The Protomen

In the year 200X, the scientist Dr. Thomas Xavier Light created a robot which he called Mega Man. After the success of his creation Dr. Light and his assistant Dr. Wily built several other robots to defend against the dangers to humans. With what could only be described as premeditated insanity, Dr. Wily re-programmed the new machines to take control of the planet. In a world of allies, heroes and legends, Mega Man was a machine to create freedom. After a most tumultuous fight and adventure, Mega Man was nearly destroyed only to have his unconscious body saved by Breakman, a robot who regularly blocked Mega Man’s path along the way only to disappear after he was defeated. When Mega Man came to, Dr. Light revealed that Breakman was actually his first creation… Protoman. Turns out that Protoman has a band and they will never let the darkness win. We caught up with two of the players in their hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.

Tell our readers about the musical climate of Nashville.
Commander: It’s a strange beast, for sure. Most people associate it with Country music and the industry surrounding it, but in reality, there is a shit load of rock and roll happening there. Secretly, almost every rock band in Nashville is wishing that the rest of the world would appreciate how much good non-country music is coming out of Nashville, and simultaneously terrified that any high profile exposure from the rock community would damage their “cred.” Either way, the best players, country and not, are in Nashville.

If Nashville did get that attention, and it lost it’s underdog mentality would the city lose something? Do you like that the rock and roll talent is somewhat of a guarded secret?
Panther: That’s a good question. Every once in a while something comes out of Nashville that rattles the Rock and Roll cage a bit. Something like Kings of Leon, or that Paramore fellow, or even that hot Ke$ha robot. Even The Pink Spiders made a go of it. It’s strange to watch the musicians in Nashville get ruffled by other Nashville success stories. There’s a camaraderie that exists between all the bands struggling to get by and it seems that once a band has gotten their head above water, they’re banished from the scene. We’ve never really been Nashville darlings anyway, so we’re not really in any danger of being banished… or getting our heads above water for that matter, but I think if that camaraderie could stand even after a band gets it’s feet on solid ground, the whole scene could rise up. Maybe Nashville just wants to live together and die together. Up or down, we’re with her all the way.

What is your live show like? How do you pull it off?
Panther: We pretty much do everything that the Blue Man Group does, except we’re silver instead of blue…. and don’t have anywhere close to the budget they have. Oh, and we play much tougher jams. On the road, we take 10 brave men and women, forgo sleep and nutrition, disregard any and all safety precautions and barrel our way through the country playing rock and roll. It’s not a pretty job…. but at least it doesn’t pay well. We take three times as much gear as any smart traveling rock band, spend twice as much time getting ready for shows, and take nine times as long loading out. But what we lack in blazing speed and efficiency, we make up with sassy good looks and raging beauty.

So when “Give Us The Rope” begins, do some uninitiated fans think you may be busting into a cover of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”?
Panther: By God, if they don’t, we haven’t done our job.

The Protomen: Jesus Christ Superstar sung by “Thunder Road”-era Springsteen… if Christ was actually Mega Man. Is that a fair observation?
Panther: Yes. Nailed it. That’s the best description we’ve heard so far. Truthfully though, the religious overtones probably stem from the fact that the Bible is one of the best tales of good vs evil ever. We also would’ve accepted “The Protomen: Masters Of The Universe, as sung by Streets Of Fire era Diane Lane…. if that Dolph Lundgren fellow was actually Mega Man… and If Diane Lane was a bunch of dudes in makeup.” Actually, our description wins because it has the all-important “as written by Jim Steinman” clause implied…. and it also has Diane Lane.
Commander: Originality is like dancing with a one legged bear…nearly impossible, and if you mess up, you’re dead.

Take us through the process of writing to recording, specifically the parts that feature a choir of voices.
Panther: Ah yes. The Human Choir. It was, personally, the most entertaining part of the writing/recording process. I wrote almost all of the choir parts myself and even demoed some of them, Jeff Lynn style—Me recorded over and over and over. In the end, we really needed more voice than just mine. We ended up with some really amazing girls that the Gambler has worked with in the Nashville theatre scene, as well as some tough-ass guys that Murphy and I have worked with in the rock world. The blend of classically trained vocalist and fury-filled amateurs gave us what we were looking for.

Act II has far less Mega Man overtones than your self titled previous album. Why the retreat?
Panther: We don’t view it as a retreat. This new act dealt more with the humans that created the robots. Mega Man wasn’t even a character yet. Protoman is just being created during the last 16 measures of the act. On the whole, this new album is far more… human… than Act I. Because of that, it deals with much more universal themes than say, a robot army takeover, and a robot on robot grudge match. We’ll get back to the robot destruction. That’s what Act III is for.

So what can we expect from Act III and when can we expect it?
Commander: All out war. It’s too soon to get into details, but it’s going to be huge. We’ve already started working on some things, but don’t expect to see/hear it for a while. Touring with Act II is taking up most of our time, but I can tell you there won’t be as long of a gap between Acts II & III as there was between I & II.

Capcom; what’s their reaction?
Panther: I’m going to tell you the honest-to-God truth here. Capcom is sort of like a giant corporate goldfish. Once every six months, their community representative contacts us with a very polite “Hi, we’re Capcom… we really like your band and wanted to say hi and introduce ourselves” letter. We respond with “Hi. We’re the Protomen. We really like you too, but we’ve already met.” They’re like some sweet good-looking sorority pledge that had too much to drink at a party and couldn’t remember who she’d made out with. That being said, we love the hell out of Capcom, and we look forward to all of their sweet letters of introduction. Someday, perhaps, we’ll meet. We’ll make the cutest couple!

What percent of audiences think that you aren’t serious? Is it a higher percentage in certain cities or countries?
Commander: We’re very aware of the dragon that we ride. We know how we look to the outside world. We’re sort of like that Michael Bolton looking lion guy in Linda Hamilton’s Beauty and the Beast show… Once you get to know us you realize that we’re really a beautiful prince man in a Michael Bolton monster suit that just happens to be living in a sewer. Our show is a somewhat careful balance of all the most ridiculous and fun things possible. Some people like the pretty prince side…. some people like the Michael Bolton monster living in a sewer side. In the end, all we’re shooting for is that people are entertained…. and don’t worry, I don’t follow any of my analogies either.


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