The History Of Due Vendetta (thanks Richard Fife)

Originally posted July 2011 at tor.com, this interview by Richard Fife is so useful and critical to tracking the early development of The Protomen that a segment is reposted here in its entirety.
(The entire interview is a highly recommended read.)

Commander B Hawkins: Well, we were all in this class in recording school, and everyone else had been recorded and mixed and ready to go on their final project. Except me. I was the only one who had not done anything, like, not a single thing. So, on the last day of school, I had to get this project done, and that just happened to be when my scheduled time to record was. I gathered as many people as I could that were musicians, and somehow I ended up finding Murphy Weller and Heath Who Hath No Name and Doug Fetterman and several other people that just kind of came to the studio at 8:00pm and cobbled together a piece of what would become "Due Vendetta," our last song off the last album. Either way, by the end of the night … wait, I need to shorten this.

Raul Panther: No, keep going! You’ve dug your hole! Climb down into it.

Commander B Hawkins: Okay, so, at 11:59pm, I’m going "Oh shit, we don’t have anything done really." All we had was a keyboard doing a short beat, a guitar doing a good riff, and I’m like "Hell yeah, that could be a good song!" My brain is about to explode because all I’ve been hearing is this synthesizer bass beat. So, we have a break in our session until 4:00am, and I try and sleep, and all I can hear is that synthesizer grinding in my brain. Now, I’d been playing a shitload of the early Megaman games at the time—One, Two and Three—just seeing how badass I could get at them. Then …

Raul Panther: At 12:02am!

Commander B Hawkins: At 12:02am, I’m lying awake, and hearing the beat, and the only thing that can go through my brain at the time is "Cutman! Gutsman!" All in like a gritty, southern accent. And it was just hammering me. All I wanted to do was sleep, but I couldn’t because these damn characters were in my head, and this horrible song is ruining my life, so that is what became the lyrics. We are just going to say those names, and it is going to be about Megaman now, I guess.

But now, I’m lying in my bed, thinking "Oh my God, we need vocals for this track, and we don’t have anyone who can even remotely sing. What am I going to do?" We looked around and thought, “Who can sing?” and we all just said, "Hey, that red-headed kid in our class can sing. I think he can sing. I don’t know if he can sing, but I’ve heard he might can sing."

Raul Panther: I could not sing.

Commander B Hawkins: He’s in some band, I think, and I think he can sing. We’ll see if he can sing. And so then, I say, "Anyone have his number?" and someone else says "I think his name is Raul Panther, let’s just call him." And we called him up, and he came in. I handed him this list of names of all these Megaman characters, and he just looked at it and said. "Alright, let’s do this." And he somehow made it musical, even managed to get a "Crash" on top of a crash.

Raul Panther: It was not my first rodeo!

Commander B Hawkins: And then, we turned it in for the final project, and it kind of did ridiculously well for what it was. It wasn’t supposed to sound beautiful. It was specifically going against all of the things the teachers wanted us to do in terms of making things sound pretty and like a good country pop record. So, judging by that, they should have all hated it. And, generally, most of them all hated it, but there was a good contingent of teachers that thought it was the funniest shit they had ever heard and were just completely entertained by it. So, it made Listening Night, where everyone can listen to it and votes on what they like.

Raul Panther: Which is pretty much the highest honor you can get at a state school. It’s like Valedictorian of Rock and Roll.

Commander B Hawkins: Or of terrible recording projects.

Raul Panther: Yeah!

Commander B Hawkins: Either way, it did pretty well, and we said "Okay, next semester, let’s actually think about this and put some effort into this." By that time, I had these ideas for a story, so I decided to make this into a big story. One big rock opera, essentially. That is when we started work on "Hope Rides Alone," and got that going well, and we got pretty good at that next semester. And that is really where it came from. It was a project that we then decided we could put the time and effort into and make into a style that really hadn’t been done before, sort of. It’s kind of hard to explain.

Additional info from a 2009 interview taken by Arlette E. Resendiz:

That was the point of the song. It was really to make the ridiculous sound possible and not have to worry about the outcome. Past that song, we took the rail and perfected the sound for the time we were in. Each song was a project for a different class. Unrest in the House of Light and Will of One were recorded at the same time by two different people. But that’s what it was about, it was about pushing the limits about what we could do… and pass college.

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