Articles : “A lot of people who like heavy metal music are also Star Wars fans” – An Interview with Carson ‘Bass Commander’ Slovak (Galactic Empire)
While they both have wildly differing degrees of mainstream/commercial acceptance, it cannot be denied that both Star Wars and heavy metal music are true cultural phenomenons. If you get something that combines both you have something rather special on your hands, and that’s exactly what Galactic Empire does. For the uninitiated, this American band takes many of the classic John Williams-penned pieces and moments from the Star Wars musical universe, such as the main Star Wars theme, the Imperial March and so on, and plays them in a progressive/tech metal way. And it works an absolute treat.
And it doesn’t just work musically either, there is immense crossover appeal amongst the fans of the two entertainment entities too, and co-founding member Carson Slovak, AKA Bass Commander, agrees wholeheartedly.
“it seems that a lot of people who like heavy metal music are also Star Wars fans, which helps us,” he laughs, “I know I sure do.”
That crossover has seen the band forge a far less than traditional path in their career than most rock and metal bands do, from the way they began (drummer Grant MacFarland, AKA Boba Sett, put a video on YouTube of him playing a drum groove he’d written for the Imperial March) to the way they tour. Even their first live performance was one very much from left of centre.
“It was in Los Angeles on network television,” he recalls, “I think it was when episode seven was nominated for something in the Academy Awards, they had this Star Wars segment and they called us up because they saw our music video on YouTube, and decided to have us play during a Star Wars inspired runway model segment on live television!
“So that was our very first performance as a band, super bizarre.”
The way they tour today is an odd combination of Comic-Con type appearances, festival shows and gigs at regular live music venues. “Yeah, we have done some regular touring,” Slovak states, “we’ve toured the US and Europe and the UK a couple of times, we were in Japan last year playing some shows with Babymetal. We love to travel, and typically we love to play festivals as well, that’s a favourite thing of ours to do.”
From strange and humble beginnings, the band has grown into a highly successful entity with a life of its own, to the point where Slovak is just a little surprised at its runaway success and how much fun they are having doing it. “Grant and I are huge Star Wars fans,” he says, “we produce other bands as our day job, this just started as kind of a fun project to do in down time, but it grew into this big thing where we’re actually out playing shows for real now, we’re actually a band now. We didn’t expect this.
“It’s been interesting to see how it’s evolved and how weird it’s been, but it’s been a lot of fun, and hope people enjoy it too.”
Slovak is more than happy to go a little deeper into what inspired the creation of this band and how it all came together. “Like I said, we’re both huge Star Wars fans, we’re both huge fans of John Williams,” he says, “a couple of years ago Grant wrote the drum accompaniment to the Imperial March, he did a video for it and he put that up on YouTube.
”I think a year went by, we were bored and we decided to play everything else in the orchestra on metal guitars and use the drum thing that he recorded as the basis for it, and it just sounded like this cool metal band covering Star Wars. Then we decided to do the main theme and so on and so forth, and before we knew it we had a whole album done, and then we thought wouldn’t it be hilarious if we did a music video where we dressed up, and everything just blew up from there.
“We certainly didn’t expect it to get the response that it has, but it’s exciting and quite surreal.”
Aussie metalheads/Star Wars fanatics get to experience the tongue in cheek brilliance that is a Galactic Empire show very soon, as the band is touring here for the very first time in early November, and Slovak is happy to reveal what they have in store for Aussie audiences, as well as what the most challenging thing about playing a Galactic Empire show is.
“We get up there and try to play as best we can in those costumes,” he quips, “that can be quite tough. And obviously we don’t take ourselves very seriously, it’s kinda silly, but it’s a lot of fun. Vader will talk to the crowd in between songs here and there, and we just try to play the songs as faithfully as possible and hopefully people enjoy it. We see a lot of fans of Star Wars and a lot of fans of metal at the shows.”
AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
PRESENTED BY Destroy All Lines and Supanova
Friday 1 November – Supanova, Adelaide Showground
Sunday 3 November – 170 Russell, Melbourne
Tuesday 5 November – The Basement, Canberra
Thursday 7 November – Factory Theatre, Sydney
Friday 8 November – Supanova, BCEC Brisbane
Sunday 10 November – Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast
TICKETS AT HTTP://TICKETS.DESTROYALLLINES.COM