I wish my blog came with sound, so that every Rising Stars of Geek Rock could be introduced with awesome guitar riffs. Man, they'd be sweet. Take a minute to imagine that... aaaaand... here we go.
Last article, I featured a musician new to the geek rock scene. Today's act has been around (in some form) for over 7 years. Seasoned convention-goers may recognize the name "The Spoony Bards." Some of the Bards have reformed into a newer project: Arc Impulse. Concentrating on video game music, they put a synth rock spin on favorites from Duck Tales to Punch-Out!
Jer, band leader, got together with a few other members to answer my questions.
Geek Girl Chicago: What is the goal of Arc Impulse?
Arc Impulse (Jer): Everyone in Arc Impulse has awesome memories playing video games. We strive to trigger these memories, having people relive them through our music. Remember when you’d turn on A Link to the Past and get all excited hearing that harp in the beginning, knowing that your adventure was about to begin? Or, perhaps the intensityof a fight in “Punch-Out!”, your heart racing because you know that the fight could be lost at any second if you don’t react quickly enough? That’s the sort of excitement we want to evoke with our music.
GGC: Why did the band's name change? Has the new name also brought a change in your content?
AI (Jer): Originally, The Spoony Bards was a jam band that added to the atmosphere of an anime convention. We’d set our instruments up in a hotel lobby and perform anime and video game music all day and night long, taking all sorts of requests from anyone who walked by. We were basically the soundtrack to the convention, playing all sorts of different styles of music, and it was a lot of fun. After seven or so years of that, it was time to take the band a step further and focus on this high energy synth-rock sound that we’ve discovered over the years. The other big change is that we’re focusing more on playing concerts at venues as opposed to the all-nighter lobby gigs that we used to do. This is a big change in philosophy from The Spoony Bards, so we decided that we wanted a fresh start, and thus, a new name.
As for where the name comes from... “Arc Impulse” is the name of the combination attack between three main characters that’s featured on [Chrono Trigger's] box art.
GGC: What are some new songs that you'll be releasing soon?
AI (Jer): I’d rather not give too many details away, but I can tell you that we’re currently working on some music from the 90s that might possibly go along with everything.
GGC: What role do women/Geek Girls play in Arc Impulse?
AI: (Petey, drums): Women make a world of difference to my drumming. It's sorta like, when I'm having problems with my girl, I want to just demolish the drum set as hard as I can. When things are going well, I want to demolish the drum set as hard as I can, but with feeling. When there are hot girls in the front row, I add a lot of unnecessary fills and tricks that look cool. So yeah, women play a huge role in our band.
(Alex, bass): We've all played with a lot of very talented women over the years, and there are many female musicians that all of us hold in very high regard. Katzenjammer, an all-female four piece band from Norway, is absolutely my favorite band right now. They've definitely influenced me to play music with a lot of energy and passion, as well as to appreciate the beauty in what we do. I know we've all been influenced by female composers like Yoko Shimomura (Kingdom Hearts, Street Fighter II), as well, who helped put together a lot of my favorite video game music for Capcom in the ‘90s. Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne, Macross Frontier) has also been an artist we've all greatly enjoyed and learned from.
(Jer): While we don’t have any women in the band, women have provided a lot of insight and assistance that we’ve needed over the years. A few stand out to me – Jamie Sanchez, who did a fantastic job designing the Arc Impulse logo; Tina Niemiec, who I’ve always come to for advice on web design; Katie, Hannah, and Austin, who have provided remarkable assistance over the past few gigs with regards to running the merch booth and getting our name out there.
GGC: Got a memorable story from a recent gig to share?
AI (Jer): At the Shutocon 2012 Masquerade Ball, towards the end of our set, after almost two hours of playing, everything was winding down pretty hard. Barely anyone was left on the dance floor, everyone seemed to be either too tired to keep going or had other commitments. Our last song just happened to be "Hare Hare Yukai” from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and within 5 seconds of the first note, this line of a dozen girls appears from out of nowhere and busts out into the dance from the show’s credits sequence, move for move. Chris and Petey both had these priceless looks on their faces that read, “What the hell is going on? This is amazing!”
GGC:What advice would you give other geek bands starting out in Chicago?
AI (Andrew, keytar): Don't be afraid to sound awful at first! Just like picking up an instrument for the first time, it takes a little bit of work before you learn what kind of sound you can make as a band and begin developing a style you're comfortable with. Be prepared for people to critique or downright disrespect you, and don't get discouraged. Once you're happy with the way you sound, show 'em - strut onto the stage, screw the haters, and play like you own it.
Catch Arc Impulse at the Ninjatown Throw Down, this Saturday the 14th at Logan Hardware (2410 W. Fullerton). They'll be on at 9PM, but come as early as 3PM for vintage arcade games and a Guitar Hero tournament. Arc Impulse will also be opening for Peelander-Z at Reggie's Music Joint (2105 S. State) on Wednesday, May 16th, at 8PM.
Next time: OMG C2e2!!!