Hey, is that Dark Vader?
It is indeed how’s it goin’ man?
Going great, thanks so much for the time today. It’s really hard to know where to start with you and Galactic Empire because I know you would’ve told the story of how it came to be a million times, can you believe how far it’s come?
Well yeah I have told the story in just about every interview I’ve ever done, except in the last one, so that’s a first. So because they give us limited time on these phone calls I’ll try to condense it as much as I can.
You have exactly 12 seconds.
Yeah right?! Ok, so our drummer made a video, he wrote a part for the Imperial March, he thought he could get a million hits after a few years. He got a few hundred thousand. A few years later he hit me up and said ‘hey I’m thinking of doing metal versions of these songs’ and I said ‘yeah that sounds cool’. So he separated the orchestral parts of the songs by ear because he’s a weird “rain man” kinda dude when it comes to that stuff. Then he, myself and our bass player, Carson, put the first couple of songs together and made the video.
It was just supposed to be a playthrough at first, but then it was ‘alright let’s wear costumes, alright let’s do green screens’ and we put it out the day after Episode VII came out, and it went viral. The goal was, maybe, over the lifetime of the video we could get a million hits. Well, we got the millions of hits in the first 8 hours. And that’s basically where the career came from. We didn’t expect to do anything beyond that video, even after it blew up, but then we started getting calls from television studios, and booking agents and all kinds of stuff, and we were like ‘alright, well people are clearly willing to pay for this’ and we’ve kinda been flying by the seat of our pants ever since (laughs).
I think it’s brilliant. To think that it was a bit of fun, and something you did for a goof, and now it’s your career at the moment and it’s taken you all over the world, it’s fantastic!
Yeah I mean there are certainly worse ways to earn money, ya know!
I did not expect it to go as far as it’s gone. I mean, the first show we got was on national television here in the states, when we got an email from E Entertainment, and they said ‘hey we’re doing coverage of the red carpet at the Oscars and we want you guys to play during that coverage’ and we were like ‘you don’t understand, we don’t know how to play this stuff, this was just put together in the studio, we don’t have actual costumes to play in, the music video, was just a music video, we didn’t actually PLAY in that’ I mean, we had gloves on and we couldn’t even see our instruments. So we had to figure it out, and that was the birthplace of everything. Ya know it was from doing something as a joke to our first tour being in the UK in a bus and we’ve flying on the hype ever since. It’s been a crazy few years.
Speaking of the costumes, how do you go in those, are they hot, heavy?
The stage costumes really aren’t that bad. I mean compared to regular stage clothes, they suck, but they’re way better than the video costumes. We use the movie-accurate costumes in the video coz we don’t make any money from them, and those costumes are fucking terrible, like, hot, heavy, designed to be worn outside on Halloween for like an hour for kids, ya know what I mean? They’re not designed for a 10 hour day shooting a music video (laughs) you can’t see, can’t breathe, I can't even get my own helmet off, they’re terrible.
The stage costumes are a lot lighter weight, everything’s made of foam, the armour and stuff, so we’re obviously not infringing, keeping ourselves legally safe, but they’re something we had to get used to. We have very very limited visibility. The eyes in my helmet usually fog up a lot so I’m normally just looking through the vent in my face!
I don’t want to give too much away about your live show, so let’s talk about the crowds, do they get right into it costume-wise? Are there lightsabers involved?
It depends. some crowds do it more than others, but yeah people get really stoked on it and there are people who get dressed up. Families will bring kids, it’s kinda like a big comic con crowd honestly, and it fits!
Ya know we kinda make the show tongue in cheek, obviously not in an inappropriate kinda way coz kids come along, but ya know, we’re very self-aware, you know we’re not in the real costumes, what we’re doing is ridiculous, and it could stop at any moment. So we just have fun with it, and I think the crowd appreciates that.
Without giving it away, I think people are going to learn and hear more from Galactic Empire than just the music.
We try! We try to make it a show, because, well, why the hell else are you gonna come? If it’s just us up on stage playing the songs, it’s not really a whole lotta fun. We don’t have a vocalist or anything like that so there’s not a lot of opportunity to hype the crowd in that way, so we have to have other things to make it exciting.
Have there been any songs that you guys have wanted to do but when you’ve broken them down, discovered that they just won’t get the right treatment on stage?
Not so far. We’ve delved pretty deep on the last record that we did, the deeper cuts, but there was definitely some stuff that was really weird and might not be a crowd favourite on any of those records. We just do it coz it’s fun for us. But if there’s a cool song that sounds great in the studio but is really fuckin' hard to play live, we don’t play it! There’s nothing requiring us to play all the songs on the records, we’re just doing it for fun.
I’m just stoked that you do the Cantina Band song, coz that’s got some great melody to it.
Yeah that’s one of the only songs that has an actual structure to it, like verse/chorus type of feel, and it’s very recognisable and a fan favourite, so it’s a no brainer.
Are you guys all still fans of the franchise and looking forward to the next film and a possible album?
I don’t know what the future’s going to be in terms of another record because I think we’ve hit all the iconic stuff. I think that anything beyond that is going to be stuff that only our drummer recognises.. So, I don’t know what we’ll do new music-wise, but we have a ton of music we can do videos for, and yeah we’re excited for the new movie.
Being honest I am a bit burnt out on Star Wars as it’s the nature of my job now. It’s my entire life. Ever since I joined this band, suddenly every member of my family has forgotten I’m not a 12-year-old boy. Now every holiday, every birthday, Easter, Christmas I’m getting some sort of trinket with Darth Vader’s face on it. Someone gave me Lego and I’m like “I’m in my 20’s, nearly in my 30’s right?”
It becomes a bit tiresome but we all still enjoy the movies and still enjoy talking to people about it all. I’ve learned about the fan base of these movies, and I’ve decided I’m gonna go see the new one, I’m going to enjoy it, I’m going to think about it my way, and won’t say anything about it.
Well I dare say you’d have some solid crowds here in Australia, starting at Supernova in Adelaide then zooming right around the country in just ten days, man I think it’s brilliant, thanks for having a chat about it.
Cool thank you, man, I appreciate it, yeah we’re looking forward to it and we’re just enjoying the ride for however long it lasts and stoked to be coming over.