by Jon Lebkowsky
George Sanger, aka The Fat Man ("the biggest name in music for multimedia"), loves his work as much as anybody I know. So far he hasn't been seduced by the lucrative world of film soundtracks, preferring to record tracks for diverse computer games including Origin's Wing Commander, Trilobyte's 7th Guest, Chuck Yeager's Air Combat, Monster Truck Rally, Ultima, and Star Trek games - I count almost 100 games listed at his http://www.fatman.com site. With his band, Team Fat, he has been creating multimedia game scores for 15 years. George says his biggest problem today is that "the pipelines are clogged with awful games." That, and the economics of game production: What's left of the budget for a game's soundtrack after all other costs are covered doesn't always support a full implementation of Team Fat's creative force. More recently, The Fatman is releasing CDs of refreshing analog recordings of Team Fat performing game soundtracks. Surf.Com contains the soundtrack to Zhadnost - The People's Party, Texas surf music for a twisted sort of communist game show, and 7/11 is the soundtrack for 7th Guest/11th Hour, the world's first million-selling CD-Rom title. Another CD, Flabby Rode, a collection of giddy game tunes, will be released soon - and there are five more CDs in the can. Team Fat is pumping out these CDs with the support of Music and Computers Magazine, which bought a bunch of the CDs up front.
The paradox of the Fat Man is that he's not fat, and not really a cowboy twang artist, though if you see him up close and personal, he might just be wearing a cowboy outfit. Hey, wait, that's not just any cowboy outfit - he has a couple of suits created by the late, famous Hollywood tailor Nudie. Nudie created Western wear the Hollywood way: high-end fringe, rhinestones, and gold lamé. Actually, Fat Man has one Nudie suit; he gave the other to its original owner, Hank Thompson (http://www.infocs.com/hank/), leader of the first country music show ever to play Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Susan Penn of Austin is building an awesome new Fat Man suit after the Nudie style - midnight blue with gold and bronze and silver-hued snakes (mystical reverence creeps into George's voice as he describes the suit - it's powerful!)
So you have the suit, when are you going to tour, I ask? "We would definitely go for a tour of Japan!" he says of Team Fat. "We ride together and we do cool things! What would be cooler than a Texas surf band touring Japan, playing music from video games!"
Meanwhile, Fat Man is working on projects for the military, including a peacekeeping game with a Bosnian scenario, which explores alternatives to fighting, and a bloody war game based in Korea. Army training films gone interactive. He's also working on a game, soon to be released, called Dawn of War, and some other projects that are way top secret. (Zeppelin brigades, planned invasion of planet Zuron, secret outings to dim sum palaces in cyberspace? He won't say.)
One thing he did discuss, and he'll probably talk more about this at the panel he's doing at SXSW, is a new business model for scoring games which involves the marketing of alternate soundtracks. One thing that drives gamers crazy is that same music pounding away hour after hour, game after game; even the greatest stuff gets
old after a while, no? Imagine getting alternate mpeg soundtracks off the game's website, as you gaze into the sunset, watching The Fat Man and his rhythm section surf horseback to Japan....