Planet Namek Lives : Enter Bruce Faulconer

Before I say anything else, I'd like to give a big thank you to Bruce for agreeing to this interview. I'm sure that by now it's pretty obvious how displeased a lot of Dragonball Z fans are with some of his music and the dub in general, so it's pretty commendable that he agreed to my invitation for the interview when I asked him, in what was only our first conversation no less. Let's also take into consideration that I asked some questions that, while phrased politely, he could have easily taken offense to, but he went along with every one. I think 007 from Ginga Giri Giri deserves a big hand for providing the interview's title banner with the awesome rastafari Roshi. Thanks man! What do I personally think of Bruce's music? I think there's some really kick ass stuff to come out of Faulconer productions. I own both of his first two soundtrack CDs (thanks Castor), and not that I play them everyday, but there are some really catchy tracks on them. Paikuhaun's theme, Gohan's various tunes, almost anything involved with the androids (especially #16's theme, which kind of saved the character in the dub for me), Babidi/Dabura's theme, and the music for the Trunks saga commercial all come to mind just for starters, and I think things just started to flow a lot smoother in season 5. However, there's also some that I really don't care for, like the music that gets used for EVERY SINGLE FLASHBACK, and the early Freeza/Ginyu stuff really didn't sit well with me, nor does the new dub opening music that replaced "Rock the Dragon." While it's kind of catchy, It's a far cry from how Head Cha La or We Gotta Power introduces you to each episode, and I think that at least more could have been done with it for it to be a fitting intro to the show. Another thing that I didn't like was how the music would swap back and forth too much, where if we were watching two characters having a conversation, the theme being played would change every couple seconds depending on who was talking. It's a mixed bag, so I'd like to think that I wasn't too biased in either direction, except perhaps for the fact that Bruce is a really nice guy to talk to. I'd like to take a closer look at some of the answers, so let's do that.

I really liked Bruce's answer for question #6, and let me state why. It would have been very easy for him to dismiss the question by simply saying "No, we try to make every scene it's absolute best," but instead what I've always kind of guessed was the case has been confirmed. Let's be honest here, playing corny music or making a stupid joke during a scene like Krillin being impaled by Freeza does not enhance the scene. In response to his statement of not being able to compose several different tracks for each episode, that'd be awesome, but might not really be nessesary to mature the atmosphere. Generally the difference between a scene living up to it's potential or backing away from the full impact is in this case determined by adding or leaving out a few extra notes. It could be considered very anal retentive to pay that much attention to acoustic detail between the music of the edited and uncut version, but in the long run I think it would make for a more enjoyable viewing experience for the guy who likes the series enough to buy what could be thought of as "the home version."

About question #7, and I'm not faulting Bruce at all here because he's "following orders" so to speak, but I have to say that I think the idea of constant non stop music to keep kids from changing the channel is really cheesey and out dated, and I think it shows a lack of confidence in the show's story. Keeping in mind that this dub is for a western audience, I don't think the pauses in music should be as long as those in the Japanese version either (unless they use the original score), but a minute or two is all we're asking, and I think it's absolutely nessesary for the show to be taken more seriously. If this stands out from what's done normally, great! That's the whole point of doing it! To treat a scene differently is to draw attention to it, and in effect makes it more important. There's some really strong blocks of diolague in DBZ that would have and still could benefit greatly from silence. It's not going to hurt to try it while they still can, as I doubt anyone is going to turn off the TV and burn all of their Dragonball Z merchandise if they aren't bombarded with sound at all times.

Quesion #8 was the one that I was most worried about asking, but there was no getting around it as it gets brought up all the time, and this interview would have lost a lot of credability if it were left out. I guess that as hard as it was to phrase, it was also hard to understand, because the answer somewhat strayed from what I was getting at more specifically. The midi patches used for DBZ can simply be pretty dinky sounding at times. Some of the actual tunes are great, but the way they actually sound isn't quite on par. For an example, take a listen to Bruce's Perfect Cell theme, and then listen to part of a remix done for a Dragonball Z Quake mod. Get it? Same tune, but not as annoying in the way that it's presented. Pretty damn cool, actually. By the way, I thought his answer for the question specifically about Perfect Cell's theme was very interesting, and made me (GASP!) appreciate it a little more, as I now know what he was attempting to do with it. However, I get the feeling if what was done for the remix was done for the actual series, maybe fans wouldn't have any problem with it in the first place.

I'm curious as to what the "artistic collaboration" he mentions having with Funimation entails, as we didn't really get anything concrete from question #17 where I asked what he might do differently with DBZ musically if he wasn't restricted by what they ask of him. I'm sure there are probably other things within either his company or Funimation that influence what we hear besides the meetings with the director, but I guess that's just not for us to know right now.

I'm just going to touch on a few more questions. I think directorily the ball was definately dropped by not emphasizing to Bruce the importance of the scene in which Gohan's first SSJ2 transformation took place, specifically when it starts, and what was done in the Japanese version. It took me all of a minute and a half to play him some of Spirit vs. Spirit to remind him of it, and I don't see why that couldn't have been done by the company that owns the rights to the show in the US. I'm really interested in the songs he's composing with lyrics. English DBZ insert songs? Who would have thought?! Bruce composing for DBGT? Well, as a purist I'm afraid I'm somewhat obligated to cross my fingers for the original score, but I'll leave that one up to you guys. Once again I'd like to thank Bruce for the opportunity to conduct this interview, and everyone who invested the time to read all of it (I know this one was a doozy, hehe). For more information on Bruce and Faulconer productions, be sure to visit his official site at, where his latest soundtrack CD "Best of DBZ Volume II" is now available.

Contact: Jon Allen

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Audio Clips

It wouldn't be one of my interviews without some clips from the conversation. Here's a an assortment of mp3s from the interview.

  • Bruce describes how he treats Dragonball Z

  • Bruce's thoughts on retaining the broader aspects of the story

  • Bruce's thoughts on the positive aspects of different versions of DBZ

  • Part of Bruce's explanation for the lack of silence used in Funimation's dub

  • Bruce talks a little about Cell's various themes

  • The fans want their Buu music

  • "I've even played a little guitar."

  • Bruce talks a little about the infamous Perfect Cell chorus

  • Bruce liked Guru

  • Bruce describes how he can tell if he's done his job

  • Would it be, Bruce? Would it?

  • Bruce's thoughts on the fans