earliest "musical memory" is actually an image -- an image
of a little kid playing a kid-sized drum set in the Sears Christmas
catalog, which I first saw when I was probably around five years old.
It took around wo decades, but I finally got a drum kit. More on that
The summer before my first year of high school I bought my first guitar for $20 - an old, beat-up acoustic with the strings about 1/2" off the fingerboard. Talk about paying your dues... Using the few chords I knew at the time and the "blues scale" (minor pentatonic, at that time without the "blue" notes) my friends and I would strum away, playing the great songs of the day: Patience by Guns 'n' Roses, Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison, and the rest of the hair-band classics.
My sophomore year of high school my parents gave me the best present ever -- an electric guitar and amplifier (with distortion)! Maybe they just took pity on me, seeing me struggle with that crappy old acoustic. Right around this time I heard instrumental guitar albums by Joe Satriani and Steve Vai for the first time, which totally blew me away. That's when I started practicing... and started playing guitar in high school bands - which is almost a requirement of a young man with an electric guitar, isn't it? My high school also had a drum set, which I started fiddling around on. Like most guitar players, I became a "closet drummer."
The high school years found me writing and recording my original music for the first time. I found out about the 4-track cassette recording from my guitar teacher and thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Four different tracks, and I can control the volume of each separately? Amazing. I picked up a Yamaha 4-track recorder and an Alesis drum machine and got to work, laying down tons of instrumental rock guitar tunes. Although instrumental shred isn't everyone's cup of tea, the genre provided good training in melody/harmony/counterpoint, and forced me to practice like crazy, just to be able to pull it off.
In college at Boston University (studying computer engineering) my music production arsenal continually increased: drum machines were replaced by sequencers, 4-track cassette recorders gave way to 8-track digital recorders, guitars increased in quality (and quantity), etc. I didn't have access to a drum set during those years, but I made sure to make a regular visit to the local Guitar Center, where the Roland V-Drums obliged my amateur drumming urges.
After college I started work as a software engineer, but continued doing music on the side. It was around this time that I first wrote Mahalara, as well as several songs that would eventually appear on James LaBrie's Elements of Persuasion record.
In 2001, now married and living in my own house, it was time. Time for what? Time for drums - real drums! I got a 10-piece Pearl Masters Studio kit in natural birch finish with 14 Zildjian cymbals, a drum rack, cable hi hats,... the whole shebang. Around that time I started taking drum lessons with Mike Mangini, which was literally a life-changing experience. I started practicing according to Mike's method, and my drumming skill improved tremedously in a very short period of time. I became "a drummer."
Playing a gigantic drum kit makes recording simple rock songs much more complicated than the days of using a sequencer or drum machine. Enter the world of microphones, mic preamps, mixers, Pro Tools, plug-ins, analog-to-digital converters, monitoring systems, etc. As I acquired more gear and starting using it I began working with some other bands/artists at my home studio in a producer/engineer role. Those projects included FingerBomb's No Show EP, Asystole's untitled EP, and a few mixing projects. I finally felt comfortable enough to record my own drum parts for songs such as Mahalara, and on other artists' songs, such as Jack O'Shea's Chasing Dreams, and various songs by Matt Guillory and James Thorpe.
In the summer of 2006 my wife and I relocated to Los Angeles, CA. Soon after I decided to give film scoring a try. Film music is a natural genre for me, as I don't need to write lyrics or sing - perfect. Plus I don't need to worry about arrangements being too formulaic as far as verse/prechorus/chorus, etc. -- the film dictates the music completely. I got my first scoring opportunity with The Ballad of Sinister, an epic animated short film directed by Erik VanHorn at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Erik really liked my first rough demo, and we continued iterating on cues, and finally arrived at the working story reel orchestral mockups in early 2008.
Many short and feature film scores followed, including the alien zombie invasion of Parasitic, the touching The End Again, the whimsical animation of Hansel & Gretel, the dramatic Art Sale, and Stealing Hope, a short film I also wrote and directed.
In the summer of 2012 I delved deeper into the world of film music production when I joined Remote Control Productions as a technical engineer for legendary film composer Hans Zimmer. Keep an eye out for Man of Steel and Rush, both coming in 2013!
Last updated: Nov 2012
© 2008-2012 Brian Wherry