Face The Music with Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

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 one of my favourite writers, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. Gareth has written some cracking campaigns for a host of games from Traveller to The One Ring (and Adventures in Middle-earth), Trail of Cthulhu to Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space, The Laundry to 13th Age. He’s also written three novels, The Black Iron Legacy Series, which are published through Orbit.

So, without further a do, here’s Gareth…

What are your favourite bands and genre?

I was once accused of having the musical taste of a teenage lesbian – a lot of Tori Amos, Pow, Wolf Alice and the like. Your standard geek-in-the-90s list – Radiohead, Pixies, Harvey Danger, They Might Be Giants. Some hip-hop stuff, tending again towards the geeky end – Scroobius Pip, Epic Rap Battles, Denise Chaila.

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?

Not that many. A dozen or so?
First was… I think Tori Amos. Last was… actually, I think last was Tori too. Or wait – no, They Might be Giants at Gencon. Ken Hite belting out the lyrics to James K. Polk, that I shall not forget.

I remember really enjoying live gigs by Foo Fighters and Pixies – they both excelled at the exhilarating-wall-of-noise thing. The Pixies concert, in particular, was in a foul rainstorm. There was a canopy above the stage, and the wind catches it and dumps a ton of water on top of poor Kim Deal, the bassist. She just keeps on blasting away.

Performer I’ve never seen but would love to? Huh. Tom Lehrer, maybe.

Tori Amos – Silent All These Years

Do you listen to music whilst writing/designing?

I picked up the trick of listening to VNV Nation while writing from Charles Stross -it’s got a lovely tempo for keyboard-smashing.

Do you use music whilst gaming?

Not really. If I’m playing in person (remember playing in person?) I might have a period-appropriate or genre-appropriate soundtrack running in the background, but it’s a pain trying to switch tracks or do sound cues, so unless there’s a really good reason to include sound effects or specific/diegetic music, I don’t bother. And online plays means no music – not when players are wrestling with microphones.

What are your top five favourite albums?

Ack. I assume this isn’t legally binding?


FLOOD. They Might Be Giants


THE BENDS. Radiohead.

and…. agh. I’ve no idea. A dozen possible candidates at least.

Conjure One – Centre of the Sun

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

  1. CENTRE OF THE SUN, Conjure One
  2. BLACK STAR, Radiohead
  5. WESTERN VS EASTEN PHILOSOPHERS, Epic Rap Battles of History
  6. NOVA. VNV Nation
  8. THOU SHALT ALWAYS KILL, Scroobius Pip vs Dan Le Sac
  9. MUZZLE, Smashing Pumpkins
  10. Something by Bach, mainly because there’s a bit in the novel 2001 where Dave Bowman’s on a ship hurtling through deep space and he finds comfort in Bach, so in the back of head is the factoid, “if stuck on a ship in deep space, try Bach.”
Epic Rap Battles of History – Eastern Philosophers vs Western Philosophers

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

plans for the year involve writing at least one novel, and a bunch of freelancing. I’m looking forward to the release of the BORELLES CONNECTION for Fall of Delta Green (I listened to a lot of Vietnam-war era soundtracks for that), and THE PARAGON BLADE for Gumshoe One2One.


Gareth Hanrahan Website

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