rock adventure album and what not. So I was cleared to do those.
Some of the other stuff and themes never were, so I can’t do them and I don’t think I want to because really that group of songs I did in 2012. That’s the core, that’s the foundation of the show for anyone who watched it back then. Although they continued on and morphed (hah, no pun intended!) into all another sort of things.
The core stuff was where I was most involved and felt most honest. It had no intrusions for the majority of it. So to me, this is the most honest.
Many people say they have been inspired in some way or the other. How does that make you feel?
Yeah, first of all, it’s the biggest honour and I’m so flattered every time I hear it. I consider my work… Look, I’m not a religious guy but there is some sort of channelling thing going on, I’m picking up the right radio station. It’s like I’ve said, the ideas just pop up in my head.
Where ever they came from, it’s not out of ego I just feel like.. thank you for the idea, I just do the work to make it sound as good as possible. So I have no real ego about it but when I get emails from people who say; “I listen to your stuff as a kid because my father or mother was abusive or where my father left, or my father died, or my mother left or my mother died.” It runs the gamut from that to people who picked up the guitar and; “Now I’m in a band, we are signing with Warner Brothers and thank you so much”
What a great gift to be given to be able to write music, what luck I’ve had through incredibly hard work but what luck I’ve had to be able to influence people and then create new art from it.
If it saved a few people, it’s an incredible gift to be handed… I mean that is a pretty amazing gift I’ve been handed. So I’m very appreciative of it.
… and who inspired you?
I really never lock on to any one artist or song for that long, I have the stuff to go back and listen to. Like Radiohead’s new album “Moon shaped pool” I probably listen to really 70 times or so… which is really rare for me. But my taste growing up ran the gamut, I remember at AM radios, I would tune into radio stations from other countries so maybe listen to Brazillian stuff for a bit then I’d find a classical station, then I went go learn George Gurshwin at the same time I was listing to Elton John and Black Sabbath songs and then some prog rock with Genesis and Pink Floyd those types of bands. So it was so diverse.
But the only thing I never listen to other than George Jones, was country an opera. I still don’t listen to country but I can and have times that I listen to a few songs course it’s … interesting. Just like all pop music these days. But I still tend to go back to classical stuff because it doesn’t fit a format of an intro, a verse, chorus, re-intro, a second verse… I mean, classical music, scatters my thinking process a bit which I think is healthy for me.
Maybe little parts of that stick in my brain to when I need to grab a melody really quick. So it really runs the gamut.
Your rocky sound is pretty clear in Dragon Ball Z, X-men animated series and of course Power Rangers. They sound the same but yet so different… How do you give a theme song its own vibe?
First of all in Dragon Ball Z with “Rock the Dragon” that isn’t me, I know a lot of people think it is. What I did is the score for the first couple years and at least 3 seasons and that was handed to me after I left Saban by Saban because they said; “Look here is a show we don’t really care about, so If you just want to score it at home.. score it.” So it was an easy gig and got to do it whatever I wanted, so I went to this really heavy drone of there, weird stuff with big hits and it worked really well to picture and nobody really ever said a word to me about it until three or four years ago. People started writing me about that stuff and now it is getting more and more frequent. So again that brings up that you have to wait a long time until it becomes a cult classic.. and then people start writing you and then they are hooked into what you did way back. But at the time, we didn’t get a single email or anything about that show. Nobody even mentioned it, I wasn’t even aware it was a success. I had no idea.
So the other question in there how do you give the song it’s own vibe and that is just the matter of rerunning everything in your head that you have done previously unless somebody I wanted to sound like X-men or sound like Power Rangers and you have to create a new sound palette even if you take elements from what you have done in the past you don’t want people to ever say ever “The themes all sound the same” plus if I remember correctly we may have had a rough cut at the opening on X-men and just different more exciting theme that felt more high tech and animation is a completely different beast than live action. So that driving baseline just seemed appropriate. When I do themes now, it’s just a matter of.. ehm.. I don’t know if I can really discuss this. A criminal based network drama and they send some samples of the vibe they are going for and I’m kinda doing what I have always done which is probably cost me and not getting a lot of themes.
I’ll respect what they want but if I hear it differently in my head, I’m just going to go for it, because when those things do get through, then they end up doing the best and the show ends up doing really well. It’s where things are overly micromanaged they don’t. It is pretty interesting how the industry works. But you give it its own vibe.
Who’s your favourite Power Ranger?
It’s got to be Amy Jo Johnson (Kimberly) the Pink Ranger because I hung out with her and one night she came to the studio to sing and I don’t think we got through the session because she wasn’t feeling well (I can’t quite remember). But she was an absolute doll and absolutely gorgeous so I’ve always really liked her best
.. and X-men?
Storm, that’s it! Favourite character, Storm.
Are you working on new projects and if so could you let us in on a sneak peak? 😉
Well, I have the Thundermans going for season 4 at Nickelodeon that takes a fair amount of time. I just (hopefully) finish tonight a pretty huge musical number for “Orbits” the travel site. We are shooting that spot on Saturday and that’s all I can say about that. Then I’ve got three or four other projects that I’m contributing to…
and then there is actually a couple of more potential NBC shows but .. you have to sign an NDA. So I cannot really discuss but It would be great if a couple of them come through.
Thank you so much for your time, Ron! Do you have any shoutouts to give?
Let me shout out to all the people who have been so kind to me through the years, who have written me, complimented me, who have given me the most valuable gift which is their time… that is the most valuable thing and to hear something positive from so many people for so many years always makes me happy. So that’s it!
Shoutout is; Thanks, everybody I still sit and in shock. After all these years that I’ve had so much luck but I really … It’s just my job. That is how I always looked at it, it’s my day job. So when people write me; “You’ve influenced me this way I’m always floored and it keeps me going. I think with dealing just the business side and never talking to all the people who have enjoyed my work… I don’t know, I’d probably be living in the desert somewhere staring at a cactus all day and drinking! Oh lord, so anyways, thank you very much, everybody, and thank you very much, John. I will talk to you soon. Bye!