If you're a diehard fan of video games and you've never listened to The Minibosses, you should be ashamed of yourself. The local band by way of Massachusetts performs rock versions of classic Nintendo video game soundtracks.
The Minibosses are scheduled to perform their 250th show at Yucca Tap Room on Saturday, October 6 with GNARB00TS, Lago, and Quarter Inch Crown.
We recently caught up with Minibosses guitarist Aaron Burke to discuss the band's history, why their music is available for free, and what we can expect from tomorrow's show.
Aaron Burke: We've got this awesome band coming down from Santa Cruz called GNARB00TS. We've played a few shows with them before up there. They've never played down here, so we asked them if they wanted to come down and play this show and they said yeah. They're a pretty great hardcore/fake rap band. They usually do this punk/hardcore set to start, and then halfway through they switch veins and kind of freak audiences out. I don't want to give it away, but there's going to be some moments of collaboration between the bands,
You guys perform at Yucca Tap Room quite a bit. I think I personally have only seen you play shows there. Why did you decide to book your 250th show at the Yucca?
That's kind of our home base here, and Rodney [Hu, owner of Yucca Tap Room] is great to us, and has always been a friend to us, and has always treated us really well. There was really no other place to do it. It's our favorite place to play here and the shows are always fun and it's always free, so that makes it nice too, so people don't have to worry about paying a cover when they go see the show.
You guys have been performing as the Minibosses for quite awhile. What inspired you to start the project in the first place?
Matt and I were in a band before Minibosses called Jenova Project. When we were in that band, we did a lot of original stuff, but sometimes in the middle of songs, we would throw in video game bridges. After that band broke up, we thought it would be fun to just play the video game stuff. At first we weren't going to be exclusively Nintendo, we were thinking we might do other system stuff, but then maybe a few months into it, we decided it would be better just to stick with it. There's already enough on one system to last forever, so why skip around.
I was actually going to ask if you guys had any interest in covering music from some newer games.
I love some modern soundtracks for sure and own a lot of them on CD and mp3, but just for this project we'll probably keep it Nintendo. Jenova Project still plays little reunion shows every few years, and that does a lot of Final Fantasy stuff, so there's a lot of Playstation and Playstation 2 stuff.What are some of the biggest changes you've experienced since you guys first started performing?
There have been a couple. I'd say that early on, it was a lot more fresh and new to crowds. Sometimes the enthusiasm would be overwhelming, and that was great, because now some of that has tempered. That's fine, that's to be expected. Now there's just more familiarity with it, so you we kind of got rid of some of the newness of it, but the crowds are still great, it's just now everyone knows the songs and it's kind of nicer that way, in some ways.
Before, like 12 years ago, we'd have a lot of people that thought we were a prog rock band, or didn't really know what we were doing. We kind of didn't either, but now no one's really surprised to hear about a video game band because now there's hundreds of them. It's crazy.
You guys are pretty generous about letting people download your music for free. What motivated you to do that- was licensing a factor, or did you want to make your music as accessible as possible?
Probably a little bit of both. Nintendo's been very tight about the whole deal with video game cover artists and they don't really do a royalties thing. They don't really care about it at the moment because they have bigger fish to fry, like [dealing with] piracy.
Me personally, I think music should be available for free or very cheap. I believe if artists really want to try to make a living off of it, they should go out and play shows and eventually tour to do that, and sell merch at shows and stuff. As for the actual ownership of the music, I want as many people as possible to hear it, so I think that's a good thing. It feels weird to charge for music, at least to charge a lot.
It's always going to be tough when you're starting out, there's tons of fees involved with recording and putting it out on the CD, or whatever your medium is, so I think asking for a little bit back, especially if people aren't willing to pay it is fine. But I'm not really into the established bands asking $12.99 an album when they're clearly making a lot of money. This has turned into a big rant, but a lot has changed in the 10-15 years, so bands are kind of hard up for funds these days. There's a lot of them and album sales don't really work the way they used to.
Do you have any out of state shows planned?
Yep. The week after the 250th, we're playing a comic book convention in North Carolina. And then a week after that, we're playing a series of shows in Northern California like San Fran, Sacramento, and Cupertino. Those Northern California shows are cool because all of them are with GNARB00TS, so that's fun. It's a cool tour.
What do you have planned after those shows?
We're going to take a little break starting in December for just a few months to recharge our batteries, and then we're going to work on some new shit. We've got a medley of war games we've been doing, we're going to finish that. There's a track from Willow we're going to play, a couple of other games too, but I don't think I can give them out yet.
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The war games medley sounds cool.
The war games one is great because it's got Russian Attack, Metal Gear, Top Gun...it's got four or five pretty funny war games in it.