Kickstarter news

Why should you support Project Hubbard? November 3, 2017 19:48

So, why should you back Project Hubbard?

Project Hubbard is the only and official Rob Kickstarter. It a reward for him, a reward for the musicians he inspired, and a reward for his many fans on all platforms: a reward they've been waiting for since 1988. He's in it, fully engaged, and ready to do this. We've both been working hard on getting SID fans and the London Symphony Orchestra in the same place. We can almost taste it!
This is also a chance to get new SIDs, get Rob back into the studio with modular synths, to get unreleased and rare stuff, transcripts, scores and loads more: and to get an orchestral concert.
In the book, you get to hear the story of Rob's abortive pop career in the mid-80s and stories of Rob's band-playing days with bands such as "Muffin" and "Snoopy Woodstock". You get to understand why his music was so meaningful to you. You get a meaningful definitive timeline, an analysis of his driver that won't leave you confused, and so much more you won't believe. It's the entire Rob, lovingly compiled.
Please back and share if Rob ever made you happy, or made you sad, or blew your mind. You can back the book (which will be detailed and meaty). You can back the music (numerous and lovely). Or choose both. All pledges are available at both physical and digital levels.
14 new SIDs? Rob Hubbard's definitive remix album? A load of unheard Hubbard stuff done on synths prior to the SIDs... in what Universe isn't that the best thing ever for a Rob Hubbard Fan? Give 15 year old you a break, and back this. Cheers.

The Story of "Task Force" - the SID that wasn't. Then was. October 29, 2017 10:24

There are a lot of stories in Project Hubbard. This one is about one of Rob's favourite pieces that never got out to play: Task Force.

The story begins at the Opera. In 1982, Rob worked in the studio with a musician called Steve Daggett.

(From the Lindesfarne Wikipedia page): "During the second half of the 1980s they played annual Christmas tours and released Dance Your Life Away (1986) and C'mon Everybody (1987) – the latter made up of covers of old rock and roll standards and reworkings of some of the band's most popular songs. Keyboardist Steve Daggett, formerly of new wave band Stiletto, produced both these albums and augmented the onstage line-up for two tours."

Working on a 4-track recorder and with all the synths they could muster, and mostly played/mixed live with Rob running around the studio keeping everything moving, they produced a rock opera about the world of work, with cheeky vocals and guitar performed by Steve, with vocal help from Bren Laidler.

Here's Rob, talking about the process.

How we wrote? Well some of it we jammed, and then set about refining. I'd write down bits on paper so we didn't forget. Some of these then became more structured. We hooked up our synths with CV and triggers (I remember building electronic trigger converts), and sometimes this led to some interesting sounds and textures.

We recorded onto a revox, and wrote out recording scripts, so that we knew when to set levels, change synth knobs during the recording.

Very low analogue tech indeed.

Some of the gear we used (from what I recall):
Roland TR808
Sequential Circuits Pro One
Roland TB303
My old Casio
Some Roland organ/string keyboard.

This was all part of my learning process....


In the Newcastle of the time, unemployment was a big social issue, given the decline of the North-East in the early 1980s, and the unemployment it brought with it.

They did nothing with the rock opera, until...

An interview with the Newcastle Chronicle (featured in full in Rob Hubbard - the official reference) interviewed Rob about his burgeoning SID career, and happened to mention that the work opera (a shortened version of it at least), had been shown as part of a TV programme that same week: "Work... A Four Letter Word" as part of the TV Company Tyne Tees' "The Works" programme. This would not have been seen outside of the Tyne Tees area (the North-east of England centred on Rob's home of Newcastle).

The full version of the Rock Opera was never screened or released. However, correcting this kind of historical injustice is the sort of thing this Kickstarter is trying to achieve.

The full version of this Rock Opera, which is the most 80s thing I've heard and is packed full of delightful Rob Hubbard touches, will appear in full on "The Rob Hubbard Archive" in the Kickstarter. 

Now, there is one song that is particularly important here: Task Force, one of the few instrumentals on the album, and of which Rob says "Task Force is about the option of joining the army - and has  a certain darkness to it.".

Task Force

Task Force started, as virtually all of Rob's compositions do, as a sketch. Did you know Rob has a list of composing rules? They will be reproduced in the book too.

It's very easy when you're using sequencers to build a tune off of a cool effect: but most of Rob's pieces started off as doodles on the keyboard, and a tune painstakingly constructed on paper.

This ensures that Rob's pieces have a certain portability musically: they can be converted to other forms relatively easily, all the way from SID to Score, and aren't reliant on any given sound or sonic environment. In many ways, this is a lost skill: even many symphonic composers don't read or write musical notation these days.

So, Task Force in the Work Opera started off like this (remember, in 1980/1981 there was no MIDI, so much of this was performed "live").

At some point in the 1990s while at EA, Rob converted this to Voyetra Sequencer on the PC as a SNG file (kind of a proprietary MIDI file) for the MT32. If Task Force becomes an orchestration, this is what it will be based on.

Even in a MIDI rendition, the overall mood remained inexorable, dark and gloomy: like some kind of Lair. A Dragon's Lair II, maybe?

The whole point of Alt-SIDs on the Project Hubbard project is to convert to SID pieces which might have been converted, but which weren't. This one, with its Dragon's Lair II vibe was an ideal candidate (and it's also a personal favourite of Rob's).

And so, Jason Page got to work, taking Rob's original composition, and matching it seamlessly with the Dragon's Lair II sounds, initially developing in Sidtracker 64 for the iPad (the plan being to release it in a form using Rob's original driver).


So, it will appear on the archive CD (in its original recorded form), on Alt-SIDs (as a new SID), and also might even appear on Hubbard '80, brought to life as it was meant to be in the first place, and would have been if Rob and Steve had much bigger budget in 1980. The Hubbard '80 track listing is still in flux, so this track may not appear.

However, this gives you an idea of how one track might flow through the project: being a subject of interesting anecdotes in the book, being in the archive, becoming a SID, and then maybe becoming a modular synth track.

That's the story of Task Force. The SID that wasn't, then was.

Now support Project Hubbard. 15 year old you is counting on it!


Rob Hubbard - The Official Reference - Explained! October 26, 2017 20:00

Project Hubbard was an ideal opportunity to give Rob Hubbard fans on all platforms the best book they could possibly get. 29 years after he left for EA, fans could be forgiven for thinking it would never happen. But, if Kickstarter is good for something, it's about making the unlikely happen.

But why does Rob deserve a book? 

"Because as well as being a great composer, he also made himself a part of the community both back in the 80s and now, and he always stands his round. Galway's musical contribution is possibly greater, but Rob .. he had a bizarre Northern star quality. He's just a lovely bloke. And funny. And swears a lot. But seriously, I bought up a pint at the thing up north that time, and he promptly bought me one back. That kinda thing sticks with you. :)

During his stage performances, he's always played with and bantered with the audience. That always makes things feel special, and personal. This Night Only, Mr. Rob Hubbard. He plays other nights, but none will be like that one." - Mark Hennessy-Barrett, Video FX "The Orville".

This opinion is widely shared, albeit with a statistically biased sample :)

What book do you write?

Rob himself habitually underplays the impact of his work on other people, or its effect on the video games industry: which we contend is substantial. But what book do you write?

It's certainly not a Rob Hubbard picture book. We believe that fans of Rob's work are thirsting over the details and aching for the nitty-gritty. Sure, there's pictures... lots of them. But they've got to serve the text. What did his EA development environment look like? Just what was the band Muffin up to in Norway? What did his sounds look like if you draw them, for instance?

More than a biography

Most music biographies seem to spend very little time on the actual music produced by the personality. This is partially because it's quite difficult to write about music using words, and traditional musicology is a very dry subject not suited to a general readership.

However, Rob's defining feature isn't his own life: it's that his music affected the lives of others, sometimes drastically so.

Here's Ian Flory, the author of the free Rob Hubbard PC game  "RoboRob" on what Rob means to him:

Others also owe Rob a debt:

"I kinda owe all I have done with music to Rob and the SID" - Tim Koch"

"I grew up on his game music in the 80/90, his C64 music was a great influence on me, and is one of the major reasons I got interested in game design/development. I didn't go the music route, but rather graphics & 3d design, but still, if it wasn't for his contributions in the 80s & 90s, I might not have went into this profession." - John Gado

Provisional outline (open in new tab for full-size):

Getting the time right

His music deserves historical accuracy, by getting timelines right so that we can create a primary source to make sure Wikipedia is correct.

We have access to Rob's own invoice books, and of course the brain of Rob himself, to ensure that this book is definitive. No more Wikipedia arguments!

His music also deserves expansion and context such as fun facts and cool background information about the music. 


Behind the Music

Quite often the music was cleverer than you thought: and we want to explain why!

In this case, Dr Kenny McAlpine, the UK's premier chipmusicologist is the ideal person to step in. A published academic with a book about chipmusic about to appear on Oxford University Press.

Kenny is very keen to analyse Rob's music properly. He will look in-depth at how he used both the technology and the musical content to create the feelings and atmosphere that the fans responded to, and will do it in a readable and interesting way.

For a composer such as Rob, to whom life has always been about the music, this is the ideal way to pay respect: giving his music a suitably deep analysis that isn't bogged down by dry music theory.

Provisional outline (open in new tab for full-size):


Behind the Tech

We've all wished we knew how Rob (or any of the composers) did what they did. In this book, you can find out. 

We're taking great pains to present Rob's Electronic Arts Driver in a way that makes it understandable. Of course we print the driver itself in a technical appendix, but we will also analyse how it works at a high level. Thanks to Jason Page porting Rob's driver to object oriented code, we can show much more easily how it works conceptually.

You might never be able to write a driver, but finally, after all these years, you'll get an idea of how it all works.

Provisional outline (open in new tab for full-size):

Rob is other people

Rob's impact on lives all over the world was immense. That's something that should be looked at in as much depth as we can fit in. He built software houses, and he changed lives. He inspired more devotion, disciples and innovation than he could ever have imagined.

It was, and is, a double life where the modest musician from Hull is some sort of global rock-star, but one who, in the immortal words of Ben Daglish, "can still go down to the supermarket without being hassled."

Provisional outline (open in new tab for full-size):

The Whole Rob

Of course, it was his work on the Commodore 64 in the mid-80s that made his name: but Rob had a long career before that, and a long career after: innovating, composing and orchestrating. The book covers that: his time playing in over 20 bands (he's doing to try and remember the names of most of them, but two of them are "Muffin" and "Snoopy Woodstock"), his time spent working on "Work Opera" with Steve Daggett (re-produced in full for the first time) and his other life working the cruise ships.

The Project Hubbard Archive CD allows people to experience his "lost works": and in some cases, works that were released, but in a better form.

Not just for SID

Just as any book on Paul McCartney would concentrate on his music after the Beatles, this book gives proper credit and exposure to his work on other technical platforms, such as the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, Atari ST, NES, SNES, Genesis/Mega Drive, PC, 3DO and even PSX.

Anyone who has enjoyed Rob's music, whether they be a 90s Mega Drive owner who lived through Road Rash and John Madden, a NES fanatic who head-banged to Skate or Die 2 or thrilled to "The Immortal", or a PC owner who fell in love with Rob's Sherlock music while solving crimes in Victorian London... this book should be of interest to them all.

If the campaign makes £55,000, each Rob book will come with a Rob Hubbard source code bookmark exclusive to the Kickstarter.

Hopefully we've explained enough about the book to make you realise how much we're planning to do.

Each section of the book is self-contained and focussed, so it's also ideal for dipping into.

Now, why not support it? 

We have a great team on board: Dr McAlpine, Paul E. Morrison (published author), Roger Kean (game industry and Newsfield legend), Anna Black (media expert) and

It's Rob's Gig

Of course, Rob himself is the star of the book, and his involvement is what sets this book apart. He has raided his archives to find scans and unreleased tracks, and made exclusive material available that's never been seen.

Holy Sheet!

There's even sheet music: easy piano and guitar tabs, and if space permits, C64 Orchestra scores (if space doesn't permit, these PDFs will be made available as separate digital downloads).

The Mighty Robb

Help us create a better book by pre-ordering/backing it: one stretch goal is to create additional pages for the book which have Zzap! style talking heads reviewing Rob's music, called "Robb!64", with the blessing of Roger Kean and Oli Frey.

Thanks for reading!

Project Hubbard - How many albums?? October 2, 2017 18:21

Remix albums are a big part of Project Hubbard (digital, and of course on CD). and not only Rob and Marcel's main "Hubbard '80" album.

The Audio part of Project Hubbard comes in "Standard" and "Deluxe" editions.

The standard edition has THREE audio albums:
Hubbard '80 (Rob and Marcel)

Alt-SIDs (Rob and Jason Page)

The Hubbard Archive (Rob)


The deluxe one has those three, plus a potential extra SIX albums: NINE albums in total, all completely amazing. You'll love them.

"Rob and the Bacon" - Uncle and the Bacon

10 brand new big band/swing/boogie C64 remixes. Why not catch up with "Big Band Bacon"?

"Rock Hubbard" - FastLoaders

Progressive Metal Rob Hubbard Remixes from the Norwegian wonders "FastLoaders", following on from their forthcoming "Progressive 64" album.


"Escape from New Rob" - Mark "TDK" Knight

John Carpenter-style Rob Hubbard remixes.

Escape from New Rob artwork by Trevor Storey 


"Robdez-Vous Special Edition" - Marcel Donné

A customised edition of "Robdez-Vous" from Marcel Donné's multi-disk Project Sidologie.

(Stretch goal) "Hubbard Remixed"

Various legends contributing their favourite Rob Hubbard tracks in their favourite style including Allister Brimble, Barry Leitch and Johan Andersson.

(Stretch goal) "Robformation" - Matt Gray

8 brand-new Rob Hubbard remixes from the legendary Matt Gray, plus Sanxion from Reformation 1 and Commando from Reformation 2, making 10 tracks in total.

You know who likes C64 remix albums? I'm not naming names, but...


Project Hubbard: Rob's Life September 24, 2017 18:02

Project Hubbard has always been about celebrating Rob's entire career (the lion's share of attention always falls on the SID years, but he has a long and productive career either side of that, and also a second career as "Robb Hubbard - 8-Bit Zzap!64 celebrity".

So was born: an NTSC/PAL cartridge as an add-on into the Project Hubbard Kickstarter. Not the main event, just a fun little thing.

Project Hubbard? September 13, 2017 22:06