8-Bit Weapon Interview
DigitalMonkeyBox: What is your background?
8-Bit Weapon: We are naughtyboy and stickchick from micromusic.net. We both grew up with video games and computers and both rediscovered the "micromusic" sound around the same time. Being friends and having complimentary musical tastes it all fell into place and just made sense to do music together. We started performing as 8-Bit Weapon in the Summer of 2003.
DMB: How did you discover that you could use the old machines for making music?
8BW: We found educational software for various devices for various systems and started with those.
DMB: Is it hard to maintain such old equipment in working order, or is it easy to find replacements?
8BW: Yes, the Commodores tend to expire faster than the users do. And replacements can sometimes be difficult to find in suitable playing condition. Old original Nintendo Gameboys can still be found but accessories and things like that are getting harder to come by these days, even on eBay.
DMB: Who are your musical influences?
8BW: Anything anyone ever absorbs has some influence on what they spit back out. But to name a few specific bands that we listen to a lot...
naughtyboy: Devo, Alan Wilder, Vince Clarke, Pink Floyd, Mekron64, Psilodumputer, Aphex Twin, and Kraftwerk.
stickchick: Plaid, The Black Dog, Ceephax, Aphex Twin, Primus, Deep Purple, Rush, and some classical.
8BW: Modern music made with vintage video game sounds. Many of the 8-Bit Weapon tracks are remixes of old video game scores, i.e. Metroid, M.U.L.E., Inspector Gadget, Mario Bros. 2, etc.
DMB: Do you work on one song at a time, or do you construct multiple songs at a time?
8BW: Definitely multiple songs at a time. Some songs take a day to finish, some songs can take up to a year so there are usually a ton of songs in the making at any given time. There's always music floating around us, we just have to wrangle it.
DMB: How do you come up with ideas for new songs?
8BW: Sometimes we start with a storyline. Like we make up a story about a character and build a soundtrack around that. Other times we just both sit down at a couple of toy keyboards and start making melodies. Then we build on that with other gear and before you know it, a song is born.
DMB: Do you do much experimentation before a song sounds right, or are you able to get what you want fairly quickly?
8BW: It's all about experimentation and exploration. We leave no knob unturned, no sound left behind. We'll try anything twice. That's one of the reasons it's so fun. We have the means to go in any direction we want, and we don't stop until we are completely satisfied with a song.
DMB: Why do you want to record and release your own music?
8BW: The kind of music we want to listen to isn't easy to find, so we make it ourselves. Plus it's really fun to do. We enjoy the process, and the final recordings are the reward. Also, we've been avid music fanatics for many years, and like the idea of giving back to the pool of music we draw from.
DMB: Who is your fan/customer?
8BW: For the most part, our fans / customers tend to be classic video game enthusiasts, but there is a small portion of new blood who were never exposed to 8-Bit sounds are intrigued by them.
DMB: How would you define the word "success"?
8BW: The first and most important level of success is found simply when we are creating and performing music and it sounds good to us. But it's also satisfying when our music is appreciated by others, and we can share a mutual enthusiasm. It's unifying. Because we are within such a small niche, it's great when we discover other people who enjoy this type of music. We know that if they are into this stuff, then we have something in common.
DMB: Are you looking for an independent label deal or a major label deal?
8BW: At the moment we are operating off an independent label, however we're open to other avenues of distribution and exposure.
DMB: Have you had any previous print or broadcast media exposure or reviews?
8BW: Plenty. MSNBC, G4, Tech TV, assorted newspapers and magazines across the country, to name a few. Thanks for asking.
DMB: What’s your craziest / weirdest experience so far as a band?
8BW: In our experiences playing together, there hasn't really been outrageous events that stand out in our minds relative to the rest of our lives. During one of our performances, a guy dressed up as Mrs. Claus with a chicken head was dancing around in front of the stage. Unless you consider that "weird" then no, nothing too crazy has happened in our time playing together. For some audience members however, the experience of seeing us and what we do can be weird and interesting because not only have they never seen it before, but they can't believe we're actually doing it.
DMB: How did you like E3 and how were you received there?
8BW: E3 was awesome. We were surrounded by friends, peers, fans, Great Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, and we sat at the heart of an arcade game forest. What more could you ask for? We had a warm reception and were well received overall. We were definitely in our element.
DMB: Besides playing at this year’s E3, where else have you performed live shows?
8BW: This year we have performed at Club Microwave and Hangar1018 in Los Angeles, the Lucky C64 Expo in Kentucky, Micropalooza in Oregon, and before that, various tours in the U.S. and Europe.
naughtyboy: Metroid Prime 2 and Bard's Tale.
stickchick: Bubbles the arcade game at the Classic Gaming Expo booth.
DMB: What's your favorite C64 game?
naughtyboy: It's a tossup between Bard's Tale III and Wasteland.
stickchick: Skate or Die.
DMB: What games are you currently playing (modern or old)?
naughtyboy: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins on Gameboy. Also, Silo64, the C64 game that I'm developing.
stickchick: Game & Watch Gallery 3 and Tetris on Classic Gameboy. Metroid: Zero Mission on Gameboy Advance SP. And the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series on Gamecube and PS One.
DMB: What are your all-time favorite games and what is your favorite genre?
naughtyboy: That's a toughie. I'll say Metroid. My favorite genre is shoot-em-ups with power-ups.
stickchick: Yeah, that's a tough question. There are so many categories! I'll say Skate or Die II for the NES is my all-time favorite game. Being a skateboarder for so many years, I think I'm just drawn to the skateboarding games. That's my favorite genre.
DMB: What systems do you own?
naughtyboy: C64, 128, Vic20, Gameboy Classic, Gameboy Advance SP, TurboGrafix16, Sega Genesis, Nintendo (NES), and PC.
stickchick: Nintendo (NES), Super Nintendo, Gamecube, Gameboy Classic, Gameboy Advance SP, PS One, and my Sony Ericsson cell phone (if you want to get technical.) The only PC game I've ever played was The X-Files role playing game. And I actually had a Vic20 growing up but it's long gone. Now I go to naughtyboy's house for my Commodore fix! Tooth Invaders was my favorite game on Vic20, and I can't find it anywhere anymore. If anyone out there is reading this who knows of where I can find it, please contact me!
DMB: Which system(s) is/are your favorite(s) and why?
naughtyboy: C64 because of the simple graphics and great sound capabilities.
stickchick: Nintendo (NES) because of the fun games I grew up with and the phat bass sounds that it produces. I also love Gameboy Advance SP because I can play all my old games on it in addition to the new, anywhere I go!
DMB: Of all the games you have played, which ones had the best music/score, or what games’ scores have stood out for you?
naughtyboy: for the C64, Bard's Tale II and III, as well as Adventure Construction Set. For Nintendo (NES), Metroid and any of the Megamans. For the PC, Fallout 1 and 2.
stickchick: I agree with the Metroid on that one. Most of the Metroid games have really interesting music. I am going to mention it again, but Skate or Die II actually has some fun music in it with lots of bass, and neat arpeggiations. Especially in the little intro movies before each level in the Adventure game.
DMB: Do you have any other hobbies or interests?
naughtyboy: Sex, 420, and foreign food.
stickchick: Skateboarding, photography, and travel.
DMB: Is 8-Bit Weapon a full time gig for you, or are there other projects or a job that you also do?
8BW: We both have full-time desk jobs to fund our passions. We do have a new project in the works that is completely original music, but is still made with our electronic toys.