Kirkhope is a titan, but anyone outside the gaming world could see his accomplishments as far cry from his previous musical life as a gigging musician in a band that supported the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Idol, ZZ Top, and Bryan Adams. When the group broke up in the mid-'90s, his days of singing on stage for thousands of people in sold-out stadiums across Europe and the UK dried up. Kirkhope was unmoored, and still living at home. It was more than a year before a friend and former bandmate named Robin Beanland, who’d gotten a regular gig with Rare, persuaded Kirkhope to give video-game music a shot.
No one seems more surprised than Kirkhope himself that he found a calling as a composer -- let alone a composer for video games. He failed his harmony exam three out of four years in music college, and, despite being a gamer growing up, the soundtrack was never more than an afterthought. "It never really struck me that people wrote the music," he says, in his quick-fire, Scottish-accented tones. (Kirkhope was born in Edinburgh but moved to LA in 2008.) "It might seem like a bizarre thing to say. It never occurred to me." Even so, he has never looked back.