Brad “Evening News” Stanton – Thick and Juicy Bass Steaks
Colin “Salty” Mitchell – Ph.D. in Hot Licks
Dan “Panda Whisperer” Bronson – Heart Strings
Dave “Plexico” Marshall – Low Frequency Oscillators
Scott “The Party” Moffat – Membranophones
What is THWOMP?
On first glance it’s a collection of indie rockers with a passion for gaming and the nostalgia inspired by the music of games from the classic era of console gaming. They re-create the classic gaming themes we all know and love at a visceral pace and with unparalleled energy. The show is high-energy, fun, and accessible to everyone, whether you’ve played these games or not (but let’s be honest — you all have … a lot.)
But THWOMP is more than that. THWOMP is the product of the adolescence of the digital age. As computers have gone from hobbyist basement shrines to being in everything from phones to microwaves to cars, the digital age is old enough to look back on its nascent years and begin to wonder where it came from. Just like we all wax nostalgic about our childhoods, THWOMP is a reminiscence of the childhood of the digital age, where the cultural phenomenon of video games was born and began to take hold of the imagination of children.
They were lucky to be right at the age where NES consoles began to dot the houses of their neighbourhoods, followed by the revolution of the SNES and everything that followed it. Mario, Megaman, Samus and Link were all influences on their young brains, and the countless hours spent stuck on that one impossible level laid the foundation for THWOMP to come. After all, the music from these games are short loops, rarely longer than a minute in length and never more than two, so once the hour mark had passed the loop had been heard as many as 60 times. This repeated over days, weeks, months, and years. Little did they know that a powerful potentiality had been born, one that would be tapped into over a decade later, by seemingly the most random of happenstances.
THWOMP was born when Brad, the Evening News, happened upon sometimes-THWOMP-bassist Scott Munro playing the boss theme from Final Fantasy VI, a game that many of us had spent more time on than any other. It was like a revelation. Suddenly that deeply laid groundwork spent fighting bosses over and over in Final Fantasy VI sprung to life, like the offhand comment that suddenly brings to mind a forgotten but vivid dream. The Evening News was gripped — he was the prisoner of a compulsion that would not — could not — be denied. “This must be a thing,” he said. Scott was of no mind to argue — the Evening News had that look. You do not argue with that look.
In the coming months, the Evening News spent every spare moment dedicated to the labor of love that THWOMP has become. Tirelessly, he painstakingly re-created the situations that laid the groundwork in the first place: the endless, endless repetition of video game themes. But now, he had a mission. It began, as it should, with Final Fantasy VI. He’d reach an area with a song he’d want to play, pause the game, and one note at a time, transcribe the music for four parts: drums, two guitars, and bass. Sometimes this would take hours for a single part; with up to eight voices in an SNES game playing simultaneously, it’s difficult to pick out the note you need, and even more so that you have to wait for the next time around if you missed it. As we said: most certainly a labour of love.
One Does Not Argue With That Look.
First it was Final Fantasy VI, then Megaman 2, then F-Zero. Once the work got off the ground, it was an easy job to recruit the aforementioned Scott in addition to his Gunther bandmates, Scott “The Party” Moffat and Colin “Salty” Mitchell. The trio were not idly chosen: the meaty tones of Gunther were the perfect platform for the mouthwatering rock reinterpretations of Megaman and F-Zero. Sharp, edgy, thick, jagged: these are adjectives. But they are adjectives that describe Gunther’s — and so THWOMP’s — sound. After a few months in the rehearsal space, creatively dubbed “The Space”, it was ready. THWOMP was born.
To say their first show was a nerdgasm would be to understate things so drastically that it would be closer to the truth to describe Facebook as “a niche website” or the Star Wars prequels as “mediocre movies”. Their dear friend Chuck was hired on to provide a video background of the actual levels being heard as THWOMP rocked them out on stage. Now, months after the nostalgic moment that inspired THWOMP’s creation, those lucky souls were experiencing the exact same catharsis.
That shared feeling of tapping into our collective pasts: that is what THWOMP is.
Since that fateful day almost six years ago, THWOMP has added members, added material, lost members, and been shaped into the entity it is today. Dave “Plexico” Marshall, who was among the lucky few at the inaugural concert, joined the band on keyboards about three years later. The addition of keys drastically increased the band’s versatility in many-voice arrangements; games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy saw the repertoire expand from a handful of songs to half-hour epics. More challenging projects like Secret of Mana, Gradius III, and Final Fantasy VII — the one and only Playstation game in the line-up — could be conquered.
Meanwhile, as Scott (the first) became too busy with other projects, Kirk “Hammer” McVean was brought in to fill the void, bringing with him an as-yet-untapped dynamic. Instead of the bass guitar, for a time, Hammer heaped thick bass steaks onto the plates of the audience with both new and vintage analog synths, bringing a unique symmetry to the line-up: two guitarists and two keyboardists, rotating around the thunderous rhythmic apocalypse of The Party’s drums like the spiral arms of great galaxies orbiting around supermassive black holes. Grandiose? No. Appropriate.
But the siren song of the Land Down Under called — too loudly to be ignored — and Hammer could not but answer. Yet, THWOMP would not be deterred. Brad, ever the mighty warrior of rock, met the challenge of heaping the steaks of bass upon the ravenous maws of our audiences, and lo, did they feast! But this left a void. Who would take up the axe that the Evening News had sorrowfully lain?
Enter: Dan Bronson, the Panda Whisperer. The origins of his name are cloaked in the mists of time, perhaps never to be found again. But it matters not, for he can play. And play he did! With this newfound cadre of unstoppable, axe-wielding slayers of riffs and other notes, THWOMP soldiered on, in the timeless quest to reconnect our fans to the days of 8-bit yore.
Recently, THWOMP has also seen their focus change from bar gigs to the convention circuit. It was a match made in heaven: if you can find an audience more suited to the nerdgasm catharsis that THWOMP provides than anime, gaming, and comic convention goers, well … I guess what I’m saying is that you can’t. If there is one of these glorious convenes of nerds and all that is glorious, let them know that THWOMP will be there, guns blazing and amps at 11, to shower one and all in glorious video game mustiness and victory.