Friday, April 24, 2009

Nerd News in Brief

For years my people have dreaded this day. A day when we at last feel the icy grip of our own obsolescence. A day when our kind is superseded by a laboratory-grown, scientifically enhanced version 2.0.

It is the dawn of the test tube nerd!

Yep, you can grow ‘em yourself. So let us bide our final hours with some Nerd News in Brief.

  • FTW: Today’s nerdy affirmation is brought to you by Church H. Tucker. In the end, we always win.
  • Desu or Not Desu: While I can’t imagine any of you are awaiting its appearance to decide whether or not to buy The Fourth Estate, my review of the new Ultraklystron album is taking a bit longer than expected. But if, for whatever reason, you are dragging your feet in purchasing it, why not peep Karl’s free Desu Desu Desu mixtape in the interim? It is sexy.
  • The Virtual Airwaves: Thanks go to Dekker for hipping me to a new venture known as 8bit FM. It boasts streaming chiptunes, nerdcore, VGM and traditional game soundtracks 24/7. Give it a listen and pass the word along!
  • Give Something Back: Did you know that April is Support OverClocked Remix Month? As it comes to a close, why not head over to OCR and throw a little change their way? Think of all the hours of enjoyment you’ve garnered from that particular community. Also, think of djpretzel’s winning smile. Don’t you wanna see it shine?
  • You, the People: April is also the month for Wizard Rock People’s Choice Awards nominations. Head over to the Wizrocklopedia and toss some support behind your favorite witches and wizards!
  • Pottercore: And speaking of WRock, Harry and the Potters have a new release in the works. Slated for release in May, Priori Incantatem is a 2-disc collection of demo, unreleased, out-of-print and compilation tracks. And to answer your (read: my) burning question, it will feature the songs from your (read: my) favorite Potters EP Scarred for Life, produced by your (read: my) friend Dan Brennan!
  • Weaponized: Also promoting a new album is dynamic chiptune duo 8 Bit Weapon. You can currently snag a hand-numbered limited edition copy of 8BW’s Electric High EP in a 5.25" Floppy Disk for $9.95 with free shipping. Outmoded storage solutions be damned! And the musicians among you can also snag the new 8 Bit Weapon: A Chiptune Odyssey loop library from Sony. This purchase comes with a free MP3 copy of Electric High. Bargain!
  • Sadly, I Can Only be Awesome in 2-hour Increments: Of all the various flavors of nerdery, one of the most fascinating is the movie nerd. With that in mind, behold Awesome All Day. It’s a love letter to pop culture and niche cinema with a healthy dose of nerd culture. Good times.
  • Eve of Destruction: One of my favorite web series, Little Miss Gamer, has recently released a new episode. Peep "Adam and Z," in which LMG looks back on her very first console, at her official site.
  • Spillage: Did you see Beefy’s interview with Atomic Town’s Bethzilla? It was riveting, thought-provoking and informative. It was also messy.
  • 5 of Those Calls was From Me: Also available on YouTube are a pair of hilarious hip-hop vids, which I discovered compliments of my Texas-based brother Antisoc. The first is a glimpse of what happens when pitch corrections meets current events. The second is Shawshank Redemption in rap form.
  • Straight Outta Stockholm: This week, our own MC Lars got some much deserved props from NPR. His track "True Player For Real" was Wednesday’s Song of the Day. He also dropped another freestyle video which, in the face of a forthcoming Australian tour, sees him rap over Men at Work. We’ll end this week on that little gem.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Back From the Dead: Catching up with mc chris

What's his name? mc! And what does he do? Blog!

I mean, among other things.

Since he burst into the hearts and minds of freaks, geeks and insomniacs everywhere in the early 2000s, mc chris has been known as a prolific musician and voice actor. And since that time he has added a number of other pursuits to his repertoire. From vlogging to charity work, mc has continued to throw himself fully into every task he undertakes.

Along the way he has attracted the attention of the ever fickle mainstream and, more importantly, continued to cultivate a strong grassroots following by simply doing what he does best: being mc chris.

As spring fully sets in and mc prepares for yet another US tour, he was nice enough to take some time to catch up with me on all that's been going on in the past 2 years.

Read on to learn his thoughts on his most recent full-length, some (minor) spoilers concerning his latest project and how this high-toned honky has been keeping himself amused in the interim.


It's been a couple of years since we had our last virtual sit-down. Back then you were still working on the project that would become mc chris is dead. What are your thoughts on that album? Did it come together as planned?

Um, I dunno. Some parts, yes. I'm happy with the first half of the record and I'm eh on the second half. I like the skits and freaks. But I wish we would've made a more hip-hop song with Andrew W.K., which we plan to do with this new one. There's always stuff you wanna change.

I think with every album there are some great songs and some clunkers, but that's why the remix contest can be so much fun. And this is no slight to Andrew Futral or Modd Jobs; their music rules, and they both did an awesome job. I just think I could have directed the ship better. But I'm really being nitpicky. I know a lot of people like the whole thing and listen to it on repeat. I'm just a perfectionist and nothing's ever quite like I like it.

The title was very much foreshadowed in the closing moments of your previous release Dungeon Master of Ceremonies. Was the apparent "death" of mc chris symbolic in any way, or was it merely clever lyrical plot device?

I was secretly hoping it would be the end of mc chris, but here I am. Still being him, recording albums, about to tour.

Your most recent release, Part Six Part One, sort of picks up where mc chris is dead left off: in Hell. Yet the songs themselves don't exactly play into this. Any chance that mc's diabolical journey as outlined in the skits will bleed over into your lyrics as the series progresses?

Well, there's thematic bleeds, references to the underground, demons, hell are scattered throughout all the songs. But the skits have their own track they're on. I guess the way to look at Part Six is that it's the album Mr. Chandler, mc chris' manager, wants him to make. It's the sell out record where he does a bunch of bounty hunter songs. That's why you're hearing so many fake songs from the skits on past releases actually becoming songs on this new record.

That's a really interesting point, and it's wholly apparent now that you mention it.

What made you decide on the EP format for the Part Six saga, and, further, how did you settle on such a unique naming convention?

I just wanted to have more releases, more CDs on the table, and I thought the saving up your songs for one big release is kinda stupid. Why not spread it out like a magazine? The money flows a little bit more evenly off tour. I'm really just testin' everything out, learning a lot along the way. I like keeping the album title a secret as long as I can. I plant Blue Harvest rumors and red herrings all over the place. So the Part Six Part One bit is just about adding to the suspense of not knowing.

Part Six Part One sets mc on a potentially restorative journey through the underworld (a la Dante's Divine Comedy). Any hints as to whom and what our hero will encounter along the way?

There will be many callbacks. The mc chris skit mythos is deep and we tap that shit full force. The guy that guest starred today made just a tiny cameo, but we also did a scene that won't appear 'til the fourth record if not the final record. There's lots of cool shit going on. But I will keep my mouth closed.

Since the release of mc chris is dead, you've been very vocal about your young nephew's struggle with cystic fibrosis. You've even gone so far as to set up an ongoing CF charity fund raising effort in his name. How has Murray's disease affected you and your music?

I'm very motivated to tour and make music and go on sites like eBay and YouTube, things I wasn't doing before. So it's affected everything. I try to keep the music this kinda weird thing that has to do with real life but is kinda escapist as well. So I dunno if the subject matter would ever find its way into a song, I dunno about that. I will keep on raising money, and as long as people come to my shows I'll keep that bucket out there on the merch table. So far this year we've already raised over six grand. I had to sell all my toys to do it. Well not all, I'll be auctioning off my G.I. Joes all summer.

What can fans do to support your fight against CF?

Oh, it's easy; they just go to or They can add to my amount or go directly to It's a PayPal account that goes directly to the main office of the CFF. I talked to them on the phone and they were kinda amazed that a bunch of kids could raise 25,000 dollars in seven months. I'm trying to make ten thousand before summer and have another 25 by Christmastime. In two years mc chris fans will have raised 50,000. And that's beyond awesome. I'm really proud of them for donating. Especially now when no one has money. The disease doesn't take a break so I've got to keep at it regardless of how things are economically.

You've gained a bit of a reputation for being very open with your fans regarding your personal life. Do you ever fear that you share too much, or is the process of publicly blogging your way through the hard times more of a cathartic experience?

I know I share too much and I feel the repercussions from that. I'm not sure how to balance the two, life and net. I've been journaling forever, since I was a freshman in high school and I've always liked being interactive with people. So now I've got this huge audience to talk to and they share their stories and it becomes the music, so it's kinda like how the whole thing works. I like writing and telling my story, I like having a record of what's happened. It's just weird now that people read it. I'd be writing just as much if no one gave a crap.

In recent months you've made numerous mentions of a potential series of your own on Cartoon Network. What's the status of this project?

It's still on their table. But I haven't heard anything. I think they'd like to see something, and I'd like to make it but it's difficult trying to stay afloat when you're not touring. There comes a point where there's too much to do and you have to focus on what pays the bills. I do have lots of ideas about making animated shorts in 2010. And I may try to make a music video this summer. We'll see if there's time. All my weekends are getting gobbled up.

Should the show take off, would that put an end to mc chris as we currently know him?

I doubt it.

It's been eight years since you made an indelible mark on the underground with Life's a Bitch and I'm Her Pimp. As you creep ever closer to that decade mark, do you ever look back fondly on those early days and on your classic material?

Well, I perform the songs when I tour so yes, I look back. I mean I marvel at them; why did they strike a chord with folks, because it's not all that nerdy except for "Fett." It's more pop culture. There was never a popcore. That would've been awesome. But I'm very grateful that these songs were made. "Fett," obviously, is my bread and butter even though I've never charged for the song, outside of Zack and Miri. It was just right place right time. I was the first one to write about him and I was lucky as fuck for having thought of it. It was awesome for Sealab to promote it. It was awesome that people liked it. And the fact that Kevin Smith just kinda swooped in this past year and paid me for it is the icing on the cake.

If it were solely up to you to craft your own career retrospective - a best of mc chris, if you will - which songs from which albums would warrant inclusion?

I would just put "Fett's Vette" on a CD ten times.

And lastly, mc, with new music, a new tour and more work with the Adult Swim crew on the horizon, what are you most looking forward too?

Um, where the story goes. And I guess I mean that about the skits, but about everything as well. I have tons more albums planned. Chandler/Killian is kinda the Man in Black and soon we're gonna start popping up all over the spacetime continuum. If anything, I wanna see how much of that gets made. And I also look forward to how I branch out with videos. I've been having lots of fun vlogging and I'm sure that's going to lead to something. I'm beginning to feel like things would be funnier if you could see them. So I may finally feel compelled to make some visuals to go with my audibles.

Thanks again for the shout-outs, hope to see you at a show. Be sure to tell all your readers to go to for tour dates! Thanks again, Z!

Will do, mc. And feel free to drop by anytime!


While so many of us who are still chasing artistic dreams in our adult lives flounder on the edge of obscurity, mc chris has managed to break through. He is living the dream; making his way doing what he loves. But, as odd as it is to spell it out like this, I don't think I'd be willing to trade places with him.

You see, while what we witness from the outside is increasingly successful albums, scores of adoring fans and a growing interest from the golden lands beyond our comfy little community, the thing that's easy to forget is that Chris Ward is still just a regular guy. He ain't Puffy Combs. He is not so successful as to be rewarded with the full strength of American celebrity. He is not insulated from the rigors of life by outrageous opulence and a team of high-priced handlers. He is not immune to the day-to-day bullshit of modern existence. He is one man who, thanks to that blessed blend of talent, hard work and good fortune, has managed to leave the 9 to 5 behind for a life as a professional artist. But that path too is rough and winding.

While I can simply be "Z. from Hipster, please!" at my leisure, mc does not have that option. At this point in his life, in his career, Chris Ward has fully become mc chris. It is his unique vocation. All day. Every day. For good or ill.

The life of a rising celebrity is not all wine and roses. It is fraught with opportunity for both triumph and calamity, and whichever turn one takes is executed in clear view of the public.

A lot of people would be diminished by this. They would be compromised. Lessened. But not mc. Through whatever magical process, he thrives. He can not be destroyed, even by his own hand.

For whatever does not kill mc chris seemingly only serves to make him stronger.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Early AM Adrenaline

It's rather uncharacteristic of me to be excitable this early on a Monday morning, but, alas, this is no ordinary Monday. You see, over the weekend there were developments, startling – but no less amazing – developments on the nerdy music front.

The first was the release of the new Up End Atom tribute album. This disc salutes synth-punker Adam Goren, better known as Atom and His Package, and it is of particular note because a number of the album's contributors are familiar names around these parts. Math the Band, MC Lars, mc chris and even wang-lighting musical deviant Emotron are featured on this 11-track collection, which is available for a mere $10.75 from Interpunk. And be aware that $4 from each purchase goes to the American Diabetes Association to help combat the disease that plagues Adam himself.

My second bit of news concerns the most recent reveal from the Nerdapalooza camp. Concerning featured artists at this year's festival, Ant let slip Friday that local heroes Emergency Pizza Party have joined the mix, as well as some esteemed out-of-towners. MadHatter and the Scrub Club crew, including KABUTO, Chester and Deafinition will be hitting Orlando this July along with my big-boned brother from the Pacific Northwest, Beef-muthafuckin'-Thompson. Did I mention that tickets are available? Now? Snatch 'em up, 'cause I can guarantee you that the roster is only going to get more amazing from here! (Trust me; I know stuff.)

And now that's I've set your little hearts a-thumpin' I'll allow you to return to your daily duties, content in the knowledge that shit just got real.