Who knew that Lakeside Mall would be such an influential place in a young boy’s life?
Well, Will Gilbert, one-fourth of the local instrumental band, Metronome the City, definitely didn’t think so.
But as he waited patiently for his mother to finish shopping, he was distracted by an entertainment source all his own.
“I was nine years old playing it in Lakeside Mall when they had videogames in between the different shops,” Gilbert says.
“It was bigger than the standard videogame. It was the first videogame that came out in stereo, and it had an elaborate soundtrack to go with the game that sounded almost like punk music.”
“It was just radical,” bandmate Patrick Condon adds.
The videogame this pair is raving about is 720 Degrees, the first “extreme” skateboard game of its kind created for Atari by John Salwitz and Dave Ralston in 1986.
When he was older, Gilbert got his own 720 Degrees to play at home at his convenience, and he soon got the rest of Metronome the City—Brad Theard, Brad Guillory, and Mark Laporte—to revel in the “challenging, colorful and futuristic” game. But not only did Gilbert play the game, he began to listen obsessively to the horribly mastered 8-bit soundtrack, and began making music to it on his own.
“At one point, we were all making solo albums, and one of his solo albums was 720 and he did every part he could on like keyboards and drums,” Condon says.
“So, because of Will’s familiarity with it, we wound up throwing one or two songs in our regular set, and then we decided that we were going to go for it and do the whole thing,” Condon says, laughing.
The band emailed the original music composer, Earl Vickers, to see if they could get the original score. Although he was ecstatic by the prospect of a band finally covering his soundtrack for rocking purposes, Vickers tried and failed to find the score. He did manage to find the original recordings, and that discovery started the recording process for Metronome the City on 720 Degrees. Now, listeners can be treated to the completed pink-tastic vinyl copy of the album for free.
“It’s fun getting people into that type of music,” Gilbert says.
“People will be surprised that it’s actually really well-composed music,” Condon agrees.
“Its obviously not music that was programmed for musicians to play because it was done at such fast speeds,” Gilbert explains. “To try to interpret it with real instruments at breakneck speeds, it challenged us as musicians to try to accomplish these recordings. And we approach playing music almost like a game. Make it difficult, make it fun, and make it interactive between all of us.”