Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cut! Guts! Elec! Bomb! Fire! Ice! Proto! ATTAAAAAAAACK!

All right, time to tap into the Movie Tavern Mug and see what burning questions you have for me.

"Which member of the Protomen would you like to reveal their true identity, and why?"

Ah yes, the Protomen. To properly answer this question, I'm going to have to give a little bit of background information for those of you not in the know. I know it'll be thoroughly interesting to all of you and-


Wait, where's the other guy who usually objects to me getting rambly? Y'know, the one what qwacks?


How the Hell did he get to Tijuana?


Nevermind, I don't want to know.

So, the Protomen. So, you've heard me talk about them a little bit before, how they do Rock Operas based loosely around the Mega Man video game franchise. And you've heard me go on about how the music is excellent. The lyrics aren't campy, and the tone of each song matches the situations well. The songs that take place during fight scenes sound like they go with wholesale asskicking. Songs that depict someone leaving an old bar to ride around a futuristic city capture that well with the dichotomy of piano and synthesizers.

But what do we know of the band itself?

Well, we know that they were originally a group for the Middle Tennessee State University graduate level recording program. That's about it. That's right folks, the Protomen are a school project that took on a hilarious life of its own. But why this relative lack of information about the band members themselves?

It's because they aren't just musicians: they are characters, and the show doesn't end if they can help it. Everything remotely related to the band becomes part of this fight against the power of the tyrannical Doctor Wily. Absolutely everything. Did the car they use back into a fire hydrant and fall apart, necessitating a replacement with a tour bus? Hell no! The car was clearly eaten by a Graboid that was genetically engineered by Wily's forces, and they salvaged what they could to make their Mark II SUPER Battle vehicle? Did the lead singer contract strep throat? No, Wily infected him with nanites in an effort to stop the Protomen from spreading their message of hope! Do members leave the band? Are you kidding? They die heroically saving the other members of the resistance from a fire brought on by an attack from Wily! Was the shipping of their second album delayed due to the glue press that puts the labels on the CDs being broken? Any idiot can tell you that clearly the sheer power of ROCK was nigh uncontainable, and that they had to find a better way to control it!

Naturally, this framing extends beyond the band's activities to the members. Each and every one of them has a code name, and an elaborate character (which I was regrettably not able to find more information on in the short amount of time I spent researching for this). They've had zombies, robots, ex-soldiers, and people whose age numbers into the hundreds as members of their fighting force. And, with one notable exception, they refuse to reveal their true identities.

The fans don't just enjoy the Kayfabe. They get into it themselves! Groups of fans will get together and form squads (such as the Chamethrawer Squadron), each with their own characters and highly improbable (and often hilarious) backstories. Why? Why not?

But, the side effect of this is, we know very little about the actual musicians of the Protomen. So, which member would I choose?

Well, most people would go for one of the singers, Raul Panther or Turbolover. However, Panther is not the only songwriting force in the band, and Turbolover (aka Neil O'Neil) is the one exception to them never revealing their identities, due to him being in a couple other Nashville area bands, such as Cheer Up Charlie Daniels, and Adam and the Couch Potatoes.

No, the guy I'm curious about is this guy, the Commander.


The one on the right. Who looks like they'd be in some sort of psychotic rock band. Putz.

So, why the Commander? He's one of their Synthesizer players, which are a big part of the Protomen's sound, sure, but Panther plays them as well. So why him?

Well, the albums don't give a lot of info on individual song writing credits, giving credit to the entire band. But it does mention info on recording. The Commander is one of the people listed (alongside Panther and Heath Who Hath No Name, guitarist and original producer, currently on a secret mission). This leads me to believe that he's more than just another one of the musicians (although there's CERTAINLY nothing wrong with that), but one of the creative forces and one of the men behind the production of the albums. He's also the primary one who updates the news posts on the website (which show a great deal of creativity), and he's one of the ones who creates and peddles the Protomen Merchandise. All while wearing bandoliers covered in bullets. How could I not wonder what makes this guy tick?

The next ones I'd be curious about would probably be Panther, lead singer (and apparently the only one who actually knows all the words to all the songs) and keyboardist, and Heath Who Hath No Name. Neither of them have quite as ridiculous characters as some others, but let's face it, they've got to be as crazy (if not crazier) than some of the people they've recruited.

If you're further curious about this band, go to their website and check them out. And if you like 'em, buy one of their two albums.

Well, that's all for this post. This is J. K. Lantern, a beacon of Light in the Darkness against Wily! Keep fighting the good fight!