I recently had the chance to speak with John, Nick, and Paul of Boston, MA band, The Kode. You can check them out at their official site, www.myspace.com/thekonamikode. What is the name of your band? Formerly The Konami Kode...we now go by The Kode
So I think it's pretty obvious where you got the name from. Up up down down...
So how long have you guys been making music under the name Konami Kode/The Kode? The concept of The Kode was Nicks. We first started rehearsing about 6 months ago, in January. All the members were plucked from Berklee College of Music, in Boston.
So have any of you guys been in bands before this? John: I currently play in five bands in and around Boston. I have been playing professionally for the last 10+ years and have played in about a dozen or so bands, 300+ gigs. Nick: Played in 8 to 10 bands in the Midwest. Prog rock, cover band, fusion... Paul: Played with Nick in a band in high school called Mindframe that played several gigs and recorded a full length CD. Also plays in several cover bands in the Boston area. Can't really speak for Ray and Fro 'cause they aren’t here at this particular junction in time.
So how old are each of you? John: 27, it's my b-day today. [ed. note: June 14, 2006] Nick: 22 Paul: 22 Neal: 21 Ray: 18
Happy birthday to John then! John: Yes. Happy birthday to me!
So was their anything in particular that made you guys decide you wanted to cover video game music? Nick: It's something I always wanted to do. I enjoyed the music as a kid and now when I listen to it I realize it's better than I remembered....... I wanted to put a band together that played game music but with a Berklee twist on it. All musicians with great chops, high musicality, soloing ability, and no egos. John: When Nick approached me in the fall I thought it was a cool concept. I played a lot of VG as a kid. Listening to the music I looked at it as a great opportunity to improve as a musician. We realize that there are a lot of VG bands out there but we wanted to take it to another level musically.
So what instruments and/or electronics do you use to make your music? Any particular process to how you make or choose a cover? Pretty standard instrumentation. I know that Ray uses some MIDI effects through his laptop. More about execution then about sound effects. Two Guitars, Bass, Drums and Keys... John: I listened to the music from the games I played when I was a kid. Chose popular games with kick ass music. Some of the songs that I chose to play: Castlevania, Metroid, Punch-out, Paperboy. Nick: I want to do stuff from Genesis, SNES and Nintendo 64. Most of the other bands do just NES. We just want to play good music. Popular titles with great music. Obscure titles with REALLY good music.
So is there any song one of you guys would love to cover but can't convince the rest of the band to go along with it? Not yet but I'm sure Paul will choose something that no one else will like.
Ever cover a game one of you guys hates? John: Won't play music that we don't like. There is so much great game music. To be honest...I'm not that big a fan of TMNT...don't tell Nick or Paul though. The game...the music for TMNT is awesome.
So do any of you guys still play video games regularly? John: Nick plays ALOT OF VG...he has a problem. He never sees the light of day. I don't play much games anymore..but..playing this music has gotten me back into it. I'm going to need to do some research... Unlike most game bands where they are gamers first, musicians second we are musicians first, gamers second.
So for those of you that still game, what have you been playing lately? Nick: I play DS a lot, love Mario Kart, New Super Mario...Guitar Hero was the best game of last year. That's how I learned how to play. But we still play a lot of the classics. Paul: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Halo.
Well speaking of classics, what are some of your favorite games? John: Super Dodgeball, Castlevania 1 & 3, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!, Paperboy, Ninja Gaiden, Dragon Sword, Narc, Metroid, Gauntlet, Karate Champ, Arkanoid... Nick: DKC Trilogy, Sonic 2, Mega Man 2, Ken Griffey BB, Mario 3, Yoshi's Island, Wave race, Golden Eye (John: Golden eye is good) NBA Jam, Techmo Super Bowl... Paul: All the Mega Man Games, all The Final Fantasy games, Chrono Trigger... John: I know Fro likes F-Zero. Ray spent too much time being a child prodigy and didn't play many games... but has succumb to the dark side.
So do you guys have a favorite console of all time? John: NES Nick: SNES Paul: NES for sure. Ray: Dance Dance Revolution...just kidding...maybe... Neal: NES! John: 3 NES, 1 SNES, 1 DDR
So why did you choose those respective consoles? John: 'cause NES is the best! I stopped gaming in the early 90's. Ray likes to dance. Nick: I played that the most.
What was the first gaming console each of you owned? John: Commodore 64. Nick, Paul: NES.
Any fond memories with those first consoles? John: Not really. Floppy disks are a pain. I remember Moon Patrol, that was good. Nick: I got my NES for Christmas in 1990, thinking Mario was just like the coolest thing ever...totally...like yeah.
So what video game soundtracks are most influential to you? Any favorite game soundtracks? John: Castlevania...love the harmonic minor. Nick: DKC 2 is my all-time. Right now I'm obsessed with the 1st 3 Sonic games. Paul: All Mega Man games! Are there any fellow VGM bands you enjoy listening to? John: I think Year 200X is really good, Super Dracula, Minibosses. Nick: Friends with Powerglove. Paul: Powerglove.
So what are your favorite non-VGM artists and artists that have been influental in your music? John: Anthony Jackson, John Patitucci, Jonas Hellborg, James Jamerson. Nick: Greg Howe, John Scofield, Mike Stern, Michael Brecker. Paul: Radiohead, John Petrucci, Micheal Hedges, Coltrane. Ray: John Fogerty. Just kidding...Ray loves Jordan Rudess John: I like John Fogerty, The Creedance Stuff. Neal: Buckethead, Shawn Lane, Jonas Hellborg.
One last question for all of you. Any advice to other people trying to make it in this genre of music? Try to be original because the genre is already becoming inflated with a lot of bands..... John: I agree, try to make it your own. I don't look at VG music as a gimmick. Stand alone it's great music. If you respect the music try to do it justice. Nick: practice a lot because the really good VG music is very hard to play.
That's all the questions I've got for now. Thanks for your time. Thank you for interviewing us. We really enjoyed this.
Thanks again to John, Nick, and Paul for taking time for this interview. Be sure to check out their music at their website, www.myspace.com/thekonamikode.
[NOTE: John, Nick, and Paul answered the questions for Neal “Fro” Evans and “Crazy” Ray Reich]