Pop Quiz! Do you know what any of these words mean? 1. Filk 2. tlhIngan QoQ 3. Wrock 4. Trock
...If not, it's time to learn. Welcome to a new GGC series. Rising Stars of Geek Rock will feature musicians that are 100% local and 110% geek. How geeky? Try a metal mashup of Pokemon and Doom, for starters.
Yes, you read that correctly. My first subject is Mike Niemietz of St. Charles, better known as VIKING JESUS. This long-haired, bearded metalhead debuted last month at Video Games Live. His "Gotta Catch 'em All... in HELL" was a crowd favorite. Now, he uses his Facebook page to release free music, communicate with fans, and USE CAPS LOCK CONSTANTLY. ;)
I caught up with Viking Jesus to discuss life after VGL.
Geek Girl Chicago: Give me a little history. How long have you been playing? What brought you to metal + video games?
Viking Jesus: I've been playing video games since I knew how to switch out a floppy disk. Been big on metal since I saw a Pantera concert on MTV waaay back in the day. Guitarist Dimebag Darrell was awesome. I loved how he put so much energy into his performances. He's still a big influence in my music today.
I've been playing guitar for about 8-9 years. I actually almost gave up on it because I was an impatient kid and expected to be awesome overnight. My mom was actually an integral part of motivating me to stick with it. I'm glad I did!
GGC: What is the mission of Viking Jesus?
VG: TO TAKE OVER THE UNIVERSE WITH THE POWER OF VIDEO GAMES AND METAL!!!
No seriously, I'm just combining my two passions in life. The fact that people are apparently excited enough to want to hear me play is just a really cool bonus!
GGC: Have you overcome any major challenges or adversity in your career?
VJ: Nothing worth of making a documentary about, but probably everyone who's ever been in a band knows how difficult it is to find reliable people.
Aside from that, I've had a ton of people tell me over the years that my playing guitar wouldn't get anywhere. I just had an enormous drive to prove them wrong.
GGC: How did you get in touch with Video Games Live? What was it like performing up there?
VJ: Honestly, Tommy [Tallarico] and I stay in touch on Facebook, and that was about it. It was always more of a fan-famous person relationship until the St. Charles show was announced. I've sent him a few messages ... but other than that, I was just one of VGL's biggest fans. So it made a much bigger impact when I got that first e-mail asking if I'd like to jam with the show.
Performing with the show, without a doubt, was the greatest moment of my life. It was a dream come true to play live for people. That was my first professional performance in front of a large amount of people, and I can't wait to do it again.
GGC: Where did the name "Viking Jesus" come from? What does it mean to you?
VJ: I was called "Jesus" in high school because of the way I look. I'm not a religious person, and I'm not offended by it, so it just kind of stuck. The full "Viking Jesus" name was coined in the chat room for the live stream they were doing the night of the show in St. Charles. Suddenly everyone was "We wanna talk to VJ!" or "Will VJ play at (insert location here)?" It was really cool.
GGC: You're clearly a proud geek; what are some of your favorite fandoms?
VJ: Oh man. I'm a big JRPG nut. I'm actually grinding my way through Xenoblade on the Wii right now for a review. I've played every Final Fantasy game in the series. I've even got a replica of Cloud's buster sword from FFVII.
You can tell a lot about me by looking at my vest that I wear all the time. It's got my gamertag "Deadman" as the name across the shoulders, it has Zelda and Metal Gear Solid patches, Mario, VGL, Guitar Hero and Pokemon pins, and I wear a Final Fantasy belt buckle.
Outside of video games, I'm a massive Star Wars nerd. I actually know a handful of Star Wars songs on guitar, as well (Duel of the Fates anyone?) I still have about half a dozen boxes of old Star Wars toys I used to play with as a kid.
GGC: What's next for Viking Jesus? New songs? Upcoming gigs? An album?
VJ: I'm not really sure, to be quite honest. I was never terribly motivated to push my music career until VGL. Now, with this newfound popularity, I'm kicking it into high gear.
There's a lot I'm thinking about. I've got offers to join or start about four different local bands, so there's that possibility. Tommy and I have toyed with the idea of bringing me to other VGL shows, but nothing is set in stone yet. ...Although that would be the thing that I would prefer most.
GGC: What advice would you give to up-and-coming geek musicians in Chicagoland?
VJ: Never, ever, EVER give up on your dreams. If you have the passion to do something because you love it, you will find a way to make it a major part of your life. Years of joking around with Tommy about bringing on a second guitarist ended up becoming a shining reality. ...I assure you, if you're good at what you do, someone will want to hear you. Baby steps.
GGC: What would you like to say to Chicago's geek girls?
VG: I promise I won't think you're creepy if you want to stroke my hair. I oddly have tons of people, guys and girls, wanting to touch my hair. I don't find it weird, just PLEASE warn me first!
But sorry, ladies. I love my girlfriend of three years, and I don't intend to change that any time soon.
Aww, what a guy. Check out the Viking Jesus Facebook page. For every 50 "likes," a new, totally free music download appears. You gotta catch 'em all! (...See what I did there?)
Keep your eyes on Geek Girl Chicago for more Rising Stars of Geek Rock.