In What Are You Playing This Weekend?, we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.
Of the many metal bands to emerge out of Savannah, Ga., in the past decade, Kylesa is among the most approachable. Laura Pleasants and Phil Cope, the band’s two persistent members (who are pictured above with the band’s current drummer, Carl McGinley, center), write swirling, spacey hard rock with a dollop of psychedelia on top. The Gameological Society spoke with the duo just before a show supporting their new album Ultraviolet. We talked Wipeout, the politics of coolness, and sweet, Lawnmower Man merch.
The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?
Laura Pleasants: We’re playing in Albany, New York, tomorrow and then to Philly after that, or D.C. Is it D.C.?
Phil Cope: Maybe?
Pleasants: Well, we’re playing! We are playing instruments this weekend in various cities.
Gameological: So if you were going to turn your new record, Ultraviolet, into a game, something you play alongside the music, what does that game look like?
Cope: I know! I would want it to be something kind of like Wipeout. Because they always have techno music. I would want it to be a super-trippy racing game that had different levels of speed. Every song would be like this crazy new thing where you drive through a different crazy-ass psychedelic world.
Gameological: I would play the hell out of that.
Cope: Well hopefully there’s some game people out there checking us out. We are definitely down!
Pleasants: I was thinking the exact same thing, but flying.
Cope: Well, in Wipeout, you’re sort of always flying. It’s like a flying car. But they always have techno music. They need to make the stoner-rock Wipeout.
Pleasants: Playing video games stoned is the best way to play video games.
Pleasants: It’s being able to get hyper-focused, blocking everything else out, and getting into that zone.
Cope: It slows the game down a little bit.
Gameological: Laura, I was reading this interview the other day where you cited the old riot grrl music scene in the ’90s as an influence on you. It got me thinking about this game coming out called Gone Home that takes place in that scene and has some of the bands and music to really capture that era. If someone was going to make a game about the modern metal scene, what bands and venues need to be there?
Cope: You’ve got to have Savannah, Georgia. I’m not even going to get into how the game would actually play! That would be too funny. You’ve got to have New Orleans and San Francisco too. Somewhere in Europe.
Cope: It would take a really long time to mention all the things you’d need to get it just right.
Gameological: This may sound odd, but why is metal cool now?
Pleasants: Is metal cool right now?
Gameological: Oh, absolutely. That’s the trend you see among music nerds these days—a sudden, newfound appreciation for metal among critics and hipsters. I was talking to a friend recently who listens to pretty much whatever’s getting widely reviewed, and he says, “Oh I’ve been listening to a ton of Agalloch lately, but I hate the screaming!”
Pleasants: Ah, yes.
Cope: See! I’ve been saying this for years now. People keep calling us “hipster metal,” but I say, “No, hipsters only like black metal!” All the hipsters I’m around, they don’t listen to sludge and stuff that stoners like. They just like black metal.
Gameological: Let me tell you, when your record Spiral Shadow first came out, that was the cool thing to like. You go to a party and there’ll be someone chatting up a girl by saying, “Yeah, all I’m listening to right now is Barry Manilow and Spiral Shadow.”
Cope: You can’t count big cities like this.
Pleasants: Yeah, you can’t count New York. As soon as the indie rock community said it was cool to like metal, then the kids said it was cool to like metal.
Cope: You make a good point.
Pleasants: If you’re in a metal band, though, and you admit to liking indie rock, that is not cool.
Pleasants: I don’t know, but it’s true. We don’t care, though!
Cope: Yeah, we said, “We don’t give a fuck, we like indie rock too!” And maybe that’s helped indie rock people think, “Cool, all metal people aren’t snobs, so we shouldn’t all be snobs.”
Gameological: It’s funny because I’ve started to see the same thing start happening in video games over the past five years. Since there are so many more indie developers, you start to see this weird class culture emerge where people are like, “Oh I don’t play big action games, I only play indie games that college kids made!” It’s like living through the whole indie rock scene in the ’90s all over again.
Pleasants: [Laughs.] It’s funny how those trends start to happen. Everyone wants to like what no one else is liking. As soon as someone else likes it, then it’s not cool anymore, and you have to move on to the next thing.
Cope: It’s like high school. I remember you’d get into something like Nirvana when the first album came out. Then the jocks started listening to it, and you’re like, “Oh no! I don’t like them, no way. If the jock kids like that shit I’m not listening to it.”
Gameological: So you’ve got T-shirts, you’ve got hoodies, you’ve got vinyl and beer cozies. Merch is merch. But if you were going to have a $1,000 piece of Kylesa merch, what would it be?
Pleasants: Some piece of crazy headgear vaporizing system for weed. But it’s also like a virtual-reality helmet. And it connects up with the music with super cheap graphics, so it looks like The Lawnmower Man. A VR helmet with a vaporizer system would be the ultimate Kylesa merch.
And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.
(Photo: Geoff Johnson)