How Nashville Featured in the ‘EA Sports College Football 25’ Soundtrack

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A white sneakers danced against the black legs holding up Steve Schnur’s chair on a Saturday morning in mid-March at Studio A on Ocean Way Nashville.

His head moved in unison with his right foot. His eyes closed for a moment. His ears inhaled every note of music the orchestra played for him.

“I like it,” said Schnur, the global director and president of music for Electronic Arts, the world’s largest video game producer. “That’s what I’m going for.”

Schnur put the finishing touches on the theme song and score for the highly anticipated summer release of “College Football 25,” EA’s first college football title since “NCAA Football 14” in 2013. The day came on the heels of Schnur, and EA declares “the best, highest quality (college) fight songs on earth together.”

He spoke to the ensemble gathered in the old building on 17th Avenue South, a group three rows deep behind a thick pane of glass about a hundred feet in front of Schnur.

“I love the energy, y’all,” said Schnur’s orchestrator David Shipps, who then turned to Schnur’s left and whispered, “Even if it doesn’t sound that way in my voice.”

A Grammy winner, Star Wars, Katy Perry and The Weeknd

Once again, Nashville’s music scene plays a crucial role in a video game, just as it did in 2019 when the music for ‘Madden 20’ was recorded and written in the same studio by the same artist, recent Grammy Award winner Kris Bowers.

“More than a decade ago, we tried to convince the world that we really are Music City and not just Country Music City,” Schnur said. “We don’t have to convince anyone anymore.”

Schnur has been with EA since 2001 and has overseen more than 50 soundtracks for the company. His musical vision has influenced EA franchises such as NHL, NBA, Madden, FIFA and NASCAR, subsequently helping to launch the careers of artists such as Fall Out Boy, Imagine Dragons, Katy Perry, Kings of Leon and The Weeknd .

Schnur has also overseen the production of more than 50 soundtrack albums, featuring original scores for games such as “The Sims” and “Star Wars: Battlefront and Medal of Honor.”

“College football is back,” Schnur said. “Through EA Sports, and with every great franchise, there comes a great, sticky, memorable theme, whether that’s film, television or games themselves.

“The one thing we were honestly missing from the previous versions of college football at EA was something so memorable that you would know it, hear it and hum it even after you finished playing the game.”

‘Ultimately nostalgic for your soul’

Sunlight streamed through the stained glass windows of the church-turned-recording-studio, its rays finding their way to the tops of trombones, trumpets and tubas, and to the stems of saxophones.

The “memorable, ultimately nostalgic for your soul” that Schnur was looking for escaped from those instruments that morning.

Steve Patrick, one of the most recorded trumpeters in the world – with more than 7,000 sessions – was among those who helped bring the music to Schnur’s ears. Patrick frequently performs with the Nashville Symphony and has performed at Carnegie Hall several times.

“It’s cool if it’s something like that,” says Patrick, whose horn can be heard in games like “Call of Duty” and “Halo.” “Especially years ago when my kids were a little younger and played video games all the time.”

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Will Leathers, principal trumpeter of the Nashville Symphony and a product of The Julliard School, also played. His interest in the instrument stems from his father and grandfather, who bought his first trumpet for two packs of cigarettes at the end of the Second World War.

“You never know when there’s an opportunity to jump on something, what it’s going to mean in five to 10 years,” Leathers said of his involvement in the game.

Paul Skrbina is a sports reporter who covers the Predators, Titans, Nashville SC, local colleges and local sports for The Tennessean. Reach him at [email protected] and on the X Platform (formerly known as Twitter) @paulskrbina. Follow his work here.