Q&A: Dark Side of the Ring composer Andrew Gordon Macpherson

Originally published at Q&A: Dark Side of the Ring composer Andrew Gordon Macpherson

Dark Side of the Ring kicked off its fourth season last week and continues this week with an episode dedicated to Magnum T.A (Terry Allen).

Since 2019, the series has delved into the most controversial and darker stories from the industry’s past in an attempt to separate fact from fiction while satisfying both diehard, lapsed and non-fans of professional wrestling.

Throughout the series, it has crafted an identity for its attention to themes, motifs, and accents to complement the sensitive subject matter.

The musical composition for the show is no small task with Andrew Gordon Macpherson serving as the show’s composer and is responsible for the soundtrack that guides the viewer through each episode.

Macpherson has worked on Dark Side of the Ring since its inception, as well as the Tales from the Territories spin-off that ran on Vice TV last year.

Macpherson has just released his own remix of Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts’ theme songs throughout the year, which is out now and available to listen to (for free) for all POST Wrestling listeners as he samples the distinguishable themes of Roberts’ career with his own blend.

Macpherson spoke with POST Wrestling for a Q&A on his work on the series and the process behind composing its soundtrack.

How did you first get involved with Dark Side of the Ring?

Macpherson: Jason (Eisener) was developing the show while we were working on a movie called Goon: Last of the Enforcers and I made some music for a demo video he put together to pitch the re-enactment style. I think it worked!

What era of professional wrestling was most impactful for your fandom?

Macpherson: Mainly the WWF from about 1990-1996. I watched the SUPERSTARS broadcasts and would rent VHS tapes of the old PPVs. I had some Hasbro’s and the magazines. The Rockers splitting up on the barber shop left a lasting impression on me and Jim Johnston’s themes helped inform my use of music in scoring.

What is your process when finding the right music & tone to accompany the heavy subject matter that Dark Side often covers?

Macpherson: We try to approach every episode like a different genre of cinema, so I try to nail down what’s going to be unique about the music of the episode. Then I see how I can apply that to my usual process which is to support the story and help create the mood, initially as a piano-only sketch (which I think gets the music 80% of the way), and then I elaborate on it with more production.

When a show is in production, when do you come into the picture and start working on the sound that will help tell the story?

Macpherson: I get the first edit of the show before the re-enactments are shot. There are just black title cards that describe the scenes they’re going to recreate. So I try to imagine how they’re going to look and write something I think will enhance that. Sometimes it works out that they get that music to play on set, so I think we kind of inspire each other’s process.

Have there been instances where you had an idea for the music, and it just didn’t fit with the vibe of the episode?

Macpherson: Sometimes scenes get cut after I’ve scored them but that music usually finds a home elsewhere or helps inspire a different scene. I also wrote a rock theme called “Macho Manthem” that I don’t think ever got used haha.

Is there a shortlist of episodes you have worked on that resonates the most with you?

Macpherson: I’m really proud of all the episodes and the series is really important and personal to me. The ones where I felt like I did something musically and story-wise that “surprised” me and that resonates deeply with me are Grizzly Smith, Benoit, Owen Hart, and Pillman.  Idk, the stories, and my design just kept clicking and inspiring new ideas while I worked on them.

Were there any significant differences working on Tales from the Territories compared to Dark Side?

Macpherson: Roughly, I think of Territories as a guitar show and Dark Side as a Piano/keyboard show. Territories really riffs on the 70’s/80’s pop and tv music whereas Dark Side of the Ring is neo-classical and electronic. The orchestra for Dark Side would be either a small chamber or symphony sound whereas Territories is like a jazz /tv orchestra with drums, bass, guitar, saxes, etc that you might hear on a 60’s or 70’s tv show.

Tonight’s episode is ‘Shattered: The Magnum T.A Story’, with a story rooted in the ‘80s, how did you approach this episode and are there any musical influences or styles you drew upon?

Macpherson: Magnum T.A’s gimmick and story riffs on a lot of 80’s iconography so superficially, I got to play with production styles from the big 80’s hits like Genesis and Journey.

Tell us a bit about some of your original compositions and a new track you produced to honor Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, and why is Jake so important to you?

Macpherson: Jim Johnston’s “Snake Bit” is my favorite entrance theme and it’s a big influence on the music I make for Dark Side of the Ring. I thought about doing a modern cover version but it’s perfect as is. So I started thinking about making a compilation of versions of that and his different themes with music I’ve made for Jake’s various appearances on our shows and just thought it would be fun as a short mix.

Where can readers find more of your work?

Macpherson: You can find me and most of my updates on Instagram (@ango_composer), on the streams under Andrew Gordon Macpherson and Ango, and there’s a Spotify playlist called “Produced by Ango” which highlights music across my discography. Also, all the music from DSOTR Season 3 is available on their YouTube channel here.

Dark Side of the Ring airs every Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET with tonight’s episode covering Magnum T.A