Composer Spotlight: Brian Tyler
Currently among the busiest composers in the business, Brian Tyler has positioned himself as one of the top A-list composers in Hollywood. He was named Film Composer of the Year in 2014 at the Cue Awards, and has received numerous awards for his work. With three movies already out this year (xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Power Rangers and The Fate of the Furious), he has another blockbuster on the way – the reboot of The Mummy starring Tom Cruise, out June 9th. He has certainly excelled in the action genre, for which he is primarily known, but his talents spread much further than that.
Brian began playing drums and piano as a child. “My grandmother was a pianist and I was influenced by her and my parents were playing rock records which influenced my drumming. I was a fan of film scores, rock, classical, jazz, and hip-hop in my early years and tried to learn as much about each of those genres as possible. I began writing music in a serious way in my teen years while I was playing in various bands and orchestras.” In addition to his grandmothers musical skills, his grandfather was an Academy-Award winning Art Director, so he had some pedigree for working in the film industry. He went on to earn and undergraduate degree from UCLA and a masters from Harvard. From there, he scored his first movie, Bartender, in 1997 and began what would amount to an incredible rise within the film world.
Children of Dune
Although his resume extends back two decades, Brian’s career really started with a breakout year in 2003, where he scored the Tommy Lee Jones vehicle The Hunted and the TV mini-series Children of Dune. That year he would see him score five features, a short film, two episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise and the aforementioned mini-series. This is quite a strong showing for a relatively unknown composer at the time. Children of Dune in particular allowed him to show off his talents, with an ambitious score spread over 3 hour-and-a-half long episodes. With an ode to the ancient, his expansive orchestral textures were augmented with middle-eastern instruments and vocalizations which allowed a vast musical palette to match the lavish visual production. Many of these themes were used in trailers for subsequent films including Master and Commander, Sahara, Cinderella Man, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Star Trek.
Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
He would follow this up with endeavors into a wide range of films, from Sci-Fi & Action to Romantic Comedies. Then in 2006 he got his first big franchise movie, scoring Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the third installment of that series. The film’s requirement for a foundation of aggressive electronic loops, percussion, guitar and orchestra was well within Brian’s wheelhouse. Being proficient on drums, piano, guitar, bass and cello (as well as many other instruments) he had a natural predilection for the needs of this project. It seems the fans agreed, as the soundtrack album hit #1 on the iTunes soundtrack charts. He’s continued with the series, scoring four of the following five sequels. He also managed to support the franchise as it evolved from basic car racing movies into a much deeper story line that has resonated with fans and built it into an empire.
By 2007, Brian was hitting his stride and solidifying his position as the go-to-guy for action in Hollywood. He honed his writing chops on three epic action flicks that year: WAR, Alien vs Predator: Requiem and Rambo. The latter of them saw him pick up the baton from the late Jerry Goldsmith, who had scored all the previous Rambo movies. This cultivated a lasting relationship with Sylvester Stallone, who’s had him score all of the Expendables movies thus far. Over the next three years, Mr. Tyler completed 14 feature films, including Eagle Eye, The Final Destination, and Battle Los Angeles, as well music for video games Lego Universe, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Need for Speed: The Run.
With his ensuing phase, he would advance even higher up the ranks by entering the Marvel Universe. He scored Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World in 2013 plus Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, all while continuing to work on other projects like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Expendables 3, Furious 7 and the video game Assassin’s Creed IV. Furthermore, he delved back into the realm of television by producing music for Hawaii Five-0, Transformers: Prime, Terra Nova, Sleepy Hollow and Scorpion.
Some other notable achievements include rearranging the logo music for Universal Pictures 100th anniversary, as well as composing the music for the Marvel Studios logo, which appears before each of their films. He also wrote new theme music for ESPN’s NFL studio shows and for the 115th U.S. Open Championships. Needless to say, Brian’s music is becoming more and more embedded in our entertainment culture and he is clearly holding his own against the greats. There aren’t any upcoming projects listed for him, but he definitely deserves a break after working on four huge movies this year. But, hopefully it won’t be too long before we get to hear some more great music from him.