Interview: I Fight Dragons

Recently I did a spotlight on one of my favorite bands. Shortly after I had a chance to sit down with Brian Mazzaferri of I Fight Dragons. As a huge fan of the band I had a hard time not doing a little dance and nerd squee, but I managed to ask him a few questions.

How did I Fight Dragons first come together as a band?

Well it was sort of a longer process. I kind of put the band together and was making demos with Phil in the very beginning of 2008. The first demo we made we put the different parts down and that kind of led to the chip-tune sound of it. At that time I wanted to make a band and we put it together around that song, that sound. I kind of asked people I knew from the Chicago music scene to join. Some people said yes some, people said no. Packy originally said no and then a year later said yes. It was sort of a pickup group at first, people that were available to pick up and do shows and then in 2009 is when it really solidified.

Your first show was at the Elbow Room right?

Yes, we had our CD release in Feb 09 that was the first show we told more then just friends and family about.

With programming the equipment you use to make your music, along with practicing like any other band I imagine it takes a ton of work to get a CD together right?

Right, definitely. We spent most of 2008, first of all recording our first EP, and just figuring out what our live show was going to be. We played some secret shows that we really didn’t tell anyone about to work out the kinks and figure out how it was going to work before playing that first real show. We played 3 or 4 shows in fall of 2008 and then by Feb 2009 in Elbow Room we had our first incarnation pretty down.

What are some of your favorite bands or the ones that influence you the most?

For me Fountains of Wayne has been my favorite band for many many years. Weezer is another of my favorites and a lot of older singer song writers Billy Joel, Joey Mitchell, and through the band it varies. We have a very wide palette of influence. I know Chad and Packy are both very into Wilco and classic rock, Hari is actually a metal head and that’s where a lot of influences come from in bass playing, and then Bill is actually more Pop like Micheal Jackson and stuff like that. So we have a very wide influence that all come together.

How important are your fans and their support that seems to spring up naturally around you as a sort of grassroots advertising?

I’ve never really seen us as a DIY sort of band but there is definitely a sense of wanting a strong connection with our fans without too much middle man stuff. The idea of giving fans what they want and trying to do that in different ways is what has driven us, for sure, with different strategies. It isn’t static but something you always have to try and change and keep up with. That’s something we’ve pursued and have always actively pursued, is new and active ways to engage with the people who want to engage with us.

Did you come up with The Advance Guard or was that fans?

That was us actually and its gone through a few incarnations. We came up with idea back in 2009 and we first launched a website in 2010, but it wasn’t until last year when the current incarnation with quests and rankings and community and stuff like that came together and it’s been going little over a year now. It’s created by us but it’s driven by fans. We come up with quests and fulfill ranks and rewards but for the most part the people that fill it with content aren’t us. Also administrators are higher level guardians and it’s something we try and keep as much fan involvement with as possible. We don’t want it to be our thing that others participate, we want people to feel ownership in.

If you had to pick a favorite song, which is like picking your favorite child I’m sure, but from all your EP’s and albums what’s your favorite track?

(laughs) Oh that’s tricky and I’m sure it varies band member to band member. I feel like from every EP from Breakdown to Kaboom I’ve liked each successive recording better then the last. I suppose that’s always true but I would say the song Kaboom is probably, as a song writer, the most successful song. I feel like I found something I wanted to say and said it and I feel like every aspect of what I wanted to say came out how I wanted so I’d pick Kaboom for me.

Recently the band worked with Nintendo on premiering a new 3D video for Save World, Get Girl. What was that like working with Nintendo and who initiated the project?

Yeah they were the ones that actually came to us and wanted us to create it for the Nintendo 3DS and so we did at that their request. It was really a cool experience.

It was pretty awesome working with them. They were really excited about us and what we do and in terms of artists that work with them we were the smallest by far. Most of the folks that made videos for them were Acrylics and The Shins, BOB and OK Go. Folks of larger stature then us so we were honored that they wanted us to be a part of it. They were really excited about everything and it was a very smooth creative process with the director we found and worked with was amazing, Josh Forbes he just got it and immediately submitted the coolest treatment. The shoot was incredibly fun too it was one of those dream processes that you just don’t think could ever happen or doesn’t come along that often where every piece just comes together and works right.

And you got to sit in your very own spaceship so there’s a win right there.

(laughs) Yeah the shooting day was just a blast.

I’m going to be presumptuous and say you guys are gamers with the VLogs you put out and the kind of music you play right?

Yeah we definitely are to varying degrees and capacities. One of the funny upshots to being in a band is you have less and less time to play video games because you have to work all the time so there is less devoted game time, but yeah we are all definitely old school gamers. We also all have our current addictions at any given time.

What’s your current addiction video game wise?

For a while I was playing a lot of Starcraft 2, I know that’s been a while since it released , but that was eating up a lot of my time for a while there. Right now though it’s kind of funny to admit I usually have really esoteric tastes because I’m not big into like first person shooters. Right now I’ve been playing a lot for the past few months of a browser based MMO RTS called Lord of Ultima. I like it because I can check in and check out and get a lot done without sitting down for hours at a time. I had a talk with myself recently that I’ve been spending too much time and need to cut back (laughs). I will say though we got an Xbox 360 in our touring van now so we are really excited that we can play on the road.

Do you have a favorite game?

Historically? I would say yeah Final Fantasy 2 and Final Fantasy 3 which I guess are really 4 and 6 are the games that take the cake. I loved the SNES RPG kind of era. That’s just a great combination of technology, story and game play that just can’t be beat. I fairly often play emulators of older games like that.

I’m a huge fan myself of FF6 and Chrono Trigger.

Yeah Chrono Trigger is just fantastic.

Do you have a favorite video game soundtrack?

The Final Fantasy series is the tops for me especially the Nobuo Uematsu stuff. I literally had at my wedding the victory fanfare play after we got married for our recessional music. The string quartet playing. (laughter). I had a few other pieces of various Final Fantasy there too, the Corneria theme from Final Fantasy 1 was in there. For me musically I love that. There is a lot of great stuff between Super Nintendo and NES, there are a lot of classic themes that came out in that era. From Zelda to the original Mario, actually more of the Marios, lots of compositional stuff there. Also Mega Man 2 has some AMAZING classic melodies. Just that whole era is packed with really great composition in my opinion.

Your getting ready to start touring with the Van’s Warped Tour in a couple weeks. Is it intimidating touring with all those bands or just really exciting?

It’s going to be a blast. It’s going to be something crazy for sure we’ve talked to friends of ours that have done it before the consensus is it’s incredibly grueling and incredibly fun. We are looking forward to it. Honestly we haven’t done a full national tour in 2 years now, which is crazy, between the time we took making Kaboom and other things we’ve done little tours, but not a national tour in 2 years.

If you could have one super power what would it be?

(laughs) One super power wow. Flight is the easy answer, I would love to be able to fly I think that would be awesome. Ultimately though I think temporal manipulation, time dilation, would be the best for people that are working on things that they love. I would love to stretch that day out a few more hours. It’s a weird thing to say, my super power would be the ability to do more work (laughs). Temporal Dilation I’m going with because it would be awesome to stretch time in different ways.

Can you leave us with any words of wisdom or a peek into I Fight Dragon’s future, besides the world domination piece of course?

World Domination is definitely on the to do list. so we’ll be getting back with you on that. The biggest thing is we will be on the road a lot this year with the Warped Tour coming up and hopefully we will be touring more again after that, maybe headlining something where it’s less of a festival type of an environment. We have the Crazies video which has been in production 7 months, we are actually having a UStream on June 5, 2012 from 6pm to 6:30pm – where we will finally show the Crazies video. After all this its days from completion, so thats really exciting for me; I’m excited to get that out there. Those are the big things touring and videos and maybe other bigger announcements to come soon.

A big thank you again to Brian and the rest of I Fight Dragons. Wish you guys all the best. Keep on rocking!

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