Interview with Urizen
Interview by: Zelda|
Geek Girl Zelda recently had the opportunity to interview the band Urizen!
I recently got the opportunity to see Urizen on the NES in the West tour along with The Megas, Mega Ran, The Radioactive Chicken Heads and Dr Awkward at the California Institute of Abnormal Arts in Hollywood. The venue was packed - One of the most packed shows I've ever seen there. The venue itself is bizarre and out of this world, full of circus themed knick knacks and hullabaloo, a very bizarre ambiance, blacklight hallways leading outdoors, and is said to house the corpse of an old clown outside. Needless to say it's my favorite venue in LA, and the perfect stage for the band Urizen, who are weird and awesome themselves. I had not heard of them before that night, but they quickly stole the show for me. Between their avant garde, original music (something that is difficult to do in a genre that focuses mainly on covering songs) and their impressive stage show, it was really a killer performance. I picked up both of their albums they had available for sale that night (one of which was an 8bit version of their album) and there are a ton of killer songs. I got the opportunity to interview them and this is what they had to say -
Q: For anyone who doesn't know who you are or what you do, give us a little rundown.
A: We're URIZEN! We're a group of guys who grew up loving video games, sci-fi, pro wrestling, and hard rockin' heavy metal-type music, so we decided to mash them all together in an explosion of musical fun and adventure. We tour the land (aka the United States) in our beat-up old 1995 Dodge Ram van (aka "The Macho Van") and put on extravagant stage shows involving lots of cardboard, duct tape, a giant black goo monster, and our very own 9-foot-tall robot companion.
More specifically, as far as right now, at this very moment, I'm Daniel. I'm a Taurus, I enjoy candlelit dinners, and I play keyboards for this crazy thing known as URIZEN. Howdy! (We're from Texas, you see.)
Q: With video game cover bands becoming more commonplace all the time, you guys manage to have a really unique sound. How did you settle upon “The balls of Rammstein strapped to the bodies of DEVO with the brains of Type O Negative performing the live show of GWAR... with a robot,” as you put it. That's quite the description (but very apt). What is the creative process like for you guys?
A: One thing about us that kind of sets us apart in the VGM scene is the fact that we don't do any covers of video game tunes, and we don't write songs about any existing video game-based franchises. We love bands that do, and have nothing against them, but our niche is that we write songs INSPIRED by the musical styles of video game tunes we grew up loving. We also have a bit of a chiptune element to our music, and actually used Thomas' original NES from 1985 to record much of the synth work on our album "Universe:Red."
As far as the "how" of ending up with that particular mixture of stuff in our music and performance... well, it just kind of happened! We love such a diverse array of media that we decided to just cram it all together instead of limiting ourselves to any one or two genres in particular. It was definitely an evolution, though. Back when we started, we were just another dickhead metal band wandering on stage in our street clothes, adding nothing to our performance beyond the instruments we were playing and some aggressive headbanging. It got boring, for us and for the audience, so we started making more and more toys to bring on stage with us, and now we've got a trailer that's 10% musical gear and 90% stage props!
Q: You recently got off the NES in the West tour with The Megas, Mega Ran and Dr Awkward. How was it? Any amazing experiences come out of it?
A: That whole tour was incredible! (Although sadly, only one date, in Hollywood, was with The Megas, but man, we would have loved to have had them on the whole tour!) Dr. Awkward, Mega Ran, and his awesome DJ, DN3, are three of the coolest dudes we've ever had the pleasure of hitting the road with.
The coolest thing about that tour, in my opinion, was the diversity of the package, Doc Awk and Ran are both rappers with very different styles, and we're a bunch of goofball rocker dudes with a stage full of gear and props, but our shared love for video games, VGM, and the nerd community made it work every single night. That's a powerful thing. And the crowds that came to the shows were as awesome and diverse as the tour package itself! They always came to have fun and be a part of a really cool community of people, and that makes them the best crowds we could ever ask for!
And yes, there were an innumerable amount of amazing experiences, and most of them had to do with all the cool performers we got to jam with along the way: The Megas, Bit Brigade, the minibosses, Brentalfloss, Those Who Fight, Richie Branson, The Radioactive Chicken Heads, rainbowdragoneyes... holy cow! And in San Francisco, the one and only Holzfeuer of Arnocorps came to our show to hang out, which is huge for me... I love that effin' band!
Q: Your stage show is also really original and fun. Tell us about some of the costumes and their construction, the themes and the ideas that went into creating your stage presence.
A: The main driving force behind our stage show is, unfortunately, money. We don't have very much money... So when we're making stuff for the stage show it has to be a.)cheap to make; and b.)reasonable to make by ourselves. Thomas is the crazed mastermind behind the stage show, and he had his hand in the creation of everything you see on stage. All of the props are made of cardboard and tape and foam and silicone and whatever else we can shuffle together, and our stage outfits are mostly cobbled together from thrift store finds and used sporting goods. We may be poor, but we're resourceful, dammit!
As far as the themes and ideas of the show, well... we're kind of retroactively getting to that. A lot of what happens during the stage show will be explained better in our upcoming album, which will be out later this year. For the time being, though, the thought process is like, "Hey, this would be funny and/or cool, let's make it and put it on stage!" We're professionals here, folks. Don't try this at home!
Q: Any chance we might see you on a metal tour instead of a nerd tour sometime?
A: Our souls will always belong to the dark lord know as Heavy Metal, so yeah, I think that's a possibility. We're like really rude chameleons, just forcing ourselves in to places where we might not necessarily belong!
Q: Where are some other places you have performed live? Where would you ideally like to see the band go in the future?
A: We have played, and will play, just about anywhere. We played clubs all across the continental US, we've done cons and festivals in Texas, California, and Georgia, we've played amusement parks, warehouses, skate parks, art galleries, parking lots, you name it! We love to play, and we'll do it anywhere we can for as long as people still want to watch us!
As far as where we want to go? We've got some "big fish" conventions that we're dying to play: PAX (Prime or East), MAGFest, Nerdapalooza, Dragon*Con (again), all kinds of things. The more lofty goal is to get our asses overseas, especially to Europe and Japan. We would die of utter joy if we could make that happen! So anyone in Europe, Japan, Australia, Iceland, wherever... if you're reading this, can we crash at your place?
Q: So the 8bit version of your most recent album. It's an amazing idea. I guess there isn't really a question here.
A: Thank you! Long before we ever knew about the VGM scene or chiptune music, Thomas had dreamed of someday making an album, then doing an all-NES sounds remix version of it, which he finally achieved with our 8-bit release "8-Bit Universe," which is totally available for streaming and name-your-own-price download at http://urizen.bandcamp.com/album/8-bit-universe. I think it's an amazing piece of music, and I'm allowed to say that since Thomas made it and I didn't!
Q: If you were to suddenly be sucked into a video game universe, which would it be and why?
A: Man, that's tough. My gut instinct is to go with Hyrule, since I've been a Zelda fan my whole life, and have pledged my eternal soul to the 64-bit deity known as the Ocarina of Time. Slashing Tektites, riding Epona, swimming with Zoras, using an ocarina to transport from place to place, getting nasty (presumably) with Princess Zelda... yeah, I could live in that universe.
But at the same time... man, I would do ANYTHING for a functional Portal gun. ANY. THING.
Q: Do you have any shows or tours coming up?
A: We just wrapped up NES in the West, so no big tours for a while, but we've got lots of cool stuff coming up. We're doing a show with Andrew W.K. in Dallas in a few days, and we're traveling to Cincinnati in April to party with Powerglove at A&G Ohio, so we're very excited about those. We've still got a lot of 2013 left to play with, so you can bet your ass we'll be out on the road again before the year is through! Watch out!
Q: Where can fans follow your work?
is the place to be for everything URIZEN on the internet. But if you could all be real chums and check us out at facebook
and give us a Like (or two... somehow), we'd certainly appreciate it. And check out YouTube.com/UrizenOnline
for lots of rad videos chronicling our misadventures through time. If it's music you seek, we've got a bunch of that, and it's FREE at URIZEN.bandcamp.com
, so have at it!
And of course, be on the lookout for us at a con, fest, venue, parking lot, or miniature golf course near you! We'll be the ones with the giant robot!
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April 14 2013