MEGATRONIX - The 'Notorious' men of Powerwave | An Interview
With a debut album under their belts and the subsequent release of their new single 'Notorious' during the Summer it's fair to say that the gents from Baltimore, Maryland are here to stay.
Their brand of Synth coined as 'Powerwave' is down right infectious in the best possible way!
I reached out to Power Rob & Dark Rob for that long over-due chat, this is a great one - read on..
The name Megatronix is curious – how did you happen upon that name for your project?
Dark Rob: I wish I could say it was an epic story of how I came up with it (laughs). I used a "Synthwave band name generator" to sort through different ideas and it kept showing me "Mega" and "Tronix" separately but not together. Much like everything with the band we try to have our titles and name and image reflect exactly what we sound like without having to hear it. Kind of a call back to the times of buying a CD or Record based on just the cover cause you couldn't listen to it beforehand other than radio. "Mega" being another word for "Big" or "Epic" and "Tronix" meaning "Electronic" I just combined the two words, that's pretty much it (laughs).
What would you say is distinctive about your music?
Power Rob: Megatronix combines a lot of elements in a way I don't feel has been accomplished in Synthwave. There's a lot of love in the music, he's got a lot of industrial, old school metal combined with the Synthwave elements he throws in.
For the vocals, I'm really picky about how I write and record. Some songs ask for straight power/prog metal vocals, while others I try to mix in elements of pop, soul, etc to keep things interesting.
Dark Rob: To build on Rob said, while there are some that respectively have already combined the elements of Synthwave and Metal, I feel like what makes MX different is we are straight down the middle 50/50. Other reviewers and interview personnel have pointed this out as well. We don't lean very hard on either side but if we do it's to serve the purpose of the song and its emotional pull in either direction. "The Line of Fire'' leans heavily on the traditional Synthwave tones and patching but still has a ripper Metallica's "The Unforgiven'' epic solo at the end while "It Spoke to Us", or our latest single "Notorious" has a faster assault layered with Synthwave and Dark Synth elements. This all of course is not to say we are better than our predecessors as we admire them greatly and wish to achieve their level of success, just on our own terms.
In your discography to date which track would you be most proud of? Why?
PR: My favorite Megatronix song is likely “I Fight Time”, it pretty much wrote itself when I was given the music.
DR: It's very difficult for me to choose which I am the most proud of. I try not to be overly proud of anything personally so If I have to say anything it would be which are my songs to play live which are probably "It Spoke to Us' ' and "Maverick Hunter". My live role is guitar for now so the songs with the fast-paced guitar action and the most opportunity for crowd participation will always be my favorites like those two previously mentioned.
Is there any one thing you’d change about the current music industry?
DR: There are so many things that are big ups and big downs with being a professional musician. If I had to think of a change I'd like to see, it would be more labels taking chances on bands based on the art and the music that they create. I know everything is always a numbers game and most labels care only about your presence already and the amount of followers you have on social media, unfortunately they call that your "fan base" now. Long gone are the days of building up a band, they want you to already have done it yourself and just cash in on your already made success and give you a little push to serve in their best interests. I guess the short answer would be take more chances on bands that are doing a beautiful thing and stop worrying so much about what they have already done that you can cash in on. Maybe a little bit more of not being afraid to take a chance on an artist or band that doesn't fit the 100% Synthwave mold as well. Music and art evolves, it has to change to survive through the thousands of people doing the exact same thing and it’s getting stale.
PR: That's something I've thought about for a while, my philosophy about the music industry is if there's something I don't like, then I should work on changing it through my work.
I like Synthwave a lot, I've been a huge fan since probably Mark Shreeve's Legion as a kid, seriously getting into it around 2015 with acts like Lazerhawk, however I feel in the vocal realm, the style wants to move more towards 80's pop/metal, and with my background I look forward to contributing to that push.
What or who have been the sounds or artists that have shaped your sound over time? Did you have many who influenced you?
PR: As a melody writer, Bad Religion, KISS, Michael Jackson, Judas Priest are 4 of the big ones.
DR: Personally for me it's been more about the actual sounds and synth patches. Tones and patches used by Dance with The Dead, Street Cleaner, Neon Nox, Bunny X, Midnight Danger are just some of the folks that have influenced me when it comes to building the retro part of the sound of Megatronix.
I listen to these artists on repeat and always hear a patch I really like and very often refer to their workings to get the right Synthwave or Dark Synth sounds. I try to stay away from exactly copying an artist's feel or songs. When it come to the metal and the heavy parts, It not secret that the whole idea of Megatronix came from my idea of "I wonder what it would sound like if Fear Factory did a Synthwave song.'' This of course after rediscovering the genre and hearing groups like DWTD, Shredder1984, Street Cleaner, Midnight Danger, Carpenter Brut, Perturbator, Magic Sword making it ok to put heavy and sometimes Metal elements into the genre. “I Fight Time” was created by putting my Metal influences like Fear Factory, Rammstein, Metallica, Iron Maiden and others to the electronic retro sound of Synthwave and thinking I really wanted to be different and have vocals on it and called up Rob to ask if he was interested.
When I want to go authentic 80's, I go back to the pop Kings and Queens of the 80's for the real stuff, Michael Jackson, Madonna, even Genesis and Phil Collins, especially for the drum work.
Tell us a little bit about what it was like creating your debut album ‘Powerwave’
PR: Robbie and I worked together off and on in the Baltimore music community for years, eventually he started working with me in the second Thrillkiller music film, San Francisco Moto, then became the drummer.
I was exploring a lot of retro sounds with Thrillkiller and around that time he sent me what eventually became “I Fight Time”. We released that single and waited to see how it was received, then went about building “It Spoke to Us” and “Burnin' in the Third Degree”. Eventually I hit Robbie up one day and committed to banging the rest of the album out.
DR: So as pointed out in the previous question, Megatronix was really born from the idea of "What if?" I reached out to Power Rob because I knew only one person could get this job done and do it right and faithfully to the genre. The same time I was getting back into all this, Power Rob was doing something similar, at least aesthetically, with his band Thrillkiller and their cinematic music video universe so I knew he would be on board 100% with the aesthetics (laughs).
Once we finished "I Fight Time" the idea became, "Let's put this out and see what happens, if it blows up, let's make more and make an album. If it does not? it's all good." Well, needless to say it blew up a bit and people really liked it. So I went into my headspace and started banging out the music for the album. We released some singles as they were completed. The pace was slow at first since Power Rob and I both do so much other stuff in music, but the time came for this thing to be put to bed and released.
Power Rob put the fire under me to get it done and we did. Tony Correlli assisted in mixing and tracking the vocals and guitarist Derrin Russell lended some shreddy hands on the solo for "The Call of Ktulu" Metallica cover. One thing we absolutely did not expect was the success of our cover of "Burnin' in the Third Degree" from the first Terminator movie. as of the time of this interview it's currently sitting at 103K + plays and we could not be more appreciative of the fans of that song for getting it there!
If you couldn’t make the brilliant music your putting out there, what do you think you would both be doing?
PR: Hard to say, I did a lot of rock operas over the years, I had a good 6-7 year run, I teach voice as my day job. Theater was a blast and I got to perform on some pretty crazy events, so I suppose if I wasn't creating music I'd be more active in that realm.
DR: I have really no idea. I've been in music for like 21 years, starting right about the time one would start thinking about "What do I want to be when I grow up?" Should have kicked in (laughs). Anything I could think of stems from entertainment in some way so, maybe just straight video production in all aspects. In the last couple years I've been getting pretty deep into Entertainment Law studies as a result of making sure my ass is covered (laughs). So, I think I would definitely do something like that. Helping artists understand the business and the legal bullshit and helping them cover all bases and protect themselves.
What do you both like to do for fun outside of music?
DR: I try to keep busy as much as possible so if it's not music it's making movies or videos. Filming and editing sometimes special effects etc. When I see a roll that I think I may fit I also try to do a bit of acting as well. I've been in a couple things you can find on Amazon Prime or Netflix but nothing huge. Film score is also another hobby passion. If not any of that kind of stuff you can find me retro gaming. Collecting vintage Nintendo items or any call back to the NES or 8 Bit era is also a thing. I just need to keep my hands busy (Laughs).
PR: Trying to stay in shape, well all things considered with gyms not being safe these days. Hanging with my cat, I used to be a huge gamer, specifically Doom and fighting games.
Which comes first for you the lyric or the melody?
PR: The melody, it must come first. Language is a human construct, it's not an organic extension of ourselves like our ability to process music is. Language is sort of like an image burned on a TV screen, we can pick and choose familiar syllables, words that evoke a sense of familiarity, which in turn helps strengthen a melody you wish to communicate to a listener, but these are tools to enhance a melody. Everything from the percussiveness of a consonant, to connecting certain syllables, it's an outlook I've been fleshing out over the past two years. I think a lot of top artists subconsciously use this approach, some do it fully aware that they are doing it as well. I write vocals by first hearing where the melody "fits", or where it kind of speaks to me from, building that part usually takes a few seconds. At that point I think of the melody and do free form word association, to find those "burned in images', then work back from there once a theme is established.
DR: In our case, the melody. I write and track all music and send it off to Power Rob, he writes the lyrics and his vocal melodies. Pretty simple 50/50 and we don't step on each other's toes really at all. We know the other is going to produce quality and trust each other very much in those aspects.
What’s are your favourite films?
DR: Ah man, this could turn into a book by itself (laughs). There are so many but I'll give a short "What's the one movie you can watch and never ever get tired of it?" kind of answer: Wargames.
PR: Rambo II, Scarface, Godzilla 1984, Batman 1989, Batman V Superman(I'm serious, I'll defend it to the grave), it's hard, I know I'm leaving some out (laughs).
Are their any artists who are currently on the scene that you would both love to collaborate with?