If you were a 25 year old man from Calgary that had created your own percussion instrument in your garage then posted videos of your work on YouTube then found out that not only had Duncan Jones and Clint Mansell seen and loved your work but wanted you to work on the score for their latest collaboration MUTE you’d be up for that yeah? YEAH? Of course you would. This is exactly what just happened to Jerry and his magnificent Monster Tubulum.
Duncan and Clint came across Jerry and his Tubulum just a few weeks ago and such was the speed of their first contact and getting Jerry into a studio that as I chat to him via Skype from Calgary he is just back from two days in The Beach Studio in Calgary after laying down his unique sounds ready for inclusion in the MUTE score. Can you imagine how all this must have felt? I can’t so I asked him.
First of all though, WHAT is Tubulum?
“I was inspired by the blue man group to make a tubular percussion instrument. They weren’t the first to make Tubulums but they definitely popularised it. Tubulum is the name the blue man group uses, for mine I call it the Monster Tubulum because at the time, in 2008/09, I was part of the Blue Man Group community, the international fan community that goes to all their shows, talks about them on forums and some people were building instrument that were like the Blue Man Group instrument but kinda smaller and more modest instruments. I took that concept and I looked at it and I thought “I’m gonna go one better, I’m going to build an instrument that’s bigger and badder than the Blue Man Group instruments. So mines based on theBlue Man Group Complex Tour Tubulum which is a portable version of their show Tubulums. Their’s contains 12 notes controlled by midi, they’re actually just midi pads. Mine is 18 notes and it’s all acoustic so the tubes need to be a specific length in order to get a sound. It’s a nightmare trying to run the tubes through this thing. It took a year to build it. I had to rebuild it in a week (for MUTE).”
So how did this all come about, how did Jerry end up taking his Tubulum to a studio to record for MUTE?
“Duncan saw my video on YouTube and he took it to the team he said “This sounds needs to be in the movie” and so voila! My sound is going to be in the movie.
He just loved the sound of the instrument and thought he might as well send a couple of people up here to record me. I was kinda surprised because I was just back from a trip to Australia and all of a sudden this email comes in from Los Angeles asking me to do some music for a movie and that’s something I’ve never done before so I was pretty surprised.”
On top of all of this, the Tubulum had never recorded in a studio before
“This was an absolute first for me. More microphones than the Tubulum has been recorded with by about 10. I couldn’t believe it, we got the large studio at The Beach Studio in Calgary and they were highly accommodating. We got the best setup gear and we actually had additional microphones taken in just to record the Tubulum. We had room mics, shotgun mics, direct mics, you name it.”
— The Jerry (@thejerrymobile) May 14, 2017
The Tubulum is obviously one of the more unusual instruments The Beach Studio have had to accommodate.
It is absolutely, by far. The Beach are interested in doing an interview with me too to do a behind the scenes kind of thing.
Things move fast these days, gone are the days of reel to reel tapes, the Tubulum was recorded on?
Digital, it took a plane to London the other day. It was amazing, these guys were flying in from LA and one of them is flying out to London, the precious data’s going with him.
So now I’m thinking I got Jerry relaxed and chatty, maybe I could get some details on what MUTE will sound like…
We played along to some demo versions of the tracks that are going to be going into the reels. I think I’m coming in at about reel 6 maybe. We got some preliminary tracks actually in London starting pretty soon I think they start recording with the orchestra so I got the tracks before the orchestra.
It sounds like MOON on steroids, I did a lot of action sequences, got some very upbeat queues, and playing along to them was a lot of fun. A lot of drum rolls going on.
And are there any links back to the MOON score? It is set in the same MOONIVERSE after all…
Kind of in the more suspenseful areas I think it kind of maybe just a little bit resembles MOON but I know in the film I think it’s been talked about there may be some appearance of MOON because as you know it exists in the same universe as MOON so there could be something like that in the film.
Being such a unique instrument I wondered whether Jerry was given any guidance on what to play, or if it was more improvisation to the demo tracks…
There was A bit of both actually, we worked really well with Geoff Foster was the recording engineer and he worked really well with me. He told me what to do when he needed to tell me what to do, and he told me what I was doing wrong which was great. We got a good mix of just playing along to the soundtrack and played drum rolls on a note and drum rolls between two notes. I also got to go just free range during some scenes.
So now it’s all done and dusted and Jerry and his Monster Tubulum are going to be featured in a film score!
I know! An amazing experience, it was a whirlwind. I only got two days on the studio, Sunday and Monday and that’s it.
I was contacted about two weeks before we recorded and they said “We need the tubulum in the recording studio.” and I’m like “I need to rebuild it to transport it” so I did that in the period of time, actually ahead of schedule and managed to make it happen.
I’m definitely buying that soundtrack! And blu-ray and any posters I can get my hands on!
I watched MOON a few times and Requiem for a Dream in preparation and a lot of other movies. I’ve never recorded for a movie soundtrack before so I did a lot of research of moves and movie soundtracks trying to figure out where my percussive sound could possibly fit in to these sounds that I’d been sent. Really movie music playing is a whole other thing when recording, it requires kind of a different touch. I think the Tubulum is going to really help set the atmosphere of this futuristic Berlin, it’s kinda sound like a low synth sound so it fits right in.
We’re all going to have to wait until later in the year now to hear what the Tubulum sounds like in MUTE. As Jerry mentioned the orchestra have begun their work recording Clint Mansell’s score in London and if Duncan Jones’ reaction is anything to go by, it’s gonna be another good’un.
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) May 5, 2017
Just hanging out in LA in the middle of the night listening to an orchestra in London play the @mute score over technology! 🙂
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) May 21, 2017
For more Tubulum action check out Jerry’s YouTube channel.
MUTE will be released Worldwide later this year.