Audeze talks to composer, producer and drummer Tony Hajjar

Tony Hajjar has been making music and touring since 1996 in At the Drive In, Sparta, and Gone is Gone. He has been composing since 2009 and has had his music in hundreds of movie trailers through the years, and was a composer on the epic war video game, Splinter Cell: Blacklist as well. He continues to make music with his bands, creates music for sync, and has remixes slated for later this year.

 

"...the LCD-X headphones are there when I’m tracking and mixing. Having them while I am doing both has made the final steps of the mix and master so much easier." - Tony Hajjar
Here's our chat with Tony:
Can you pick out any favorites from your work that you're particularly proud of?

I have been lucky enough to have worked on critically acclaimed recordings and have been challenged every single time. Some of these events have been harder than others but each as important. The process of writing music without rules of how to do it has always been a passion of mine. I get to say that I’m proud of everything I’ve done just because I have been able to survive in this industry for so many years.

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

I think your role should change in every situation. You can’t be the leader of them all. You need to know when to speak and when to let a creative partner do their thing. I have been in the forefront and I have just played drums on songs. The only thing I make sure of is that it has my signature, whatever that may be, on every project I’m a part of.

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

I got obsessed with rock and roll at the age of 10 when I heard Motley Crue, but my passion didn’t grow until I heard Metallica. The more I learned about Lars Ulrich back in the day, the more I took from him. I liked that he helped write, arrange, and do business for the band. That is what I wanted to do and I’m lucky that all my bandmates have allowed me to do that as well. I only really listened to metal until I was 19 or so and then people started showing me bands that could be powerful without being heavy. I was introduced to punk rock later on by my ATDI bandmates and I really loved the punk touring ethic and most of the music I was being shown. I was all in at that point.

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

From a very young age I knew that I had to to play music. I also knew that I had to get a degree in college and try to make all these dreams mold into one. I was on my own since 17 or so and I knew that I had to have a fall back plan but at the same time do music with all my heart and soul. When I met the ATDI guys, I immediately knew they were the ones to do it with.

My first hero was definitely my brother. He ended up raising me from a young age. We just survived together and became a team. He knew what I wanted to do and never tried to take me away from trying music. As for moments and interactions- I’m very lucky to have had hundreds of them (good and bad) that made me want it more. Some have guided me in the right direction and some have not but I learned from them all.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

I feel I am going through one right now. I stopped composing for years to start touring again. Touring is amazing but it was hard for me to continue to polish my trade in composing. Right now, I am setting myself up with new gear, sounds, and tools, to bring me back to composing interesting elements and mixing them myself. It has been frustrating to get good again, but I know I will get there soon. I have overcome obstacles just by sheer grit. I’m never the best in the room, but I try to be the one that continues to grow the whole time.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

Right now my favorite instrument is the Lyra from Soma Synths. It is uncontrollable and you have to catch the amazing sound and capture it before it goes away. My favorite manipulating plug ins are definitely all the SoundToys series.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

Keep going and if the world tries to take you on another road, it might be OK to go on that road to survive and in the back ground still create music. Survival at all costs even if you have to do something else to keep you and your family going. It might hurt your pride, but you will learn something from it.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

I have been using headphones for reference for years. Especially when I had bad sounding rooms to work in. Now that I have a decent sounding room, I go back and forth from speakers to headphones to keep me on track and my sounds separated and feeling big.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?

I really didn’t know how much these headphones would change my work flow, but since I have been getting used to them more, they have become part of my everyday. From checking on a mix, checking on an EQ of a sound, and working on the intricacies of some of my sound design, these headphones have made my sounds jump out at you so much more. They are never harsh and never fatigue me. That is just unreal!

Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

I have been working on some compositions that have big drums, synths, and sound design and the LCD-X headphones are there when I’m tracking and mixing. Having them while I am doing both has made the final steps of the mix and master so much easier. I always know what the end product will sound like from the very start. I couldn’t be happier.