Nov. 9, 2021

BONUS: Tom Howe • Composer of Ted Lasso Score


Welcome back to the Crown & Anchor, Greyhounds! In this bonus episode, Christian and Brett have a conversation with Tom Howe, the composer of the Ted Lasso score and main theme song (alongside Marcus Mumford).

Tom Howe is an accomplished composer for television and film. In addition to his work on Ted Lasso, Tom has composed music for The Great British Bake Off and Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon. He’s also contributed additional music to scores of major blockbusters like The Legend of Tarzan, Wonder Woman, and Mulan.

We connected with Tom to chat about his work on Ted Lasso and to ask him about the collaborative process with Marcus Mumford and the task of scoring a show with mostly acoustic instruments.

Tom also shared about his experience scoring Bake-Off, his recent induction to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and his work on some other recent projects.

For those of you who haven’t finished watching season 2 - this is your official spoiler alert, as there are some light spoilers contained within this episode.

Discussed on this episode:

Tom Howe's Official Website (tomhowemusic.com)

Pop Disciple's 2018 Interview with Tom Howe (Pop Disciple, 2018)

Academy Invites 819 to Membership (Oscars, 2020)

‘Ted Lasso’: How Marcus Mumford and Tom Howe Created the Show’s Transatlantic Theme Song and Score (The Hollywood Reporter, 2021)

About Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium: The 11 Massive Acts Who’ve Played Multiple Nights To Mind-Boggling Crowds (NME, 2016)

The Great British Bake Off theme: what makes Tom Howe’s music so catchy? (Classic FM, 2019)

Composer Tom Howe talks the challenges and rewards of SHAUN THE SHEEP: FARMAGEDDON (Behind the Lens, 2020)

Tom Howe - composer of Whiskey Cavalier (ABC) - 2020 ASCAP London Music Awards acceptance speech (YouTube, 2020)

Tom's (Mostly-Latent) Twitter Account

Transcript

Richmod Til We Die: A Ted Lasso Podcast

Interview with Ted Lasso Composer Tom Howe


Brett   
Welcome back to the Crown and Anchor greyhounds. This is a bonus episode of Richmond till we die a conversation about the Apple TV plus show Ted lasso, where we explore the characters, their relationships to each other, and how they're able to make us laugh until we can hardly breathe one moment and then feel with the deepest parts of our hearts the next a all this is Brett and I have the pleasure of inviting you all into the incredible conversation that Christian and I had with Tom house a few weeks ago. Tom is the composer of the TED lasso score and the main theme song alongside Marcus Mumford. Obviously, we were really bummed that Marissa wasn't able to join us for this one. But the week we interviewed Tom coincided with the week of her production of Newsies, so she was incredibly busy. She was gutted to miss out. But thankfully, she helped us come up with some amazing questions to ask Tom. A little bit more about Tom Tom is an accomplished composer for television and film. In addition to his work on Ted :asso, he has composed music for the Great British Bake Off, and Shaun the Sheep farmageddon. And he's also contributed music to scores for major blockbusters like The Legend of Tarzan, Wonder Woman and Mulan. We connected with Tom to chat about his work on Ted Lasso and asked him about the collaborative process with Marcus Mumford, as well as the task of scoring a show with mostly acoustic instruments. Tom also shared about his experience scoring The Great British Bakeoff, his recent induction into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and his work on some other recent projects. For those of y'all who haven't finished watching season two, this is your official spoiler alert, as there are some light spoilers contained within this episode. So listeners, please help us give a warm welcome to the composer of the Ted Lasso series music - Tom Howe.

Tom Howe  
Yeah, thank you, , for having me.

Brett   
Yeah. So I am so excited as a person who studied music in college and is around music in my day job all day, I'm so excited that you agreed to talk to us. And we can nerd out a little bit about the music that you've done for the show and some of your other projects. But I did see that you were just invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is a big deal. So can you tell us a little bit about how that felt?

Tom Howe  
Yeah, I was actually funnily enough, I was not expecting it as such I had been put forward the year before. And, and not gotten and, and then they have a sort of you get put forward automatically in the second year. But I've completely forgotten about it. I had a couple of people call me up to congratulate me and I wasn't quite sure what they were congratulating before. But then I found out I got in, and it was all in, you know, variety and all the rest of it. But it's it's a huge deal for me, because I've been wanting to be part of that for I mean, ever since I was about 10 years old. That's kind of what I kind of thought of, when I think of filmmaking in kind of all that sort of thing. So there's a huge honor. And it's the music department is an incredible collection of people. And you get to kind of watch everybody's work and look at things across a huge kind of cross section of what's been made. And so yeah, it's a real thrill to be part of it.

Christian  
You over the course of your career have been involved in a large cross section of projects. How did you get involved specifically with Ted Lasso?

Tom Howe  
 I've worked with Bill Lawrence on a show he did before tell us a call Whiskey Cavalier, which was an ABC, ABC show. And I mean, that was a very, very different type of project route because it was a more like a kind of action comedy. So it was kind of, you know, hybrid score, sort of walk us through it kind of, you know, since and things like that. But I loved working on that. And it was sadly not picked up for a second season. But it was which actually was a bit of a surprising thing to Everyone involved. But I've had a great experience on that working with Bill and Kip probe as well. And when Ted came along, Kip initially rang me and said, you know, there's something that we'd like you to be involved in. At that point, Jason, who's great friends, had asked Marcus Mumford to be involved. And Marcus then spoke to Bill Lawrence and sort of said, potentially, he'd like to work with somebody who had worked picture before. And build and so you got to call Tom, which was very nice for him. So then I've met Marcus in, in LA for breakfast. And we started talking, and we had a lot of things in common. And I agreed to then go over to the UK, and go down to his house which is in the countryside. And I spent 10 days just sort of your basic kind of almost like making a record, really, but that was my that's how we started. So it really can my involvement came from prior involvement with Bill. And then Bill sort of saying to Marcus that, you know, he recommended me for it. 

Brett   
yeah, I can imagine that's a good feeling, getting a recommendation from Bill Lawrence to work on his new show with Marcus Mumford.

Tom Howe  
Yeah, no, it doesn't get much better.  Bill is an amazing, you know, producer, writer or word, I mean, you're going to look at his back catalogue to see the kind of success he has, you know, he knows exactly what he's doing. So to be in his good books is a very good thing.

Brett   
And I love to that. I love that y'all like when had breakfast and kind of talked about, you know, how the how the collaboration could work. I saw in one interview, where Marcus Mumford had talked about you sort of being like his counterpart, who can actually read music and things like that. And so I bet it's fun to work in that way, where you're, you're coming at it from different sort of like training levels, but you both have similar skill sets. And you're able to create this score that, as you all have mentioned, in other interviews, is very singer, songwriter II kind of sounding I mean, it's a very, not unusual, but it's not the typical, like orchestral big, sweeping score that a lot of prestige television has these days. And so it really sticks out to the listener to just hear, like that muted piano, like the felt piano sound and the very soft acoustic guitar. And there's not a ton of like drums, like loud drums, I feel like this show could have gone in that direction. Like it could have been more of a kind of like a rock pop score. But it really you can feel those Marcus Mumford touches on it. And so I guess I'm curious, after writing the theme song together, what was sort of the division of labor and the creative process between the two of you as you begin doing all the underscoring work and coming up with themes and things like that

Tom Howe  
 I mean, we knew 10 days that we actually did the song fairly quick. I mean, that was we were done it in an afternoon on that, really. And then he put that vote on the following morning. So we still had nine days left. And that's a good feeling. I mean, very rare. I've said this before. But, you know, most of the time that I write a title sequence, I do it at the end under duress. And I and when I have other things in place, you know, I kind of think, well, what should it be, and it's very torturous, but to do it first is, is really unusual. But it gives you a kind of pretty good starting point for the rest of the score. So we then spend the neck we didn't have picture at that point. But we spent nine days just sort of, what would the sporting moments potentially sound like, we're going to need some comedy, what would that maybe sound like? What happens if we just, you know, let's get this Moog synth that and just put it through a guitar app and just see what it sounds like. I mean, there was a lot of experimenting. And that's often actually not something you get to do on TV, maybe on a film, if you've got a long time, you have a lot of time to experiment and try stuff. And I can think of lots of examples of that. But I mean, even my no one, I remember on a film school, somebody spending about three months sampling pedal steel guitars, only to then put the whole thing in the bin and do something. On TV, January, the schedule doesn't allow that you start and it's like, you're doing X, you know, an episode every 10 days, two weeks, three weeks, whatever it is, but there's an absolute shedule so you don't have the time to experiment. But we did in the beginning of this partly due to COVID. And so, you know, everything was kind of pushed and delayed. And so we had time to sit in the studio and just try things out. And I think that was actually massively beneficial. And I like to think I mean, it was it was very kind comment from Marcus but that goes the other way that you know, I mean, I hopefully we learn things from each other. I mean, that his knowledge in a studio of mics and you know, how to make a kind of guitar sound fantastic and what pairs incredible, you know, so I think we sort of both brought different things to Ted and hopefully ended up with something that kind of worked a patient with standard individually as well.

Christian  
So at the time when you are meeting, what do you have to work with? Like? Have you seen specific scripts? Have they shared anything with you about arcs past the first season? What concrete are you working with? And then big picture? What are you able to plan and consider?

Tom Howe  
What normally on a TV I mean, in the case of season two, I had all the script before I started, and then I had the first episode of a picture. In Season One, we had this sort of, we'd read scripts, and we'd had conversations with about character, you know, what the kind of season novels that and we had little snippets of footage early on, but not when we first started, this is just all down to script and Marcus's conversations with Jason. Once I then got back to LA, we then received a very rough cut of episode one. So at that point, you are then scoring to specific moments, but you have an idea of what is going to happen as the season is progressing. So you know, who might be seen for who is maybe a minor character you don't I mean, in season two is a good example with Dan and Rojas, you know, he's obviously a fantastic character, but he didn't necessary more than having a full one form theme, right? We just went with having a sound for him like a percussion sound, which you hear in episode one, and mainly when he is on the pitch when he wakes up in his bed. And then in the last episode, when he's taken a penalty, you'll hear that sound come back, and it does feature a couple of times, but it's not a tube, it's just a sound as you need to consider. You can only really put those things into place when you know a little bit about what's going to happen later on. Because otherwise you you write your best tunes for somebody who then doesn't appear.

Christian  
So when I first became aware of character themes, is because I'm a big Star Wars fan. And when I was in high school, I got the multi disc set of the of the score. And that really did change how I watched the movies, especially like that Luke and Leia theme, as you're making themes for characters, I think you maybe four or five in season one, did you have any ideas about the changes that were going to happen in them? So specifically, like, for Roy, and Jamie, did you have an idea that they would have these big arcs continuing into Season Two?

Tom Howe  
No, not really, at that point, I mean, that Jason seems to have an outline of everything that's going to happen. And so he would often say something like, but what you don't know is that and it is when to the, you know, future of kind of season two or three, I go, wow. But he so he would be hugely helpful in that area. But mainly, we were looking at our, you know, the season one Arquillian trying to kind of fulfill that. But I mean, in terms of the kind of themes and sort of motives, that really is what excites me about writing music for TV film is taking a little nugget. And it doesn't have to be anything kind of too long. But then how many different ways can you rearrange that slicer make it different make the mood field and that really for me is what kind of makes it you know, kind of gets me excited by taking it you know, you take a field that is very high, and then the next minute you kind of use it as totally dark and kind of you know, it's an interesting way to kind of go

Brett   
Yeah, Christian, I don't know if our viewers knew that you were a big Star Wars fan. That might be news to them.

Christian  
I think they are at this point. And when we start talking about season two episodes in particular, It's just going to be wonderful and glorious. I can't wait.

Tom Howe  
 He is the master of that. You know, motive men he he does it in everything doesn't he and he's just the way you can you reuse those different ways. It just gives you a total you know, journey through this could those films doesn't it?

Brett   
Yeah, when you you know if you just Google you know, like motifs or theme themes for characters in modern cinema like Jaws is one of the first things that shows up and it's so simple, but so recognizable. And then like you mentioned Christian, lay as theme the way that they use that so effectively throughout the entire Skywalker saga was really impressive. Especially I feel like in the the sequel trilogy You know, there's just moments where, like you said, Tom, it may just be a measure or two of that theme, not even the whole thing, but it will evoke this feeling of from when you first heard it back in episode four. And it just music can do such a good job of tying that narrative and thematic content together. And it's been fun to start to recognize some of the character themes and Ted lasso, like I think a lot of folks would recognize Ted's theme, if we just played it. They'd be like, oh, yeah, I've heard that a lot of times, and a lot of different instruments and, and circumstances in the show. So switching gears slightly, and maybe getting a little bit into the weeds, but not too much. We're not a music podcast, per se. We just love talking about the show. But as you are working with Marcus Mumford, and y'all are creating this and you said it was a little more like making a pop record than like a full orchestral score. But I know in those cases, you still use, you know, instruments on a computer, you use MIDI instruments, but it seems like y'all used almost all acoustic instruments for this score. Do you want to talk a little bit about just the scoring for it and the orchestration and how you decided to end up where you did? 

Tom Howe  
Most of the music is not, is not programmed, we played it. It's a couple of piano pieces where Marcus had his friend, play piano. But I've also got a piano of mine here, the piano chairs and everything else is all all the percussion, or the guitars, mandolins basses, we played it all, between us. And even since our you know, they're actually kind of it's a proper physical things might plug in on a computer or an emulation is the real thing. The only exception to that is there's the on cue where needed, like last cue in Episode 10, season one last football match, there's a bit where there's some strings in there. And I programmed those played on the computer. But apart from that, it was pretty much it's just which is an it's an interesting because traditionally, on TV, I've tried to avoid that because they change the picture five minutes, and you're then permanent atom three, record yourself, you know, because you can, obviously the advantage of middle is you can just snip it and put it in a seven eight bar and no one's going to notice but it is in the middle of your guitar strum it doesn't work so well or your shake suddenly needs to go up in tempo, you can't just speed it up, you know. So what it does for me, it's an intro. I mean, we could go down a whole whole rabbit hole with this. But one of the things I fans, we take a MIDI. But it's real glockenspiel on here on that reel. And you can get a sample of that. And it sort of sounds the same. For some reason, when you just use a really great mic and a good space and you just record it, it's kind of enough. And when you do it in the computer, because there's all sorts of made perfect, if you like by somebody who's recorded it. And then they've kind of taken all the kind of Hisle fits, and it's all kind of tuned to perfection so that it will works in with other samples, you lose a bit of the kind of vibe and energy to it. And so it just doesn't sound same as if you've got to play one in a room, and the timing is going to be different and all the rest of it. And it's funny how you take a couple of really well recorded instruments, and you can take a guitar, and kind of based on the kind of pattern that said, it'll be enough if you've recorded it. For me, if you do it in a computer, probably you're gonna find you're adding more layers, you're sort of doubling the base with something or you're putting some funny reverb on a piano to kind of make it sound more expensive. But you don't need to do that when it's recorded for real. So we early on decided we wanted small forces. And the best way to do that. And to stay true to the kind of world Marcus's form is to basically keep everything in audio, which had his problems, but if it worked in it for the sound.

Brett   
Yeah, there are a lot of advantages to MIDI that casual listeners may not know like, if you need to change the key, you just you literally drag the like digital information up and then it's a totally different key. And like you said, you can just totally change the tempo. You're like this needs to be fast now. Okay, you do one click, and it's done. Whereas, if you have these four instruments, that's a that's a rerecord in many cases, depending on what it sounds like. I know that there are some, some dogs which you know, folks might know GarageBand if they have, you know, a MacBook or an Apple computer that can do some of that with acoustic instruments and real Audio but it's it's definitely a little bit more messy, the more that you do that with actual captured audio from a microphone. And I think one of the things that's really cool about the TED lassos score, and the way that y'all chose to record it in this way, is that the warmth that comes through from all the real instruments really matches the vibe of the show. You know, it's a show that so much about authenticity, and that values that and that values authenticity. Not that music that's made on a computer is less authentic. But I do think there's something about that, you know, having recorded these instruments acoustically in a kind of an analogue way that maps on to the story the series is trying to tell really well,

Tom Howe  
yeah, well, that's I mean, that's when we actually were going through, Marcus has an old Neve desk, which there aren't any of those kind of, you know, get them in Abbey Road and half of places. But you know, that is a kind of layer that you just can't, that adds a warmth to things. And it sort of covers the sound of it too. And that in a good way. And you can't really replicate that on the computer. But I think it the warmth, I think comes from the you know, when it's in the computers are very low, Digital's very clean, right. So all the kind of warmth is really there. It's very clinical, as it says no wrong with that. And on films a lot of the time were immediate, and then we get to the end, we then record somebody like Abbey Road, and it all goes into that anyway. But on TV, they just often isn't that time or that budget, you know, so it was a kind of really nice way to do.

Christian  
One of the big iconic scenes in season two is the scene at Wembley Stadium for the FA Cup. And this is not the first football soccer project you've worked on. You worked on a project called Five Aside and also one called Truly, Madly, Deeply the road to Wembley.We  don't have like an iconic national stadium in the United States. So can you explain to folks, just what your perception is of Wembley and the gravitas of Wembley, and then how that affected how you approach those projects where you're scoring for scenes there?

Tom Howe  
Yeah,  Wembley is, is an amazing place, because obviously sort of the home of football, or soccer. And, but it also has, here in the UK, it's got bigger connotations than that in terms of in music, you know, so even things like the kind of Live Aid, you know, and, you know, various huge concerts that have happened over the years, they're all there. And so, it's a place that across sort of sports and music, it's kind of like a place that everyone aspires to be. And I suppose in a weird for, I mean, this might be my age, but the kind of golden age of that, for me really was probably the 90s. And so those scores, lottery mad at Wembley is a very 90s sort of score references Oasis, and the verb and those bands from that era. And actually, Ted lassoed. I mean, I think Jason's a big fan of these two models, in their in their seat in there happened to be from that era, too. But there's a moment in season two to say where they, they, they come out at you when and I suppose that's a moment where the two players bit in an orchestral kind of grass, and it's probably the loudest The music's ever been in the show. I think I've watched it back and it's absolutely.

And watching that sequence when they first want to, you know, we got centered, and the cameras, so the pans around state gives you a real feeling. And this is great as they kind of come back to the home of football, and we're going to go absolutely all out with the tube and put in the kind of uplifting sport kind of orchestral setting.

Brett   
Yeah, it must be a really cool feeling to have your work associated with Wembley in that way. I mean, it's, like you said it's a very dramatic musical moment that happens when they the team walks into Wembley, before that match with Man City. It feels very cinematic, very, like capital in movie theater. And so that moment stuck out to me as really important and I didn't even think about how cool it would be to sort of have your work layered on to a place that's so important and so iconic, and that's really cool.

Tom Howe  
Yeah. And that's also a good example of, you know, that, that the tune then plays that the main tension. That is, you know, Sam tuned in here when he's playing darts in the pub in season, which is in a very obviously subtle acoustic guitar set.

So, you know, taking that motive, you can sort of skin it in, however you kind of want to or need to, to kind of give it seeing the kind of feeling and needs so, but yeah, it's a good moment to let rip. Anyway,

Christian  
when you were explaining Wembley, I thought for a second, you were gonna call it a cathedral, which may be like, that's just what it is, in my mind. But you do have a background in church music, like you grew up around it, and in season two of Ted Lasso, so that becomes more of a theme beard, spend some time in the church, and then the club adjacent in the basement of the church. In that same episode, then the bar guys get to go. And they get to hang out at the stadium, which feels very cathedral like and church like for them. And then we get the funeral episode. How did your background and familiarity with church music inform some of those scenes this year?

Tom Howe  
I mean, I tried to sort of make reference to that and some of the arrangements, but Marcus and I both from that kind of church background, really, which is totally coincidental, by the way, but the, I think the themes that you hit, I mean, like, in season two, there's the voyage.

And, and even the touchingly that they're, they're sort of very hymnal in their kind of arrangements. They're not an intention, you know, but they're there, it's sort of perfect harmony, if you like, and I think that also helps it feel the music feel wholesome and kind of, you know, have familiarity about it. So you know, I think that certainly my background in that area and singing in choirs, all the rest of it influences how I write, I would say, definitely, you have certain shifts and harmonies that you that you just somehow grow up, those have kind of been ingrained in your brain just like the way they sound. And then that translates when you're putting things down. I was, you know, sort of made aware of those sequences in this thing, but I wouldn't say I kind of approached them, particularly with that, Matt, high on my list of priorities is, I mean, serving the sea, but I didn't kind of put the church aspect of it right at the top. But survey score does have a kind of hidden or quality to it, I think.

Brett   
Yeah, I hadn't really thought about that before. But I love that you point that out that kind of him like quality of many of the melodies and arrangements. And I know, any of the music nerds who have read about the music have probably seen one of those articles that we all shared you and Marcus Mumford about that you wanted the score to feel transatlantic, you wanted it to sort of feel like it was situated between England and the US because of the themes of the show, obviously. And I think drawing on that very deep cultural tradition of hymnody. And hymns is a good way of doing that with the, you know, the exchange of church music that has happened between England and the US. This is really cool. I hadn't thought about that. But yeah, that totally makes sense.

Tom Howe  
Yeah, just coincidental that Marcus and I that sort of both happens to be our backgrounds, you know, you're in church music is four part harmony, easy, people that have more voicings, but that's kind of how most bands laid out or, you know, string section, woodwind section, you know, it's always in that looking at it in that way. So I think that it's, it's a great Well, it's been a useful sort of training without knowing that's what it was. It's, it's, I think it's a useful way to kind of think about things.

Brett   
The other thing about church music is that Sunday comes every week. So if you're playing you have to be ready to put something out Even if it's not perfect, and I think that probably helps with my creative process sometimes and I'm sure it is the same for others, too.

Tom Howe  
Nothing's ever finished, right? You just have to there's just, there's just a deadline, whatever that deadline may be, and you've got to let it go.

Brett   
So I want to ask maybe one more question about TV music. But it's not a question about Ted lassoed directly. But a lot of our listeners may be familiar with the show The Great British Bake Off which you had the privilege of writing music for do you want to talk a little bit about that experience? And how cool it's been to see that become such a cultural phenomenon?

Tom Howe  
Yeah, I mean, it's amazing that really, because nobody I'd worked with the director before. And, and he called me up to say, Do you would you like to do the show, you know, but he wasn't exactly selling it, if you know what I mean. I mean, nobody realized it was going to be the kind of success that it was. And he ended up I think, an issue I basically set out, I didn't, I was busy. He called me because we just don't find very, very serious, you know, and I he didn't said to me, I'm, I'm going to send you a quick time, there's somebody making a lemon Morales, or whatever. And I didn't watch it. But then he came around to the studio The following week, and he bought coffee and everything, and he came in and goes, let's just mess around for a bit and see what happens. So he pulled up some footage, and I remember looking at it, and it wasn't a sort of book at the time. I mean, now not that Bake Off, particularly reinvented the wheel, but at the time, most of the stuff on TV was quite heavy beats with strings. So the master chefs and the things I was all quite, you know, kind of crunching beats with with with kind of very serious strings of very big production. And I remember looking at it, as I said it was Maryborough so you've got this, this very sweet old lady making a lemon Marang. And I was like, God, this is this isn't going to happen, it needs something a bit light. Right, right. So then he said, What have you got in mind, I started just sort of banging away on the on the piano, but you know, with with sounds of orchestra using samples. And. And then I also thought, well, it should be really English because you know, traditional kind of harmony because it it's not it just that's just how it looks. It all looks so nice and light, and even the last episode. I mean, I don't know if this is more commonplace now. But you know, traditionally in those kind of shows, everybody's getting voted off. And they're all kind of write out for themselves. And, you know, the winner kind of transmitted in this, everybody gets knocked down, and then at the end, they will get invited back for a tea party, then there's very sort of everybody then says, Oh, it's great to see you. And I've missed you. And it's so kind of nice and wholesome. And so I just made a conscious decision to not do too much that was too big, and to use very tarnish traditional harmony and arrangements really. And the show then caught light. And I remember having sort of said I was really busy, you know, then the second season came round, and they kind of rang me back up and said, Are you available? I'm available? I'm available? When should I start? You know? So and but again, it's interesting how that when it then took off. I was still amazed by the kind of reach of it and the popularity and I remember going on when I first moved out to Los Angeles, I remember going to a meeting NBC and I just worked on a movie. And I went in and I thought we'll talk about that because it's like really cool. And it's, you know, it's really Scott and they're going to want to talk about that. And I went in and said and she said now I want to talk about the Bake Off is my favorite shows, okay? And he just had this kind of reach that went far beyond anyone's kind of wildest expectations and it's still to this day at the most, you know, sort of popular show in the UK. So it's been, it's been a great thing. And it's Trans Atlantic.

Christian  
To the point where it got a bit in Ted Lasso. So in the past, I think everybody's watching football and they're watching a version of British Bake Off. Do you know which writer pitch that joke? And what was your reaction when you found out? It was in the script?

Tom Howe  
I do remember having an conversation with Jason, where you probably noticed I didn't, there wasn't any music, that we had this initial conversation where he said, You know what to do there, then I was like, Well, yes, but maybe, you know, it's better if I don't, you know, might just do something, you know, keep the school or school to ask, or you can just play that one in the background. So, I didn't actually write anything for that sequence. But it's lovely. But it's got that sort of cultural significance to kind of feature within, you know, show you've done features within another show.

Brett   
That scene is so funny. And we had the privilege of talking with Annette recently, and she said that she was so pleased that her physical comedy made the final cut in that scene with the the poor little cake soggy bottom sequence. So that was really fun to watch. Something that stuck out to me when you were talking about Bake Off. And the music for that is you're right, ever since kind of like Survivor American Idol, that first guard of shows, the music is always very dark, and melancholic and dramatic. And that's one of the things I think people like about bakeoff is that it is much brighter and sweeter to excuse the pun. But I was just imagining, as you said that someone like, yeah, I sing a merengue and it's like, Dun dun dun dun dun dun data, it doesn't really match the vibe. So Good on you

Tom Howe  
To write Happy music, as you know, I mean, without it sounding cheesy. Yeah. You know, it's much easier to lean into something in a minor key, just silly instantly sounds like it's got a kind of seriousness about it also. But when you do, you know, anything, that's kind of not, it's definitely harder. But now, you know, a lot of things. Not that there's a set, I mean, no reinventing of the wheel. But now a lot of things sound more like a bit off, you know, they people using similar kind of notation. And that's, you know, that's all good too. But it was it was one of those things where I just I'm very pictured. Often I even if I'm not, if even if something's very early, like a Shaun the Sheep is a good example where they I was on that for a long, long time, because there's no dialogue. But initially, I didn't really have a lot to look at, but I still wanted to look at something, because the kind of colors and the kind of pacing of it, and it can tell you a lot about what the music should do. And you know, that's the same the Bake Off really, as soon as I saw that lemon Marang and I saw how nice and airy, very limited gave me a clue that it wasn't going to be distorted. drumkits

Brett   
well in it just started your brand of being able to work on these countercultural shows, you know, like countercultural reality scoring. And now Ted lasso is kind of countercultural protagonist, you know, we have the actual good guy, not an anti hero, not the kind of jerk that you want to see change, not that he doesn't have growth to do throughout the rest of this series. But it does feel different than a lot of things on television. So

Tom Howe  
yeah, I think it really hit a sort of moment. And particularly if you think the last few years, and all of this stuff is great, by the way, but you know, the kind of game of thrones and the Chernobyl like, you know, it's very dark stuff, you know, and I think this was a little bit of, you know, ray of sunshine in there kind of difficult time for a lot of people and Jason and everyone involved. They pull that off again in season two or three by I mean, you know, his last comment when in the night when he sits down he says I want to talk about mental health and sport, I mean, can't be more on point for how relevant that is you need to see smoke Bell's Palsy, the Olympics and you know, Nyonya soccer, the tennis and people obviously under pressure experiencing things and it's definitely on point and, and different and I think that's hugely helped as well. So I mean, they're all Jason's very clever guy.

Christian  
One of the non soccer non cookie projects you've worked on is Shaun the Sheep Farrmageddon. What is your approach like when you know the music is going to be so front and center and really have to carry not just a show, but like an entire film.

Tom Howe  
Well, usually blind panic. It's always sort of a dream in many ways, and then terrifying in others, really those projects, particularly those stop motion animations. For Arlen, they're, they're real labor of love in I mean, absolutely love doing. But they take not just for me, but they film second and a half of footage a day. So you know, to get to a sort of 85 minute film, it takes some time, so they're on it for years. And so the music, also, because there's no dialogue, I need to come on very, very early, because otherwise, nobody knows what the hell's going on. So you get 70 sequences, and then having to send it off to the kind of, you know, distributor and say, here's what we've got. And so I came, I think I started that project about 1820 months before I had to score. And I wrote around five hours of music, which I then got down to eight to 68, or 70 minutes, whatever it was. And I had to write the tune for Lula the alien, and come up with the sound for that, and then move forward and come up with things for the farmer and the Shawn himself. The it's, it's a great process, but it's an all consuming one. But when you then get to the end was so ironic, because you've been on it for such a long time. And then they look picture. And well, I say lock and no one locks picture. Now they'll say it's locked, and then they send you a lot cut to but the they long picture in inverted commas, and then I start then have to actually kind of piece the school together having written a whole ton of stuff, which has been chopped up. And the way you then come to record it, and I recorded that in Abbey Road, five days, you know, seeing the orchestra kind of strike out, you know, that whether the writing is any good, it's going to sound because the players are all fantastic, and you've got your best year, you know, available with top engineers and all the rest of it. But it's and I suppose I didn't really, I sort of knew how that it was how important it was, in some ways. But when you're in your own studio in your own bubble, it's hard to get a grasp of that, when I went to the premiere, and they went to play in the IMAX and Leicester Square. And the last sequence, which is a, you know, a kind of 10 minute music cue where the spaceship takes off. And I was giving him my best John Williams impression. They when I heard that in the IMAX speakers, and then the person he started crying, I thought, well, you know, done, they've done something right. But it but it is it's always composers want the music to be heard. And then sometimes when you know, it's gonna be heard, you're just so terrified, not going to do anything and you wish that they could turn sound effects back up.

Brett   
I can imagine it's quite a difference, because the goal of a lot of film scoring is the music should be there helping sort of manipulate or direct emotions versus in a movie like Shaun the Sheep. It's doing all the work. That's, you know, it's like the old Looney Tune cartoons, it's doing everything.

Tom Howe  
Yeah. And it's doing that in a way to also it doesn't tie. You know, you when you watch a kind of 510 minute short animation and the music's cozy and magic, you could kind of hack it, but you wouldn't have that if it was stitched together for 90 minutes. So it's also finding moments from the score to brief, you know, and do less when you can, but at the same time keeping that story going and the kind of flow through the movie, but I spend a lot of time on those films, writing something. And then as I pieced that film together, I then watched the whole thing in a run like all the time so I've got a feeling as to whether even though that que may work on its own in isolation, does it work in the run as a whole knows much about take it out into something that or is not doing enough because we're at a point in the field where there's a lull in the story ation to pick up the energy so it's it's very all consuming. Say very rewarding.

Brett   
I love that. You can so casually drop in like, oh, we recorded this at Abbey Road in this conversation, but thinking about scoring and big orchestral works. You've worked on some movies that have really big scores like Wonder Woman and Mulan. And in those, you're not the lead or the main credited composer for the film but You are credited as providing or contributing additional music. Do you want to tell us in our listeners a little bit about what that process is like, and how you become someone who provides additional music for films like that?

Tom Howe  
Yeah, I think the I mean, doing additional music is a great gig. Because you, you often get to work on bigger projects than you're at, maybe in your, in your career at that point, without the stress of you get hired to basically, you know, be on a film for a number of weeks, or whatever it may be, and you write your music. But at the end of the day, if that music doesn't get used to this chapter, it's not, you know, it's the problem of the lead composer to have to worry about. And the necessity for additional composers comes really, when you get a really big film. Sometimes, there may not be as much time on those projects, as you think sometimes they might be a composer has been fired. And so the placement score, and as anyway, I mean, has Zimmer on the new Bond movie update, again, you have three months to do that, including scoring and mixing. And so those films can easily have 120 minutes of music, and you need somebody to come and help you, you know, do some heavy lifting. So in the case of Wonder Woman, there's a couple of scenes where I would take Rupert's tune, we put this on scene is a good friend of mine, he was the the main composer. And I will take his tune and have a go scoring scene with using his tune, then you may also get some cues within the movie where they're sort of standalone not really good examine the train station sequence, and what is it there's a train station, where they walk them on the platform. And it's more about the feeling of kind of water music, really, and it hasn't got a particular relevance to the rest of the score. So that's the kind of thing that I can do without having any impact on the sort of general shape of the score. So and it comes with, I suppose from, you can be doing orchestration for people or copying or you know, and then you might do some arranging, and then you get to, you kind of work your way up in levels to then be doing additional music. And then somebody else has died, and they were looking for somebody and then they call you. But doing that. So I ended up working on that because I worked on a film called Open Season Four, which was an animation. And then from that, we then asked me to do another song with him. And I did two of those I think, and then tos, and then wonder woman so that can there was a sort of track chain events there. But the it's really, yeah, sometimes on those films, it's just, there's just so much music to write. And the picture, as I said, is, is not something that if we all have the luxury to get a lot calm and got a few months to have a go, that would be an amazing thing. But the bigger the film, the more likely they're going to actually be changing the picture. And it can change on a movie like that without exaggeration, maybe every other day. So if you're writing a 10 minute sequence, before you even got to the end of it, it's completely changed in the bit that you've done. And so you're tasting a tail the whole time, try fix what we did yesterday, and then move forward. So you know, having other people who can help you in that processes can often be a necessity, but great projects to work on.

Brett   
Yeah, I can imagine an instance where you've written a longer queue as the main composer and it works. But then like you say, it changes, it's probably very easy to pass that off to another skilled, you know, composer that you're working with and just say, hey, the scene is now six minutes long instead of eight, can you you know, find a way to finesse this into a shorter version of what we have. Yeah,

Tom Howe  
and also, I mean, this, this, this sounds a bit mean. But then might also I can think of a movie that I worked on common was when it wasn't aware that the main composer was there was a very challenging emotion sequence At the end, which he'd spent a long time on. And there was a sequence at the very beginning of where they weren't sure whether they're going to use score, or licensed song. So I was given that bit to do because the likelihood was they were going to license and so many and they did license a song, by the way, so I had a whole four minute Scorpio sort of work to the picture. And when it came on, it's a kind of hip hop tracks. So and that's fine too, but it means that that there was sort of delegated to me knowing that it may not work out but to me, it doesn't, I'm getting paid by the week or whatever. Anyway, certainly sort of works for everybody. But you know, the composer could then you know, concentrate on his main emotional bit and he was getting beat up on that and then, you know, I kind of got to waste my time instead of hits you know,

Brett   
that sounds like a really fun The more I've learned about that, it, it sounds like it'd be really fun to collaborate with other writers in that way. So it isn't,

Tom Howe  
particularly on those big films, you know, you what, you know, working with Harry and Rupert or whoever that, you know, they're not where they are, because, you know, they're there because they know exactly what they're doing. And so you're always whoever you're working with, whether it's, you know, Marcus or Rupert or, you know, anybody, you you're always learning things. And I think that really is also an important aspect of the job as you go forward. You hopefully the experience that you've gained on different kinds of things and take that forward and kind of print on the next thing and get better at your job.

Brett   
Well, Tom, thank you so much again, for your time today. It's been so fun talking to you. I could keep asking you questions for another hour easily. Thank you so much for your work on the show. We love talking about the show and its characters and we know how important your work and Marcus's work is to augmenting or amplifying those emotions that we're already feeling. And so thank you for your work. Thank you for your time and and take care.

Tom Howe  
Well, you too. Thanks very much for having me on. And yeah, I hope to touch base soon.

Thanks, guys. Good luck. Thank you.

Brett   
Okay, y'all, that is our show, Christian and I had a blast chatting with composer Tom How about his work on TED lasso. If you'd like to find more extensive notes for this episode, follow the link in our show description. For more information about Tom and his work, you can visit his website at Tom how music.com and be sure to listen to the TED lasso score and the rest of Tom's work on Apple Music, Spotify, or wherever it is just streaming music. As always, you can keep the conversation going with us on Twitter and Instagram. Our handle on both is at TED lasso pod. This episode of Richmond till we die was brought to you by gin and kerosine productions. It was produced by Christian and myself with additional help from Marissa. If you liked the episode, we ask that you please take a moment and leave us a five star review on Apple podcasts. It's the best and easiest way you can support the show. Alright y'all, I'm Brett signing off for Christian and the incomparable Tom how, until next time, cheers y'all.