Michael (M): Hello, everyone this is Michael Prwyes, Host of "How I Broke Into", where we take a deep dive into the big breaks of artists and entrepreneurs. Today's show is just awesome for anyone but especially for people who love all different types of music. Jim Dooley is an Emmy award winning composer and songwriter with a diverse repertoire spanning the film, television, video gaming, and live theatrical industries. He's earned accolades for his solo work as well as proud collaborations with many of the top names in music. Jim's a graduate of NYU and upon completion of his degree moved to Los Angelos to study the art of film composing at USC with prolific scoring legends, Christopher Young, Elmer Bernstein, and Leonard Rosenman. He joined Media Ventures now Remote Control Productions in 1999 and collaborated with Hans Zimmer on DreamWork's Gladiator. And as an additional Composer Arranger and Orchestrator and Columbia Pictures, The Davinci Code, Disney's Pirates of the Carribean, The Curse of the Black Pearl, DreamWork's The Ring and many others. Two projects featuring Jim's music were also honored with Oscar nominations. In television, Jim has written original music for shows on NBC, ABC, FX, CW, and Lifetime and his music on the critically acclaimed series, Pushing Daisies, won him the prime time Emmy award for best original music composition for a series. In film, Jim has composed for many live-action films and animated films such as Madagascar, Madagascar II, and the Penguins of Madagascar. The Oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and Operation Got Your 6, featuring First Lady Michelle Obama. Jim's expertise in other media can be found in the complex interactive scores for best-selling video game titles such as Epic Mickey, Disney Infiniti, Marble Super Heros, Infamous, and SOCOM 3 U.S. Navy Seals. Jim is currently scoring TNT's hit drama, The Last Ship, with collaborator James Lavine. He recently emerged into the sports industry with his theme for the 2015 Senior PGA Championship heard on both NBC and the Golf Channel. I am so pleased to welcome Jim Dooley to "How I Broke Into". Hi, Jim!
Jim (J): Hello, how are you, Michael? Wonderful to have, to be with you today.
M: And so great, I am really honored and delighted to have you here. You've got an amazing background and a diverse background and I am so eager to find out how it all started and I mean how it all started. When did you first realize that you loved music and you wanted to go into music?
J: Well, you know, I think what lots of people, like your initial engagement with music is slightly departed from where you end up. And what I mean by that is when I was a kid in Queens, New York, learning to play guitar I wanted to be in a Rock band and be, you know a Rock God, and that's what I wanted to be, and then at some point ah, just before college I realized that, uh this is, like I wasn't good enough to be a professional guitar player.
M: When did you start guitar?
J: I was seven?
J: Something like this. It's not an ideal instrument for a young person because it's, your fine motor skills are you know, it's it's got a different learning curve than say the piano which, like I can teach anybody heart and soul on the piano in you know half an hour, whether they have musical abilities or not. But if I want to teach you how to play something on the guitar, you can't learn really do something like that in the afternoon, like here's two chords, like those are, it's really complex movement and it takes awhile to get the hang of it. So the learning curve is a bit steeper on the guitar, especially for a kid.
M: So how does a kid from Queens end up learning the guitar at such a young age?
J: Well you know it wasn't, my next door neighbor took guitar lessons and my mother thought it would be a good idea so my sister started before me, so she, my sister is a year older so she started a year before me and my mother had a guitar she was a beatnik, you know, in the New York City days, and of that and so learning a folk song, Peter, Paul and Mary, and having an acoustic guitar around the house was indicative of how she grew up and so we had good couple of acoustic guitars in the house. And I think my lessons at that time were $5.00 an hour and so my sister took lessons before me and then...
M: Did you say $5.00 an hour?
M: (laughs) Oh, that's pretty good!
J: Yeah so, and this has got to be oh, about 1982 or something like this. So, uh, my, my guitar teacher, you know I didn't understand it at the time but you, turns out to have been, his name was Dominic Murrow, he's long passed I'm sure, I haven't, I didn't keep in much contact once, he was already old when I met him, uh, but he played guitar, like Django Reinhardt, like that was his thing, he, he was a jazzer, but from the, like the European Jazz and I mean I still, I'm sure I still have somewhere around, but I have recordings of, we used to record when uh, a little cassette recorder at some point during our lessons when I would learn something well enough and I would have the lead line to play, something painfully simple and yeah, I was seven or eight years old, and then he would do the accompaniment and just like improvise the whole thing. You know it's funny, I've never talked about this before, I haven't had to revisit this in quite some time, these memories.
M: And so did we…
J: My sister loved it, but not like in the way that I loved it and there were these little glimpses into where I'd end up, you know just sporadically (howling), sorry that's my dog in the back there…
M: (laughing) I wasn't sure what that was!
J: Was it like the gardener? Okay, I'm going to let him just bark or howl at the wind there for a second. There's no, um, he can't get outside and it's raining and he's old, so. Okay, so yeah there was like, my sister needed uh, an audition piece when we were in High School so I learned Trumpet in Junior High, um, Elementary School...
M: Oh, me too.
J: So, you know, you're in, that's what's great about these you know the Arts Programs and...In the New York City public school system, you know it's like you had a choice, its like they gave you a hearing test and if you could kind of like, if you could tell the pitch was high or low, it's like, then you could have these basic quantitation’s of sounds than they would put you in band you know and like here's an instrument. I had a Coronet and uh, Mrs. Diggs was the teacher and so I'm now I'm playing two instruments. I'm taking guitar lessons and I'm learning the trumpet and then I got up to so we went to High School and before I got into High School my sister needed an audition piece. There's a, there is what was called a repertoire company, it's like a contemporary ensemble so there was singers, figured maybe like you'd have like 50 singers or something on stage, maybe more, and then they would have drummers, percussionists, piano players, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, horn section, you know, that kind of thing and she wanted to get into it and so she needed an audition piece so I asked my friends in Junior High School, well I actually went to the Loius Armstrong Middle School, um, it wasn't my zoned High School, I had [illegible] but they had a better music program. I don't know why I ended up there, but...
M: So you knew then that you wanted a better...
J: You know, well there were just these little glimpses at this point, where like when my sister needed an audition piece I asked some of my friends and they're like, here's uh, you should check out Stairway To Heaven, I remember that, and I'm like, I have no idea what you're talking about. So the novice that I was, I gotta tell you how many times I went to the music store and was just a complete idiot um,...
M: So, when you say music store do you mean like, Sam Ash, or ...
J: Sam Goode, actually.
M: Oh, those are the, the record store?
J: The record store, yeah, and I'll get to the idiot part of this Sam Ash thing, which was on [illegible] Blvd. later. And I, I said hey, can I have the single to Stairway to Heaven, and he's like, no. (laughter) Broken up for like, okay, anyway...
J: You have to buy the album, I'm like okay, so I go over and buy the record and cassette at that time and then I went to get the sheet music so I go to Sam Ash and obviously not, no problem, you are wanting the single folio for the guitar. And that was an advantage you know as a guitar player you can get like the guitar version of Stairway To Heaven, not just here’s the grand staff piano version, it's like you want to learn the guitar, here’s the guitar version. So I gave it to my sister and I'm like here this will be good for your audition piece. Here's the cassette, and here's the sheet music. My sister could not be less interested in any of this.
M: So you didn't want to be a guitar God at this point?
J: No, this is, the Zeppelin stuff, and I listened to Stairway to Heaven and I was like, wow, this is actually pretty cool so I learned it myself and then. But because I didn't have the single like I listened to the rest of the record and as I...
M: Oh, my God...
J: ...and I was like, I love this, and so then I kept buying more Led Zeppelin records until I had them all and I spent my formative year training time was sitting with my cassettes, learning, like pause, play, where is that on the guitar? I spent a lot of time, I mean so much time that I could, I could play any song from the entire catalogue, I'm like oh, here's the this is the organ part is over here, and the guitar part is near the baseline, and that's, not so much the bass, but if it was something like, you know, ah, specific what it is and what it should never be, or something like that, and I'm like, I learned that and I, that's why I just all by ear I learned all this stuff and I can read but it was a great ear training thing and that's helped a lot in my life. That's time that I spent time just sitting with a cassette rewinding and hitting play. I think there is a disadvantage to some kids these days where you know if you want to learn a song, want to YouTube and someone just shows you how to play it right? I got good because I had to figure it out and learn it for myself.
M: Before you discovered Stairway to Heaven and Zeppelin was it just folk music and Django Reinhardt, or...?
J: Well it was like basic, I mean it was the outline, the Alfred guitar books, you know it was exercise in A flat in you know fourth position, it was you know, more like studies then, I wasn't learning pieces.
M: And you started out at a very young age on guitar and then in Elementary School you go to a Coronet which actually was what I played as well, for just a couple of years…(laughs)
M: ...and I only did because my father did it and my grandfather did it so, uh, (laughs) I didn't, I, I've always wished I had this drive to learn instruments retrospectively because I feel like it's when you are a kid and you have had these discoveries that you really get your artistry. Do you agree with it, or?
J: I agree but it's even more than that. I don't think you can disagree with that in that it's like learning a language at a young age, it goes to when you learn language as a kid it goes into a different part of the brain than when you learn language as an adult.
M: Absolutely, so it's not, like learning...
J: Now that, it's harder to take up piano later in life. It's physically harder because, you know I read a great article in the New York Times it talked about like why's the center where music is processed so developed in our brains it's like it for what use, it's a significant amount of brain power to deal with this and uh, it's not clearly known but that's it having to develop earlier on is great. I wish that I would have learned piano earlier on. I still take, you know I practice and I take piano lessons. Because I never had, I didn't take them until like college, and I can play you know I can do the work but I've, going from singles to that guitar and then learned having to go to grand staff in college was, it's again it's just a different, I didn't grow up with that so I have the same regrets that you do about when I would have learned these instruments and how dutifully I would have studied them.
M: You mentioned an article in the New York Times. Do you happen to know around when you read it, or?
J: Well, this is just something later in life, but it might have something to do with Oliver Sacks because you know there are so many of those, his writings having to do with the capacity of the brain for music, but I couldn't probably place it to within five years but I'm going to be forty this year, so, anyway.
J: But, I'll tell you what, like learning that that Zeppelin thing like I got to tell you, oh my God, podcasters won't be able to see this, but, that double neck guitar is the one that Jimmy Page used um, to play Stairway to Heaven live. I've always wanted that guitar. Had a poster of it on my wall since I was a kid obviously this was not his, but this is a 1979 eds-1275 and I wanted it my entire life...
M: Wow, that's so cool!
J: ...and now I have it. I swear to God like I told everybody like nobody, again like don't even look at it. Don't even, don’t even think about it. Funny enough I was at work, uh at Remote Control and Hans Zimmer popped by and he saw it and I told him don't think about it...
J: ...and so and then I'm like, I'm like well, okay you can pick it up and play it and of course like everybody in the world who would do this, he picks it up and starts playing Stairway to Heaven. Like this is the only guitar that you're are legally allowed to play Stairway to Heaven on.
J: It's like, it's one of those things like if you go into a music store, it's like, it's forbidden, it's the forbidden song. Right, I remember in, what was it? Mike Myers, with Wayne's World, it's the Can I help you? song cause as soon as you start playing it, someone comes over and says, Can I help you?
J: and uh, having Hans pick it up and play Stairway to Heaven, I'm like it's that guitar! Actually, you know what's funny now? That guitar is so magnetic, he was bringing around Johnny Mar up from when they were working on Inception. Dude, I don't know if you know Johnny...
M: Oh, he's the guitarist for The Smiths. Okay.
J: And, ah, so he's like, Jim this is Johnny, and I'm like hey man, of course I know who you are and, he's not looking at me at all, he's looking at the guitar while shaking my hand, but looking that the guitar. He's like, Hey man, do you mind if I borrow it? I'm like, I really don't like people touching this guitar, but like it's Johnny Mar and what are you going to do and so he played that on Inception, and it's...
J: I've had calls like when I think they did another movie together and I get a call it's like Hans Zimmer called, it's like wants to know if Johnny can borrow your guitar again, (laughs) you know?
M: That's so cool! And that didn't…
J: This is why I wanted to connect. This is all a part of the like this goes back to that Stairway to Heaven...
J: ...in 1982 for me.
M: But, with Stairway to Heaven, what's really cool, it's a very instrument rich song and what I was going to ask you before and I totally go sidetracked and I apologize but you go from the guitar to the Coronet...
M: ...and correct me if I'm wrong but it sounds like you started to discover the real integration playing multiple types of instruments that can be fused into some sort of symphony or some sort of cohesive whole.
J: Absolutely, you know it's, it was ah, definitely that awakening part. Everybody has to play a recorder. The Soprano recorder is just deaf but again, except for the times it's on, Stairway to Heaven!
M: Which has multiple recorders on it. (laughs) My son just started playing the recorder! (laughing)
J: [illegible] Are these soprano recorders? I think they are. I don't know, by the way, there are four recorders; there’s soprano, alto, tenor, and bass recorders still. We actually, when I was in High School we did a, as a part of our music history class, I learned, now did I play the bass recorder, no I played the tenor one, yeah tenor one, and a friend of mine, we did mid-evil rounds of Summer is a Coming In, um, which is a mid-evil folk tune that you can do in rounds, but you could do in four-part rounds and we did it with four recorders and, but anyway, these are all the crazy things you do as kids that you think are never going to impact your life and end up doing it tremendously.
M: It all contributes.
J: It does you know, and I'll tell you this, when I got, the next instrument, I would doodle at the piano, you know there's pianos everywhere and you know, schools, and I had cousins who had a piano and back home's from Buffalo and they would play Heart & Soul and things like that and they had whole sheet music books while I would, I remember learning a song on the piano, I think it was one of the first things I ever learned, which was uh, I mean obviously today, uh, Christmas Day is Here the Most Wonderful Time of Year from [illegible] ranger (piano playing song) and I remember learning that so that was, I started getting into piano but you know we didn't have one at home and I think I had like a little synthesizer and stuff because I know I am kind of jumping around here. We, I've played in Rock bands and if you get into, I got into High School, my sister beautiful young woman and this guy was interested in her so and the way that he was trying to get to her was by having me in his Rock band (laughing) so the first song that he wanted to do in the band was Sanitarium and I'm like, this band Metallica, who is that? I didn't grow up with Metallica. I knew Peter Paul and Mary and Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennet this is what my mother got you know. I still have my parent’s records and my grandmother's records as well. All you know, James Taylor, Carole King, such as lives, this is what I grew up on. And yeah, so I learned Sanitarium on guitar and then we got into band rehearsal and it turns out I was the only one who could play this so we never got through it, we never did anything with this band but I got known to be like that I could play and I played pretty well for like a little kid.
M: And this was your first, uh?
J: Yeah, this was in High School, maybe the first year in High School, so then I played trumpet so I played in the marching band, I played in the all the different bands that we had I played in. I played the trumpet in Jazz band, I played, I got in for electric guitar in the Contemporary band that I think that's because when I wasn't playing guitar they put could me in the horn section, so yeah, they were like okay, great. I didn't play a lot of guitar but they needed a trumpet player so I did that and but I'll tell you this was interesting and it helped me later on is I blew my knee out playing basketball in gym so, but I was, I had to play in these ensembles but I couldn't march in marching band anymore but it was a course so I had to participate but I'm on crutches for six months and so they put me in the pit so I had to learn marimba, all the stuff you'd have to do in the pit percussion group for a marching band. All the stationary instruments because I could go with my crutches and go in front and I could stand up in front of a marimba and play and hit a cymbal or these kinds of things.
M: There was no horn section?
J: Well I, I was a trumpet player but I couldn't march because I, my, I was in a cast.
M: But, I was talking about in the pit.
J: In the pit, well the pit band, no, no uh, all the marching instruments in marching band, all the horns are out there doing their thing in formations and all the percussion players, you know you're not marching marimbas, you know, like Woody Allen and, you know, there's no marching Cello.
M: (laughs) Right!
J: You know what I mean? So like I had to be put in the pit so like with all the other percussion players, you know the, non, with all the stationary instruments, and uh, so I, my percussion teacher was a big fan, Mark Tioplo (sp?), he was a big fan of Danny Elfman, they did a percussion piece called Nasty Habits which was based on Danny's work I believe, I don't know I think from Belinda.
J: So, I'm like, I was like okay, this is some cool music, and but I can play, here's the short answers. I remember this vividly there was ah, so yeah I'm learning instruments and doing all these things and I also went to the National Guitar Center Workshop. I went there as a student for two years to try to still be a Rock God.
J: And it was in Milford, New Milford, CT. I went there for two years as a student and then I taught there for two years after that and I, of course I got all the theory classes because nobody wanted to do it so I did all the composer like classes to teach because I love the stuff.
M: Did you ever go over to Books Rock?
M. Because I went to camp at Books Rock.
J: Oh is that, there was the Canterberry school was where we, in New Milford was the, where the National Guitar Center workshop has been. I don't know what the situation with it is now, but that was pretty cool like I had me like Hulk Gilbert and hang out with like Alex Skolnick, like all these like Rock people would come in. John Petuchy from Dream Theatre so anyway that was all, that was fun. I was learning a lot of stuff then. There was a guy um, Guy Kokuszo who was a guitar player who taught the classical stuff who was, uh that's where I learned a lot of theory stuff, from him and then you know doing analyzations and then once you kind of get a good foothold you can kind of run with that stuff so I ended up doing a lot of that on my own.
M: So this is where you're approach to theory really...
J: Yeah, this was where I was learning a lot about theory at this point, and then I actually start buying some books and then there's this music store next to Carnegie Hall called Adelson's, and I would go in there and just buy tons of books. Any books like scores, I would get like Bogner scores as a kid and started getting more into this stuff, and Chykovski and Mozart and I was really a bit of a sponge in those days and I'd spent a lot of time um, in the library and buying books. I remember one day I asked my Mom, like, hey can I go into the city and you know why would a young kid in High School, like, what are you going to go do, like thinking, I'm sure the thought was, are you going to like get into trouble? Are you going to go drinking? Are you, and me, I'm like, I was embarrassed honestly, I'm like God there's, I wanted, there's a public library branch specifically for music which is at Lincoln Center so I said I want to, I'm studying Bogner and Opera, I'm like, I just, I'm going to go in and look at some scores and I think, I don't think my parents could be more dumbfounded than that response, it's like why do you want to go into the city?
M: (laughs) You're grounded!
J: Right! So, they let me go in and I bought a bunch of scores at Adelson's and score reading things and theory books you know, I belonged to the theory stuff and you know and then learning I got Tonhauser and I had to learn and I still to this day that (piano) um, what is it took the orchestral score and was learning it, I didn't really understand the transposition of the instruments then so I had to try to figure out where that note was, and I was listening for it, I could see it but it didn't bat, it's not the E, you know why, I'm learning these things then...
M: And this is essentially, the beginnings of your writing.
J: Yeah, yeah, this is me and I'm learning like oh, wow, okay this is, I didn't know how, you know orchestrating, this is bassoons, these are French horns, and how they work, and where they are in a staff, you know I didn't, I wasn't formally shown this stuff by my guitar teacher. I never did any of these things and it wasn't so much in band either, but I started getting scores and looking at them and listening to, well, those great than was like CD's, like this is super high-quality classical music, it's not you know kids listening to MP3's now where it's like, it's actually less good, it's less, the fidelity is less than it was when I listened to these. All of these pieces, I didn't have the downgraded versions of MP3's or, which was wonderful. And by the way, my High School they were super supportive the teachers, of how much I wanted to explore in music, you know, so by my Senior year, and people joked it's like the Jim Dooley concert, you know it's like, I was playing, I arranged the Jazz band, I conducted them and played with the Jazz band.
J: You know what's funny now? It was, they wanted, I did an arrangement of they wanted to Last Night of the World from Miss Saigon, it's really not a great song and two of the kids wanted to sing, so I'm like, I'll do the charts and let me conduct the band. Which was a painful process for me because I had no idea what I was doing, so I got a full score page, wrote the whole thing out by hand and then had to copy all the parts by hand and upon the first reading I didn't get any of the transpositions right.
M: How did you know?
J: Because it sounded horrible.
J: I mean, some things were just technically wrong where I was like, you don't write baritone sax in alto clef like I didn't know that all the sax's read in treble clef. So, um, it was, I had to do it again. So, then go back to thing like, look all this stuff up and then like okay, this is how you have to write saxophone, so I do it, I did it two or three times I'm sure by hand. The score, all the parts, and then conduct the band and try it again. So, it was a lot of work. I was up nights, just, I mean, I lived in my bedroom practicing guitar and then writing charts, and...
M: Did you still want to be a Guitar God at that point?
J: You, that's a, you know, I was getting into these other things you know, I wasn't probably practicing as much as I should but you know, I mean, I could play, we played rock bands, I did shows, I was playing bars since I was sixteen years old, you know. Probably shouldn't have been doing that but like you know, it was an advantage back then, we weren't getting into trouble. We weren't drinking, I didn't see alcohol until college, you know, it was like, we played in bands, and we'd practice and then we'd go to Taco Bell, and that was, that's how, that's what we did, you know. I had a lot of friends who played and we'd play shows and play dance-a-thons and played bars and it was lots and lots of fun.
M: Are you still friends with any of the people from then?
J: I actually, yeah, funny enough, one of my best friends from that time is an Attorney in New York.
M: Oh, really.
J: And, and also teaches at the, my High School. He teaches music. And he's an immigration Attorney, David Poliasch (sp?).
M: And, where did you go to High School?
J: Uh, St. Frances prep.
J: You know, David uh, actually has some crazy ears, you know his pitch, his perfect pitch is so precise that he's been the subject of medical studies.
J: Yeah it's, he can, he can, like if you're going over a bridge and you can hear hmmmmmmm, you know you the, you hear speed and there's rivets in the road so you get a hum? He can walk you through the gradations, like that's A 440, 441, like he can walk you through the pitches.
M: And were you able to ascertain somebody having perfect pitch.
J: Well this time, like, yeah, I mean you know we really got into David knew lots of classical music and a lot of Pink Floyd and then so we would always play, like when I was in a band with him it was clearly like that was the music that we played and then my other friends loved The Police so everything we did was Police, um, I never got to play all the Zeppelin stuff I wanted to (laughing) because not that many people were into it, but I loved it, so I would just do that in the privacy of my home and...
J: But there was a moment, I want to tell you this in High School this is important and then I'll get to the, my arrival in Zimmer’s place. There was a kid, George Cabrera, and he, we used to work together, we would, he would, I would produce, I got a four-track recorder so I would put drums and guitar and bass, I would put all the parts on and then he would put the vocals on because I wasn't singing and we would do that, you know he would come over on his bike and this is what we would do. He made a short film in High School where he recorded a cue ball being thrown down the hallway, hallways of our High School with the camera on the floor and just whip the ball around so you could kind of see it in the distance and then it would come fast across the front of the lens and cut this together and put Danny Elfman's Batman soundtrack to it and it was the most interesting cue ball I have ever seen. And that, I was like, what's that? What is this music, I had no idea, you know, and so, um, I found out when I asked around, you know, it was this Danny Elfman guy, and I'm like okay this is cool and I didn't know that that Nasty Habits percussion keys, so I did what any, this is the advantage of not having the internet, um, which, again, it's, some of these things can be a big drawback to the discovery of something, specifically in my case music. I went to every music store, every sheet music store I could find, looking for the score to Batman, and, or PeeWee's Big Adventure. That was the next thing, I'm like what, I had to actually order, I had to go to Sam Goody and order PeeWee's Big Adventure from Varese Sarabande um, because they didn't have it so I had to wait two weeks for this to arrive. Finally not being, and my Pushing Daisy score is on that record label, which is crazy.
M: Oh, wow!
J: I had to um, Bob Cassin, anyway I owe him a gratitude, a debt of gratitude, and so I got the soundtrack and it had, it was Peewee's Big Adventure and Back to School. It was a double, scores were split on that. Some I'm like, this is great. So I sort of did a takedown of the two pieces from PeeWee and did a brought a percussion ensemble arrangement and conducted it. So I wrote another score in High School with Danny's music. I mean, I still know all of that stuff, you know, that (piano) all that, I mean, I wrote it all down, as a full score as a takedown. This is all just great ear training things. And then I...
M: What is a takedown?
J: I had the CD and then I wrote the sheet music out. I'm like, okay that's the trumpet part, and...
M: And you hand wrote it all out?
J: And I hand wrote it all out.
J: I still have them somewhere. I have all these handwritten scribbles. I blocked lots of those things. I would do takedowns of things because I wanted to learn them. I'm, I don't think that (laughs) was the most efficient way to do, go bar by bar, instrument by instrument, but obviously it was a good ear training exercise.
M: And immersion, right?
J: It was immersion, absolutely. So, I, and I, I've been around, and like I was looking for the scores, and that is why I had to do the takedown, because I went to all these stores, and they are like no, you should go over there and like, none of these film scores were popular so I didn't know that then, and no one would tell me so I had to keep going to all of these music stores around the city trying to find these scores and nothing; these didn't exist, and that's why I had to take them down myself. So anyways, that's why I really got into this, to Danny's music. You know I think a lot of that influence still ends up in a lot of `things that I write you know. There is some that's an indelible thumbprint of music in my earlier life of Danny Elfman so I know I still have a finger in that...
J: ...you know when I write. Which is not a bad thing, it's just, this is how I learn. The same way that I still have a bit of Zimmer in me from you know, working with him for 10 years. But, so anyway that was my real awakening, I, like this composition thing, my E for main. So, I got into NYU for Jazz performance on guitar. And again, this was when I was realizing I wasn't a really great guitar player. But I did do real well academically so I got into all of my colleges except for one. I think it was Cornell. And even some of the schools, I think Carnegie Mellon was like, yeah, you can come in but not as a music student, can, do you want to do into Engineering? My auditions were like you're playing Rock guitar? You can't use that as an audition for any school at this point, right? So I was learning like, trying to learn all these Jazz pieces trying to get into college. I didn't play Jazz, I learned it for the admission process and uh, so I wasn't really great at it and I didn't get into, but anyway I got NYU for Jazz performance and in between High School and College I said you know what, to hell with this, I'm not doing this anymore, and I changed my major to Composition. I wanted to go to a music college but my parents wouldn't allow it, um, that was a bitter point for me.
M: So NYU wasn't a conservatory program?
J: Yeah, and I wanted to go to a conservatory and they wouldn't, they wouldn't allow it. It ended up being better for me you know, I am very happy where I am now, and a lot of these choices have had heavy impacts on where I am now.
M: It sounds to me, uh, I just read a great article in The New York Times, just a few days ago, about, cultivating the art of serendipity. I don't know if you saw that article?
J: No, I didn't, but that's, but I couldn't have said it any better than that.
M: It sounds like you're, they call it a super encounterer. Somebody takes from diverse encounters and incorporates it and this is the way the cure, not the cure, the treatment for diabetes that came from animal venom. Things like, this is always the thing, penicillin was an accident, if you, and champagne was an accident, if you want to get into all of these things there’s serendipity everywhere.
J: Yeah, I've had this, like my mom would say, you live a charmed life. Not like there hasn't been difficulties but these kinds of things of getting into the right place at the right time have been just a million and one shot but like I've had hundreds of them or thousands, it's crazy.
M: It sounds like that super encounterer situation.
J: That's exactly what I'm talking about! So, I mean, when I was at NYU, I did lots of student films and I didn't really have to do much music work per say because I placed out or really all of theory so I just had my composition lessons and whatever else I needed to do to get to graduate. So I did a lot of student films and action and what and one of my best friends is Adam Goldberg. Have you ever seen the TV show, The Goldbergs, that's my friend Adam. We wrote a children's musical together in college. So we, lots of these people I still work with I met back then and then so yeah, there has been composition process. I didn't really learn much. I don't really like the way a lot of people teach composition. I think it doesn't make a lot of sense. It it's more like, I'll tell you this, I went, there was only one film score program in the country, well in the world, at that point and that was USC, I mean UCLA didn't have a full-time program at that point, Berkley didn't have it, so it was, and even NYU didn't have it, I think they have it now, I think Ron Sadoff's doing it, he had, ah, there was one course on it at that point for multi-media which obviously I took. So I applied to there was one program I applied to at USC and I got in, that was because I had lots of film scoring work at that point, I got a bunch of short films, I had scores, it wasn't I want to go into scoring, I had scores at that point, not that any of them were very good, but I can tell you one of them that I ripped off, I did a knock off`of the, that tune from Rudolph (piano) that, the this (piano) the one that I, the piano piece, that first piano piece that I learned, I had to do a Christmas short film and it was like (piano) then (piano) and I ripped off that piece from Rudolph as the theme for that, talk about it coming back and you know in, fifteen years later or something like that. And anyways, so I go to USC and which was a wonderful experience where we actually had to score things that we were and oh my God we had to actually write three minutes of music every week, how am I going to get this done, you know, now it a day’s work and you have to do your score and your bars and conduct it, and how did you do that, did you do it, was it handwritten, were you using software that time? Well, you know at that point, that's when you know I'd had a tiny little sequencing rig. I had started sequencing in High School. I bought Vision and had a, I'd bought myself a Mac and I had to work part time jobs to do this, we didn't really have lots of extra money as a kid, my Dad's a fireman, and so's my Uncle, my Grandfather, all NYC Fireman. So, I, I learned sequencing and I taught myself. I bought, my back, a learning mini, and getting into all this stuff, you know again it was like, oh, there was no internet for this stuff, I had to go get a book and like how does this mini and how do you plug it in, and what do these things mean, and it was not like tech support the same way it is today. I had to learn this painfully, each step and how to sequence and which I didn't and it's, well I'm better at it now than I was, but I got to learn, you think you know it all and then you see a professional do it and so, it's kind of an eye opening experience.
M: So at this point, are you learning more about sections that you hadn't been focused on, let’s say strings, or woodwinds, or anything like that?
J: Yeah, I'm getting into all the stuff, but I had done that, some stuff like that in college writing for trios and quartets you know, there wasn't a NYU Orchestra where you can like, you know like if you were at Julliard where you could write a piece and the pop it in front of them. It was more of the ensembles, but I was sequencing all the time. And that's what I did. I lived on my computer and again, blew my knee out again in college, uh and then, when I was waiting tables, which actually ended up being again, serendipitous because I was on workman's comp so I had a lot of extra money because I was making a lot of money. I was working really hard and uh, so I go to talk about a lot of gear. And funny enough, I ended up working with Tom Colicchio, if you can believe that, from Top Chef.
M: In L.A.?
J: No, in New York. He was the Executive Chef of Gramercy Tavern where I was waiting, bussing tables and here's where I talk about serendipitous, and I know there's lots of information. I actually ended up, one of the guys I went to college with after I won the Emmy we were back stage and I'm like, Kevin, what are you doing here, and He's like, I just won the Emmy for editing Top Chef. I'm like, you got to be kidding me? Like, my old, I thought I was going to beat out all the people in the restaurant, the guy who ended up in the entertainment industry, not knowing that Tom would be killing it as well, or my friend would be working on this show, which from somebody in my past! It was, anyway, it was kind of a weird uh, again, very serendipitous. But, anyway, so let me get to this other story because it is kind of important. After all of this, you know you do all of this scoring, USC was a wonderful experience studying with like Chris Young, Bayou Baker, all these legends, Leonard Rosenman and but in between, after grad. school I was unemployed and broke you know, trying to figure out what to do so this is my, how I got into the industry story. Now that we are all thrilled at. And again the advantage, there are two different disadvantages at USC. The people who had too much money, or not enough. Those are the people who are at a disadvantage. Because people who had too much money, didn't need to do it and people who had too little money were forced out and had to get other jobs. I temped and did some odd jobs. I worked for a couple of my teacher’s part time doing web design. I'm like Hey need a website?, you know, they don't need musicians so they said yeah I need a website, I'm like well let me go get a book on websites and figure out how to do this thing because I have no idea what I doing but that hustle you which I learned growing up, you like my Dad always hustling work, there was the Fireman four days on three days off or something like this so he always really had part time jobs so this instinct to go out and make something happen was definitely a part of growing up so I'm like okay I'll just go out there and figure this out by myself. So I got a copy of the Hollywood Reporter, their TV, Film, Music Issue and in the back it lists everybody in town like big deal and who their agents are and I know now `because I get this call and it's the Hollywood Reporter Issue what do want on the list, so you put your last three, four projects. I picked every third or fourth name, whether I knew them or not, I wrote them a letter and said, I loved your music in, blah, blah, blah, blah, and if you need an assistant, I'll work for free. And so I sent, I don't even know how many letters I sent. And I got one response. And, I worked for this composer, Kevin Hayes, for a summer. I spent, worked one day a week making $70. It was like $10 an hour for seven hours and I cold-called The Hollywood Reporter and tried to get him work and helped him, he was building a studio so I caulked the ceiling, I had to make, I made Taco Bell runs, and get sandwiches and this kind of stuff one day a week. But on the way to that job one day I see a friend of mine on the side of the road, this is how crazy this story is and just wait for it, Steve Caplin, who engineered all my short films at USC. I pull over, and I'm like Hey Steve, how are you doing, and we exchange current information, he gets the call the next week, they’re looking for an assistant for Hans Zimmer, and he's like, I'm an engineer, I don't want to do this, you know what, I was just talking to a friend of mine who might be interested, so they call me. I remember I walked out of my apartment that day, I had just closed the door and I heard the phone ring. Something told me to go back in there and answer it. This was before, I didn't have a cell phone, the dark ages. Well, there were cell phones; I just couldn't afford it. So, I had my pet pager! (laughter) And uh, so Hey we're looking for somebody for Zimmer and I'm like, okay. So I obviously jumped at the chance but so I call a buddy of mine, Todd Hickman (sp?). By the way and Steve Caplan and Todd Hickman (sp?) are still friends of mine that I still work with. Todd and I went to NYU together and he ended up, he wrote a letter to what was Media Ventures back then and got a job asrunner and then eventually as a Composer Assistant for P.J. Hankey and Roy Hay. Roy Hay from Culture Club. So I call Tom, and I'm like Hey Man, do you know this guy Justin Burnett? He's looking for a new type for Zimmer. And he's like, oh, Justin trained me, so he's like, he called Justin and said hey my friend Jim, you called him, he's like he's good, you should, you should meet with him first, so I got to the head of the interview line so I met with Justin and then met with Zimmer but I cheated on this one again, like there is a little bit of `hustle on this one. At this point, Todd was not working at Media Ventures anymore, he was working with P.J. Hankey at a different place. Actually, the old Media Ventures it turns out which was Wilder Brothers on Santa Monica Blvd. Anyway, so I went to Todd's place and like can you show me all the gear. LIke, let me, before I go to this interview, I remember he had again everyone had like similar set up like where my gear my rig is very much based on what Zimmer had because that's what I know. The same thing with P.J.'s rig because he was at Media Ventures. So he's like okay, these are the U4's these are the emulators, these are the new samples these are the K2500's and we use them for percussion and these are the Akai's and then here's the O2R's and here's flip works and all this stuff. So I went into the meeting with a lot of information and I was like Yeah, hey Zimmer, like so those are the new K2500's those are the U4's, those are for Orchestra staff and I could point to all these things and he's like wow, okay, and so they gave me like a 3-day trial and I almost botched it by asking for the weekend off! Because this was Friday and they are like, Okay, so we'll see you tomorrow, and I'm like hey pen the weekend off, and they're like, I don't think you understand how this works.
So we're just started Gladiator, we're one on one with Gladiator.
And I'm like look, I really want this to work out, but I need to close out my life. I need to get a car. I had an '84 Chevy Blazer that wouldn't make it over the hill, um, that I drove out from New York and I needed to get a car that would work because that was in Burbank at the time and I had to go to Santa Monica and I needed to get my auto bills set up. I need to close out my life because I know that I'm going to be here all the time; 100-hour weeks you know for 6 months at a time so okay, we'll give you the weekend off, so I got all the manuals that I could, I studied all weekend, I got my life cleaned up and ready to go and I came in on the first day and I couldn't remember a thing about what I've studied. But I asked Zimmer later on, I said, Hey Man, did you know that I didn't know what I was, trust me look, I had good tech jobs, but not, nobody could walk into that job, and he's like look, I don't have a problem with people who don't know, just people who can't learn and so, okay, and that makes a lot of sense and I definitely like embraced that. So I worked for him for like two years, almost to the day. I just go burned out on it. It's just 18-hour, 20-hour days, sometimes you'd be there for two or three days at a time like it takes a toll on you. I could do that in my 20's; I can't do that now. But this October I will have been there for seventeen, seventeen years? When we get to October, I had two years and then I went freelance after that. Actually, if you want to hear the real story, I quit and left because I just burnt out. But I was, I had a lot of experience and I was cheap`so Klaus Bidell was doing what we call the Time Machine and this would be a great way to get the cues done for somebody who knows what's going on but doesn't cost a lot of money, so Zimmer called me 3-days later and said do you want to come back, I mean I left, I was gone, and I was like, Oh, Yeah, sure, like nothing happened. LIke, it was like, You want a turkey sandwich, Yeah, turkey sandwich sounds great! So I moved all my rig back in, what gear I had and wrote some cues for Klaus. I didn't necessarily do very well on that but I did a couple of things okay, but then that began the freelance thing which I have been doing now for the last now, near fifteen years, fourteen years.
M: Now that took a lot of guts for you to just quit, even after two years I would imagine.
J: Yeah, it was, you know you just go like, I'm just done with it. I had a friend who was going to give me some writing work, Chris Ward, he was doing Jackie Chan Adventures, he was doing some I was picking up some cues from him when he got busy because it was just wall to wall music and I was like, I'm just going to go figure out how to make this work, you know I don't know and, I mean he called me back and said do you want to come back and I was like, Okay, and that was that. And the rest of the details anybody else can find out about; you know there's which projects and clients and all that kind of stuff, but that's the long and winding story of how I got into the industry.
M: That's amazing, and if you at this point, do you follow what you did before with Zimmer, is that the way your day, your week, your month, your year goes, or is it very different?
J: Well you know it's like you, it's going out of you know difficult and then going out to more difficult because now it's like a freelance life is super tough.
M: How do you do it?
J: It's, I, you know, it's like, I don't know how you do it. I was, in the beginning going like, I don't know how this works and so I, I made you know some rookie mistakes. I, but I did a lot of library music and I sold a big portion of it when I was writing back in the day so` I could get more gear, and then, write more library music.
M: So you reinvest...
J: I lost a lot of money I'm sure, by doing that but, you know like, Ron says, he's like you know, you buy a synthesizer will always buy you a house but buying a house will never` buy you a synthesizer.
M: That's great! (laughs)
J: It's true, so like I bought more gear and I could do more projects and then little by little some things you know, and there was definitely some bumps along the road but uh, it's there's lots of things that I think are valuable for people you know and again the advantages that I had by not having lots of money or lots of access helped me immensely in ways that people today are at a disadvantage, you know, if you want to see something wonderful, J.K. Rawling did a commencement speech at Harvard which she titled, The Fringe Benefits of Failure. It's remarkable in that she talks to these kids and says, you will never really know what true failure is because of where you come from and the means that you have and that puts you at a disadvantage. It's true, you know. The stripping away of things that are unimportant helped her focus her life into something that is you know almost unparalleled, you know. But it is because she failed and he had the benefits of failing that I had. I've had that in spades. I've failed lot! (laughs) I've got a great big bag of failure and that's definitely helped me a lot.
M: It seems to be a running theme with everybody the answer is there and I definitely think you're really onto something there.
J: I was thinking about that just earlier and some things that I wanted to mention. When I talk to students, and I do it often, is there's, I mean when I went to school, there are so many composers that are like, oh you know who is going to come in and talk Tuesday? James Newton Howard, and like wow, this is amazing, this guy, I am a huge fan of his work. He's so far ahead that when you are a student, what do those next steps look like? So, because I have been out of school for like, you know, I graduated from USC in '99, so this is like the last fifteen years or so of what that window looks like of coming out of school, you know. So I think it is valuable to like look, I'm not that far out from where you are so that if you want to talk to, shoot we'll talk to John Williams, he's been scoring sing 1952 (laughs). His first feature film was right before that. His first speech was in the '50's. So I don't know how much of that applies to what you're looking at right now and to go back to the you know talking about the advantages and disadvantages that were in the you know, talking about too much money or not enough I so let's talk about money because money is really just the creativity and there are all these parts and we will get to that but the money part is this. Say you had a hundred million dollars. You can make your own movies and hire yourself. You can be a professional film composer, just by creating the work yourself,so you know there's gradations of that, that's and extreme is what I'm saying when it comes down to money. You know if there is too little, then you might have not the money for the gear, which is a big part of the industry now, the downtime from maybe working lots of jobs, so that can put you in a hole because you can't hustle it down as much because you have too much of a financial burden to allow you to create music. And then there is people in between like me who I think like have an advantage in all these things where it's at you know you could survive and you have enough skills to like, get a good job or you granted you enough time to hustle down your work and to have time to score student films, go see films, go to the festivals, these things where you're creating content and also then at the same time, experiencing it.
M: Now, the reality is, lots of people try to fail their way to success. (laughing)
J: Sure. (laughing)
M: But, there are few of them that end up getting an Emmy award. So what is it about Jim Dooley that gets you bailing, and bailing and bailing but making relationships, exposing yourself to content, obviously improving your craft and also your network. But how do you go from working at Hans Zimmer's studio to being where you are today?
J: Well, you know, there is a lot of that at the very beginning, where I was allowed to fail on someone else's project so if I doved a cue on Hans's movie, I would have to do it again a number of times; I'm sure I've had to, and, but it wasn't my project directly with the client so there is a little bit of and insulation in that, I could go from me to him, me to him, me to him, me to him, and then him to client,.so, there's, and I don't know if everybody would do well with this, I know people, there are people who haven't, and I do this differently with my staff now, because it's ah, it's just out of necessity, but one of Zimmers' great gifts to me was he never gave me the answer. I had to figure it out, you know, I 'd say, hey what, and he's like we need to add work to that and I'm like well what do you want the work to do, and he'd look and you and well it should tell a story, right, okay, I'm like, you know we've never, for all the musical training that `everybody has and he knows more than most, we don't talk about it that way in the technical terms, it's not, use this scale and these versions, it's always in very emotional broad strokes, like you have to figure this out and bring it to the table and allowing me to fail and have to figure those things out, you had to have a really strong tool belt and once you figure it out yourself it becomes part of who you are, somebody, this goes back to what I was talking about with Zeppelin. If somebody shows you how to play it, you don't take as much ownership as if you figure it out yourself and so many time where I would do something and then you know you do a cue, maybe six or ten times and by the end of it you're like, you're so much stronger on the other side of it because you had to find, and then you're like wait, no how, let me try this, it's like, and then you get better at it little by little you're kind of pushing yourself and also because I wanted to go to sleep you know, it's uh, maybe you can get it right for, because you stayed until it's right and it's pretty long hours most of the time. But having to figure, and that's something like you cannot give someone the answer. If they are, that's empowering, absolutely. It's like the whole, you know give a man a fish, and that's slowly is, but all these things that you learn then become, they are part of who you are you know. And for that, that's what makes the musical part somewhat painful for anyone and in a good way that you have to slug it out, it's, there's not a magic tomb of here's everything you need to know about music and you can go through it page by page. you know, I have some, I know there's some composers out there and I've talked to some who like oh, give me the you go through lots of Stravinsky; give me like five things you know so that if I want to sound like that what were those, like kind of like that what would those kind of like a cheat sheet of sorts and I'm like they don't work that way. It's like, you need to go through eight bars of them and go like, Oh, like I get that thing, that's this polytonal thing and it goes like this and then it becomes who you are, it's all these, it's not these grand revelations it's all these small revelations that you can kind of put together you know. And it's funny, I remember I did an arrangement of something, of a Gladiator piece for Hans's birthday and I did it actually I can play this, I was working this was my first movie with him and I did the, it was this theme and I did it as (piano) and he's like, You got it wrong, and I'm like, what do you mean, I got it wrong, I've been listening to this music like for so long.. and he's like, it's a tragic tune and tragic tunes have to up and then down and I did all up, (demonstrates on piano) and it's actually (demonstrates on piano) music, happy tunes go up, sad tunes go down, tragic tunes go up and then down see, (laughing) you know, it's obviously that's you know you start looking at the world in a different way when you get the glimpses at things and that, that's a funny story because actually you know, he's right on that when I think you know, hero tunes and people ask you know, how do write this or how do you come up with that? Some of these things are more artisan than artist whereas like love tunes generally have a, you know there is a big step in them, something that suggests longing and passion, you know that when you are writing one whereas hero tunes you know where they need to have these leaps forward (piano) you want, you need to get something of this propulsion in, some of these things and you know to look for them. It's not just going around the, ah, can and going dink, dink dink, dink dink, where's my hero tune, you know how some things work. And you can, and then knowing that, that you can also break the rules. There's no, rule uh, to any of these things, but use them as guides when you are creating.
M: When did you start breaking rules?
J: Well, actually you know, it's funny I have, one of my favorite little breaks was one of those things that doesn't work out on paper, at all but it sounds fine to me and that's how it always was, you know Pushing Daisies, the theme has (piano) it goes to this E flat to E flat augmented (piano) which would be natural, but then the tune is B flat (piano) so (piano) but if you play (piano) just having the B ring out against it, that's really not the way that should work, but it doesn't sound as off as I think is should for just being out of the state.
M: Well, it's interesting because I would think that a show like Pushing Daisies which also pushes the envelope probably allows more some more rule breaking than a classic epic film.
J: Sure, you know well the funny thing is if you look as a difference between, and this is why I love working on projects with kids because you don't have to write down to a kid, you have to, you usually have to write down to adults. You know, there is more thematic material in one episode of Pushing Daisies than of you know I did Obsessed and that a thriller, it has the alluring theme and that plays and there is also a business kind of thing of courage, but overarching is the fatal attraction, you have this one femme fatale. Pushing Daisy, it's so `complicated. That film didn't need it, but the TV show, it needed a heightened the reality of the world, so you'd, that was why we constantly had to reinforce it and it was the hardest score I`ve ever had to do and I don't know if I could ever do it again, it was forty minutes every six days and the fastest I could write it was thirty seconds, an hour, so that would put me at about an eighteen hour writing day, six days a week, um and on the seventh day we would look at the next weeks episode and then that night I would conduct the previous weeks episode. And then start all over again.
M: Now, how did you end up on Pushing Daisies?
J: Yeah, you know, it's an interesting story. It's all thanks to one of my dear friends Blake Neely. Without him, there would be no Pushing Daisies. Blake, as you know is just an enormously successful composer. And, you, it, really knows his stuff too. Blake writes books, he knows his classical stuff, he's a fantastic conductor, he's conducted for me as well as ah, we have worked together on Zimmer films. He got caught having too many TV shows at one time in a season and he's like look, there's this pilot that's coming up and I did the first few minutes, but I can't, I just don't have time, can you help me out on that? And so, I said, Okay. So I wrote, after the three minutes the rest of it and he just couldn't do it, there was just too much going on, so I, that's how I ended up on the show.
M: And, obviously an enormous source of success for you.
J: Yeah, it was a pretty crazy experience, you know, but I, these things that are kind of like we're talking about serendipity and back to how I got into the industry and how you know right now I'm working on some musical theatre projects and right now, one of them is called, Whiches Night Out, so I have licenced the property with a friend of mine, who is the director from the Ringling Brothers Circus and we get into, all these little, and I ended up at the Ringling Brothers Circus because the lyricist on Dorthy of Oz does the lyrics for the Circus songs and we became good friends and brought him up to write the lyrics on Epic Mickey II when I was writing the songs for that game and uh, that's how I met Rye so Rye says Hey we really got along well he's like, you should, let's write a musical together, so great and um, `so funny enough, I had been meaning to do some demo vocals and had a dinner with Ellen Green from Pushing Daisies and I'm like, Ellen would you consider you know, and she's like, Yeah, do you think you'd like to do some demos or promote, you know, do some ah presentations of these songs, because one of the characters I thought Ellen would kill so she's having all these things strung together from Pushing Daisies to the circus to Dorthy Bods and Epic Mickey and all these, you know there's a thread through all of it, I guess the thread is me because that's, but it's interesting how one leads you to the next if you're open to it. You know, I wasn't necessarily open to the Circus, I've never done one, I don't know how you do one, and then Rye listened to Epic Mickey II in Germany and he's like you did Epic Mickey, like that, God that's okay, your hired.
M: I listened to the music of Epic Mickey, I listened to a bunch of music, because it's all on Spotify and (laugh)
J: Oh, is it really?
J: I had no idea!
M: So I listened to your Pushing Daisies, a whole bunch of cuts and Epic Mickey and I noticed a real playfulness in a lot of your music, there's, there's, it's very classical in certain respects but then you've got this cacophony at one point that seems perfect for kid playing a Disney adventure game, and-and I'm curious how you go from one medium to another.
J: Well, going from one to the other is actually quite essential for me. I would get bored and I think a lot of composers have the same problem whereas, if you are just doing like TV show, after TV show, after TV show, if you think of them as ah, physical assertions like running, it's like if you're sprinting all the time you just became a great sprinter you know but, if you're doing a feature like animation, you know, that's a marathon because that's going to go on for years, there are songs first and then all these things have to get worked out, TV show would be more like a sprint, you have a start on a Monday; the show is done at the end of the week. Video games can be years, movies can be months, it's ah, there is a reason they did an IPad game. There's a discordance. I like having the races change because it keeps me from getting bored. It keeps me fresh, having to jump into other things. If it was too much of the same thing, you would keep writing the same things, over and over again, it's hard to stay fresh when you keep having to service the same medium.
M: And what's it like to write for Sports?
J: Okay well that, you know it's funny enough, this is a crazy thing, you should know that I'm a horrible golfer. This is zero physical natural visible ability towards sports and physical things of this nature but my cousin, Gary, I mean he is my first cousin. My father and his mother are brother and sister, he hosts a TV show on the golf channel called Morning Drive. He's the host of this daily show and so he put me in touch with one of the producers at Golf Channel like we need some themes for this Men's Senior PGA, Women's Senior PGA and one of our Grand Slams. So I wrote some material, say we want like this and this, we recorded it, mixed it and then very quickly after it ended up playing on TV.
M: And what was it like for you to see that over a Golf Championship? Was it different?
J: Crazy though, because you watch, when you watch your show, I don't know if you ever watch these, but the music plays a lot, it's at the end of every segment, the beginning of every segment (laughs) and then whenever they go back to look at the scoreboard so it's like you hear these themes over and over again, and for that it is really gratifying to just, and I like watching Golf, I don't like playing Golf. I've tried, I just can't get it, so.
M: I've never played (laughing).
J: Yeah, some things are best, I've got to tell you this, you know what, one thing I realized about Golf is that if you have someone like Tiger Woods, you know, these people, they still hit into the trees. Even if you are the best in the world they still dub it; that's how hard it is, but a professional concert pianist can play a concerto without hitting a wrong note. If these guys can't not hit into the trees, that's how difficult this thing is.
M: I think it's you're more likely to hit into the trees as a professional Golfer than to hit a wrong note as a professional concert pianist.
J: Yeah, but that's just one stroke, this is not a 45-minute performance. (laughs)
J: You know, that's, it's even hard for professionals, so I think I'm going to stick to just driving the carts around.
M: Sounds good to me. Now, I wanted to know, what kind of advice would you give for somebody who really has always dreamed of becoming a composer and maybe has grown up twenty years behind you and so maybe wasn't listening to cassettes maybe was listening to CD's and maybe MP3's and doing their own writedowns but not in the same way. What would you advise somebody who wanted to break in today?
J: I do lot's of advice, honestly, there are so many things. One thing look. it's, it's a job but you can't just rest on the talent. I still go through scores. Keep listening, keep experiencing music. Music is, of, like an emotional result of your own life experience so you have to go out and live to have something to say, you need to experience what's going on and, you know this is interesting but Bobby Fischer said, you know he's like, I'm a genius, I just happen to play chess. You know that was the thing, and he said I could do anything very well if I wanted to do it, accept, he tried song-writing and he couldn't do it and his friends said well you haven't lived at all, you have nothing to say. It's like that makes a lot of sense, I've just been staring at a chess board, I don't have anything to sing about, so I'd say go through, keep it fresh, like, pick out a score, go through four bars, like do it in small chunks and just keep learning, I mean I'm still taking piano lessons it's never ending, you have to keep exploring, listen to, find new instruments. I'm constantly trying to make instruments. There is no reason to, to just rest on your laurels. Making a lot of sounds is a big part of I think the competition, like bringing your style to the creative process. Um, for example, on of my best examples of this you know is like trying to make something that is incredibly valuable without having to spend lots of money. So again you know, everything going back to money in some way, a few broad strokes, uh, this is an example, this is a [chill F?] and every knows as (piano), you know what a [chill F?] sounds like. So I wanted to do one for Epic Mickey that was different, so what I did was, I had an idea to make, to record a wine glass. So I had a wine glass at once. I hit it once and it was at [illegible] sample was this. (glass sounds) One sample and so (glass sounds) and if you roll the attack off of it (glass sounds) and then one wine glass, one mono microphone, and that's, it cost nothing to do that. I had the glass, I hit it with a pencil and now there became something incredibly valuable because it was a creative choice, not a financial choice. So if you will look at everything like an instrument, your world kind of changes and we all have bones and everybody has a recording device and so you can always go out there and do something. There is really no excuse. Like, I don't have the samples, I don't have the money, but if you really want it and you have the time then you can bring lots of creativity to that. Okay. that's one long answer. The next one would be, be open to where music is needed. Everybody wants to do, A. Here's my Star Wars, give me my 100 piece Orchestra, there are those projects, but for mortals like me, and so many other people, be open to, not the Circus, and I've had game, a short film, a Podcast,like there's so many places that need music and if you write something great it's a great way for people to , for people to discover you by just doing great work and having it out there. I know there's, everybody wants the big projects but there's millions of little things you can do along the way. I do lots of production music, you know doing music for trailers or production libraries. My goal in life is to where anybody has a choice to use music some of mine is there. So if you have, if you are looking, if you have a big budget and you need someone to write [illegible] music, well you can call me. If you don't, and you need to license something for a project, well my music is there too. And I think that gives me the best chance to survive and be creative all the time. In fact, right now I'm waiting for last shift to start up. And so that's why I'm doing a trailer album. I have a month and no one's telling me to do this, I'm like I want to do this, I need to do this so I'm just starting. You know, you can always find somebody who is going to need something so just keep creating. With so many like, reality TV shows, there is so many more product now than there ever was, and Chis Young had good advice, you know. He said look, there's room for all of us, he doesn't believe there is room for only a limited amount of people. I don't even, I can't even imagine in tens of thousands of composers that are in Los Angelos alone.
M: Is that right?
J: I mean you go to these, I mean like you go to a [illegible] music theatre or BMR, like this is, there's got to be a hundred, a couple hundred composers in there and this is the people who are at the top, this is not the procurement, you want to imagine everybody else, if there is going to be five hundred at the top, what does the bottom look like? So, I, I think there is room for everybody. Really do a good job. There is too much choice now, then there ever has been. If you think of it like pizza in New York City, like you can't make bad pizza. Like, people will walk five feet in another direction and get it somewhere else. There are too many choices for you to do it poorly. And I think that applies to music, in that exact way. There is great music at very affordable prices if you're willing to license something so if you are going to create something, do it well.
M: That's great advice. Now let me ask you. What is the Jim Dooley sound?
J: Oh, God (laughing), Man, I don't know, I know I, that's funny though, because if you asked my, I think my mother said, why are your love tunes do depressing? (laughs) You know, I think there is a bit of whimsy in so many of the things I do that I just, I don't even, I can't shake, but as I'm actually doing more of this musical theatre stuff it's interesting that you know, I've, I'm actually writing all the lyrics,right now, too, because she just up all the time in the world, and so like the music part is the last thing that I'm thinking about but there is always, I think a little bit of tongue-in-cheek stuff and I'm trying to have a good time with it because you can't really take it all that seriously.
M: So, you're talking about, Whiches Night Out?
J: Yes, right.
M: Now, when is Whiches Night Out expected to run debut?
J: Well, we just started in September and, so we are hoping to have a full draft at least of the songs by Summer. So, it's one of those things that it takes a long time. It takes me about a month or so to write one of these songs.
M: Oh, I'm really eager to hear, what you got lined up! (laughs)
J: Me too, Man, I can't wait until like the first draft is done, I think I will be able to sigh, give a big sigh of relief you know, right now with each song, you know they're looking for like oh, I need three words to express something that is impossible, without using the word impossible.
M: Now, do you plan on debuting it in California, or New York?
J: We're not exactly sure yet. The best part of working with someone like Rye Molls (sp?) on this is that he also produces the indirect the uh, Torry Max, Rock of Ages, so his musical theater friend days on a professional basis is pretty deep. You know, I don't, I haven't written any shows that have gotten produced. I've written songs for movies, and songs for people, but uh, I've never had a show on its legs so, uh, we'll see, but I'm hoping that you know, we'll get it on its legs in the next couple of years and see, see what people think.
M: Well, I'm looking forward to whatever you've got coming out very soon, and you said The Last Ship is next?
J: The Last Ship is next, um, we're starting very soon, and it will be thirteen episodes that comes out in Spring for viewers, but we'll start usually January/February and finish up around July/August.
M: And you've got Fifty Shades of Black.
J: Fifty Shades of Black, right, that's coming out this month, January 29th, which was such a pleasure to work on, um, those guys, like Rick Alverez and Marlin Waynes and MIke [Tadez?] it was, these guys.really know comedy and they are open to trying things, like what if we did it this way, let's do it this way, it always leads you to a good result if they all give you a chance again to fail. If you want to wrap it up this way, that it's sometimes if you don't hit a homerun we are going to give you your walking papers; it's like well it's a collaborative art where we need to arrive at the solution together. This is not an order from a drive-through menu, you don't get what you want and that's that I'm not paying, this is more, let's discuss what you want and let me tell you what I'm thinking and come to it together so that we both have ownership in that choice and that's where you get the good stuff.
M: Well, this has been great, Jim. I can't thank you enough and I know that your time is precious. You pour so much of your own time into all of these creative endeavors and it really means a lot that you took this time to talk and share your craft and your art with us, so thank you, so much.
J: Well, thank you Michael, you know I've, it's been an unusual experience and a very fun one to go down these memory amnesia lanes, if you want to call it that, uh, these places that I haven't had to really think about for a long time.
M: Well, the audience is going to love it, thank you so much.
J: Alright, well thank you, my pleasure.