Behind the Music: Winnipeg Jets
Before the season began, there was a lot of speculation on what the music selection would be. Articles on the site “The Science of an Intro Song” and “Choosing a Goal Song for the Winnipeg Jets” received a lot of attention from our readers.
When you’re visiting the MTS Centre this season for an NHL game (and arenas around the world) you aren’t just going to a game, you’re going to a hockey experience. Not only are the players working to put out a carefully planned game, about forty employees at the MTS Centre are in charge of putting together the best possible hockey experience.
The man in charge of that is Kyle Balharry, Director of Event Production for True North. Kyle has been working with True North since 2000, and doing event production at the Winnipeg Arena/MTS Centre since 2002.
Event production involves creating and following a script. Everything that you see at the arena, videos on the jumbotron, the arena ring, PA announcements, off play promotions and music have all been well thought out and predetermined.
Kyle is responsible for ensuring that fans have a positive experience. At the same time he needs to ensure that the sponsors are able to get their name out there. He does this by finding a balance between the two.
The main goal for the production crew, is to maintain the integrity of the game, and create an awesome hockey environment. While Kyle feels that the game itself and the crowd, are the best devices to create that hockey environment, the music and production elements play an important role as well.
I spoke with Kyle on a number of topics, but the one topic that everyone has an opinion about is the music.
Kyle on picking songs for the arena:
“It’s not about what song it is, it’s about the sound and the feeling that it gives the crowd. When it’s a powerplay, you want a song like “Welcome to the Jungle” that makes people feel like they want to go crazy.”
“When it’s a penalty kill, it will be stuff that makes you feel nervous. When the team hits the ice, it has to be something that sounds big and sounds incredible. (For the) Moose we used, (“Running Wild” by) Airbourne, and it was our signature song, it was great. Lots of that “hey hey” stuff is great for live sports.“
As for the current Winnipeg Jets intro song:
“Right now we’re using “No Money” by Kings of Leon, for the team on the ice. You can’t even hear it. That’s the interesting part (in choosing the song), we’re like ok, there’s a bunch of great songs out there, ultimately because the crowd is so loud, all we need is something that is atmosphere in the background.”
“To have a song that has a bunch of lyrics in it, nobody is going to hear it. That song is a big epic sounding song, and gives that surreal feeling. The Canucks use, “Where the Streets Have No Name” (U2), Montreal uses Coldplay’s “Fix You”. It’s all kind of just, epic, surreal sounding stuff.”
“Other teams use rock songs, or heavy metal songs. In the preseason we used Rob Zombie “Demon Speeding”, which was good too. It’s more of a “we’re going to kick your ass kind of song”. But we really liked the whole kind of “Fix You” and “Where the Streets Have No Name” just an epic, surreal feeling. You’ve got the lights moving around, the team skating around, you can barely hear it, because everyone is so loud.”
On how they selected the goal song “Hell Yeah” by Rev Theory
“The way I found it was I got a disc sent to me, from a music producer, saying “new band, new, song, have a listen, this isn’t on the charts yet, this isn’t out.” I thought, awesome song, we’ve got to use that, nobody knows who this band is but who cares, it’s about the sound of the song, not necessarily who the band is.”
“We ran with it, it worked really well, the problem was we only played two home games that playoff season, we realistically only used it for two games. We said hey, you know what, we don’t like to recycle things, but we only used it for two games. It’s tough (to hear), after goals its super loud too, so you don’t even hear it.”
On the Goal horn – the old one from the Winnipeg Arena
“That one’s now been in use for, 30 years probably. What it is; is a train horn from the old CP or CN yard. We actually increased the volume a little bit this year, we added another set of horns, but it still gets drowned out a little bit. It’s a legacy thing, it was the Moose thing, and was the Jets thing. It’s Winnipeg’s hockey staple. It’s a flashlight case, that has a button on it. I’ve blown the goal horn for every Moose goal since 2002”.
Deriving from the Jets theme that True North has emphasized this season in their marketing and branding , the song played after a Jets win is “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters. A person in the sales department suggested it to Kyle and he liked it immediately.
“There are times; powerplay, penalty kill, end of game, where you want a signature song. Learn to Fly is great, its Foo Fighters, it’s a rock song, it works. There are a lot of other songs about airplanes, or flying, that would have sounded terrible. Learn to Fly, it makes you feel good, it’s awesome.”
While Kyle is proud of his song selection, he understands that when it comes to music, you can’t please everyone. It’s important for his team to realize that everyone has different musical tastes, and continue to try to put out the best hockey experience for Winnipeg fans.
Other music selections for the MTS Centre:
Before the videos are played:
Young the Giant – My Body
Warm up song (selected by the players):
(not sure the song name, asking for help from readers) Til When I Collapse (thanks to those who posted in the comments)
Snoop Dogg – Sweat (feat David Guetta)
Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight Tonight
Foo Fighters – Times Like These
(please note that the “history of the Jets” video will no longer be played before games as we are changing our focus to the 2011-2012 season rather than remembering the past and how we got here.)
Song played immediately after the anthem before puck drop:
Led Zeppelin – Immigrant Song
There you have it. The man behind the music and how the songs were selected. What do you think of the music choices? What would you do differently? Let us know your ideas/thoughts in the comments section.