Saturday, April 17, 2010

Behind the Music: Loud Valley

I am not, by any means, a hardcore gamer, although I do like video games, as I assume was communicated in my long Braid post.

I’m excited to see how the medium is growing, and what kinds of things we’ll be doing with it. I mean, we’re getting to the point where interactivity is making possible artistic works like portal, which wouldn’t have worked as an uninteractive medium.

Of course, with great storytelling comes great, identifiable characters, who grace us with their presence and let us control their lives, and then vanish into the ether of ones and zeroes from whence they came.

The problem that arises, though, that when you develop an attachment to these characters, you want to know what happens to them after the final cut-scene closes. Some get shaken down for sequels or made into franchises, but many seem to go home, left only to live out normal, pleasant lives.

Sure it’s a happy ending, but it seems like there would be unresolved cravings for the spotlight and a lot of untapped potential. Well, some time about a year ago I thought about it, and decided there was money to be made tapping said potential, and so I approached a number of retired video game stars about channeling their star power into a money-making venture: starting a rock band.

I chronicled the experience, and I am now publishing it to you, so that you may learn from my experience.

* * *

January 3rd, 2009

It’s weird to have money, since being in school I thought I’d gave up on ever knowing how this felt again. I never would have thought, lying in that hospital bed, that being nearly scratched to death by an errant pigeon in a coffee shop would be the best thing to ever happen to me, but one lawsuit and a million in punitive damages later, here I am.

I’ve thought about it, and I’m going to invest this money…I can’t just wait for my money to run out again, I can’t just count on successfully being mauled by animals in plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions for the rest of my life.

I talked about it with some people, and I’m going to start a record label geared toward gamers…I mean the gaming-music thing is quite the cash cow, it seems like anyone who messes around with a synth set to make screechy NES sound effects can reap a healthy chunk of gamer money just off nostalgia.

My hook? I’m going to hire retired gaming stars and make a star-power crossover band…it’s genius, I’ll have a pre-made audience, and there are actually some talented people for me to be working with.

February 25th, 2009
After a month of recruiting, I’ve managed to put together what is probably the best band I can hope for.

Front Man/Lead Vocalist: James Sunderland, of Silent Hill 2 Fame
I was lucky to find James available, since he has exactly what I need to anchor this project: boy-band good looks and a deep, brooding feel for the ladies, plus he has a tough-guy criminal history for the boys. He was really excited to get on the project, since as a single dad he’s been tight on money recently.

Lead Guitar: Jack, of Bioshock Fame
Since James can’t play guitar, I decided to find one of those crazy skilled guitarists who would rattle stoically off in the background for the music snobs without hogging the spotlight from the front man. Jack, being a silent protagonist, really fits the bill. Plus, since this is a guy who can turn his hand into bees, I know he has some pretty insane manual dexterity.

Bassist: Sam Fisher, of Splinter Cell Fame
Sam is the only band member who is still employed in his own series of sequels, but he actually approached me. Apparently he heard some of my earlier conversations through a wiretap, since the Prince of Persia, my first choice for bassist, was on some kind of watch-list. Anyway, Sam said he’d been looking for a side-project, and I realized that he had the two skills most critical to a bassist: fading into the background and being inaudible.

Drummer: Tim, of Braid Fame
Tim was an obvious choice for drummer, his sense of time is just unbelievable, and he has this really great precision. Plus, he has a pretty extensive science background, so that definitely earns the band some nerd cred.

The project is going well, I’m excited to move forward.

March 20th, 2009

Well, we’ve gotten the band together, and I am really surprised by how well this is all coming together. I’m foreseeing a lot of success for this project, because the guys are bringing such a wide range of styles to it. We have James for the grunge rock kind of look, Tim for the ska crowd, Sam for the red-states, and Jack for the aging Bobby Darin fans.

The guys managed to settle on “Loud Valley” for the band name, primarily because the only other suggestion was “American Men” from Sam, and it just didn’t go over well.
I booked studio time to record their first single, “Happiness is a Warm Board With Nails In It”, I’m really pleased with the finished project. James’ songwriting is practically guaranteed to hit number 1, it has all that lost-love power ballad stuff that ladies love, but it also has a lot of really deep symbolism in it…apparently he was a psych major in college. Unfortunately we had to cancel his second song, partially because the lyrics were too extreme, but mostly because “The Triangle Man Hates Me” infringed on a They Might Be Giants song.

We had some brief problems with the equipment, which started giving us some static on one of the feeds. It wasn’t that bad, but for some reason James really freaked out when it happened. Fortunately Jack is a pretty good mechanic as it turns out, and managed to jury-rig it with some spare pipe.

The real MVP was Tim, though. This guy is amazing, he managed to record the entire drum section on one take.

April 15th, 2009
I am proud to say that Loud Valley’s first album, “Chasing the Princess”, has gone platinum. We’ve only been out for a month, but it’s pretty much all photo shoots and tour dates now.

Setting up the tour was a lot harder than I thought it would be…frankly the guys were kind of difficult on this.

Jack won’t travel by plane, so we had to get a bus…it wouldn’t have been so bad except that I made the mistake of letting James hold the map…he made us run down every single side street and detour until Laura explained that we needed to draw red X’s over every path but the one we were supposed to follow…unfortunately we’d wasted a lot of time following the side streets, and accidently ended up violating a restraining order demanding that Tim not come within 500 yards of a woman’s house. On the plus side, though, we did find plenty of health drinks.

On that note, Laura was actually a big complication setting this up, since James insisted she come with us. When I was setting things up, I found out that she couldn’t be covered by the liability insurance since James didn’t actually adopt her. When I asked him about it, he said “I just found her in an empty town”…I’m surprised he never had to deal with this issue. Anyway, I helped them formalize the adoption, and having done so I’m glad to have Laura around…she’s a lot more mature than any of the guys, although she’s a bit…frightening sometimes.

May 7th, 2009
Our shows have being going great, for the most part. The audience is really getting into it, even if I think that James is overusing the fog machine. Jack is contributing a lot to the experience, since he produces some pretty impressive pyrotechnics

The after-concert hotel experience isn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be.

Sam is too old for trouble apparently, since he usually just locks himself into his room and falls asleep with Fox News on. James and Laura sleep in the bus, since apparently James has a crippling fear of hotels...which is just as well since nobody else can stand the way he leaves the night light on. He has me send in groupies sometimes, but they all turn out to be imaginary so it isn’t a big deal.

Tim is the party animal as it turns out, and I keep having to comp hotels for all the chandeliers he’s been breaking.

The only guy I’m really worrying about is Jack…I think he has a drug problem. He keeps making me a deliver him syringes full of his “medicine”, and he says he can’t do his “hand magic” without it. He keeps insisting it isn’t heroin, but it really sounds like he’s shooting heroin.

June 19th, 2009

Tim is becoming kind of a problem…lately he’s complaining that we’re not appreciating him creatively. The problem started when he tried to write a song. Tim’s writing was…well…it wasn’t bad, but it was just really…hard to understand. I tried to be nice, so I said “hey this is cool, it’s kind of abstract.” He got annoyed at me, he said that it was about the invention of the tesla coil, he said I wasn’t giving it a real chance as art.

Tim has kind of an ego problem overall, he’s really obsessive when he wants something…and every time he gets to a drum solo he always drops one of those time rings and really milks it.

I guess this is just the problems that come with the arty one.

Anyway, we’ve been nominated for a Grammy, so overall things are going better than ever in my opinion…I think I’ll just let him do the next album cover, he is a pretty amazing painter.

July 10th, 2009

Wow…just wow…the Grammys were a complete disaster.

We won Best New Artist, that wasn’t the issue…the problem started when Cameron Diaz ended up being the presenter for it. See, nothing is wrong with her, but when we got called up, James just…well, snapped somehow. First he kept calling her Mary, and then Maria, then he got all paranoid and started looking around and waving a board in the air. Laura and I tried to spin it off like a big joke and lead James away, but that wasn’t the end of it…when they moved on and tried to roll the clip from our video…well…someone must have screwed up something since the feed started getting all distorted and blurry…Jack was heading up with his wrench and some pipes to fix it, but then all of the sudden the feed shifted to a video of James and…well, they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity but, well, this may have been it.

I don’t want to think about this anymore.

August 23rd, 2009
Well, more problems…Sam quit the band. He apparently had to leave to go dismantle a nuclear weapons crisis in Uzbekistan and had to miss a show. He wasn’t mad that we played the show without him, he was mad that nobody noticed he was gone.

We’re not quitting, for right now we’re just going to crank up the fog machine even more and the audience will probably just assume there’s a bassist there without actually checking.

Jack’s drug problem is getting worse…it’s getting so he can’t even guitar without his “tonics”, and he keeps sending me to hit up “Rapture” to find a “Big Daddy” and score him some “Adam”. It got easier to do when I found out that none of that was slang.

September 30th, 2009

Jack is under indictment…I have to testify in court later. I swear to God, I didn’t know anything about what he was doing with all those little girls. He’s insisting he was only killing them to harvest their organs and not anything else...but even if that’s true it’s still pretty bad.

We’re trying to spin PR on this, but even if we manage to keep our good name we’ve still lost the guitar man. It’ll be hard to listening to “Arrow of Time” now that I know what it cost to make those wicked guitar riffs.

September 5th, 2009

Well, Loud Valley is broken up. We talked about replacing the guitarist, but before I could check to see if Pikachu was available Tim went all John Lennon on us…complaining that we were stifling his artistic voice, he said he was pursuing a solo career so he could find his artistic vision, his “princess”…come to think of it he was always talking about that, but I thought he was talking about his ex-wife. Anyway, it was obvious that the band was over at that point, so I just nodded, set up a royalties plan with everyone, and we went our separate ways.

October 31st, 2009

The Sunderlands invited me over for dinner to catch up…all I can say is that this is a family that really gets into Halloween-James was dressed up as some kind of weird charred corpse wrapped in a strait-jacket made of fused flesh, and Laura was dressed as a mutant zombie nurse with a backwards face. They were great costumes, and I couldn’t help but feel kind of dumb dressed as a baseball player.

Their decorations were pretty intense, their entire house looked like some kind of decaying building full of bloodstains and rusting metal…like some kind of abandoned building. They told me it’s always looked like that, but I think they’re just being modest.

It was good to chat with them, they seem to be doing well. James says he talked to Tim recently…apparently his solo career had bombed. The two had discussed it though, and they were both happy in retrospect. “We don’t mind being one hit wonders” said James, “It’s about quality, not quantity.”

I couldn’t agree more.

November 18th, 2009
Sam used his NSA connections to confiscate and freeze all assets connected with Loud Valley…jerk.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home