×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘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

  • Content-is-King

    Top TV Execs Tackle New Distribution Landscape in Rome

    ROME – In an increasingly complex TV market, with a host of new big-ticket streaming services preparing to enter an already crowded arena, both buyers and sellers are rethinking some of the fundamentals of the TV business as they grapple with the best way to reach global audiences. A host of top producers, network executives, [...]

  • MIA-MARKET-2019_Europe-Producers-Club_4

    European Producers and Broadcasters Debate How to Weather Streaming Storm

    ROME – The impending rollout of Disney Plus, HBO Max, and other new streaming services promises a new era of uncertainty—and opportunity—for broadcasters and producers in an industry already disrupted by the likes of Netflix and Amazon. At a panel hosted by the European Producers Club Friday afternoon during the MIA market in Rome, executives [...]

  • Kevin-Beggs

    Lionsgate TV Chairman Kevin Beggs on Streamers and TV’s ‘Platinum Era’

    ROME – Over the course of two decades in the industry, Lionsgate Television chairman Kevin Beggs has witnessed the ups and downs of a business that has frequently found itself confronting both dizzying new possibilities as well as existential threats. But these days the veteran exec, who oversees the development of all scripted and non-scripted content [...]

  • MAKING IT -- Season: 1 --

    TV News Roundup: NBC Announces 'Making It' Season 2 Premiere Date

    In today’s TV news roundup, NBC announced the “Making It” Season 2 premiere date and HBO Max greenlit a new docuseries from Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti. DATES Hosts Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman will return with the second season of “Making It” on NBC Dec. 2. After the show’s holiday season premiere, the show [...]

  • Luis Fonsi Erika Ender Latin Grammys

    The Second Latin Explosion: How 'Despacito' Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

    Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention. The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content