We continue our series of interviews with the biggest and best game music cover bands slated to rock this year's Penny Arcade Expo concert with The NESkimos, a metal Nintendo cover band. Guitarist Dr. Wily took the time to tell us about the band's beginnings, what they've been up to lately, and what we can expect to hear from them at PAX.
The NESkimos were even nice enough to provide an exclusive preview of some of their PAX set. Imagine the entire soundtrack of the classic game Castlevania 2 crammed into one ass-kicking song. Wait, don't imagine -- listen.
Hit the jump to read our interview.
Destructoid: While we know that some of our readers rock plenty of NESkimos music in their playlists, can you tell the rest of them what The NESkimos are about?
NESkimos: Well, we're ostensibly about doing metal-style covers of songs from Nintendo games, but that's only scratching the surface of our band's essence. We're defined by our irreverence. We don't pander to nerds....we ARE nerds. We are what happens when nerds stop giving a f*ck, and start rocking out.
Destructoid: How did The NESkimos come together to form a videogame band? How long
have you been a band?
NESkimos: When the emulator scene first dropped, I was already looking for a better way to ignore my classes at FSU, and I found it in NESticle. I must have blown an entire semester replaying all my favorite NES games. As a result of which, the music got stuck in my head, just like it did when I was a kid. And I started humming it, again, just like when I was a kid. And, as my final comparison to childhood, upon hearing me humming NES music, almost all of my peers began to hum right along with me; just like when we were all kids. And it occurred to me that people of my age group (born somewhere around the same time as the birth of the '80s) almost all have intimate knowledge of Nintendo in common; and in the time spent playing Nintendo, those little loops of songs are so fundamentally burned into one's brain that it's almost like covert CIA auditory programming or some shit. So I wanted to see what would happen if I got a band together that would play those songs, and rock them out. I had a feeling that the response would be huge.
The first people I went to with the idea were my good friends Ross and Danny. Ross was down immediately, but helpfully pointed out that he didn't know how to play any instruments. I promised I'd show him how to play bass. Danny was not down at first. It took a year or two before he was willing to play drums, thus bringing the craziness to life. In 2001 it began.
We didn't then, nor do we still, take ourselves seriously. So instead of going with something 'cool-sounding,' like 'Video Game Death Robots' or 'Brawl Force 8 Bit Bastards' (see, those were just off the top of my head and they're already cooler than our actual name) we went with 'NESkimos.' It's a nod to NESticle, and it's also stupid, but not too stupid. Just like us.
Destructoid: Can you tell us about the band? How many members are there and what are their roles?
NESkimos: The aforementioned Ross and Danny are no longer with the band. Our current lineup is me (Dr. Wily) and Johntendo on guitar, DB on bass, and Shaun Strong as our live computer operator.
Destructoid: Is video game music the only music for you? Do you "see other people"?
NESkimos: Video game music is far from the only music for us. In fact, just as we have always been more than willing to take liberties with the source material, we are more than willing to throw other material into our live sets that we think the crowd might enjoy. TV themes, nerd-friendly hits, and the like. We have a couple such surprises in store for our PAX show, as well as an original 'nerdcore' song of mine. It's 'nerdcore' that's hardcore music, rather than hip-hop. Unfortunately we can't retro-actively rename hip-hop based 'nerdcore' as 'nerd-hop' to reflect the distinction, so I'll voluntarily dub my stuff as 'nardcore,' embarassing synonyms aside. Anything for the community.
Destructoid: What do you think about how large and successful Penny Arcade has become?
NESkimos: I think it's great. Gabe and Tycho are the Matt Stone and Trey Parker of the web comic world. They're great guys who have a great perspective on their fame; their work with Child's Play alone proves that they're on the 'good' side in any conflicts they may find themselves in (Jack Thompson springs to mind). But they wouldn't be anywhere if not for the simple fact that the Penny Arcade strip is one of the funniest f*cking things on any internet.
Destructoid: How does it feel to be rocking PAX for the third year in a row?
Destructoid: What other acts are you looking forward to hearing at PAX?
NESkimos: Optimus Rhyme. We're Autobeat Allies.
Destructoid: What kind of games are you currently enjoying?
NESkimos: Scrabble, chiefly. When BioShock drops, I'll re-evaluate that.
Destructoid: What is currently in the works for The NESkimos?
NESkimos: We've been working on the PAX show. Everything thing we play at PAX (with 1 or 2 tiny exceptions) is brand-new, fresh, PAX07-only material. We've put a heck of a lot of juice into it; we want to blow the roof off that place. After PAX, it's back to work on our 4th album, 'Explod.'
Destructoid: How can Destructoid's readers find out more about The NESkimos?
NESkimos: NESkimos being a made-up word, Google results are all on-topic. It's pretty much the only good thing about our name. Our website is http://www.neskimos.com, and some unique material is on http://www.myspace.com/theneski
[Thanks so much to The NESkimos and Dr. Wily for taking the time to talk to us.]