EXTRA 2008: Jeff Curry on The Outer Rim

By Jeriaska . October 19, 2008 . 4:39pm

In May of this year, the Tokyo-based band The Outer Rim published their self-titled debut album. Composed primarily by bassist Jeff Curry, the musician imagined the spoken drama that bookends the music tracks, which are performed by professional videogame voice actors, as a dark and brooding outer space tale reminiscent of James Cameron’s Aliens. Over time, the story segments of “The Outer Rim” grew lighter and more whimsical in tone, though the romantic couple it follows remain adrift in space, fleeing a shadowy secret agency.


Jeff Curry’s role in creating music for videogames emanates, as it were, from The Outer Rim. He appears on the soundtrack to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. His music will also be featured on the jazz-inspired background music for the upcoming From Software action title Ninja Blade. In addition, he performed live with The Outer Rim at last year’s EXTRA Hyper Game Music Event hosted by 5pb Records. His songs included “The Theme of Laura” from Silent Hill, played live by Akira Yamaoka, and “Prelude to Suicide,” which featured Norihiko Hibino on sax, and vocalist Yuki Koyonagi.


Siliconera caught up with the bassist and songwriter prior to this year’s EXTRA Hyper game concert to hear his thoughts on contributing to the Etrian Odyssey II Super Arrange Album, which contains his arrangements and performances on several songs.


Siliconera: Jeff Curry, thank you for joining us to talk about your live music and recordings for game soundtracks. How long has it been since you began living in Japan and working here as a musician?


Jeff Curry: I have lived in Japan for close to five years. I started The Outer Rim three years ago. Our music is jazz based but we also have elements of club music and the jam band style. All the members have really diverse backgrounds and are fans of a lot of different styles.


Siliconera: How did it come about that you were chosen to participate in the Etrian Odyssey II Super Arrange album?


Jeff Curry: Well, Norihiko Hibino and I have been friends and collaborated on many projects since I met him around five years ago. He knew I was always looking to play rock and metal but never had the chance to in Tokyo. Basically, they needed some heavy tracks and Hibino new I would love to do it. So, I jumped at the chance. I hope to do more stuff like that in the future!



Siliconera: Who were some of the other musicians that participated in the creation of the arrangements of the two battlefield tracks found on the album?


Jeff Curry: The other musicians were Yasuo Matsumoto on drums, Koichi Funabiki on bass, and guitarist Shingo Kujime. As for [vocalist] Fen Ikener, we go back a long time. He was actually the first person I ever made music with when we were 13 years old. He has been making music since he was five! He is such a great musician. His main thing is drums but he is also a great bass player, guitarist and singer. He has a lot of different projects going. I hope your readers will check him out.


Siliconera: How would you describe the style of the two songs you were involved in reinterpreting for the Super Arrange album?


Jeff Curry: Originally the producers wanted something that sounded like Linkin Park but, due to time constraints, I had to fall back on what I know. A more classic style of metal. On “Inspecting the Resounding Weapons,” I was going for a thrash/melodic metal sound. After many versions and styles, Norihiko really wanted to keep as close to the original tempo and form as possible. This was a good call because as soon as you hear the opening riff there is no question what song it is.


I open it up a little at the end with a little bass feature and a big riff with the original melody slowed way down. The original melody is so strong you can do a lot of changes to the backing to make it new. On “Battlefield Shiver,” I was also going for a thrash thing but really trying to stick to the original as much as possible. Basically I wanted to make a stripped down metal version of the original.



Siliconera: Were you provided with any requests by the composer and music director on the album?


Jeff Curry: Basically they wanted me to capture the original version as much as possible.


Siliconera: What inspired you to choose the lyrics?


Jeff Curry: I just checked out the game and tried to imagine what it would be like to be in the game as if it were real life. I wanted to reflect on what is going on in the game and come up with something that was fun to say. I come from the K.I.S.S. school of music. Keep it simple stupid!


Siliconera: Do you see there being some degree of thematic continuity between your music for the Outer Rim and these contributions to the Etrian Odyssey II arranged album?


Jeff Curry: A little bit. Over the years I have developed a writing style that really works for me. I use some of the same techniques when writing for The Outer Rim. The biggest challenge for me is to create something that is simple and fun but has depth and dimension. I am obsessed with the idea that one thing can be looked at on many different levels.



Below, The Outer Rim: Jeff Curry (bass), Hakuei Kim (piano), Fujii Nobuaki (drums) & Norihiko Hibino (sax)




To learn more about the music of Jeff Curry, visit his website at JeffCurry.com or check out the official site of The Outer Rim. Etrian Odyssey II Super Arrange Version can be found on Amazon.co.jp and CD Japan. The Outer Rim debut album is available at Amazon.co.jp. Images courtesy of 5pb Records and GEM Factory. Photo credit: Jeriaska/ Siliconera.

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  • Ana

    Oo, another cool interview. I was pretty shocked after listening to the two arrangements this guy worked on. Mind you, in a good way! They were the two stand out tracks of that CD for me.

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