Calgary-based Nintendo® cover band THWOMP is gearing up for two exciting projects. They will rock Edmonton on August 6, 2010 at Animethon 17. In the fall, they will release their debut CD. Brad Stanton and Dave Marshall stopped by to discuss gigs past, present and future.
THWOMP's Take on Bar Gigs
The band has had its share of bar gigs over the years, which the guys are glad to put behind them. "We used to play around town a lot, actually," said Brad. "It’s kind of easy to play Calgary out. There just aren’t that many decent bars to play at."
Bars and clubs tend to attract regulars and only occasionally draw in new patrons, while family and friends go only so far. "Once it’s your fifth gig in three or four months, it’s harder to get all of your friends to come out to it," explained Brad. "They’ll all come out to the first few, because they love you."
The other downside of bar gigs is the low return on investment. Dave said, "They pay almost nothing and the people who go to the bar don’t go to the bar and expect to spend $50 on merchandise, so nobody buys merchandise either."
THWOMP members made a conscious decision to stop doing bar gigs and focus on conventions. They have not looked back since.
THWOMP on Cool Gigs
Dave recalled one of their favorite gigs, "One of our funny, semi-regular gigs is at the Canmore Hotel, which is a heritage building. I think it’s 120 years old, at least, and you can tell…We turn it into a pretty big party and there’s some band stories from those gigs that I don’t think we’ll share with you."
"What happens on the road stays on the road," added Brad.
THWOMP's Current Gigs
Anime conventions, gaming conventions and comic conventions are ideal stages for THWOMP. "The conventions really have our exact demographic – sitting there – already dressed up," said Brad. "We have made some crazy fans over the last two summers."
THWOMP plays regularly at Otafest, Calgary's annual anime convention and Edmonton's annual anime con, Animethon. In 2009, the band gave its debut performance at the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo.
The last gig had some bumps. "We were they only band they’ve ever had and you can tell," said Brad. "They had no idea what to do with us."
THWOMP on Dream Gigs
"I think we can all die happy if we played the Penny Arcade Expo," said Dave. The Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX for short, is held semi-annually in Seattle, WA. It is a gaming festival that hosts tournaments, freeplay areas, concerts and panels over the span of three days. "It’s probably the biggest gaming expo in the world, now that E3’s gone," added Dave.
Another dream gig for THWOMP would be MAGFest, held in Alexandra, VA. MAGFest is a video and computer gaming festival. Concerts by video game bands and jam sessions are featured prominently. "Too bad it’s about 3,000 miles away," said Brad.
Transcontinental gigs are hard for bands. "It’s not about the money but not losing money to get there," explained Dave. "Once you’re carting gear across the continent, it becomes very expensive."
Plus, being a niche band doesn’t make it any easier for bands like THWOMP. "It’s hard to stop at bars along the way and play to pay for your gas and food money," said Dave. "A lot of bars don’t want bands that don’t have singers and for good reason. That’s the world we live in. Ultimately, the more conventions we can regularly play the better."
Touring Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia is another "ultimate dream" for the band. "Getting paid to wander around Japan and play video game music would be really nice," added Brad.
THWOMP is a Nintendo® band comprised of Calgarians Brad Stanton (lead guitar), Colin Mitchel (lead guitar), Scott Munro (bass), Scott Moffat (drums), David Marshall (keyboards/percussion) and Kirk McVean (keyboards). For more information about THWOMP, the band or to listen to audio clips, visit their website and Myspace page.
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