Rising Stars of Geek Rock: Knight of the Round

Greetings from Cleveland, Ohio!  I'm here celebrating the wedding of my friend Dave, who some of you might know from Time Crash.  My tummy is SO FULL.  Seeing as I can barely move, this is a great time to introduce Geek Girl Chicago readers to a new band: Knight of the Round.

Knight of the Round is full-on a metal band- headbanging, tattooed, and LOUD.  What sets them apart is their theme.  All of KOTR's music is spawned from Final Fantasy.  I first saw them- go figure- at a Time Crash and Arc Impulse show.  KOTR was the only band that night not previously featured on GGC!

From the moment Knight of the Round began their FFVII jam, the floor and chairs of The Elbo Room shook.  I was in awe of their sound.   KOTR is 100% faithful to the metal genre, yet keeps the video game riffs front and center.   I had to interview them.

Guitarist Justin Taylor took the time to answer some questions.  Read all about Knight of the Round below:


Photo courtesy of NickelEdge

Photo courtesy of NickelEdge

Geek Girl Chicago: "Final Fantasy metal- now THAT's an original idea!  What inspired you guys to marry the two?"

Knight of the Round: "Video game music was always a huge part of my life.   I started "The Final Fantasy Metal Project" (it was still unnamed when I arranged my first song) for two reasons.

First, I wanted to pay homage to FF music.  During my teen years, Final Fantasy music really opened my eyes to the beauty of video game music. It also changed the way I look at video games as a whole.  Second, I wanted to better familiarize myself with audio engineering.


GGC: "How did the rest of the group find each other?"

KOTR: "We have all known each other for many years. Ian and I were in Iscariot, and Wilbanks and Kevin were in bands together for many years prior. I had KOTR going as a solo thing for a couple of years before the idea came up to try to turn it into a live band. Wilbanks and Kevin were down to give it a shot, so I got ahold of Ian and our friend Jeremy... everyone was on board.


GGC: "When I saw your show, it was VERY high energy.  How do you get pumped up and ready before a performance?"

KOTR: "Hookers and blow.  We’re a metal band, DUH.

No but seriously, I don’t know if any of us do anything too crazy to get pumped for a show.  Some of us do neck and back stretches to help with the day after 'bangover.'  If I do get a little nervous, I’ll just have a beer or two...  It’s weird because, in my previous band, I never got nervous, ever!"


GGC: "What makes you feel like a performance has been a success?

KOTR: "Of course it’s a good feeling to look over at our merch table and see a line of people, but even if we turned ONE head, I’d say it’s a success."


GGC: "I saw you at a geek music event, and I know you perform at cons.  What has been your favorite gig and why?  Where is your dream gig?"

KOTR: "We were fortunate enough to play the main stage at MAGFest 13 in National Harbor, MD earlier this year.  That was easily our best and biggest show yet.  We've also played the past two BitGen Gamer Fests in Baltimore, which were both really fun.  It would be really cool to be able to play a PAX event one day."

Photo courtesy of DamKul

Photo courtesy of DamKul Photography

GGC: "Have you ever played for non-gamers? If so, what was it like?"

KOTR: "Well, that’s a difficult question because gamers are everywhere.  We have definitely played quite a few local metal shows where we were the only nerd band.  We usually get blank stares and a LOT of cell phone usage from the crowd during our set.  In all honesty, though, even in those shows, we tend to catch a few people off guard.  They end up really digging what we are doing."


GGC: "What about Knight of the Round makes you the most proud?"

KOTR: "Earlier this year, we were featured on two of the biggest heavy metal websites out there: Metal Injection and Metal Sucks, which blew my mind.  We also had a write up on The Nerdist that was pretty awesome.  I’m also proud of the fact that we have 2 full-length [album]s under our belt, for being a somewhat newer band."


Photo courtesy of NickelEdge

Photo courtesy of NickelEdge

GGC: "Tattoos, hair, headbanging, and a huge sound- you guys have the metal thing down.  I'm curious- what other types of music do you enjoy listening to?"

KOTR: "Personally, I’ve actually been listening to a lot of VGM and film scores lately.  I occasionally go on hip-hop binges as well.  Also, you can never go wrong with some of the classics like Rush, Yes, and Pink Floyd."


GGC: "Let's talk Final Fantasy.  Which are your favorite games and characters?  Is there any character in the FF universe that you just can't stand?"

KOTR: "Characters like Cloud and Terra are obvious choices, but my all-time favorite character in any FF game has to be Vivi from FFIX.  He ruled wayyyy too hard.  The whole cast of FFIX was really awesome, actually.

Least favorite?  Oh man.   FFXII and FFXIII had such poor character development that I can’t even remember half of their names.  If I had to narrow it down, I’d say Wakka from X.  He had a lot of character, it just sucked, in my opinion."


GGC: "What other fandoms do you enjoy?"

KOTR: "I recently got a PS4, so I’m currently trying to platinum The Last of Us: Remastered.  We are all pretty big movie buffs, as well.  I’m a sucker for anything Nolan or Aronovsky. I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, but when I do, I binge hard.  I just got caught up on Orange is the New Black, Sherlock, and The Fall.

Everybody has their own things they’re into.  Kevin has an unhealthy Dexter obsession, and Wilbanks is into Mass Effect just as much, if not more, than I am Final Fantasy."


GGC: "What are some of your goals as a band?"

KOTR: "Being that this started as just a solo side thing, I’d say that we've already achieved any goal we ever had with this band.  The fact that we are able to travel and play these metal FF arrangements is still pretty crazy to me.  If we can keep doing this for a few more years, and keep traveling and playing in new areas, I’ll be a happy man."


GGC: "Plug time!  What are some of your upcoming projects and gigs?"

KOTR: "We are actually taking some time off after the pretty busy summer we had.  We've just started to write parts here and there for new KOTR material, and we will likely have a new CD out late 2015."


Knight of the Round is Justin Taylor (Lead/Rhythm Guitar), Justin Wilbanks (Lead/Rhythm Guitar), Kevin Baumann (Drums), and Ian McConnell (Bass).  For more information, visit the band's Facebook, Twitter, and BandCamp.

Thank you to DamKul Photography for the photo.


I can't wait for the next Knight of the Round show!  ...I also can't wait for my body to digest all of this beer and wedding cake.  Yeesh.  Good night, geeks.  Ohio! <3

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