by Nathan Carson


Fri April 30

Ground Kontrol

610 SW 12th

Since 1999, the Phoenix-based Minibosses have done what others have only talked about: they've made classic Nintendo game soundtracks into rock and roll songs. And anyone who's jealous of this concept (like me) can rest assured that the quartet simply does it better. You've been able to download their live versions of themes from game favorites Castlevania, Ghosts & Goblins, and Metroid for years. Now, thanks to the folks at Reed College and Ground Kontrol, Minibosses are finally gracing Portland with their exceptional hand-eye coordination and secret codes.

"Usually we use Winamp and NSFS to learn the songs," describes founder and guitarist Aaron Burke. Visions of the band crowding around a TV set and trying to pick out the synth drum track from Mega Man or deciding to channel some faux sax from Bionic Commando are instantly dispelled. When queried if they've run into legal issues for playing music composed by Japanese adults for American children, Burke responds "Not yet. No one's really going to do anything until one of the vg (video game) bands starts making a shitload of money. Then the vultures will pounce, if I may mix metaphors."

Science fiction and rock have a long inseparable history, from Hawkwind's explorations with Michael Moorcock to more modern acts like Blöödhag (they throw books at the crowd) and local Klingon death metallers Stovokor. Burke tries to keep Minibosses separate from that association: "Personally I don't like to play with those kinds of bands, but I love them, especially the two you mentioned. But most of the time I would rather see those bands."

Minibosses have a new record due out later this year, just completed an East Coast tour with Eagles of Death Metal (a Queens of the Stone Age side project) and are being flown to Mexico City to rock the Atomix video game awards. "We're going to get drunk and play a hell of a show."

Minibosses instantly won a place in my heart for doing my favorite piece from my favorite game--"Kraid's Theme" from the original Metroid. I had to out myself as a nerd extraordinaire and ask if they would ever consider giving the treatment to the Castlevania 3 menu screen "Epitaph"? Burke needed no introduction to that song: "I would love to do that piece--there's actually a few pieces from CV3 I would love to tackle. I am going to vote for those at our next Supreme Musical Ultimate Nintendo Sleepover!"