Summer of Sonic 2012: Crush 40 Interview

First up in the 3-part series of Summer of Sonic interviews, we have two legendary guys  – Jun Senoue and Johnny Gioeli! Together this duo makes Crush 40, but I’m sure you all knew that already! Without further ado, let’s get on with the interviews, shall we?

First up, Jun!

Hi, Jun! How does it feel to be back at Summer of Sonic?

Jun: It’s great to be here! It’s the third time for me since 2010 and every time I come here it’s pretty busy, but that doesn’t stop it from being very fun for me to attend this event!

Which Crush 40 song is the most fun for you to perform?

Jun: Is it okay to choose three?

Sure!

Jun: I’d say What I’m Made of (Sonic Heroes) from the selection of Sonic music, Watch Me Fly, which is kind of a ballad and One of Those Days from the non-game-related selection of music.

When composing the music for both episodes of Sonic 4, did you hit any challenges to create music with a lower range of notes and instruments?

Jun: With the music for Sonic 4, I discussed with Iizuka-san as to how we should have the style of music. In the end we decided to keep a limit on the number of notes we used. I composed this music in the same way I did when I worked on music back in the Mega Drive/Genesis era and originally tried to have an FM sound which was similar to the original Genesis sound as this would have been very good for nostalgia for fans who played Sonic games in the 90’s, like I did! With Episode 2, you can really see the progress with the graphics and gameplay from the first episode. I wanted to have an option where the player could choose between the FM sounds and a sound that was similar the music from Episode 1. Dimps, however, wanted to keep the music style similar to the previous episode so I had no chance to try this.

How did it feel to go back and re-work some of the most iconic tracks in Sonic’s history for Generations?

Jun: It was a very fun project for me! It was the very first time I could re-visit Nakamura-san’s tracks from the first two Sonic games and since I joined SEGA back in 1993 (when I was simply a fan of playing Sonic games) it was very fun to do that kind of stuff, making arrangements of some of my favourite tracks from the games I enjoyed playing before I started work on the series. I would have loved to make a new arrangement of Emerald Hill from Sonic 2 but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance this time around. We did, however, make a new arrangement for Casino Night which was another important song from that title and we really enjoyed making such an upbeat and jazzy track!

When creating the music for a specific stage or Zone, which is more important to look at for inspiration – the flow and design of the level or the theme and setting?

Jun: As for the level music, I usually start composing after playing the levels so that I can get a general speed and tempo for the level. This is my most preferred method of composing, but sometimes a screenshot or even a piece of concept art can be enough to inspire me.

Since you’ve released three new Crush 40 tracks recently, do you think we could be seeing another full Crush 40 album anytime soon?

Jun: Last year we also made another new song for charity, The Song of Hope for Red Cross. Then we had shows in Tokyo last March and the three new songs were primarily written for these kind of shows. Finally we will release an EP including the Song of Hope for the Japanese market soon. In answer to your question, at this moment I haven’t started writing any new stuff yet but every time Johnny and I discuss what we should do next, we come up with many, many new ideas. We will most likely start work on new material at some point this year, but I can’t say whether this will be another EP or album. It can be great to sell songs in smaller packages, whether that’s in an EP or a single.

Thanks very much for taking the time to take these questions Jun, it’s been an absolute pleasure to meet you!

Jun: Thanks for having me! It was wonderful to meet you too!

Now we move over to Johnny!

How does it feel to be back at Summer of Sonic?

Johnny: Feels great! I feel bad that I missed it last year so it’s great to be back, and in such a beautiful area too! The weather’s been great so far so I won’t be performing tonight; I’ll be sunning myself on the beach, working on my tan! Just kidding!

Which Crush 40 track would you say is the most fun for you to perform?

Johnny: I’d have to definitely say ‘What I’m Made of’. It’s easily one of the best things we’ve ever created. That’s my song right there!

How would you describe the differences between a Crush 40 and Hardline/Axel Rudi Pell performance?

Johnny: Oh, totally different. That’s what makes my life very interesting – they are three totally separate styles, of course all rock and roll but they all have their very own characteristics. All different to me, so I have to really change and ‘take one hat off, put another hat on’ and make sure I’m in the right emotions. It’s really cool!

When writing music for Crush 40, from where do you mostly draw the inspiration for the lyrics?

Johnny: If it’s for a game, it’s based on the scene and the emotion in that scene. Jun usually gives me direction there so either I’ll get something from the company that sets the stage for the scene like a storyboard or Jun will say ‘Johnny can you write about this that and the other because this is what’s gonna happen’, etc. Sometimes I go crazy myself when it’s not for a game, since I can take the creative freedom just to write about whatever I feel from the music that Jun gives me.

Since you’ve released three new Crush 40 tracks recently, do you think we could be seeing another full Crush 40 album anytime soon?

Johnny: Yeeeeeah, I’ll think we’ll muster something up! We were just talking about it today and trying to figure out when we could have an opportunity write some new material. It’s just that we both have such busy lives but this is very important to us! *whispers* Next year!

Thanks, Johnny! It was awesome to meet you and I look forward to seeing you  perform later on!

Johnny: Thanks, bro! It’s been an absolute pleasure and I can’t wait to get on-stage!

So there we have it! Truly two of the friendliest guys I’ve ever spoken to. But wait, there’s more! Next up we’ll be bringing you interviews with Takashi Iizuka, Steve Lycett and Tim Spencer, so stay tuned for more!

9 Comments

  1. Awesome job, Swissmas! Can’t believe you were able to sit down and chat with these legends. xD Lucky British gits…

    But seriously, great interview! I can’t wait for Iizuka’s, Lycett’s, and Spencer’s!

  2. “I wanted to have an option where the player could choose between the FM sounds and a sound that was similar the music from Episode 1. Dimps, however, wanted to keep the music style similar to the previous episode so I had no chance to try this.”
    }:( CURSE YOU DIMPS!!!!!

  3. Is the Iizuka interview coming today? I can’t wait to read it. it’s always exciting to see what he has to say.

  4. Finally Johnny singing a Queen song, i hope they will record a cover on the next album, Johnny’s voice really would be cool in the classic “another one bites the dust”.

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