Photo by Emi Spicer
Mustin, head of OneUp Studios and many of the projects within the OUS umbrella, sat down to talk with us after The OneUps performed at MAGFest. It was at MAGFest that they dropped their newest EP, Intergalactic Redux. I had not yet listened to the album; however, I’d heard the entire album performed live at their show. So I was fully prepared to talk shop about this groovy new album.
After the jump, get the details on Intergalactic Redux and other OUS projects, and/or be entertained by my inability to act like a normal person after 3 hours of sleep. Furthermore, expect a review of the Intergalactic Redux EP in the coming days (or hours?).
OSV: So you’re Mustin. The man. In person. You are the head of “The OneUps,” right? Like, this whole thing was your vision, yes?
Mustin: I have the OneUp Studios label, and under that is the cover band The OneUps.
OSV: And you also lead all of the Bad Dudes projects…?
Mustin: (laughs) Sheesh! Yeah… Up until this last one, actually.
OSV: Which one is that?
Mustin: It’s this new one coming out next month, it’s called Heroes Vs. Villains.
OSV: Right, the one you’re doing with OCRemix.
Mustin: Yes. My involvement was pretty rocky for awhile. I ended up dropping out of the project, but now it looks like I am turning coat and writing for the OCR side.
OSV: You’ll be a hero?
Mustin: Yeah, I’m gonna be a hero. I’m doing Simon from Castlevania, up against Ailsean’s Dracula.
OSV: So, Intergalactic Redux. Who came up with the idea for this album? What is the whole concept here?
Mustin: Well, when we put out Super Mario Kart Album in May, around that same time, Anthony had to take a hiatus from the band. So that meant no more keyboard/sax guy. We just tried to think up what we could do with four people. We got some new toys, and some new ideas. One of the ideas was that, like, “we need to make this something we can do more around town.”
And around town, the videogame music thing wasn’t really taking off because it wasn’t accessible. But this funk/dance kind of sound, it was much more commercial. It was accessible to the bar scene: they can dance to it. It sounds like Morris Day, Chromeo, maybe a little bit of Daft Punk.
At the same time, we didn’t want to lose the integrity of the videogame music composition, so we really focused on doing something with it. It’s a lot less solos and a lot more structure.
OSV: Last night, we heard the full album. It’s a six track EP, and you guys did it, song-for-song. How did you feel about the performance last night?
Mustin: I thought it was good; I liked the response. It was nice. (pause) It’s MAGFest, man! It’s an awesome experience, so great to be jam-packed with like-minded people, people that appreciate it.
It was good to see that there was a lot of new people. We got some new exposure, and then our old-time fans, seeing how they respond to the new sound: it was overwhelming positive.
OSV: Let’s get into the six arrangements. There was the Contra arrangement. My first thought, when I heard the first few notes, was “every band’s going to be playing Contra!” Especially Minibosses, since that’s sort of their hit arrangement. How’d you feel knowing you would be playing Contra, since other people would be playing Contra that night?
Mustin: I just think ours was so different…
OSV: Yeah, the arrangement was different. I noticed these cool syncopated rhythms in the melody with the whole band.
Mustin: We move it around, yeah, trying to do something different. We put the melody in the bass at one point, for example. I wasn’t too worried about it, and I don’t think people are going to be too upset about hearing Contra more than once, especially if it’s a different sound.
OSV: Now, there are no vocals here, right?
Mustin: Well, not really. I was thinking about what to say between songs…
OSV: Yeah, I noticed you dedicated each song to different people…
Mustin: And while I was thinking of that, it just hit me during that boss theme in Contra to scream “GET TO THE CHOPPER!!” It just felt so right! But no, on this particular album, no vocals.
That’s not to say there won’t be [words] in the future. We worked on these songs hard, playing and recording twice a week for months. But we have the mindset to eventually do something else. One of the toys that I got was a talk box, so I was thinking like, maybe for the Super Metroid medley, I could be like (singing) “The last metroid is in captivity; the galaxy is at PEEEACE!” There are all kinds of fun lyrical things we could do with the talk box. It won’t be a lot of vocals like, say, Brentalfloss (who I love). But we’ll throw some vocals in.
OSV: You guys also did a Zelda medley. I was surprised: not a lot of bands do a lot of Zelda stuff.
OSV: Well, on CDs there are plenty, but it’s rare to see Zelda at these kinds of concerts.
Mustin: Yeah, I guess you’re right. I know that Entertainment System did an Ocarina of Time medley, but otherwise, I see where you’re coming from.
OSV: Everyone does Mega Man, everyone does Contra … but Zelda, not so much. Personally, it was my favorite.
Mustin: Cool, cool.
OSV: So this CD you’re releasing, is this audio-only? The reason I ask, during the concert, there were those little video clips…
Mustin: We’ve always had video clips for live shows, and I wanted to “one-up it,” you know? Previously it was just straight game footage that I put together. But this time, it was José from OverClocked Remix.
OSV: I have to know… measure-for-measure, the music was synced up to the video. Was that intentional? Was your drummer trying to keep time with the album?
Mustin: I mean, we try to play to the tempo on the album, but that wouldn’t make a difference. José hadn’t even heard the music. He made the videos independently.
OSV: That’s amazing. I’m telling you: two measures, scene change. Two more measures, scene change. A big hit or break on the drums, and a big white flash comes on the screen.
Mustin: That’s crazy. We didn’t plan that at all. That was all just chance.
OSV: Who was controlling the videos last night?
Mustin: I did. I told José what we wanted, switching back and forth between the clips he made and our logo. I made it one video in Nero and then I just controlled it with an Xbox 360.
OSV: You guys should make Flash videos for your website or something.
Mustin: We were planning on putting some of it on YouTube.
OSV: What’s your favorite among the six tracks?
Mustin: My very favorite moment is when, in the Zelda medley, we switch to Hyrule castle. And it’s like… (Mustin sings the bass groove). And we did it so funky, so far from the original straight beat. I love that.
OSV: You’ve been using “funk” as the key words in describing this project. The final track was an obvious pick in that case: Toejam & Earl. It was a great pick, because it’s a classic, but not in the same way the other games are classic. This is some weird Genesis game with a cult following, and the music is perfect for what you guys were doing.
Mustin: It was great, and we’ve always liked that source music. We could do a whole album of Toejam & Earl if we wanted to.
OSV: Well, I’m excited to listen to the album to see how it compared to the live concert.
Mustin: We spent a lot of time on it… we were supposed to do two albums the weekend we did most of our recording, but we ended up just taking the extra day to focus on this one, and now it sounds awesome. It just puts our other albums to shame.
Thanks again to Mustin and all the guys in The OneUps for coming out to MAGFest and dropping this new EP on us. We’ll see if there’s a consensus among fans about the quality of Intergalactic Redux over previous releases.