Armcannon, a most unique band from Buffalo, makes music for nerds. Not just any nerds, but those who loved video game music, metal and progressive rock. As part of Geek Week, spoke to Chris Dlugosz (keyboard) and Dan Theman (guitar) about the band, their music, and appearances at unique music festivals you might not have heard of. Mike Willard (guitar), Larry Steele (drums) and Ian Machniak (bass) round out the Western New York group making waves as electronic music and metal merge genres.
Jeremiah Shea: Finish this sentence: Armcannon is for fans of…
Chris Dlugosz: The nostalgia of the classic themes of NES and SNES, as well as non videogame people who appreciate musical proficiency.
Dan Theman: Armcannon is for fans of progressive metal, retro gaming nerds, and people who like serious music that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Jeremiah Shea: Where would Armcannon like to see themselves in 5 years?
Chris Dlugosz: With another complete album or three available to the public. Our constant improvement in quality is not slowing.
Dan Theman: Oh god. I don’t think we’re a band that has delusions of grandeur, that we’ll be playing Brazilian soccer stadiums in 5 years. We take our compositions and arrangements incredibly seriously, and labor over every chord, every accent, and every note. But we’re not a band who focuses that sort of energy towards the music business and “making it”. That said, Dan (Danimal Cannon) is currently composing music for new video games and he would love to be a well known video game composer in 5 years. Chris would be right at home scoring movies, and Mike would be known as a world class guitar player and jazz/metal guitarist. It’s kind of funny how our ultimate goals are not necessarily focused on the band itself, but Armcannon has given us the privilege, the pleasure, and the the practice to really hone our skills as musicians, meet amazing people, and play some incredible shows. That said, in 5 years, hopefully we’ll have an album of original music out, because as much as we love arranging old nostalgic themes, we also desire to spread our wings as musicians as far as they’ll go.
Jeremiah Shea: What’s on the horizon this year for Armcannon?
Chris Dlugosz: We are secretly writing a secret new kind of album that nobody has done before.
Dan Theman: We’ll be in Orlando this upcoming weekend headlining an event called Ongaku Overdrive. We’re currently writing some original music, we’ll see where that takes us.
Jeremiah Shea: Explain how you got involved with the upcoming festival in Orlando. Is this your first Fest?
Chris Dlugosz: They approached us through this beautiful process we like to call “The Internet does all the work for us” and simply invited us to play. This is utterly and absolutely NOT our first fest, as fests are 99% of the type of shows we have always played. The biggest of them all is MAGfest which stands for Music And Gaming fest. It’s basically a mecca where all the good videogame bands converge for a whole weekend.
Dan Theman: We usually play a few festivals around the US every year. There’s actually a growing and thriving scene of bands and artists making music that’s inspired from games in all kinds of genres. Sometimes that includes acts that are considered “nerdy” as well. Most of the regular shows we play we’re incredibly different than any of the acts on the bill, we stick out like a beautiful sore thumb. These festivals allow us to play shows with like-minded artists from all across the world, for fanbases that you wouldn’t believe. This sort of scene is completely off the radar of the traditional music business, but the dedication of the fans who pack these events allow these events to successfully exist as a microcosm of the rock world, on another planet entirely. What if I told you one of the most intense and raucous shows we’ve ever played was in a hotel ballroom? It’s really something else.
Jeremiah Shea: Cite some major accomplishments for the band – I know you guys have played with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, correct?
Chris Dlugosz: Through some interesting circumstances, we were allowed a brief cameo on two different occasions with the BPO. it was an event called VideoGames Live where a touring conductor goes from city to city and hijacks the philharmonic orchestras and makes them play video game music.
Dan Theman: We’ve performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic twice actually! We played small sets in the middle of the touring Video Games Live orchestral show, I love the idea that you might find us in a sweaty basement, or on a gilded stage filled with world class musicians. We take immense pride in our 3 album releases, and hearing another musician talk about how our arrangements and playing have influenced them in some way never seems to get old. This year we were contacted by Capcom to produce some official remixes for a Megaman 25th Anniversary album which was really fun to do.
Jeremiah Shea: What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever been a part of?
Chris Dlugosz: The coolest thing we have been a part of is MAGfest. We have been headliners there every year since 2006, and since then we have made literally hundreds of good friends and network connections for this ever-expanding nostalgia-infused sub-culture. We have watched the staff there grow from excited youths to full fledged business filling entire convention centers rivaling the size of PAX.
Dan Theman: The coolest thing for us is performing at a festival called MAGfest which stands for Music and Gaming Festival. The crowds at that particular festival are special in the way that they truly “get” what we’re trying to do, they catch all of the obscure subtleties that we layer into our music. Their intensity during the show is essentially unrivaled, and that sort of passion feeds back into us, pushing us to new heights. We feel very much at home there, in a world where we constantly feel a little like outcasts that exist as a novelty or curiosity for most people.