When people ask me which game—in my opinion—deserves more remixes, one of my go-to responses is Maniac Mansion. It's a classic NES game (yeah I know it came out on other systems, but to me it was always a NES game) with an amazing and diverse soundtrack by Team Fat, and doesn't get nearly as much love as it should. And, since there are multiple composers represented, I actually used this album to pay tribute to two different composers and themes, both from the same game! This is the story of one of them.
So, why Bernard’s theme? Well, not only was he my favorite character to use when I played through the game as a kid (and as an adult, I’ll be honest), but I feel he represents the game better than any other single character... and plus, he’s the main guy in the “Day of the Tentacle” sequel, so the game developers must have felt that way too, right?
Additionally, I liked the challenge. Bernard’s Theme via NES is just... weeeeeeird. Listen to the original here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGmmOlSnFCo
I knew I wanted to arrange this, but I was stumped on how. And then one day it clicked. In the game, Bernard’s the electric guy... electric... electric bass. Boom. I’d turn this into an electric bass solo.
Now in the world of electric bass solos, the one performer that first revealed to me what a solo bass could really do was Michael Manring. (Thanks to Chris Kuffner from SUNY Purchase for sharing his work with me back in school.) I fell in love not only with the unique solo electric bass sound, but was also very impressed at the virtuoso performances that could be achieved on that instrument. I even went to so far as to write an electric bass solo in college, and I’ve also incorporated unique samples from that soundscape into my work ever since.
So, I started crafting the solo, and it really evolved into an awesome piece... upbeat, challenging, with a fair amount of acid jazz elements, really transforming the original into something much larger. For the performance, I called upon local Syracuse legend Matt Vacanti of E.S.P., who was able to nail the complexity and style of the piece with fervor. (Incidentally if you're looking for some quality modern jazz, E.S.P. is pretty awesome.)
Even though he’s not composing anymore, this remix honors American composer Dave Govett, of the original Team Fat. I asked The Fat Man, and he says Dave retired from game music to be a police officer, because he found it to be “less stressful.” Hah. Well, Dave, you still managed to inspire back in the day, and I hope you enjoy the remix!