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Jet Lancer » Jet Lancer: Interview with Fat Bard

This week we’re sitting down with the dynamic duo behind Jet Lancer’s music and sound design. Meet Zach Fendelman and Patrick Crecelius, a partnership known as Fat Bard.

For the folks reading this who aren’t already familiar with Fat Bard, who are you, what do you do?

P: We’re a music composition and sound design duo for a wide variety of games, from indie hits like Crashlands and Battle Chef Brigade, to IP mobile games like Harry Potter Wizards Unite. We both live in St. Louis, Missouri and have been doing game audio for about 8 years now.

Why the name “Fat Bard”?

P: We were trying to come up with a name for ourselves and decided to go the “band name” route, where we’re one entity instead of using our actual names. Like a band name we figured as long as it was something short, simple, and memorable that’s all that really mattered. The name “Bard ” was something we wanted to try using, and we had a few ideas but settled on “Fat Bard”; it just stood out to us as something fun that would stand out. We also thought we could do some awesome branding with the name “Fat Bard”, and we’ve had some great artists do renditions of him.

You really flex your rock and metal skills on the Jet Lancer tracks, how did you decide that was what the “sound” of Jet Lancer was going to be?

Z: When we initially discussed the soundtrack with Vladimir he was interested in a combination of chiptune rock and some heavier metal genres (metalcore, deathcore, and djent for the nerds out there). After creating the first song and figuring out the scope of the game, we realized we’d need a plethora of different styles capturing a wide range of intensity in order to match the increasing difficulty of the levels. From there we started to pull from other genres like math rock, post-hardcore, black metal, and post-rock; not only to create a range of intensity but also to give the player a good variety of songs to listen to. It was also important to us that we add something new to the universe of metal and rock game music instead of just copying successful soundtracks like Doom 2016. Additionally, Vladimir was always open to our artistic vision and allowed us the freedom to experiment, so by the final song we had a wonderfully eclectic OST.

Did you have a particular instrument or preference for how you start writing a track?

Z: Many of the songs either started with a chord progression, a guitar riff, or a drum beat. It’s quite different to make music like this by yourself as opposed to in a band setting, so focusing first on the “hook” of each song was helpful in figuring out how it may evolve. The most important thing for me was to make sure that each song was unique and pulled from a new pool of styles. I grew up listening to a lot of music from these genres so I made a big reference list with dozens of bands to help give us some ideas on overall composition and production.

What’s the most fun part of this process for you?

Z: Working through a song and then hitting that “aha!” moment is always special. Sometimes it’s a guitar line that makes me think “that’s so badass”, and other times it’s an obnoxious breakdown that makes me laugh and think “this is so stupid and ridiculous, I love it.”

You both have been writing music for games for a while now, how did you get into music and how did you know you wanted to start composing on your own?

P: I’ve been playing music since I was a wee lad, starting on piano, picking up violin in 3rd grade, guitar in 8th grade, then bass and ukulele in college. I was very fortunate that my parents supported me in wanting to pursue music. After college I started teaching and doing audio engineering for local bands, which is actually where I met Zach. I’ve always been writing music, but in the past always for personal enjoyment rather than for public release. Starting music for games with Zach felt natural and was a perfect creative outlet, as I was feeling a bit stifled at the time.

Z: I loved listening to old rock bands as a kid which led me to pick up the guitar when I was about 13. I started writing my own songs a few years later, formed some bands, and eventually found myself making my first recordings with Patrick. I got into producing through my highschool actually, which offered an electronic music class where you could play around with Garage Band, Logic Pro, and Reason. It was run by the orchestra teacher, who always arrived an hour early to rehearse with the orchestra. I started showing up an hour early and she’d let me into the music lab to work all the way through my first period. This was actually where I made some of the first Fat Bard songs on our initial demo reel. I went to music school at a local college to learn music theory and expand my ideas of what music is and how you can put it together. Since I stayed in town, Pat and I could grow the business and work towards the goal of going full time once I graduated.

Is there a particular game or games you played growing up that made you want to do this for a living? Or a game whose soundtrack is just so downright amazing everyone has to listen to it?

Z: One of the games that really influenced my musical taste was actually Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4. That soundtrack has such an amazing collection of bands and artists (Iron Maiden, Less Than Jake, Agent Orange, The Distillers, NWA, just to name a few). As far as original soundtracks go, Digimon World 1 was a huge influence on me as a gamer, and that soundtrack is like a time capsule into my childhood.

P: I don’t think there was a particular moment or game as a kid where I thought that I could compose for games as a career, to be honest I didn’t even consider it until my mid twenties. Goes to show you you’re never too old to start something new! Game music was always important to me though, and was a huge factor for what games I kept coming back to over time. As far as favorite soundtracks it’s mostly SNES/PS1 era RPGs like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy Tactics, I’m a sucker for strong melodies with interesting chords behind them.

Sound design is a core part of a great game. What makes a good sound effect? Are there any you’re particularly proud of in Jet Lancer?

P: Sound effects should be both satisfying and informing to someone playing a game. It’s got to feel good for the overall artistic direction, but also tell the player what’s going on. It’s always amazing to see games that can be played without sight. My favorite sound from Jet Lancer is the afterburner. I wanted a sort of sonic boom that wasn’t too crazy and pronounced since you’d be performing this a ton in game, and I thought to use a big iceberg crack to get that effect as the main layer you hear, which to me makes it stand out a bit and give that typical thing you’d hear in flight games it’s own flair.

Do you have a favorite song or riff from Jet Lancer?

Z: One of the most intense songs in the soundtrack is influenced by 80s thrash metal as well as the black/death metal band Behemoth. It has these crazy, noise guitar solos and long stretches of blast-beats. I think it’s quite different from the types of extreme metal you hear in other games which is exciting to me.

Last question, if you were an ACE Pilot, what would your callsign be?

Zach: Nebelung

Patrick: My call sign would be Benson.

And that’s it! Thank you so much for chatting with us! If people want to hear more of your music where can they find you?

P: You can find us in just about every place you’d find music; Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, Youtube, Bandcamp, etc. If you’re wanting to stream our music we’d love it if you’d follow us on Spotify, and if you’re thinking of purchasing an album Bandcamp is the best place to do that as it supports us the most financially.


That’s it for our interview with Zach and Patrick! The Jet Lancer soundtrack will be available on Fat Bard’s bandcamp page later this year. We hope you enjoyed this peek behind the curtain, next week we’ll be talking with the writer behind Jet Lancer’s narrative design, Cory O’Brien.

Over and out,
The Jet Lancer Team