Photo by Chris Serani
One of the best parts of an event such as MAGFest is to see all the recurring faces which have now aged and matured in the year’s time that passed since we all last saw one another. Friends, artists and vendors all have new stories to share, filled with excitement (or letdowns) from the year that has passed by, making each conversation more interesting than the last.
One of the men that had new things to share was none other than Grant Henry, better known as Metroid Metal’s frontman and leader Grant “Stemage” Henry. It’s been a busy year for him with his projects and ambitions taking off and leading him into both familiar territories as well as all new endeavors. In the sea of sweat and the poorly-concealed flab that inhabits the MAGFest floor space, us fit dudes managed to get a few minutes of down time to talk about some of these projects that Henry has been working on.
OSV: So Grant, you been pretty busy with a lot of things lately with live shows, EP and personal projects…
Henry: Hmm, actually I would say we don’t really do that many live shows.
OSV: Ah really?
Henry: Yeah, there’s MAGFest obviously and the PAX conventions, but outside of that we don’t really get together to do live gigs as much. We all live in different places of the country and most of us have other stuff going on, whether it be raising kids, or working on other bands and projects. But it’s always amazing when we do get the chance and MAGFest especially gives it a special feeling since Metroid Metal Live was initially put together for MAGFest and there are so many of our fans collected at one place. So whenever we do a show, we’re all extremely excited.
OSV: Now that you mention it, I guess you’re right. But you have been busy though as you mentioned with other projects. It wasn’t that long ago you revealed you had composed your first official video game soundtrack for the Xbox Live Arcade bound Alpha Squad.
Henry: Yes! I’m really excited about it. You can imagine that this was definitely a dream of mine. It’s scheduled to be released any day now.
(Note: Since this conversation took place, Alpha Squad has been released on the XBL Marketplace).
OSV: So what is this game really about? How did you get involved in it?
Henry: Well simply put it’s a retro arcade style dual stick shooter, you know the ones like SMASH TV. You control your character from an overhead perspective and shoot everything in sight. It’s basically a fully realized arcade game, the ones that used to make the most noise in the arcade hall back in the day with explosions and fire. The way I got involved was just through someone at Dragon Divide (the developer) being a big fan of Metroid Metal and contacting me to see if I was interested. I jumped at the chance the moment I saw the offer, naturally. In addition to me they also got other talented guys like Gonzalo Ordóñez who contributed to UDON’s Street Fighter Encyclopedia book, Pritesh Rane who is a sprite artist, and Ektanadu who did the detailed backgrounds.
OSV: So how would you describe the music you composed for this title?
Henry: You know, it was a bit of a different thing doing this kind of project. I’m so used to going the opposite direction, fleshing out these smaller pieces of music into fully realized songs but here I had to kind of think differently. What I aimed for was a mixture of what Metroid Metal is known for: progressive hard rock, but blended with more catchy melodies and simplicity that you would find in a ’90s-style arcade game. So people will hopefully hear that familiar sound but also appreciate the differences from my other works.
OSV: Safe to say you would do another VG soundtrack if you got the chance I take it?
Henry: Oh dude absolutely! Bring it on.
OSV: Do you have any plans of releasing the soundtrack eventually?
Henry: Yeah, that’s been the plan all along, so it’s gonna be up at Bandcamp with a Name-Your-Own-Price deal going. Like a few days after the game goes up, I’ll put the soundtrack up too.
OSV: But we haven’t seen the last of Metroid Metal due to the ramped up schedules, right?
Henry: Hah! Not at all. For now we are mostly focused on just getting MAGFest done and recharging our batteries, but I think we all got plans for 2011 both with MM and individually. You can be sure we’ll all be making some noise sooner or later. We’ll be playing PAX East in Boston during March so if you missed us at MAG, get to Boston!Alpha Squad, MAGFest 9, Metroid, Metroid Metal, Soundtracks, Stemage, XBLA, Xbox 360, Xbox Live!