Roy Z is a badass musician and producer who is known for his killer work with Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford and Judas Priest. We recently chatted with Roy about his work on the Zombie Squash game starring George A. Romero, his current music projects and much more.
AMANDA DYAR: Tell us, what have you been up to nowadays?
ROY Z: I’ve been mixing, writing, recording and developing artist, working with new young artists, teaching, you name it. I’m currently mixing, what I would call an international group, because they’re all from different countries, called One Machine. I’m mixing their debut now. My good buddy, Steve Smythe is in the band, who, when I first met him, was in Testament in 2003 when we toured together with Halford. I’ve also been working and developing a group called Art of Shock. I’m doing their EP now and they’re going to be on the Warped tour this year. I’m putting together, instead of retrospective, an Introspective of Tribe of Gypsies. It’s a double CD, and it’s going to have four new songs as well as different songs from our catalog. You know, there are other real cool things on the horizon that I can’t talk about right now, but I’m real excited about what’s happening with Zombie Squash and being able to create a bit of a soundtrack to video games, which I used to play a lot as a kid, it’s a different mind-set.
AMANDA: What drew you to Zombie Squash and what did you enjoy most about working on it?
ROY Z: Well first of all, through the Halford experience, I became friends with Attila Juhasz and you know, working with Attila and just the idea and the concept drew me to the whole thing. Working with Attila on other projects, I always knew he was a serious dude and very professional so I took it as, not only a complement, because it was his private thing, but I took it as a really cool coincidence, because I grew up playing all the video games. I had to get rid of all my video game systems otherwise I wouldn’t work, I’d just play video games. (laughs) So it’s kind of weird, that my work nowadays has computers and it’s kind of like playing video games in music these days; what you can do, it’s so strange how those worlds have collided through computers. But getting back to the project, I just felt good about it and I have so much music, that some of it I thought it would be great for a video game so when Attila asked me I already had a stash of songs ready to go.
AMANDA: How was composing music for a video game different than other projects you have done?
ROY Z: With video games, it’s a lot like a movie scene or TV scene, you’re enhancing what’s going on, so there’s certain repetition and a certain build up and certain notes to enhance that. The songs that I chose have that in them, they create this sort of build up or create a sort of calmness or an in-between moment, for certain pauses and working in that text. Video game music can be like zen music, some of it can be crazy and some can put you in a trance.
AMANDA: Are you a fan of horror and/or video games? And if so, what are some of your favorites?
ROY Z: Yeah, obviously so many classic horror movies and TV shows come to mind and there’s just so many to name. But for movies and TV shows that I could remember that had an impact on me, well, in TV “The Twilight Zone” series, also then Rod Serling had “Night Gallery,” that was a big one, and then the TV movie “Trilogy of Terror,” the little dude, I don’t know what he was, a little native dude or whatever, but that dude scared me man for a long time. They put that dude in an oven and he kept going, and when the lady turned to him at the end, that really had an impact. One more TV show I want to give an honorable mention to is “Hammer House of Horror,” I know that was a British series and there weren’t a lot of them, but I really liked them as a kid. There weren’t a whole lot of them, but they were well put together and I thought they were great.
Movie-wise, you have your classics, but the two movies that had the most impact on me were “Alice, Sweet Alice” and “The Exorcist,” both from the ’70s. Those movies really scared the crap out of me. I don’t even know if I can watch them anymore. (laughs)
Video game-wise, I grew up in the ’80s video game world, you know Pac Man, everybody learned the pattern after a while, get 100,000 or whatever. I was totally into that. Tempest. Centipede. All the classics you know. Galaxian, Galaga. And, later on, Playstation, I had all the different games. Different shooting games, but after awhile they kind of left me numb. I’m not saying I dislike them, but after awhile, after shooting things, and killing, I don’t know, I mean in Doom, I don’t even know what I was killing at the end, I just knew I had to shoot him in the ankle (laughs).
AMANDA: If you was taking on an army of the undead–especially that of veggie zombies–what would be your first reaction? What would be your weapon of choice?
ROY Z: I’d call an airplane with pesticide and say “hey dude, here are the coordinates.”
AMANDA: If you could come back as a zombie, would you? And why?
ROY Z: Yeah, I would. I trip out on Zombies. They had zombies over here in Sylmar, filming The Walking Dead down the street. I couldn’t believe it. If I could come back as a zombie then I want to be in the right movie, where the zombies kick ass!
AMANDA: Do you have any upcoming events or projects you would like to mention that fans should check out?
ROY Z: Well, as I mentioned before, I’ve been working on different projects. We have Leatherwolf going out on tour who we’ve been working with, also London now is going out there. I’m about to enter the studio with a band called The Last Vegas out of Chicago, friends of mine, we’ve been talking about doing this record now for the last seven or eight years and we’re going to do it. Working on my own stuff. I’m working on other projects I can’t talk about. And there’s also my bro, YGuittaro, he’s doing really well, he’s got two singles with Amanda Darling singing with him, they have two great songs, Streets of LA and Real Love, two wonderful songs. I mean there are so many projects, I’m constantly working with so many different types of people. I’m about to work with a world-renown Cuban artist coming in this week, so I’m real excited about that. We have our Tribe of Gypsies coming up with our new collection Introspective, hitting this summer, double CD, 4 new songs, and on top of that, two songs from original demo. And of course we’ll be releasing the Zombie Squash Soundtrack.
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