Interview with Dave Marshall and Brad Stanton of THWOMP

THWOMP at the Calgary Comic Expo. Credit: THWOMP. In Part One of this exclusive interview that I originally did for Suite101, Brad Stanton and Dave Marshall of the Nintendo® cover band THWOMP discuss the band's roots.

Drawn together by their passion for music and classic Nintendo® games, THWOMP has performed throughout Alberta, playing at everything from bar mitzvahs to comic-cons.

The year 2010 is an exciting one for the band, with gigs at the Calgary Comic Convention, Otafest and Animethon 17, as well as their upcoming CD release party in the fall. Suite 101 sat down with Brad Stanton and Dave Marshall before a rehearsal to chat. In this segment, they share how the band came together.

The Origin of THWOMP, a Nintendo® Cover Band

THWOMP is a six-piece progressive "prog" rock band based in Calgary, Alberta. It is comprised of Brad Stanton (lead guitar), Colin Mitchel (lead guitar), Scott Munro (bass), Scott Moffat (drums), David Marshall (keyboards/percussion) and Kirk McVean (keyboards).

Band mates Brad Stanton and Scott Munro met in 2001 while they were attending Mount Royal University (then a College). Brad recounted the first time he and Scott jammed on video game music, "I walked by his room one day and heard him playing the battle music from “Final Fantasy VI” and it was like, “That’s frickin’ awesome! Teach me how to play that.”

Writing down what he learned was the natural next step for Brad. "I went home and started transcribing for real, writing it out in three parts, for bass and two guitars. Then, I just did more and more and more tunes from that game." Eventually, Brad amassed enough transcriptions to begin jamming on the music. He called on Colin Mitchel and Scott Moffat, two buddies who play with Scott Munro in Günther, a three-piece progressive rock trio.

Classical Nintendo® games were ideal for the new band. "You can separate out the audio and it comes down to four tracks," Brad explained. "The original Nintendo® pieces work so perfectly for a four-piece band because you just transcribe every note and it sounds perfect."

However, the advent of Super Nintendo® posed some challenges for the group. "Well we wanted to do more Super Nintendo® games and they have 16 channels," said Brad. "That’s eight tracks of audio. I had to make decisions between what tracks I could do and what tracks I couldn’t do. I had to cut out stuff and give Colin a lead and me a harmony and miss this other string patch or something like that."

Dave Marshall Joins THWOMP

The group played at house parties, shows and bars around town for approximately two years. They met David Marshall at Broken City. At the time, the club hosted the Ramp Show on the first Thursday of each month to showcase new music or bands.

"We played the very first one as Günther’s side project and absolutely tore it up," recalled Brad. "The place was packed and everybody loved it. I remember you [Dave] being there and…the shit-eating grin on your face when we played Final Fantasy."

Hearing the band for the first time was a special moment for Dave. "I played that game in particular so much that as soon I heard it, I knew every note. I think that’s part of the appeal of the band too; there are lots of people who have that same experience when they hear us play. It took me a year to convince them that I was supposed to be in the band too."

Thanks to a cold snap during the winter, Dave was given a chance to play with the group. "It was about 35 below outside. It was ridiculous," said Brad. The rehearsal space didn't have heating, so Dave invited the band to rehearse in his home nearby. After jamming with the group, the decision was unanimous: "We decided that Dave needed to be in the band." The addition of Dave's keyboard and percussion skills meant that the group could explore music from Super Nintendo® games without compromising voicings.

THWOMP is a Nintendo® band that took root during an impromptu jam session between founding members Brad Stanton and Scott Munro on Final Fantasy tunes. The four-piece band became a quintet with the addition of keyboardist and percussionist Dave Marshall.

For more information about THWOMP, the band or to listen to audio clips, visit their website, BandCamp and Myspace page.

The full interview series:

Full interview series: Part 1 – THWOMP’s Origins | Part 2 – Band Names & Niches | Part 3 – Songwriting | Part 4 - Hey! Listen! CD Release | Part 5 - On Gigs | Part 6 - Convention Gigs | Part 7 - Video Games | Part 8 - Fun & Food

Hey! Listen! Album Review

Originally published on Suite101.com on July 27, 2010. Updated on March 22, 2013. All rights reserved by Rhona-Mae Arca.