×

‘A Million Little Things’ Composer Breaks Down His Musical Approach and ‘Modern Family’ Cameo

Gabriel Mann is probably best known for his wild big-band theme (“Hey Hey!”) for ABC’s hit comedy “Modern Family.” But during the 2018-19 television season he spent most of his time on ABC’s “A Million Little Things,” the hourlong drama about friends who re-examine their lives in the aftermath of an unexpected suicide. It is a series that draws on all of his skills, from composing to singing and songwriting to music producing.

How did you come to work on “A Million Little Things”?

I had worked with the [pilot] director, James Griffiths, on a show called “The Mayor.” I had an idea based on the script: There’s a guitar player in it, so I thought the score should be guitar-based.I was really anxious to work on it because I felt like I could really make a difference. This was really in my wheelhouse.

The opening scene is a critical setup. How did you decide on the musical approach?

It’s a massive montage with dialogue, and it culminates with Jon jumping off the building. Trying to find an existing song that accomplishes all of that, really hits the beats and isn’t just slapped in there, was essentially impossible. They found this Killers song [“All These Things That I’ve Done”], I did a cover, everybody liked my version, and that’s what stayed. Then that became a thing, something we could lean on.

You not only compose and perform the score, but also produce and usually sing the covers of songs?

It’s like a triple job. The songs are custom-made to fit the scene first, and then I go back and turn it into a song that you would listen to on a record. What we wanted out of the songs was to do things that the score would do. They have this added bonus of lyrical content that is appropriate, and a vocal that is emotional. Every major cue is centered around a particular instrument, usually a piano or an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar.

Meanwhile, you’re still doing “Modern Family,” and you found a new way to make a mark by appearing in an episode.

Haley and Dylan were getting married, and Phil figured out that Dylan’s mother was the hot chick in a music video for some glam-rock band in the ‘80s. So I wrote a song called “Sex Kitty.” I sang the demo — I happen to have a good glam-rock growl. It was my absolute dream come true. I did three hours of hair and makeup with this huge wig, and we shot a full video. It’s hilarious.

What inspires such risk-taking?

I just like working on different stuff. It’s emotionally draining to write music for “A Million Little Things.” So to get to yell and scream on camera for “Modern Family” for an afternoon is a total release. If life is about balance, I have a really good career balance right now.

More TV

  • Oliver-Berben-and-Uli-Edel

    Constantin TV, ZDF, Global Screen, Team on 'The Palace' (EXCLUSIVE)

    BERLIN — Constantin Film, the No. 1 German independent behind the “Resident Evil” franchise, is teaming with German public broadcaster ZDF to produce “The Palace,” (“Friedrichstadt-Palast”) a period drama set at the celebrated Berlin music hall. Global Screen will handle international distribution. “Last Exit to Brooklyn’s” Uli Edel will re-team with Constantin Television, directing the [...]

  • The Suspended Mourning

    Berlin: Hernan Caffiero Sets Up Two Series About Victims of Police Violence as Chilean Industry Protests Brutality (EXCLUSIVE)

    Inspired by the victims of violent crackdowns by Chilean police, filmmaker Hernán Caffiero is looking to tell their story. Caffiero is currently developing two series about human rights crimes and the effects of police brutality in Chile, one a four-part documentary, the other a follow-up to his Intl. Emmy-winning “The Suspended Mourning,” a dramatized collection [...]

  • HBO Michael Lombardo project

    Elisa Viihde, Rabbit Films, Keshet Intl. Team On Finnish Drama 'Summer of Sorrow' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Finland’s top streaming service Elisa Viihde has ordered “Summer of Sorrow,” a high-concept mystery thriller series that’s being produced by Rabbit Films and will be sold by Keshet Intl. around the world. The 10-episode show, created Jani Volanen (“M/S Romantic”) and set in the early 1980s, takes place in an idyllic Finnish suburb of Munkkivuori [...]

  • Cryptid

    Beta Film Drives Into YA Scripted (EXCLUSIVE)

    BERLIN — Germany’s Beta Film is driving into Young Adult scripted, acquiring international distribution rights and co-financing four high-profile fiction series, three set up at top European regional SVOD players: Germany’s Joyn and Telekom and Scandinavia’s  Viaplay. Many also involve top European production houses as well. To be unveiled at the Berlinale Series Market’s German [...]

  • The Clan

    Firefly Prods. Building Belgrade Studio, Rolling Out Big Series Slate

    Since launching in Serbia in 2018, Belgrade-based Firefly Prods. has not only quickly become a major producer of scripted series, it’s also raising the country’s profile as a film location with its plans to build a major studio complex this year. Headed by former BBC news producer Ivana Mikovic, Firefly has a fast-growing slate of [...]

  • Campus Madrid Content City

    Timeline of Secuoya Group's Growth

    2007 • Raul Berdonés founds the Secuoya Group on Dec. 11. 2008 • First outsourcing services deal is with broadcaster Antena 3. 2009 • Launches TV content production as part of early diversification. 2011 • Debuts on Spain’s MAB Alternative Stock Market on July 28. Strategic expansion plan envisages the development of Ciudad de la [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content