Interview With "The Protomen", A Mega Man Rock Opera

By Erik Nather in Features
Monday, October 5, 2009 at 9:03 pm
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*Editor's Note: The following interview is from Rocksellout.com, a blog that covers the amazing world of rock. In this post, blogger Erik Nather interviews the Mega Man rock opera, The Protomen.*

To give you a sample of the music The Protomen produce, here's an amazing video:


The world is slowly falling into darkness. In the shadows the world is slowly being taken over by robots. You may not see it in your everyday life, but believe me, I have seen the acts and I have also seen the resolution. That resolution, the men and women that keep us safe, are known in these parts and quickly across the world as The. Created to keep us safe and give us happiness, The Protomen have been here for years and continue to grow strong as the resistance grows stronger. They have documented their trials and turbulations in both Act I and their newest tale Act II.

 

I was lucky enough to talk to one of the leaders, Raul Panther (below), in a secret, highly encrypted email that will not only layout their orgins, but their plans, hobbies, and how Jim Varney influences them. Please enjoy and spread the world of these brave humans.

 

 

For those that don't know The Protomen, give them a little background in the creation and history of the group?

 

The Protomen started in a little Tennessee town called Murfreesboro. It's about halfway between Nashville... where the country music kingpins feed off the mass apathy of the music industry (Except for that Taylor Swift fellow....she's dreamy). and Manchester TN... where hippies go every year to offer up creepy sacrificial dances to their Phish gods

We were born in that war-torn village. The only thing to do was circle up and fight. 

 

 

What event caused the creation of such a superpower and what is your sole purpose?

 

Superpower is a strong word. Although, now that I think about, there is a level of Voltron-like collaboration. We basically gathered up all of our good friends from the local rock bands of Murfreesboro, tied ourselves together, and tried to walk. And somehow it worked. At the time, we noticed a void in rock and roll. A hole that could only really be filled with grown men and women painting up like robots and playing some fierce and furious rock music based on a 1980's video game. We were fairly certain no one else was going to fill that hole. But, by god, it's filled now. You can thank us later. 

 

Musically what are your influences?

 

This is a tough one. With as many members as we have, you end up with quite a variety. From Giorgio Moroder to whoever wrote the theme music to the Neverending Story... and everything in between.

I will say that the entire band listens to Alabama. We can all agree on that. - 

 

 Your shows are pretty epic, full of propaganda, choirs, etc. Any type of background in theatrical arts before turning to a life of fighting evil?

 

For the most part... no. Does it show? We're really just winging it up there. Although, quite a few of us work for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center now. So, we're slowly learning how to pull off a legitimate rock opera. Maybe we'll get it right by Act III. In the meantime, our mission is to put on a live show that's visually entertaining and hope that people don't realize that we're really not very good musicians. 

 

You were at the Act II release party, which is a far more extravagant than some of our touring shows. 

It's kind of like a debutant ball, where we get all gussied up in our fancy dress. The shows on the road...we just put on halter top and a pair of heels...and lots and lots of lipstick. 

 

It's close. But you really have to come to Nashville to see the good stuff. 

 

But yes, we tour with as much choir and propaganda as our busted up shuttle bus will hold.Wait, what was the question? oh yeah. Theater background. No. We're rock and rollers, not actors. We just play actors on the stage.

 

How are your codenames distributed and give me details into yours and your position in The Protomen?

 

My codename is Panther. I do the singing. Sometimes I play a beautiful silver keytar. 

There are a bunch of members....and a bunch of codenames. We've got K.I.L.R.O.Y. (Anvil), Commander (Synth), Murphy (Bass Synth), Sir Robert Bakker (Guitars), The Gambler (Choir), Reanimator (Drums), Cobra T. Washington (Shirtless Guitar), The Nightwalker (Trumpet and Choir), Turbo Lover (Big Bass Drum and looking pretty)... 

Is that it? It's really hard to keep track sometimes. How everyone got their codename is different for each member. A few have some pretty fantastic stories behind them. Unfortunately, I'm not really at liberty to discuss any of them...ever.I will say that Commander has always been Commander. No one is even really sure what his real name is. His parents call him Commander. At first, when I met him, I thought it was a little strange. But, eventually, you just accept it. You get used to calling his house and asking to speak to Commander and hearing his mother scream "Commander....someone's on the phone for you! Stop playing your Atari games and come get this call!!!" 

Although, for a time, he signed all of his credit card slips RebaCop IV. Come to think of it...he might be out of his mind. 

 

Your band is very visual in its message any artists, films, media, etc that has influnced you?

 

I know I blew off the musical influence question a little bit earlier. The truth is we listen to a lot of good music, which directly and indirectly shapes what we do, but this band is really about taking in as much pop culture as humanly possible and creating something that prompts people who pay attention to the music and the live show to find the good stuff that they might have missed. Especially the younger audience. We're really hoping that our music and our band will teach them something they can't learn from Clear Channel and MTV2. 

Artists like Syd Mead, films like Eddie and the Cruisers and Streets of Fire, books like 1984 and Atlas Shrugged...those are the pretty obvious ones you can pull out of Acts I and II. But what you might not realize is that we own every Ernest movie ever made. And we watch them all the time.

 

  

For some reason I get a lot of Blade Runner, The Dark Tower (Gunslinger) in your music. Am I off base or way off?

 

Nope. You nailed it. Ridley Scott is kind of a badass. And Stephen King's no slouch. Throw in a little Sergio Leone and you've got it.  

 

You have some very loyal fans that travel many miles to see you perform. These seem to be the foot solders of the Protomen. What doe you use for recruitment methods and qualifications?

 

If you're insinuating that we use our fans to steal countless wallets and skateboards and color tvs and sony walkmans... and piling them up in a warehouse for no apparent reason....then yes. Our fans are nuts. Grade A nuts. Never in my life have I seen such devotion to a cause. They drive. They fly. They hitchhike (which we don't necessarily condone). They make their own battle armor. They build us arm cannons. They design and print posters. They're amazing. There's no way we would've made it to Act II without them. There's not really a recruitment method, or qualifications. Although for years, Commander would screen kid's myspace pages and make sure they didn't openly admit to listening to Nickelback. If they did, he'd send them a very polite email explaining how there was no room in this world for people who liked Nickelback and The Protomen at the same time...he'd let them make the choice. Sometimes they chose wisely. Sometimes they chose poorly.

 

The new record sounds amazing. Who recorded it, where, and how was the creation process in regards to following up with Act 1


Thanks. We're really happy with it. Which is not to say that we don't love how Act I sounds. They're very different animals. We knew that going in. So we found the one man who understood what this album needed to be. That man's codename is The Mexican. His real name is Alan Shacklock. His band, Babe Ruth, should probably be listed near the top of our musical influences list. We were thrilled when he wanted to get involved with Act II. And even more thrilled that he had the studio to record it in. Act II is much cleaner, much more "pop" than Act I. The storyline really dictated that. Act II is set in a world that isn't war-torn yet. A world before the bomb went off. We wanted to get that across sonically. I think we did. 

 

I heard there was a little drama behind the song Breaking Out, Care to elaborate?

 

Are you talking about the the leaky pipes? If so, yeah. Someone found an early demo of Breaking Out on a hidden press page that we had set up to show some of the more "official ears" the direction we were going with the second act. Somewhere along the way, the person in question thought it was a great idea to rip it out of the player and post it all over the internet for all of the world to hear. The biggest problem we had with this, is that his rip of it sounded horrible. We decided the only real way to fix the situation was to release a higher quality version.

  

So what is next for Protomen? I see that your traveling to NY for CMJ, After that, any new recording plans, movie, major label interest, battles coming up in the near future?

 

One thing we're going to shoot for is to not take 5 years to get Act III out. We're already working on it. But the main plan right now is to tour behind Act II as much as possible. We've got some good people on our side now that we didn't have before Act II came out... and more good people are jumping on board every day. We're going to push it as hard as we can...bring Act II to as many people as we can. Definite shows after CMJ include SXSW in Austin and PAX East in Boston and Mexico City...in Mexico City.As far as major label interest goes, we're not opposed to having a major label backing us up. If the right label comes along, we'll gladly take the help. But if nothing good comes down the pipe...we're not afraid of driving this machine ourselves.


 

 

 

Finally in one sentence, in the face of your sworn enemy, prove yourself as a worthy leader of a movement?

 

Hmm...in the face of our sworn enemy....i think i'd look our troops right in the eyes....and I'd say this....

"You know what I think? I think we might just could beat 'em...and run 'em off this land...Yeah!....I think we might just get a little bit rowdy...and it might be an ugly thing to watch. We got a plan? Yeah. Me for you!"

 

At this point they'd probably cheer something like "and you for me!" And then the drums would play a sweet tom fill and the synth line would kick in and Gary Chapman would jump out from behind the front lines and grab a wireless mic and sing something like...

 

"Me and you, 

We're gonna make it together. 

Others may fail, we say never, 

'Cause we've got the will and the power to survive. 

And now we're united with one voice. 

We're free on the path like a wild horse. 

Those who would stand in our way will step aside. 

When l have you here beside me, 

l know the dream we share will guide me 

Like an arrow straight to the mark. 

Brave hearts! 

Fighting for the rights of all the dreamers. 

Brave hearts! 

You and me -- we are the true believers. 

Brave hearts. "

 

Man...that was more than one sentence, wasn't it? that was like...3 sentences. Does a Gary Chapman song count as a sentence? I'm sorry....i just got carried away.  


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