August 23, 2012

Q&A with Arthur Barrow on the music/score of 'Misfits of Science'

***Reposted from January 2011*** 

Though you can't tell by the show's credits (boy are they inadequate when it comes to the music part of it), Arthur Barrow was part of the team that created the AWESOME score to MoS (including the pilot). I got a chance to chat with him a bit thru the email, and he was very amiable and said the fansite was cool and he dug the show (how cool!). And although it's been a long time since working on it, so he wasn't sure how much he could remember for sure, he was glad to answer some questions I wanted to ask about the score/music. (And no, he couldn't shine any more light onto the theme lyrics, I checked, lol.) I asked if it was okay to share his answers so all the rest of you MoS fans could know the info too, and he said sure, so here's what he had to say about his time working on the show's score:


AB: I was very involved with the music. Except for the theme song, I co-wrote most of the music with Steve Schiff. He played guitar, and I played the keys and bass. We wrote and recorded a lot of it here at my LA studio.

We had Dean Paul Martin over here to sing a song or two, even. He was really nice. So sad how he died. I think the electric rock guy on the show was over here, too for a song, maybe? It's been a very long time!

JM: What types were the instruments used to record the score?

AB: If it was a bass, it was my Fender jazz bass. If it was synth, it was probably Roland jp8.

 Oh, the colors...!

JM: Did you get to score to the finished edit of the episodes (or a rough-cut at least)? What was the recording process?

AB: The picture edits are locked before the scoring. We did it to a vhs tape, and used a click book to calculate the tempos.

(I admit, I had to look up what a click book is. Google definition: A collection of tables of timings with one page for each individual tempo.)

JM: Was it fun to score, did you get to have some creative freedom while doing it? Did you get to add your own touches, or did the producers/scriptwriters have it all planned out as to what what they wanted for a scene?

AB: Yes, it is creative, sure, but it was mainly very grueling - staying up all night to get it done in time, etc.

JM: Which were your favorite scenes to put music to? The action/superpower ones maybe, or the humorous ones...?

AB: Action, I guess

JM: Basil Poledouris, in an article, said that it was one of the 'completely electronic' scores he worked on. I think that that helps set the music apart, gives it this unique identity that works really well for the characters and situations in Misfits. Was there anything noteworthy that you remember about doing it completely electronically? Any challenges or advantages?

AB: He was traditional. He wasn't used to the way we did things with synths.

JM: When moving to scoring for the series proper, were there any conscious decisions made as to how to keep doing the music? Like whether to stick to only electronic, or to keep to the same style but spread out and experiment?

AB: We kept the style.

JM: The songs sung by Johnny B were always a high point in the episodes for me. Did you, and Schiff, record the backing music that Mark sung over?

AB: Yes, I think so.

"Now, go, cat, go!"

JM: Did Mark play any of his own guitar parts? Or was that always taken care of by the studio musicians or Steve Schiff?

AB: I think the guitars were Schiff.

(I asked about the covers songs that were used; he agreed that they might have been used to keep within budget, but didn't recall doing anything for them himself and doesn't think they were done at his studio.)

JM: Do you know the singer/title to this song? 'memories' (12)

AB: Yes - I may have co-written, but I'm not sure. We recorded that - don't know the singer - maybe same girl as theme song?

JM: Ah, that's so cool to hear! I was figuring it sounded like an original song, but I wasn't sure since (aside from the theme song) there weren't any original songs in any other eps. It does sound like it could be Karen Lawrence actually. That'd be cool if it was!

(I asked whether he had any other MoS memorabilia, like demos tapes or cd's, but he didn't.)

JM: A fan asked me whether I knew what 80's funk tune was played behind the sequence where Jade is being kidnapped. I'm not sure that this is a pre-existing song used here, or if it's just more of the score. Do you remember?

AB: Yeh, that's Steve and me jammin here in the studio - I have not heard that since we did it!

One more thing - there was a guy named Jeff Sturges who did some of the score - there was so much do it had to be divvied up. He was more traditional, but he would hire me to come down to the Universal recording studio to do synth parts with the other instruments.


It's thrilling to know some more about how the music was created and what it was like during the process. It's great to have been able to track down some tidbits about the show's production and add 'em to our little MoS community (I hope I'll get a chance to talk with others who were involved with the show sometime too). Thanks again, Mr. Barrow, it was so cool to hear about the score production from you!

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