Interview with Clay Withrow, Vangough - May 2010

"Game On" is a tribute to video game music, why have you decided to release an album like that at this stage of your career?

Vangough - I like to think of it as a re-imagining of video game pieces, rather than a tribute. The reason being the tracks sound so drastically different than the original arrangements. I remember reading reviews of Manikin Parade that compared us to this and that band. I'm not one to fit into a little neat box. I wanted our next album to go against all the critic's expectations.

What kind of hopes and expectations do you have for 'Game On!' - Some might see this album as a sort of intermediate album before the next (real) Vangough album...

Vangough - I hope people link it to their childhood and all of the wonderful memories they had of playing video games. Each Vangough album plays on a very distinct emotion and this album plays on nostalgia, which I believe to be a very powerful drug.

How does the final result compare to the idea you had going into the studio?

Vangough - Originally it didn't start as an album but just a couple of songs to satisfy my desire to play video game music live. Eventually I saw the value in having a collection of songs that represented my history with video games. Of course the most important aspect was what we could bring to the original arrangements and I think thatís what is so special about Game On. Each track could stand alone as a true Vangough song even without its video game roots.

Is this album made for metal fans or for gamers?

Vangough - It's made for music fans! I honestly want our music to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and Game On was my effort to extend our hand to those outside of traditional prog rock. I do think that video game fans will get the most satisfaction though.

How hard was it to choose which games you wanted to pay tribute to?

Vangough - I always knew what songs I'd start with. Of course I left a lot of songs on the cutting room floor but it was a time and energy issue more than anything. I wanted to include songs that you typically don't hear in fan remixes. That was my main goal. The other goal was to offer some token fan favourites like Punch-Out and Mega Man but with a unique Vangough texture.

When can we expect the next 'real' Vangough album, and in what direction do you expect to take us compared to 'Manikin Parade'?

Vangough - Game On is a good indication of our attitude towards producing albums. I want to make sure I always push myself both stylistically and technically. Manikin Parade was perfect for what it was and I don't want to revisit that sound for our next studio effort. I'd rather surprise listeners with something they never expected and continue to do that. To me rock and roll is more about expression and exploration of ideas. I promise our listeners will never expect what is coming with this next release.

2010 has just begun, but which albums impressed you in 2009?

Vangough - That's hard to say. I listened to a few good film soundtracks. Most notable Moon and New Moon. I also really really enjoyed the first official Metroid Metal album Varia Suite. The new Banjo-Kazooie game Nuts and Bolts had a brilliant soundtrack as well and was composed by a good friend of mine Grant Kirkhope. I encourage everyone to check it out!

Thank you very much for answering my questions. Do you have any last rants for our readers?

Vangough - Thank YOU for inviting us to this interview. I'm hoping metal fans will give Game On a good listen even if they're not familiar with the original inspiration.


Interviewed by Kenn Jensen

Vangough - Game On!

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