Monday, 24 May 2010

Eric W. Brown: The unholy trinity of chiptune, eurobeat and metal

Whoever says Nashville is all about Country Music obviously never heard any of Eric W. Brown's numerous projects. I started following his musical career back in 2008 when I first heard his debut song "Eur Hawt", an unlikely but oh-so-memorable mixture of chiptune and eurobeat. I got in touch with him for some Little Sound DJ lessons, and the rest is history. 2 years later, he has evolved into two distinct musical entities which I am convinced each and every Denpa no Sekai reader should check out... so here's an exclusive interview with the man behind the music!

Under his chiptune persona Rainbowdragoneyes, he released his first mini-album "Super Eurobit Vol 1" in 2008. Word got around and he eventually landed a spot on the Blipfest 2009 lineup, certainly North America's largest event of its kind. This surprise appearance is a testament to the quality and originality of his songs. The entire recorded performance is freely available and video segments are floating around on Youtube. Recently, he built the truly terrifying RAPE CASTLE, a monumental edifice of sinful chiptune pleasure.

Intertwined with his 8bit path lies his other major musical creation MAGIC HAMMER, an out-of-this-world amalgam of eurobeat, power metal and many other EXTREME to the MAXXX components (read the manifesto). MH released an album in late 2009, which can be sampled (and bought!) on and iTunes. Its release party was quite the event; an Army of Para Para Dancers was summoned from the depths of hells to captivate the crowd with mesmerizing dance patterns. So what else is coming up for Eric? Read on and find out!

Is “RAPE CASTLE” the very first piece of chiptune shock art?


Shit I dunno, it's very likely not. I don't keep my finger on the pulse of the shock art world but I will say for what it's worth I've never heard anything like it, hence why I probably like it so much. Leave it to some smartass to email me with a detailed chronological timeline of all the rape castles dating back to the beginning of time. I'll keep you posted on that.

Last year you said that your invitation to blipfest rekindled your chip-flames and got you thinking about taking Rainbowdragoneyes to the next level. How was your performance received, is “RAPE CASTLE” an indication of things to come?

As far as I gather, I was awesome. Which rules because I had the best time I've ever had in my life, but which sucks because I'm going to have to work my ass off for the next few years to get back up to that level. Blip Festival 2009 was the first show I've ever played not behind a drumset, which was why I was hesitant to accept the invitation in the first place. But, they didn't ask, so I didn't say anything and instead just went with it. Then somehow, with very little effort and with help from the mighty Victor Furious, an image was carved for Rainbowdragoneyes, a then-retired name with which I wasn't even planning on moving forward, which somehow got everyone really excited for it, which sent my ego through the roof which made me decide to push on into the future and keep it going, because that shit was just too fucking sweet. RAPE CASTLE is most certainly where RDE belongs, everything about that track is what I want more of from myself.

One of your first tracks is "eur hawt", which just blew me away when I first heard it on Micromusic. How would you describe your progress as a chiptune composer since then?

Well for one thing, I actually know how to write songs now. At the time of doing that one and the rest of the EP I was figuring out the program at the same time I was trying to grasp basic pop song structure, I've never really "written" anything before that in my life. I recorded a completely improvised deathmetal/grind album when I was 19, but that's it. So not only is "eur hawt" my first chiptune, it's the first song I've ever written.

In October 2008, Calmdownkidder Records released your first mini-album “Super Eurobit Vol. 1”, which includes 6 intense tracks. The next question is obvious: are you working on a second volume and if so, what can you tell us about it?

Not a second volume, but definitely a new release. I want to do a full album, probably a concept album, but that'll have to wait. I really want to get something out before the end of the year so it'll likely be just another 5 or 6 songs. But I've been writing really really slow lately, and wanting to include lyrics on every song, so someone should really come over and crack the whip on my face.

Rainbowdragoneyes is your chiptune persona, while MAGIC HAMMER is your… how the hell do you describe MAGIC HAMMER? “Intense as fuck” isn’t really a genre.

EXTREME. Rainbowdragoneyes and the Hammer have actually become two different personalities, and I like to keep them separate from each other. Basically even though in the end it's all catchy and danceable party music, an idiom I can't seem to stray away from, the idea is for each project to explore its own worlds of writing, production styles and live performance. Let's say if Magic Hammer's favorite metal band was Rhapsody Of Fire, RDE's favorite metal band would be The Berzerker. But they each love Children of Bodom and Manowar.

MAGIC HAMMER released its first album “MOST EXTREME ULTIMATE THUNDER” in late 2009 to some glowing reviews. Since MH is more like a band, are you looking to hit the road this summer?

There's a shitload of people on that album, but there is no specific lineup for the "band" of Magic Hammer. It's still and always will be 100% my vision, and in the studio it's just me behind the helm. But yes, the live show must always consist of no less than 2 guitar players, at least one of which must be a shred master. And yes the Hammer will absolutely be on the move at some point, but I've been extremely patient in making sure all the pieces are in place before embarking on any epic voyages, and just taking things one step at a time.

You write MH lyrics and sing them most of the time, but not “Blooddrunk” which features high-pitched hair metal vocals from hell. Who sings that one and how did this collaboration come about?

Man that is this rockin dude named Jonny Aune from North Carolina who sings for the bands Viper and Twisted Tower Dire. I was searching far and wide for a badass power metal singer to spit hot fire all over that track, and he came highly recommended from my old bandmates Destroy Destroy Destroy who toured through his area and partied with him and his band for a few days. They described him as a living, breathing Metal cartoon character, who only wears leather and only rides motorcycles, who only listens to metal but hasn't heard of any band that formed after the year 1989. Sadly, tragically, I was not a part of DDD during that tour, but was more than happy (and honestly a little surprised) when Jonny returned my email saying he was into the idea of doing the song. So I sent him the demo and the lyrics, he recorded his vocals and sent me the tracks, instant boner. Someday I will meet him, and we will party.

A heavy Euro Beat influence is present in both Rainbowdragoneyes and MAGIC HAMMER compositions, which is uncommon these days to say the least. Where does this influence come from and do you expect yourself to expand on this concept in the future?

I took a trip to Japan several years back, where I heard eurobeat for the first time. Needless to say I have never heard anything like it before, and I was just as floored as I was when I saw Cannibal Corpse and Hate Eternal for the first time. It was insanely catchy and addictive, and all I could think about was trying to create something just as awesome. I delved further into the genre, became obsessed, and drove my bandmates crazy in the van listening to the same six or however many albums I had at the time on repeat.

You can sort of hear the progression on Most Extreme Ultimate Thunder, as I ordered the tracks for the most part in the order they were written, from 2007 - 2009. "Dance On Fire" was the first song written of all of those, and an older version was released on a compilation thrown together by eurobeat producer Laurent Newfield under his Akyrmusic record label. But I still wanted it for the Magic Hammer album, so I took the vocal track and re-produced the song from scratch. "The Master ov Time" is where I really stepped outside the standard eurobeat song formula box, and sort of had one foot in that box and another foot in a folk metal box, while my arms flailed about in the "I just realized can do whatever I want" box. Eurobeat taught me the perfect song structure so I doubt I will ever completely desert it, but I am looking forward to seeing how far I can take it. EXTREME.

As well as being the mastermind behind MAGIC HAMMER and a highly creative chiptune composer, you seem to be a skilled drummer if this video is any indication. What are some of the bands you play(ed) for?

Right now, I am playing for a few fine folks. Stuck Lucky is a really awesome bunch of dudes that used to be a ska band, but their sound has totally evolved over the last 7-8 years of existing to something more thrash with a trombone. I joined the ranks a year and a half or so ago as a fill-in but ended up sticking with it and doing whatever I could whenever I was available, including recording on the last full-length and 7" releases. They play and tour a lot, good shit, really fun music, and always put on a great show.

Inferi is the brutal brutal baby of myself and guitarist Malcolm Pugh. We placed ourselves on hiatus a couple years ago, after some incredibly draining album recording sessions and floppy tours and a maelstrom of label drama became too much to handle. All of us still very good friends, after all the bullshit we dealt with the decision was made to each pursue our individual interests for the time being. Which couldn't have proven to be a better idea, as my Magic Hammer and Malcolm's A Loathing Requiem was realized and born. I co-produced the ALR album, and I dread the day that I have to start learning the drum parts to take it to the inevitable stage. You heard it here first, there is also talks of an Inferi reunion and some new recordings on the horizon, whenever our schedules sync up long enough to make it possible.

Nite Nite is I guess post-punk? Though I'm not sure what that means. Either way, they are some good-lookin ladies (and dude) with some really catchy happy/dark/80s-savvy new-wave-y tunes. I hesitate to say "gothic" but it's an aesthetic that works well for them.

There is also Vale of Pnath from Denver, whenever they get it together and start touring again. Their music is brutal technical death metal played correctly and very very fast. They are currently working on a full-length to follow up their EP, and whenever that gets done I'm gonna fly back out there and we're all gonna hit the road together and be one big happy family.

And just recently I've found myself back amongst the ranks of my old band and friends Destroy Destroy Destroy who plays the most epic and True of thrash and orchestral fantasy metal. Recently I did my first show back with them in 3 or so years, and depending on what their tour itinerary looks like coming up I'll likely be doing more. Siqqq liffffeeeee brooooooooo.

Your Basset hound Navi prominently appears on many of your promotional pictures and videos. She looks badass but also like a bit of a troublemaker, what can you tell us about her?

Only that she is the greatest creature, biped or quadruped, to ever live. Always down to party and make new friends, she loves everyone and everything, but is also perfectly content to sleep for 82+ hours a day, which works well with my lifestyle of shutting myself away and working on music night after night. She's the biggest chick magnet I've ever known, has allowed me to start many a conversation with many a lady, and is brilliant at making them bend over to pet her so I can look down their shirts.

You put up a couple of highly entertaining Youtube videos, notably your entry for A1’s “Sing for your beef” contest and a ridiculously catchy remix of “Jesus is my friend”. They’re really funny, so why exactly aren’t you doing more of these?

Well for one thing, if the final entries for that stupid contest tell you anything, a sauce made from period blood cannot be expected to know how to party. I'm not a video guy and working with iMovie is a real pain but I've no plans to not make more videos whenever the need arises or lols need to be had and I get some real shit out of the way first.

In closing, what are some of your short-term goals and long-term ambitions? Thanks a lot for doing this!

You got it sister. As far as short-term goes, I suppose I should prioritize not being homeless and rebuilding my studio. The flood here in Nashville recently hit me pretty hard (hail Leviathan), so if you can picture a single-level house with 8' ceilings, and then picture the same house with 6 feet of disgusting doodoo water in it (hail Hydra), you can imagine what I'm having to deal with. I was out of town at the time playing a show, so I had my drums and my laptop with me, my van was parked 30 minutes away and Navi was staying with a friend. So all the core items are fine, but I lost everything else I own. I've since gutted the place and threw what I hope to salvage in storage (hard drives, console, keyboards, various other electronics and crap) so over the next couple weeks I'll be figuring out where to live and seeing what I can make work again. Party.

My long-term goals have never changed, party full-time, all the time. Between Rainbowdragoneyes, Magic Hammer, six million bands, studio and production work, remixing, singing, booking and promoting shows, there is a lot of touring to do, sluts to be bang'd, and much of the world to be seen and explosioned. I'm going to explosion everything as fuck. That shit is a full time job.

1 comment:

drop dead for vegas said...

those are my tiny drums MR. EWB!!! Christoph Mueller will not be played for the fool!