...cartoon news interviews and views from the UK!
news & chatter
IT'S A PUPPET!
& finger puppets
& comic books
Music maestro Rick Cassman gets down with The Hound to talk about
Bounty Hamster and Music To Picture...
Bountiful Beats... Shake Your Bounty...
Rick Cassman and Rick talks to The Hound...
Music To Picture...
+ Bounty Hamster theme!..
Bounty Hamster intro-MP3
by Rick Cassman and
What can you say about 'Bounty Hamster'? A three-way production between
Peafur Productions, Silver Fox Films and Winchester Entertainment, this spaced-out
spoof stars Cassie and her eyepatch-wearing indefatigable hamster friend on a
seemingly endless quest to find Cassie's kidnapped father. The show is a
Geek's Dream; ten rollicking minutes of sci-fi mayhem. For sure, it's a kids'
series in a kids slot (C-ITV) but it's also got one eye on the older audience out
there, because it's stuffed-to-bursting with genre references for those in the know.
But you know that already, don't you, because The Hound has expounded and
enthused about this one at length.
A big part of 'Bounty Hamster's success is that funked-up soundtrack. The show
is driven by a bouncing beat which sets it apart from the usual Brit-created
series. But that's no surprise when you learn that Rick Cassman's background
is pure 'Rock'n'Roll', as he reveals in our iddle-biddy Q&A...
Rick knew how to pull the right levers with The Hound. He got in touch recently
to dangle the 'Bounty Hamster' theme under my nose and to fill in some of the
details on his and Music To Picture's CV...
So let's go back before 'Bounty Hamster', before Music To Picture.
Can you fill in some of your background info?
I was originally in a 70's pop rock combo called Straight Eight (cult aficionado's
can scout the web for more nuggets on this one!) we were signed to Who leader
Pete Townshend and released three albums during our five year walk on the
stairway to heaven. After the group folded I set up a 24 track recording facility in
deepest North Acton called Triple X Studios, where over a 10 year period I produced
and recorded many bands including Suede, Fields Of The Nephalin, and Glen
Matlock (Sex Pistols). It was here that I met Vyv Hope Scott whilst auditioning
for a keyboard player with a band I was producing called Ministry of Sound
(we thought of the name first by the way!). He stunned me with his dexterity
and skill and consequently we continued working together on many sessions
and began writing together.
And then there was Paul Coppock...?
Yes. During this period I was also close friends with an old art school colleague
of mine, Paul Coppock. He had run a film company with John Cary (Captain
Pugwash producer) called Filmwrights. Now he was editing commercials and
working closely with Jerry Hibbert and Graham Ralph, who as you know are great
animation directors. When Graham Ralph developed the 'Spider In The Bath'
(Spider) series he asked me to get involved as music producer and arranger and
consequently, Vyv and I provided the scores for many of the episodes. Paul was
working as the picture and sound editor on the series and this was our first
collaboration as a 'sound team'.
The three of you work very much as team, don't you?
We found that by working together we could mould the sound identity to the
animation and give it the best possible 'feel', sound wise. What normally happens
when the music people and the sound fx people work separately is that things
are often compromised during the dub and it's usually a question of dropping fx
or music to make way for the all important dialogue!
So let's talk about 'Bounty Hamster'...
This series really let us show off what we could do!
Paul sound designed many of the shows elements building up a library of
effects for each character and situation. Meanwhile I was allowed to exercise
my guitar fingers and Vyv his piano hands!
What has the schedule been like?
'Bounty Hamster' is still in production and the schedule is often hectic.
We usually get about seven days to score and lay sound fx to finished picture,
however there have been occasions when we have only had two days!!
The brief was hard at first as there were many different ways of making the sound
palette work. The shows writers David Freedman and Alan Gilbey (Peafur) had
strong ideas regarding the music and wanted each episode scored individually
rather than using a repetitive sound library of musical stings (something we are
always adverse to doing although budget dictates usually). Also, many of the
episodes evoke a Hollywood film reference and therefore the music had to reflect
this. Guess the references, fans!
The 'Bounty Hamster' theme is 'g-g-reat'...
Usually when working on a series the first thing to do is compose the theme.
I am a big fan of classics like 'The Flintstones', 'Popeye' and 'The Simpsons'
and wanted to write a catchy theme that was simple and easy to remember
so that when the kids are having their tea and the show comes on they know
what it is. I also wanted to use guitars, because I don't feel they feature enough
in today's cartoons. Kids love guitars and they love drums. So we incorporated
that into our theme.
It's a rockin' soundtrack, for sure...
Part of the brief was also to use electronic, spacey, modern sounds as the
series is, after all, set way in the future. Graham Ralph (Silver Fox) particularly
wanted a mechanical, metallic feel to a lot of the action sequences which we
achieved by using sound fx and drum loops mixed together with synth and
sampled sounds. Another trick we used was writing music in the same musical
key as, say, the sound of a sound effect atmosphere noise or machine sound.
This blended the music and fx together wonderfully. We also used this technique
with some of the dialogue to blend the two together.
Music and sound are often put at the back of the queue in animation and our
ambition is to give it a stronger role and allow it to enhance the story telling to
its maximum potential. With its ability to make you laugh and cry, sound is a
powerful weapon. Use it don't abuse it!!
And what's in store for us next...?
At present we are working with David Freedman on some great new stuff
- watch out!…
Watch out, and listen out, says The Hound because Music To Picture are
makings waves (or is that WAVs?). Thanks to Rick for the chat here, and for
clearing permissions with The Powers That Be for use of the 'Bounty Hamster'
- Till next time!
copyright Grrrr! Ltd / Winchester Television 'Pooch' copyright / site copyright - F2000-2003