Face The Music with Matt Forbeck

Most interviews with games industry figures tend to be about our latest game or “hot new thing” we’re working on. But what about the people behind the games we play and, hopefully, love? Little is said, or explored, of the actual person’s tastes, or how they got into the hobby, etc.

Face The Music is a new column in which I aim to explore a side that is rarely explored – music tastes of the people behind the games we play. What do they listen to? Bands they love? Greatest gig? Do they use music whilst they work, or whilst they game?

Each week I’ll be chatting to someone in the games industry about their musical tastes. This week I’m joined by game designer and author Matt Forbeck. Matt has worked on numerous games in the RPG industry, written novels from a variety of settings from Eberron and Blood Bowl to Leverage and Halo, comics and a host of computer games for companies such as Atari and Ubisoft. He’s also one of the authors of the Marvel Encyclopedia – which is a must for all Marvel fans. It’s safe to say that Matt is a very experienced industry vet, and he’s also one of the nicest guys in gaming… but what’s on his stereo?

What are your favourite bands and genre?

I listen to all kinds of music, but I grew up on hard rock and listen to a lot of alternative stuff. My tastes wind up being all over the map. I also put a lot of soundtracks on while I’m writing so that the verbal part of my brain doesn’t have to work to shut out the lyrics in the song.

My favorite bands include The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Boston, Pink Floyd, Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimmy Buffet, Gaelic Storm, Frank Turner, Peter Gabriel, Billy Joel, Tom Petty, The Eagles, The Beatles, The Indigo Girls, Nine Inch Nails, Frank Sinatra, Jonathan Coulton, Young MC, Run-DMC, and more. For more modern/pop stuff at the moment, I also listen to Bruno Mars, Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Olivia Rodrigo, Ed Sheeran, and Taylor Swift.

How many gigs have you been to? What was your first/last? Your favourite? What band/performer have you never seen live but would love to (or have loved to if the band/performer have broken up, retired, or died)?

I have no idea how many gigs I’ve been to, although it dropped off considerably after my kids were born. My first concert was Cheap Trick opening for REO Speedwagon. My favorite was probably seeing The Rolling Stones play at Alpine Valley back in 1989, although the first Lilith Fair show I saw was up there too. Or the time I accidently stumbled into a ticket for a front-row seat at a Billy Joel concert when I was in college.

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven

Do you listen to music whilst writing/designing?

I do, although as I mentioned I usually stick to film scores without any lyrics. Sometimes i can cue up a playlist I already know by heart though, as the lyrics ten to fade into the background for me then.

Do you use music whilst gaming?

If I can find an appropriate score that can help set the mood for an RPG session, I’m all for it, but I normally go without. That’s especially true with board games, where it’s more about concentrating on the game than the atmosphere.

What are your top five favourite albums?

That’s a hard one. Like most people, I don’t listen to albums as such anymore. That said, I’ll give it a shot.

  1. Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd
  2. Led Zeppelin IV
  3. Exodus, Bob Marley and the Wailers
  4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Soundtrack, Various Artists
  5. When Harry Met Sally: Music from the Motion Picture, Harry Connick Jr.

I’ll toss in one that doesn’t exist but should: Joe vs. the Volcano: Music from the Motion Picture. They never released one.

Peter Gabriel – Solsbury Hill

If you were stranded on a ship hurtling through deep space, which ten tracks would you want to have with you?

This likely changes for me on a daily basis, but here’s todays answer. I’m going for classic songs, as they’ve stayed with me for decades and are most likely to endure.

  1. “Imagine” by John Lennon
  2. “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin
  3. “Hotel California” by The Eagles
  4. “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd
  5. “Solsbury Hill” by Peter Gabriel
  6. “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix
  7. “Revolution” by The Beatles
  8. “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls
  9. “One Love/People Get Ready” by Bob Marley
  10. “It Had to Be You” by Harry Connick Jr.

And a non-music question – any plans/projects for the coming year that you’d like to talk about?

Sure! I’m working on a Fifth Edition setting sourcebook based on my Shotguns & Sorcery stories. That should be out later this year. Before that, though, there’s the Playtest Rulebook for the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game, due out this spring.

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