Talking Music with Vince DiCola

Vince DiCola

Our own Jess has been in contact with musician Vince DiCola. Recently Mr. DiCola agreed to do an interview with Jess which she has shared with the community.

Many fans know Vince DiCola for his musical work on the original Transformers movie. Since that time DiCola has stayed involved with Transformers by composing other Transformer music. Recently he has released a special "Thank You" to all his friends in the Transformers community.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: First off I'd like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview...

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Always my pleasure. As I've said many times, I owe a lot to the fans from the TRANSFORMERS community who have been so enthusiastic in their support of my work throughout the years.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Also on behalf of all the fans I'd like to thank you for that wonderful Transformer Suite you released to us a few weeks back.

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Again, it was my pleasure.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Who are your biggest influences in music?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: In the rock world, there are 2 very powerful bands in the progressive rock genre from the 1970's whose music continues to influence and inspire me - ELP (Emerson, Lake and Palmer) and YES. Both bands blended classical elements with rock in a way that's never been equaled to this day, in my opinion.

In the film music world, I'm a big fan of Jerry Goldsmith (who passed away fairly recently - a major loss to film music), Thomas Newman and John Powell. There are of course other composers whose work I really like but those 3 are standouts for me.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: You are a very talented musician who can play more than just the piano. What other instuments do you play and which is your favorite instrument of all time?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: I majored in percussion in college and I've always loved that element in music. However, there's nothing quite like the degree of expressiveness a piano offers. That's my favorite instrument - hands down (pun intended!).

Dragonsend Dragonsend: What projects are you currently working on?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: I just finished doing some arranging, composing and keyboard work for a group out of Japan known as T-SQUARE. Most of their material is available out of Japan only but they're very popular in that part of the world. I've worked for them a couple of times in the past and really enjoy participating on their recording projects.

Also recently released (at is a new CD from a jam band recording project I'm involved with called DPI. This CD - entitled "Found Objects" - is an all-instrumental offering featuring myself, Doane Perry (JETHRO TULL) on drums, and a great bass player named Paul Ill.

I'm also working on a new band project - sort of a continuation of the THREAD project from which we released our first CD nearly 10 years ago. However, this is all new music and with some personnel changes. More on that in future updates. This project has remained very close to my heart and I'm excited about how the new music is turning out.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: What ideas do you want to express in your music?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Music is truly a universal language and I've been fortunate in having the opportunity to express some positive elements through my work. I'd like to think my music communicates strength, hope and faith. Two of the highest compliments I ever received demonstrated to me that it's entirely possible to get these elements across through music... One person at an earlier TF convention informed me that the music and words to "Dare" (lyrics by Scott Shelly) actually helped him avoid suicide. A correspondence I received more recently was from a soldier currently serving in Iraq who emailed to say my music has been helping him through some tough times relative to that horrible situation. It is this kind of positive feedback that means the most and it's what keeps me going in this incredibly challenging business.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: You get to work with all kinds of artists including Doane Perry (Jethro Tull) and Kenny Meriedeth. How have the different people you've met and worked with through the years influenced your work?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: One of the best things about being in the Los Angeles area is the amount of amazing talent that exists here. I've really been blessed to have the opportunity to work with some of the finest talent the area has to offer, and I've learned a great deal in nearly every instance. In this age of technology when one person with a decent computer can pretty much create his/her music without involving another person, I still prefer the interactive process. A lot of musicians are attracted to the concept of doing everything 'virtual' - which means they can sit in a room by themselves with a computer and maybe a video camera and communicate online or even over the phone with their collaborators. From my perspective, that removes one of the most exciting elements of making music. There's still nothing like being in the same room at the same time with a talented collaborator or two (or four or eighty!). So to answer your question, my work has been influenced a great deal by each person I've collaborated with in the knowledge, experience and creative talent they've brought into the collaboration. I'd like to think each of my collaborators feels the same about me.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: How does your music for Transformers over the years compare to your other music?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: This is an interesting question but difficult to answer since I'm so close to all the music I've created for various projects throughout the years. It's hard to be objective. Certainly there's a bit more of an action element in the TF and related music I've done - simply because that's what was called for. And I think the 'good-versus-evil' concept has been accentuated more in my TF music. Obviously that's a major element of the entire franchise.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: What first drew you to doing Transformers The Movie Score and what has kept you creating more Transformer related music?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: The producers of the animated movie contacted me because they really liked my work on ROCKY IV and felt my style of writing could work for their movie. I was very fortunate in that most of the people involved basically left me alone to do whatever I felt was right for the picture. I've since learned how rare that really is, but I think it played a major role in allowing me to come up with music that was pretty unique and special (and remains so even to this day).

As far as what has kept me creating more TF-related music since the original scoring opportunity came my way, certainly a fair amount of credit must go to Glen Hallit. As I've said in past interviews, Glen searched me out back in 1996 and took great pleasure in demonstrating to me just how much of a cult favorite the 1986 movie had become, as well as how many fans of my original movie score actually existed. When Glen was handling the conventions he was always looking for ways to incorporate new musical material, and I always enjoyed the challenge of coming up with new TF-related compositions.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: 20 years after the movie was first released, what would you have done differently to the score, if you were to put the music to it today?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: You know, I've thought about this quite a bit over the years and have had different answers at different times. Now, 20 years later, I can honestly say I wouldn't change anything at all about my original score, believe it or not. Certainly the whole movie score 'climate' has changed from 1986 to present day, and if I was given a similar scoring opportunity today I would probably treat it much differently - the main difference being a lot more orchestral as opposed to a heavily synthesized approach. However, even though the original score was synth-based, in listening back to it and comparing it to other synthesized movie scores from that time period, I think there's something that sets it apart - something that keeps it enjoyable and interesting to listen to today in spite of the fact that it was created so long ago. Sure, there may be a bit of a 'dated' element to some of the sounds and thematic melodies that were used, but it has held up pretty well through the years (at least in MY humble opinion!).

Dragonsend Dragonsend: How has the experience of the Transformers The Movie Score affected you as an artist? Has it helped your music reach a wider audience?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Yes, it absolutely HAS helped my music reach a wider audience. Even though ROCKY IV was a much more successful film than TRANSFORMERS...THE MOVIE at the box office, I've received much more attention over the years for my TF work.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Here's one that I hope you don't mind me asking. We hope for a great score on the new upcoming live action TF movie and we have great respect for the chosen artist though alot of us were disappointed that you were not chosen for the score .Were you a bit disappointed yourself that you were not chosen to do the new live action movie score?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Ah... The big (and expected) question! The answer to this is not a simple one so please bear with me...

I don't know how long it's been since I first heard the news that plans were being made for a new live-action film, but I would be lying if I said the thought of me being involved on some level never crossed my mind. I have written quite a bit of music in recent years - on my own as well as with some collaborators - that I felt could be appropriate and applicable if another TF-related scoring opportunity should ever come my way. And as you now know, I took some themes from my original score, mixed in some of the original TF theme, came up with a new arrangement and started working on a new recording with Kenny Meriedeth some time ago. We had been planning to make a presentation to the producers of the new movie when we learned that a composer had already been chosen. Yes, I WAS disappointed. I was also quite surprised that a composer had been hired so far in advance of the release date of the movie. Usually that doesn't happen until much later in the production, but knowing Steve Jablonsky's relationship with Michael Bay, it's understandable and not totally unexpected.

Here's the thing... I knew from the start that this new movie will be a completely 'different animal' than the 1986 animated movie, and it is being made by an entirely different group of people. Also, just like everyone else, I was aware of the stature of those working on this new film, and I know that every major director and producing team have their own 'stable' of talent they go to for various creative elements of their projects. In other words, I basically knew the odds from the beginning. However, the fan support I've received throughout the years, coupled with the very positive experiences I've enjoyed relative to my work on the original score and associated opportunities since then, kept me motivated to at least explore the possibility of being involved on some level with this new film.

As I mentioned online, I decided to continue working on this new recording and make it available as a free download as a way of thanking all those who've supported my work throughout the years. And even though we're fully aware that a composer has been in place for quite some time, we are still planning to submit some music for consideration. Steve Jablonsky came up in the business through Hans Zimmer and contributed a lot of "additional music" to Zimmer projects before taking on his own composing opportunities. I'm hoping that Jablonsky, Michael Bay, Don Murphy and company will at least consider making use of my services in some manner for this new film, given my history with the franchise. I wouldn't be saying this if I didn't believe I had something of value to offer. I'm sure the music to this new movie will be fine whether I'm involved or not, but I do believe my involvement could make a difference.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Are there any plans for a rerelease of the complete Transformers the movie score? Perhaps a 20th anniversary edition?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Not at this time.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Where is the best place online to buy all of your music? :)

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola:

(The STAYING ALIVE, ROCKY IV and TRANSFORMERS soundtracks are not available there, however. Those items are still available at various popular music outlets only - both in stores and online.)

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Thanks. We're almost done. Just one more thing. If you have the time we'd like to ask you 10 quick questions with simple answers.

Decades: 1970s, 1980s or 1990s?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: 1970's - mostly because of the diversity of the music from that whole time period. It's not likely we'll ever see a similar growth in music again.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Favorite color?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Blue.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Favorite food?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Pasta.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Movies: What's your all time favorite?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Ooh - that's tough! Don't laugh, but probably "The Sound of Music"! I also hold the 1st 2 "Godfather" movies in high esteem.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Cars: Favorite car of all time?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Jaguar.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Cities: Favorite city in USA or abroad?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Washington, D.C. and San Francisco are tied for me here in the USA. Probably Rome abroad.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Inventions: Internet or Cell Phones?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Internet, though honestly I remain unconvinced that either is making life better in general.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Quotes: Favorite famous quote?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: The Serenity Prayer... "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Cartoons: Favorite cartoon when you were young?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Pink Panther.

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Allegiances: Autobots or Decepticons?

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: Well of course, the good guys!

Dragonsend Dragonsend: Thanks again so much for taking the time to do this interview with me for and the fans. We wish you luck in the future and hope you keep those Transformer tunes rolling out for us!

Vince DiCola Vince DiCola: I'll do my best! Thanks for the great questions, and thanks to all my fans for their continued interest and support.

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