*Update* Last week it was announced that Chris Marchiel has left the band to pursue the development and release of his own videogame concept. I went back to this old and very first interview I did for That Devil Music and realized the banner pic was broken and somehow during my archive import half the interview was missing. I’ve updated with a new banner pic and restored the last half of the interview. Enjoy – Rob Liz 1/26/15
About a week ago my friends at The Number of the blog did an interview with Chris Marchiel of the instrumental power metal band Powerglove. I’d like to thank Grover for introducing me to this band as do my kids because they play the tunes all the time. Well seeing as I had a bunch of questions of my own I decided to conduct my own interview with Chris. This is actually landmark as this is the first interview I’ve conducted for That Devil Music and only the second for the site. Chris is an awesome sport and gave great answers involving music, videogames,cartoons, and the diplomatic resolution to the oppression of left handed guitarists. So without further ado, here is the interview with Chris Marichiel of Powerglove after the jump.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my silly and unprofessional questions, Chris. Here we go.
1.For somebody who is unaware of your band how would you best describe the type of music Powerglove plays?
We take music from video games, cartoons and movies and remix and rearrange them into instrumental power metal songs. Some of our songs are faithful to the original but in a different style and context, some are 50/50 original riffs and theme music, and some are radical departures from the source material. Since we are mostly instrumental we can combine other kinds of metal (namely black and death metal) into the original sound pretty easily. I think we have developed a pretty recognizable “sound” from the last 2 albums that involves us piling up layers of harmony and detail and wrapping up progginess and shredding with ear candy transitions and melodies.
2.I was never fortunate enough to have a Nintendo Powerglove. Was it as good as they said in the commercials? If not what were its faults?
Oh absolutely! The famous “Powerglove” scene from The Wizard is in a way a pretty accurate demonstration of how it not only can maximize your skill and score, but also how the Powerglove puts you “into the game” in a way no one could have possibly imagined even in their wildest of gamer fantasies. Unfortunately it was quickly banned from competitive gaming (instead of the gaming scene simply adapting to the enhanced performance of the glove and raising the overall level of competition) and its reputation as a “crutch” for inexperienced gamers (called “noobers” by the more elite gaming castes) eventually damned the Powerglove to obscurity. We named ourselves in honor of the Powerglove to celebrate its tradition of overlooked excellence, since we aspired, and still do aspire, to achieve “troo kvlt” status in the metal world.
If the Powerglove had any flaws, it would be that it worked to hard to the neglect of its personal life, it didn’t stop to smell the roses often enough, and that it cared too much for the people it served.
3.Congratulations on the tour with Arsis and Conducting from the Grave. I understand this will be on the heels of a tour with Firewind and the Absence. There are some pretty heavy bands on these tours. How do you think the death/thrash and power metal kids will react by being in the same venue together?
Well, when some scenes cross over there can be awkwardness at shows, but we don’t fit in perfectly with any one band (and have a portion of our fan base that exists outside of the overall metal scene) so we’re used to that. Both of the bills you mention are interesting 3 band splits and of course I can’t predict how the crowds will mix but its fun to speculate.
With Firewind and The Absence, the show will be Melodic Death Metal -> nostalgia weirdos -> Traditional Power Metal with Ozzy’s guitarist (and Bob Katsionis who can play guitar and keys in harmony at the same time like a beast and gets so little credit!) Now this might seem weird but one of the most noticable things at shows like this is that often it’s our fans who ditch out on the other “legitimate” bands the most, since they are very diverse due to our various gimmicks and history in the video game remix scene. But they are usually polite about it. Of course some of the fans of the other two bands will think we’re ridiculous and stupid and who can blame them, but we design our sets to convert people who haven’t heard us before and preach our silly gospel to anyone who will hear it.
Then there is the tour with Arsis and Conducting from the Grave. Man this is going to be a fun tour; I think we’re going to get along very well with these bands and have some memorable adventures. This one is built like so: Melodic Deathcore -> basement dwelling manchildren playing Super Mario -> Tech Death with much shred. I think we’ll do better than people might expect on this one because if an audience is under 23 or so on average (and the closer to 18 the better) they’ll respond well to the what-the-fuck factor of us being there and of course we’ll tailor our stage banter and overall stage presence to emphasize how we are being silly and lighthearted about our gimmick, while also tailoring our set musically to the heavier and dark side of what we play.
4.My kids want to know if on the next album will there be any Kingdom Hearts songs or any later Zelda tunes such as music from Spirit Tracks?
Kingdom Hearts is a maybe, and I haven’t really thought about Spirit Tracks so I’ll check it out, but honestly I have no idea. We have about 7 songs we’re working on now and are looking for more, and some of those might not make the cut for the next album so even those we can’t be sure about. The only song I admitted to writing for the next record was Snake Man from Mega Man III, since I really, really want to do that one and won’t rest until we make a good version of it.
I guess the bigger question here is if we are willing to select songs out of our own Nostalgia Zones (1989-1999 or so, though some material was made earlier than that since we would play old games or watch cartoons in syndication.) For the right song, which would both have to be very popular and be fertile ground for our composing and remixing style, sure we would, but the emphasis will still be on the golden 90’s; it might have been a dark time for metal, but it was a glittering city in the clouds as far as cartoons and games are concerned.
5.I noticed you play guitar left handed like me. Do you share my annoyance that guitar shops have maybe 3 left handed guitars compared to the hundred right handed guitars? Who should we lobby to get equal rights for southpaws?
I actually play a right handed guitar upside down, without restringing it backwards or anything (So my high Eb is on top and Low Eb is on the bottom.) This has some of its own problems, such as having to tape up and remove knobs since they get tweaked by my picking hand wrist which rests on them, having to redo the side fret markers and strap screws, and various little things like that. I play flying Vs only right now, since they are symmetrical where the body meets the neck so there are no cutaway issues when playing the highest frets and they are evenly weighted so they aren’t awkward upside down.
Also, I’m right handed with most things, and our bassist Nick is left handed and plays bass right handed, so we’re all kinds of screwed up really.
6.A few years ago you did a Youtube tutorial on how to change a Guitar Hero controller into a Guitar/synth hybrid. Did you ever try to get a patent for that thing and try to sell it to fund the Powerglove machine?
I got several offers from people wanting to buy that thing, but the problem is it wasn’t a self contained instrument. It needed a computer running the software I made, all sorts of cables, and a guitar processor. The offers I remember were for about 500 bucks, which seems at first like a great deal for me, but I don’t think the costumers would have been satisfied since it was such a precarious instrument that needed a computer to play (and I hadn’t tested the software on any computer so that would have caused problems) and also if it included the processor and cables along with the guitar hero controller itself the profit would have been smaller than anticipated.
It’s been, I don’t know, I think 3 years since I put that video up. I made it in one all night session while I wasn’t exactly in my right mind and did the video a week or so later since I realized it could promote our then new album Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man. I certainly didn’t imagine talking about it years later!
7. Continuing with Guitar Hero, when you toured with Dragonforce did you ever challenge Herman Le to a battle? Or even Sam for that matter?
Hahahaha no, I was terrible at Guitar Hero the few times I played and Dragonforce weren’t into it either. The game was amazing publicity for them but they were quite sick of it understandibly so we only would bring it up to make fun of them and drive them crazy.
8. The costumes you guys wear onstage, who did the design and creation of them and how comfortable are they to wear after about an hour or so?
Our costumes were designed by K-Tron, who has worked with Gwar and Kaiju Big Battel. She’s doing some new stuff for us right now then we might have ready for the Arsis tour (hopefully.) At the end of a set they feel fine, but when we first put them on they’re pretty annoying and get in the way all the time. The smell is easily the worst part of it, then the lack of comfort, then the annoyance of setting up all our gear then running backstage to change when we’re the opening band.
9. On the new album Saturday Morning Apocalypse due out any day now, you guys featured guest vocalist Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica. How did that collaboration come about?
He decided that singing the Pokemon theme song with us was the most elegant way to destroy his credibility and commit career suicide, so we were glad to help him out and wish him luck in all his future endeavors.
But really: On the last day of touring with Sonata Arctica, we had a big farewell ceremony with lots of pictures and hugs and Tony mentioned to us that he had some free time after the tour and since we were recording at that time he wanted to try singing on a song for us. We of naturally said yes and after thinking about it Pokemon was the obvious choice for a full song, and we also asked him to do the “The Simpsoooooons…” intro to our Simpsons Theme. He not only went to town on the Pokemon song and added in tons of his own harmonies and vocal ideas, but also composed a vocal section for the Simpsons on his own which we ended up increasing the length of the song to accommodate it. Basically he’s the man.
10. Will there be any more guest vocalists on future projects? If so, who would you like to collaborate with?
Probably, not sure about the next album since it’s all video game music but who knows. Vocals make more sense over the cartoon themes that had vocals in the original versions, and doing them for video game music is very problematic and I feel like they would be a detriment to the overall music on the video game stuff. Hansi Kursch from Blind Guardian is probably my favorite vocalist, and the old vocalist from Galneryus (Yama-B) would be amazing too.
11. The male to female ratio for gamers is pretty lopsided in favor of guys. Do you think your music will help alleviate this imbalance?
Well, the gender balance is far better with video games than with metal!!! Most of our female fans come from the gamer world, so our m/f ratio is slightly better than most power/death/whatever metal bands in the US. So yeah it’s reasonable to assume that Powerglove will someday singlehandedly obliterate the gender gap in heavy metal, sure.
12. Saturday morning cartoon watching has tragically declined in recent years(thanks Nick). What cartoons were your favorite in the glory days?
My instinct is to agree, but I really can’t be objective on this one since A: I have some sort of unnatural reverence for the cartoons of my past and B: I don’t watch modern children’s cartoons. I happened to see “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack” yesterday for the first time and it wasn’t bad, though the main character had that spongebob just-want-to-smack-him factor. Hopefully the old school greats are still airing in repeats somewhere.
Aside from the one’s we covered on Saturday Morning Apocalypse, many of my favorites were the classic Nicktoons lineup. Ren and Stimpy, Doug and Rocko’s Modern Life were big ones. Then there were the other classic ones like TMNT, He-Man, Thundercats, and Voltron.
13. Thank you again for taking time out to answer my ridiculous questions. Would you care to use this spot to promote Powerglove’s tours and albums one more time for the readers?
No problem! Well our album will be out by the time people read this (Sept. 28th) so please check it out and hear some songs from it. If you haven’t heard us yet I understand your apprehension and skepticism but listen to at least two songs and see if we exceded your expectations. After that you’re free to love us or hate us as you will.
Through November and December we’ll be on tour with the bands described above, and possibly will have one more show in November that we could announce soon if it works out. We’re booking some more tours after those so hopefully we’ll be hard to avoid seeing in 2010-2011 and we’ll be one of those “Oh they get every tour what bastards! How do they get on all those tours they don’t deserve!” bands.