With a touch of soul and geek, Sydney’s latest geek sensation, THE CONSOULS, have been playing up a storm at various conventions including Supanova and SMASH! Sydney Manga and Anime Show. From Final Fantasy to Street Fighter, the band is best known for their unique jazz renditions of popular gaming songs, and it is certainly not difficult to see why! Ctrl+GeekPod recently caught up with Jonathan Gamra from The Consouls to talk about their jazz music, favourite games and the band’s future. Check out out the feature below! For the full [uncut] interview, you can find the transcription below the cut.
A CTRL+GEEKPOD Interview with THE CONSOULS
Q: How did it begin for The Consouls?
A: Most of the guys in The Consouls have been playing together for years, going all the way back to orchestras and high school bands. Julian has had his own personal YouTube happening for about six years now (YouTube.com/Zorsy), but always had the idea of having a regular band to push that even further.
In 2013, Julian and I met playing games. I was halfway through a classical double bass degree and the music thing came up. He booked me for a Christmas gig with everyone… and everything just sort of clicked together. We all got on really well — personally and musically. Julian then pitched the idea of a band to me and we took it and ran.
Q: How did you manage to get an all-round band with different performers and instruments?
A: One of the cool things about gigging is that you meet and work with different people, and I think we were very fortunate we all crossed paths when we did. After playing our first gig with our full line-up, we saw this ridiculous but also kind of awesome opportunity, and thought we’d give it a shot and see what could happen. Sometimes, there are parts that we can’t cover so we would ask members of the extended Consouls family to join us from time to time — just to add a little something extra.
Q: Individually, how long have you been playing your instruments for?
A: I’ve been playing bass for 9 years but had a background in piano before that. Dean’s been on the kit for 13 years, likewise with Anthony on guitar; Julian and Mark have been playing for 15 years; Tim a whopping 18 years… So we’ve all been at it for awhile.
Q: For those who haven’t encountered The Consouls, how would you describe your music in three words?
A: Video game jazz! It is cliché, and technically not 100% true since we dabble into other aspects of pop culture. However, it is definitely our bread and butter.
Q: Compared to other bands and Youtubers out there, what makes The Consouls unique?
A: The VGM space on YouTube is awesome and there are some amazing musicians doing some incredible things, whether it be on their own or collaborating with others. A lot of collaboration happens with people recording their parts all over the world and then editing it. The Consouls are very fortunate because we’re able to get together weekly, play some jazz and really learn the ins and outs of each other’s play-styles.
Jazz and video games are a weird mix and that played a big part in things. We are definitely not the only people who do this, and we look up to a lot of our peers who have been doing this a lot longer than us. Thankfully, our situation is a core part of what makes our sound.
Q: From classic games such as Street Fighter to Final Fantasy, The Consouls cover a variety of gaming songs. Which cover do you find most popular with fans?
A: Pound for pound, probably Zelda and Pokemon. It is a hard thing to measure though because we try not to arrange things from the same games over and over again (we sometimes can’t help ourselves!)
Q: Which cover is the most difficult cover that you have done so far? How long did it take your group to perfect the song?
A: We’re constantly trying to push our playing with new arrangements. In terms of the covers that we have released so far, the most difficult covers would have to be ‘Dragonborn‘ (Skyrim), ‘Dark World’ (The Legend of Zelda), and the Pokemon Red/Blue Cycling Theme. That being said, our latest shoot was probably the toughest yet so we’re really excited to show those tunes off!
Q: As a group, is there a distinct selection of songs that you like to perform at various events such as SMASH! and Supanova? And why?
A: Conventions like SMASH! and Supanova are great because playing live is the best way to experiment with new arrangements, and see what works and what doesn’t. We often keep performances short so we can hopefully perk a few ears up and get people interested.
Q: What would be the ultimate gaming cover for The Consouls to perform down the track?
A: There are so many! There are some arrangements that we’ve had in the pipeline since before we formed the band. We’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to either get in a studio or film it for a YouTube video. This is probably a little vague, but chances are, if there is a super popular tune or game we haven’t covered yet, we’ve probably obsessed over it and just waiting for the right chance to make it happen… Too many good games out there!
Q: What are your favourite games at the moment?
A: Nostalgia is probably the easiest way to answer this question. I know Anthony and Tim have a lot of fond memories on Super Nintendo / Nintendo 64, and it is similar with the rest of us. We all have different tastes in games — some of us are MMO heads, some of us play Smash and other fighting games. Games are still a huge part of our lives so we’re constantly making new memories, especially now that we get to interact with gamers in this whole new way.
Q: What are your plans for this year and/or upcoming year?
A: We’ve got a couple of conventions and shows interstate at the end of the year! We’ll be heading to Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra so stay tuned for that. 2016 is going to be really exciting for us too as we’re hoping to collaborate with a few people in U.S, and perhaps do a convention or two while we’re at it. We are also looking to expand our content and how frequently we produce stuff, but when the time comes we will announce the news on our website and social media.
— END —