In the world of VGM cover artists, there are so many talented musicians creating amazing covers of video game songs in various styles. I recently got the chance to talk with one of my new favorite YouTube VGM guitar cover artists, Jack Fliegler, better known on the Internet as ToxicxEternity.
Earlier this year, I discovered ToxicxEternity through a collaboration he did with FamilyJules7x (whom I previously interviewed last year), and fell in love with his awesome covers. Now I present to you the fun chat I had with ToxicxEternity for this week’s Metal Monday!
Hello Jack, thanks for taking the time to talk to us here at TAY.
Thanks for having me!
First up, here’s a pretty basic question: What made you want to start doing metal covers of video game songs?
I’ve been a metal fan since I was a kid and simultaneously, I was a huge fan of video game music. I would constantly try and learn video game songs on guitar so eventually I decided to try recording them as full fledged metal songs.
What is your earliest memory of video game music? Were there any particular game soundtracks that really got you interested in video game music?
Banjo Kazooie was the first video game soundtrack that I absolutely fell in love with. I used to sit in Grunty’s Lair for hours and do other stuff in real life while the theme was on repeat. I loved it. Another game soundtrack that I fell in love with was Star Fox 64. The intensity and excitement of it got to me right away. One last honorable mention is Super Mario 64 as well.
When did you start playing guitar? When did you start learning how to play video game songs?
I started playing guitar when I was 9. If I recall correctly, the first video game theme I learned was the Bowser battle theme from Super Mario 64. It’s extremely simple but so extremely metal and fun to play. I still soundcheck live shows with it to this day. haha.
Are there any video game soundtrack composers that have been exceptional influential to you? likewise, are there any rock/metal musicians that have influenced you?
Hajime Wakai and Koji Kondo’s work on the Star Fox 64 soundtrack influences me a lot as a songwriter and musician. Their use of dissonant “spacey sounding” chords and unorthodox progressions is something that I try very hard to do in my own original music. Grant Kirkhope’s ability to make a melody memorable and timeless is also very influential to me.
As for rock / metal musicians, James Hetfield from Metallica for his amazing riffs, Angus Young from AC/DC for his guitar tone, Muhammed from Necrophagist for his technicality, and Michael Romeo from Symphony X for his amazing solo phrasing.
Can you briefly walk us through the process you go through when creating a guitar cover for YouTube?
I write my entire arrangement down before I get even anywhere close to the record button. I write on a program called Tabit which is basically a more simplified version of Guitar Pro. Once I’m happy with the arrangement I take my drums (that are fully completed and written out as a MIDI file) and throw them in my DAW. Track rhythms, then bass, then finally leads.
Of all the covers you’ve done, are there any that you would consider to be your favorites? Were there any you weren’t entirely satisfied with?
I have a few favorites for different reasons. I love my Star Fox 64 Medley just because it’s one of my favorite soundtracks of all time and I tried very hard to make it stand true to the original’s awesomeness. I really like my Lavender Town cover because I took it in a extremely different direction and it worked out really well. One final favorite of mine is Brinstar Red Soil because it’s just really heavy and fun to play.
There are a few covers of mine that I feel like just didn’t work out. I don’t want to mention them though because I have a lot of fans who love those covers and I don’t want to bum them out about the fact that I know it could be better. But the reasons for their lacking isn’t due to my playing, it’s just an arrangement thing or a mixing / mastering thing.
Are there any video game songs that you haven’t covered yet that you want to work on in the future?
SO many. The list keeps building up and I don’t know if I will ever have a moment of “What should I do next?” I think all of my fellow VGMers can relate to me on that.
You just recently released your fifth volume of video game covers. What’s next for you now that you’ve completed that project?
Just continuing moving forward really. I don’t have any huge projects in mind at the moment. I’m just planning to keep producing quality covers that get better and better each time. It’s very addicting haha.
Besides creating video game covers, what other projects and hobbies are you involved with?
I’m in a band called Singularity and we play original music. It’s an extreme metal band with keyboards and harsh vocals. We just released our debut album in September of 2014 and we’re planning on going on our second tour this summer.
And now for the lightning round! I’m going to you ask you a bunch of quick and fun questions. Try not to think too hard about the answers and just say the first thing that comes to mind.
What’s your favorite color?
What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Strawberry (with peanut butter cups crushed inside)
What’s your favorite band?
I have a ton but I’ll give a shoutout to In Flames
How many guitars do you own? Which one if your favorite to play?
I have 8 I think? My favorite is my LTD TE-406
If you could travel to any video game world, which one would it be and why?
I’d probably have to say Pokemon. I’d love to live in a Pokemon world. Who wouldnt?!
If you could meet any video game character, who would it be and why?
Zelda, she’s a babe.
What upcoming game are you most looking forward to?
The new Star Fox for Wii U. Also Splatoon looks really cool.
Thanks again for taking the time to talk with me today. Good luck on your future endeavors!
Thanks for having me! This was a very fun interview. Cheers!
If you’re interested in checking out Jack’s work, you can check out his YouTube channel to find his video game guitar cover videos. You can also check out his Bandcamp page to download his music. Additionally, you can check out his band Singularity on their official Facebook page.
As per Metal Monday tradition, I will leave you with a selection of songs to rock out to. Here are some of my personal favorite tracks from ToxicxEternity.
Brinstar Red Soil (Super Metroid) featuring FamilyJules7x
Champion Battle Theme (Pokemon G/S/C)
Lavender Town/Pokemon Mansion (Pokemon R/B/Y)
StarFox 64 Medley (2014 Version)
DisturbedShadow is an author for Kotaku’s reader-run blog TAY and a fan of video games and heavy metal music. You can can find a full list of his writing here and you can contact him here. You can also follow him on Twitter @DisturbedShad0w.
Metal Monday is a weekly column by DisturbedShadow on TAY that discusses all things metal. Every Monday morning, we will discuss something metal related and leave you with a playlist to listen to. If it has to do with gaming you’ll find it on TAY and if not you can find it over on TAYClassic.