Player Profile – Raybo

July 15th, 2013

Figment is a social game.  It requires you to build fan bases and then consistently release great albums to keep those fans.  Most players tend to take a while to figure out what works and what doesn’t,  but some seem to know just how to strike the right chord (pun intended) from minute one.  Raybo definitely fits into the latter category of player.  His bands are well developed, have strong visual identities, and are just out-there enough to be totally believable.  So how does he do it?  We asked him…

Figment News:  Tell us a little about yourself.

Raybo:  I’m a single (read: divorced) dude living in Phoenix, AZ; a move I made to be in closer proximity to my 10 year old daughter. I have a couple of different businesses that keep me busy right now, one of which is a digital production house that specializes in promotional videos for company websites.

FN:  So you work in video production?  How has working in a visual medium helped you to play Figment?

Raybo:  It’s interesting because I find that FIGMENT allows me to be creatively focused in a more personal way. When I’m working on video projects for customers, while it entails me adding my own creative flare, it is essentially someone else’s baby. FIGMENT enables me create virtual landscapes that are completely mine. I just killed off a lead singer (Mowgli Marsh of FETALUS) of a band I really enjoyed creating, just because I liked the idea of it. This medium helps my other work because it reminds me that the only limitations that exist are the ones I put on myself.

FN:  Is it true you worked on reality shows in the past?

Raybo:  Yeah, I worked in reality television for over a decade. I went out to Los Angeles to work in motion pictures after college and discovered very quickly that working your way up the ladder in the film world is akin working your way up from hospital custodian to surgeon. It’s been done before, but it ain’t fucking easy. So, I essentially switched over to television for the dental plan, starting with The Rosie O’Donnell Show. From there, I bounced around several other Warner Bros. reality shows before pigeonholing myself in the cop show genre. You find out really quick that working in reality TV is on par with working in porn. They’re both impossible to get out of once you’re in, but porn gets more respect.

FN:  How real is reality TV?

Raybo:  It’s a joke, it really is. There isn’t anything on reality that hasn’t been over-produced and manipulated in one way, shape or form. We would be in meetings with executives telling us they wanted A, B, and C to happen over the course of a season, before cameras had even started rolling. We would literally be forced to submit outlines for each episode, and if we didn’t deliver, there would be hell to pay. And it’s a small community. Everyone knows everyone else, and you move up the ranks by how good a team player you are, which is to say, how unscrupulous and manipulative you are. This is how most corporations work, but here it is even more so, because we are broadcasting lies to millions of people around the globe. Don’t even waste your time voting on any of these shows. The fix is most certainly in.

FN:  If you could take one of your fake bands and create a TV show about them, which band would you choose?

Raybo:  Oh, good question. I would love to delve into the world of Janie Dangerfield, surf punk goddess. That character intrigues me for a lot of reasons, the main one being the amount of trouble she would get into on a weekly basis. I would definitely tune in for that chick.

FN:  How did you start playing Figment?

Raybo:  A friend of mine was wearing a t-shirt with the FIGMENT logo on it and I asked him what it was. He told me about the site and I could not believe it. I’ve been coming up with fake bands, albums and song titles since middle school, so you can imagine my elation. And then when I saw the site, I was super stoked. It was a dream come true, for sure.

FN:  What about the game appealed to you?

Raybo:  Well, of course the album covers were a huge part of it. But having the opportunity to create whole worlds, that was huge. And then mixing it up with other Figgers, going on tour with their bands, that was priceless. The whole experience is just such a blessing for creatively minded music fans. It’s an amazing concept.

FN: King Fu and The Shank Punch Pow, Chad Phantom and The Nobody Panic, Hot Water Burn Baby, Hurricane Abel – you have a real knack for creating memorable band names.  In fact, you won a Figgie for Best Band Name in 2012.  How do you come up with them?

Raybo:  As Jack Black once put it, “You can’t manufacture inspirado.”  And I find this is exactly true. The more I try to come up with a new band name, the more it alludes me. The best band names hit me like a bolt of lightning when I least expect it, or I see something or hear something and go, shit, that would be a great band name. I can’t sit down and force a band name, it just doesn’t work like that for me. I might get part of a name through inspirado and then play with it a little until I find the right balance. But I try to let it happen organically, if that makes any sense.

FN:  When you create a band what is your process like?  Do you pick a genre and try to create a band that fits it or do you come up with a name first and then develop their genre, back story, etc to match it?

Raybo:  The name always comes first. It’s funny because I write the same way sometimes. I’ll come up with a title for a short story and then build the story around that. There have been a few occasions where I think, I want an all-women rock band, or a punk outfit, but mostly I start with the name and go from there.

FN:  You’ve had a nice run of #1 albums on the Figment Hot Albums Chart, what do you think the key is to creating a good album cover?

Raybo:  It’s hard to say because I have been so blind-sided by album covers that I don’t think are my best work, reaching #1. And other covers, which I love and feel are more artistically challenging, not selling at all. I will admit that I’ve “dumbed down” my process on a few occasions because I knew what the paying public was already buying (on the site) and I wanted to prove a point, if only to myself. I know that I’m gonna take some shit for this, but FIGMENT is a great social experiment as well, and that kind of thing intrigues me, especially coming from the entertainment world. People fascinate the fuck out of me. Always.

FN:  What tools do you use to create your covers?

Raybo:  This is a sore spot for me, only because I am so tired of the medium I use to create covers (largely Picasa). I wanted to win that Adobe Suite so bad in this year’s cover contest, and I thought I had a pretty good shot at it too, but it was not to be, and that’s cool, everything happen for a reason. But I do get really bored with the method I am currently using and know how much more I could do if I had the tools. I am limited by my technology, in turn stifling the grand images in my head. But I’ll get there.

FN:  How important is cover art to you when you are checking out a band?  Fake or real?

Raybo:  It used to be very important in real life, especially as a teenager perusing the record store. I am drawn to visual creativity, big time. But now, as we get further and further away from tangible albums, and videos play a larger role in the selling of musical wares, I am less swayed by the visual medium and more by the sonic landscapes that are emerging today.

I love graphic novels and old movie posters in the same way. In fact, I used to buy books solely on the cover art. I have a whole library of unread books, just because I liked the idea of the book, more than the book itself. Which is probably why FIGMENT is a perfect fit for me.

FN:  Have you ever played in a real band?

Raybo:  I sing and play keyboard/piano, and I’ve dabbled in music on a limited basis. I write stuff for myself all the time. When I lived in Australia, me and a few Scottish friends formed a little outfit and played a couple of parties. That was a ton of fun, but it never went any further than that. I think there’s a part of me that still believes I could be in a band, which is good because I can filter that mojo into my Figments. Delusions of grandeur, I suppose.

FN:  What types of music do you listen to?  Does that music ever inspire your Figments?

Raybo:  I love all kinds of music but gravitate mostly towards classic rock and bands that best recreate that sound without forcing it. I love music that sounds raw and under-produced. But I love really love rock n’ roll.

My favorite bands are Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, Roger Miller, Van Halen, The Guess Who, (old) Aerosmith, Blind Melon, Ben Harper, Beck, Guns n’ Roses, Edward Sharpe, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Cars, Chili Peppers, Gomez, Grateful Dead, Jane’s Addiction, Buddy Holly, Blitzen Trapper, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, John Lennon, and last but certainly not least, Pearl Jam. I absolutely love Pearl Jam. Best. Band. Ever.

FN:  What are some of the real and/or fake bands that you would say have influenced your fake bands?

Raybo:  Take your pick.

FN:  A lot of your band’s tag lines and songs are very tongue-in-cheek.  Do you think humor plays a part in your band’s popularity?

Raybo:  I would like to think that, but I really think it comes down to cover art. You could have the best humor and wit in your liner notes and song titles, but unless people like your cover, they ain’t buying shit. It’s kind of a metaphor that reaches far beyond cover art in our society. Sad but true, especially considering how much time is spent working on the interior of my albums, but them’s the breaks: if you don’t reel ‘em in with your cover, you probably ain’t reeling ‘em in.

FN:  What is the band, album or song title that you’re the most proud of?

Raybo:  Are you really asking me to name my favorite child? I’m kidding, but it does feel a bit like that. I like bits and pieces of so many projects, but if I was hard-pressed to name my fave albums, they would probably be:

EVOLVER by Hurricane Abel, KILLING ‘EM WITH KINDNESS by Hot Water Burn Baby, [UNTITLED] by Fetalus, PEST WISHES by Wun, and of course, MOONBLOOD SYMPOSIUM by Chad Phantom and the Nobody Panic.

My favorite band/artist is J.T. Florence of WUN. I love that guy.

FN:  Speaking of “Moonblood Symposium” by Chad Phantom and The Nobody Panic, what the story behind that cover?

Raybo:  Moonblood Symposium came about by way of a short story I was working on that pertains to a rogue Apache werewolf clan. I’ve been completely drawn towards indigenous cultures my whole life and in high school I was good friends with a Native Amercian girl named, Talihina. She was gorgeous, inside and out. But Tali had a rough ride, dealing with a sexually abusive & drunken birth father, and a manic/depressive step-father who committed suicide when we were 16. I saw them as shapeshifters, unsavory men who did unsavory things when the moon flew highest in the sky. I also smoked a lot of pot.

None-the-less, beautiful Tali stood above her clan, saved by her own brilliant heart. And it left a mark on me, as you can see.

I stumbled onto the cover photo at the exact time I was compiling CHAD PHANTOM AND THE NOBODY PANIC’s debut album. Perfect synchronicity. I just looked up on my laptop screen and there it was, the best image I could ever imagine to encapsulate the story of Talihina Moonblood and her brutal brethren of fanged fury. The whole story was in that artwork, as if it had been made for it.

And the fact that the gnarling wolves were captured inside the silhouette of the girl reminded me that she was one of those cursed creatures as well. She merely decided to make another kind of choice. She gave her life for the greater good. And that choice is what defines her as a dualistic character, which in turn, I feel, defines us all.

I separated it [the image], enlarged it, colored it, and tweaked the fuck out of it. The typography had to be petite because nothing could compete with the image, nor should it.  And I can see in this cover that it could easily fit on the jacket of a book, which many of my covers do. FIGMENT lets me kill two birds with one stone, filling all creative voids I keep in my mind’s attic.

Which is fucking awesome.

FN:  If you could make one of your fake bands real and then join the band, what band would it be and what instrument would you play in the band?

Raybo:  Well, damn! I guess if anything ever happened to ol’ Remy Holt, lead singer of KING FU, I would jump in there in a second. That’s my kind of music. And, boy, do the groupies love those guys.

FN:  If someone asked you why should I play Figment what would you tell them?

Raybo:  I would tell them that this is an elite group of talented folks, but one that would welcome them with open arms. All they need to bring is an unlimited imagination and a deep love of music.

FIGMENT will take care of the rest.

 

What can we say about formerwageslave that we haven’t already said.  He’s been an Industry Heavyweight, the winner of our first Figment Challenge, a runner up in several of our contests, and his bands’ regularly score #1 albums on the Figment Hot Albums Chart.  He is, without a doubt, one of the top players on Figment.  So we figured, why say anything at all, let’s let him do the talking.

Figment News:  Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for a living, what part of the country do you live in, what are you hobbies, etc.

formerwageslave:  I live in beautiful Portland, Maine along with my wife, my beagle, and a few too many cats. For work, I’ve been doing Interactive Design ever since I graduated from college. My hobbies include collecting vinyl records and the discographies of defunct niche labels (WaxTrax!, Re-Constriction, 21st Circuitry, Zoth Ommog, etc.), collecting old video game systems, and writing (fiction & screenplays).

FN:  So you work in Interactive Graphic Design? What is that like?

formerwageslave:  Basically, I get to design and code full websites, mobile websites, and social media projects for sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’ve worked for little twelve-person companies where the environment is really laid-back and chill, and then also global ad agencies where I worked overnight and weekends on super-urgent projects for companies like Ford and Chrysler. Fun stuff. 😉

FN:  Do you ever get to design album covers at work?

formerwageslave:  Sadly, never!

FN:  You run your own independent record label correct?

formerwageslave:  More like mis-manage one, but yes! It is called the Slave Indvstries Collective. We’ve been around in one form or another since 1995. We recently launched a new site that still needs all the info plugged back into it– www.slaveindvstries.net

FN:  What it’s like to be a label chief?

formerwageslave:  It’s hard work, especially as the number of artists increases. Musicians, and creative types in general, are a notoriously fickle bunch (myself included), and so you’re constantly running around, hounding people for their tracks, artwork, promotional info… and now, in the age of every band having their own online label consisting of themselves and their close friends, it’s hard to even get noticed instead of being drowned out in a vast sea of voices. I don’t give it nearly enough attention as I should– it should be its own full-time job- – but I am planning on revving things up in the coming fall months. It’s also expensive, esp. in the beginning when no one is buying your stuff and/or you’re giving it away to get as much exposure as you can.

FN:  What kind of bands are on your label?

formerwageslave:  The roster is getting increasingly diverse as I get older and my own musical tastes and interests expand, but the primary focus is on darker and more abstract / experimental / extreme forms of music, especially (but not exclusively) electronic subgenres. Noise, industrial, digital hardcore, dark ambient, chiptune, glitch, breakcore, electronic body music, post-punk, coldwave, darkwave, industrial rock, neofolk, doom metal…

FN:  How do you distribute your albums – independent distributor or do you do it yourself?

formerwageslave:  In the past, I’ve always done it myself, which accounts for SIC’s abysmally low sales! I’m also really bad about giving my releases away for free… such a horrible salesperson. I hate having to pimp my releases and push them onto people– I would much rather just put my records out into the digital aether and have people organically discover how awesome they are all on their own, which is a totally naive way of doing things. I’m starting to post a lot on Bandcamp and press up legit CDs with barcodes, instead of the handmade CD-Rs I used to do in the past, so increased distro is definitely a goal for the near future… letting other people worry about selling my stuff for a change. 😉

FN:  What do you look for in a band before you agree to work with them?

formerwageslave:  Loving and believing in their music is a must. Not necessarily thinking that I can sell it or make a lot of money off of it, but just really digging it on a personal level and hoping that other people will do the same, which may be the crucial flaw in my “business” model. Heh. It also really helps, though it isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, that I agree with the band’s politics. For example, I’m not going to sign anyone with an agenda of hate. I can’t handle dealing with jerks, either. It’s one thing to be confident in your music– it’s another thing entirely to constantly put other people down.

FN:  We all know you have a favorite vintage guitar, so are you in a band?

formerwageslave:  Yep! I actually write music under a bunch of different names. Some are secret, some not so much.

FN:  Do you create album covers for your band(s)?

formerwageslave:  With few exceptions, I usually end up being the graphic designer for all of the projects I’m involved in, from CD artwork to stickers, shirts, flyers, and websites.

FN:  I also noticed that you DJ a show on WMPG in Maine. What is that like and can we listen to the show online?

formerwageslave:  DJing on the radio is very different than spinning in clubs, which I’ve also done for many years. The radio is still really new to me. My wife and I do a 3-hour show every week called Dead By Dawn on WMPG, 90.9 & 104.1, Southern Maine Community Radio out of USM. It’s completely format-free and non-corporate in nature, so we can literally play whatever we want. It’s extremely liberating! You can stream the show live via www.wmpg.org or record it to MP3 for later listening using sites such as www.dar.fm .

FN:  So how did you end up playing Figment?

formerwageslave:  I honestly can’t remember how I first heard about Figment, but I think it may have been a banner on a site like SomethingAwful or an online gaming portal. I had already played plenty of web-based games, and Figment sounded like it was right up my alley. I saved the URL for future reference, then came back to it months later when I had collected a group of gaming friends to check it out with me.

FN:  You’re already run a record label and are a musician. Why play a game involving fake bands?

formerwageslave:  I mentioned in my Figment bio that I have more ideas than the time needed to bring them all to life, and that’s definitely true. I’m dreaming up concept albums and band themes all the time, and they’re not always practical or something I would be able to pull together in real life. For example, Tha Ronin 7 is a fun group, sure, but I’m not sure I would be able to produce an actual rap album with 7 MCs (and not have it sound like a complete hot mess, anyway). Besides, the hardest part of being in a band (for me) is making the actual music! Figment removes the labor and lets me focus on the fun stuff– I get to tell stories and make pretty pictures without having to worry about microphone placement, guitar tone, whether or not to add a bridge, booking shows, constant rehearsals… I’m a perfectionist with my own bands, and the doubt and constant tweaking can be paralyzing. Figment, on the other hand, is refreshing.

FN:  You’ve had an incredible run of creating #1 albums on the Figment Hot Albums Chart, what do you think the key is to having a successful band on Figment?

formerwageslave:  There are definitely several different paths to Figment success. You can make beautiful covers to catch the eye and draw people in. You can write deep, rich backstories for your bands down to each individual member’s story, what gear they use, what trouble they get into on tour, etc.. You can also create really compelling song titles and album concepts that just *feel* real… people start to rock out in their heads just thinking about them. Whichever of these paths you excel in, the key is to stay active. Release albums, or EPs, or singles, or digital files, or merch, or live records, or all of the above! Go on tour. Post news updates. Don’t forget to mix things up, either– it gets tedious when every release by a band is “their best one EVAR!!!~” with yet more mind-blowing solos and even faster songs and even catchier melodies etc. etc. etc. for Every. Single. Album. Even the best real bands occasionally release crappy songs. Albums flop. Members quit or go crazy or die. Bands break up. Tours get cancelled. The more realistic and human you can make a band seem, the more people will buy into it and get emotionally involved.

FN:  Your album cover designs are really well done. Where do you get your inspiration?

formerwageslave:  I get inspiration from my favorite real bands, my record collection, and the way my Figment bands sound in my head. It’s just like writing a fiction novel– the more releases I do for band, the more I get a feel for what kind of song titles and album covers they would want to use. I think to myself, “Hmm, Norselords wouldn’t have an album cover of a fluffy bunny in a field of clover…” Unless it’s one second after it steps on a land mine, that is! The stories of the bands often dictate their cover art, like Duane’s deteriorating mental state for the darker Vorpal Queen covers, the goat skulls as effigies of Figment judges for Vengeance Burns Eternal when they were pissed off, and so on.

FN:  Ever create a cover for one of your fake bands and wish you’d kept it for your real band?

formerwageslave:  All the time!

FN:  What tools do you use to create your album cover and band images?

formerwageslave:  Photoshop! All day, every day.

FN:  Given your experience in music and design, any tips you can pass along to your fellow Figment players?

formerwageslave:  For design, a lot can be achieved in MS Paint, but get Photoshop if you can. However, there are also a lot of free graphics tools out there, such as Gimp, and Firefox image editor add-ons like Pixlr, and Jetpack. A huge factor in whether or not I “buy” a Figment album is the cover typography. Don’t settle for the handful of boring default fonts on your machine! Real bands don’t! There are TONS of free fonts out there– I use sites like www.dafont.com and www.fontfreak.com to find new ones. Sometimes, a font can inspire the rest of the cover for me.

As for the music, think about the genre(s) you want to dabble in and your favorite bands in those areas. What do you like about them? What would you change or do differently? Imagine fleshing out your band enough so that they would make a good opening act for your fav bands. What topics do you want your band to write/sing about? War? Sex? Global warming? Puppies? Do you have some favorite instruments or equipment brands? Mash a couple of genres or groups together and see what comes out. Get inside your bands’ heads. Create conflict and drama to offset their successes. Try to see through their eyes.

FN:  You use the pseudonym Remy Brecht a lot. Any significance to this name?

formerwageslave:  It’s been my DJ handle and pseudonym for all of my music-related activities for many years now.

FN:  What are some of the real and/or fake bands that you would say have influenced your fake bands?

formerwageslave:  Spinal Tap! For LLP, scary and larger-than-life figures in black cowboy hats like the 1990’s incarnations of Al Jourgensen and Rob Zombie. Johnny Cash. Outlaw country/western dudes. For Vorpal Queen, all of the bands they’ve covered and the ones listed in their bio… classic psych rock and modern stoner/doom.

FN:  Any Figment players who you’d like to laud for their work?

formerwageslave:  I’ve seen a lot of great, imaginative work from FuriousGrace, theHoseman, Infacticide, ChildofAlma, Crypt_Keeper, poppinfresh, frizbee, Raybo, TMTYTF… the list goes on! There are a lot of inspired, cool individuals in the core Figment community, which makes collaboration (and competition!) really enjoyable.

FN:  If you could make one of your fake bands real and then join the band, what band would it be and what instrument would you play in the band?

formerwageslave:  First choice would be Lucifer and the Long Pigs, lead vocals and acoustic rhythm guitar. I would get to wear the black cowboy hat, the black boots, the bolo tie… and the spurs! Second choice would be lead guitar for Vorpal Queen… I’d have a huge pedalboard of effects. So many effects.

FN:  What is the band and/or album you’ve formed/released that you are the most proud of?

formerwageslave:  In a lot of ways, it would probably be my very first release on Figment, Lucifer and the Long Pigs’ “Death Country” EP. I certainly didn’t expect it to blow up like it did, and it helped make me realize that I was sitting on a great idea for a band. I’m really proud of how the Badlands Tour came together, and I put a lot of work into the design and story of the “Screwtape” double-album between LLP and Squidbitchez.

FN:  If someone asked you why should I play Figment what would you tell them?

formerwageslave:  Figment is for people who love music. People with imagination and creativity. People who like to roleplay. It’s also a great way to sharpen your graphic design skills. All of those things. If you don’t have any musical ability, it can be a chance to live out your deepest rock ‘n’ roll fantasies. If you *are* in a band, it can be a way to explore genres and ideas that you might never have thought to tackle in real life. Finally, it’s just plain fun!

Figment Player Profile – TMTYTF

November 11th, 2011

Game communities are just that, communities.  They’re made up of all kinds of players who possess diverse personalities, different skill sets, and varying degrees of competitive spirit, but regardless of their differences they all play a part in creating the community. TMTYTF has been a member of our Figment community since August, 2008.  He’s created a variety of different bands in the past 3 years, and has even guided one to #4 on the Top 10 Bands List.  He’s had his ups and downs as a player, and his outspoken nature has ruffled some feathers at times, but he’s never given up, and he’s never stopped trying to up his game.  In short, he’s an active member of our Figment community, and we thought it was high time (no pun intended) that we got to know him.

Figment News:  So who is TMTYTF?

TMTYTF:  My name is David. I’m 21 years old and I was born in 1990. I am from beautiful Orange County, California. I go to a lot of rock shows and I can’t get enough of them. Oh and I’m also a 4th year college student/retail sales associate.

FN:  You’ve been a Figment player for over 3 years. What is it about Figment that has kept you playing for so long?

TMTYTF:  I’m really not sure I just get a kick out of it. I love music and although Figment has no music, if something seems real enough you can feel it in your heart. Several of my bands and others from the site seem so real that I have a crystal clear imagination of what their music would really sound like. I also like how Figment is an ongoing process. Anyone may enter and leave the site as he/she pleases and it’s always still there once you get back.

FN:  Do you play an instrument? If so, what and how has it influenced your bands on Figment?

TMTYTF:  Yes and no. I got my first guitar when I was 12. I took a few lessons, then quit for awhile. In my senior year of high school, I took a guitar class. The class involved only acoustic guitars even though I was used to electric. Ever since then, my guitar playing has been on and off. It’s sad too, because I have a rad B.C. Rich Metal Master Warlock, which I got when I was 17, that hardly ever gets played anymore (it’s the one in the Stonekrank picture). Other than that I love to sing. I’m no professional, but I can hold a tune and enjoy singing karaoke and Rock Band vocals. I wouldn’t say my music has influenced my figment bands, but my figment bands have influenced some lyrics I’ve written. None of them turned out well at all, but I’ve tried writing songs based off Stonekrank’s “Loser” and “Modern Tragedy” from their Smokin’ album and Stonefly 45’s “No More Sunshine”.

FN:  You clearly love metal. Is it your favorite type of music or do you like other types of music?

TMTYTF:  Well, I do like metal but it wouldn’t be my first choice. I’d say my favorite genre is more along the lines of mainstream and alternative hard rock. If I like any metal, it’d be 80s hair metal or classic metal. I’m also really into grunge and pretty much any type of rock n’ roll from the 1990’s, my first decade of life. Anything 90s, from Nirvana to Blink 182 to The Presidents of the United States of America to Limp Bizkit, I am into. The older I get, the more music I discover and the more I’ve broadened my horizons. I also like most of the music from 2000-today and even classic rock from the 1970s. Perhaps even a little reggae and, believe it or not, I’m starting to catch onto some rap even though I used to hate it. I always thought rap sounded way better when fused with hard rock/metal, which is probably why I like Rage Against The Machine so much (they’re my favorite band).

FN:  What are some of the real bands that influence your fake bands?

TMTYTF:  Well, bands like Seether, Saliva, Papa Roach, Theory of a Deadman and breaking benjamin were big influences for Stonekrank. Gravestompers were designed with a Static-X/Five Finger Death Punch/Nonpoint sound in mind, although they are a metal group with clean vocals more along the lines of Godsmack and Disturbed. I kinda had chill rock bands in mind for Fragment Shelter. Smash Mouth and Sugar Ray came to mind and they’ve sorta kept their sound throughout, give or take. Smart Alec was my first jokester band highly influenced by the likes of “Weird Al” Yankovic, Stephen Lynch, and Jon Lajoie. They realize people hate Smart Alec lately for being overly crude and obnoxious. They have always had quite an attitude. Firecharged! drew their sound from classic kick-ass bands like AC/DC and Motley Crüe (let’s not forget Van Halen). Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Buckcherry, and The Donnas were crucial to The Nymphomaniacs’ career early on. Hell, Their debut album Bitches and Money was derived from a lyric in Buckcherry’s 2001 song “Time Bomb”. Drifter was created with an acoustic metal sound in mind, not quite like Tenacious D, but just powerful music without electric guitars. Their influences include Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman, Eddie Vedder, Johnny Cash, even Social Distortion and Nirvana. I’d go through them all but I have too many damn bands. Alright, one more. The Phony Fakers have been influenced by modern post-grunge acts like Puddle of Mudd and Smile Empty Soul.

FN:  Have you ever created a fake band before playing Figment and if so, what led you to do so?

TMTYTF:  No. I honestly can’t say I have. However, I had thought of the name Stonekrank long before I discovered Figment. I always thought “If I ever joined/formed a band, I have to call us Stonekrank.” I’m not sure why I changed the spelling from “crank” to “krank”. Guess I just thought it sounded cool and I always thought Stonekrank would be a killer name for a band.

FN:  Stonekrank is your most popular band. What was the inspiration for that band?

TMTYTF:  Well, it’s difficult to say. They draw inspiration from so many directions. Staind is one real-life band they admire because they put so much passion and heart into their music. Stonekrank has always been about putting everything they’ve got into each release as well and they aim to display their heart and soul on every album. Other than that, my life has had a significant impact on what I do with Stonekrank. The band is very personal to me, not only because they were my first figment band, but because I think of them as a part of me. Also, they wanted to have a modern hard rock sound, yet stand out from all the other bands out there who were doing the same thing as all the others. The ‘Stone’ part of the name comes from David’s last name.

FN:  Are all of the band members in Stonekrank fictitious or are they based on real people?

TMTYTF:  You got me. As a matter of fact, two guys in Stonekrank are fake and two are based on real people. Mike Schmidt and Paul Donahue? Made up. David Stone is based off of me. Hell, my name is also David Stone (if you haven’t figured it out by now). He’s my rock star alter ego. Stone isn’t my legal last name even though I go by it. Ronnie Jenkins is partially based off of a friend of mine named Ronnie (although his last name isn’t Jenkins). Oh and the band’s original drummer, Steve P. Withers (now with Red Flames Rising), is also made up.

FN:  Stonekrank has sold almost 400 albums on Figment, had four #1 albums on the Hot Albums Chart, one #1 single, and two other albums that charted in the Top 3. How does that feel and what advice would you give other players who want to top the charts?

TMTYTF:  It is an honor that you guys like us so much. It feels great and we love you too. Stonekrank wouldn’t be half the band they are today without the fans. If you want a release to top the charts, put your heart and soul into it. That’s what I did with Stonekrank. I remember way back when, before they released Smokin’, they may have had a total of 12 fans give or take. It really took a lot of hard work and imagination to get them to where they are today and the more they grew and evolved as a band was when the fans really started to appreciate their work. I consider Smokin’ their first breakthrough album that really started to grow their fan base (it was also their first record to chart on the Hot Albums Chart). Another thing I feel has been vital to Stonekrank’s success is their individual songs. I try to come up with catchy titles and I’m really proud of how some of them turned out. My personal favorites: Boom Mothafucka, Tainted (A Headbanger’s Anthem), Krank’d Up, The Image of Your Sorrows, and Eden’s Farewell.

FN:  You’ve had a few feuds with other players on Figment over the years. Are you too outspoken or just misunderstood?

TMTYTF:  Oh I’m very misunderstood, in so many ways. My mouth has the tendency to have a mind of it’s own sometimes and gets me into a lot of trouble. I’ve found it’s easier to keep my mouth shut, but I do like talking so it’s hard sometimes. However, quite a few things I’ve said on Figment in the past have been taken way out of context, making it seem as if I said something I didn’t. I just want to explain to everybody on the site who is reading this that I do not like being involved in feuds and the things I say are said with the best of intentions, so if I’ve offended you in the past, I apologize and I hope we can be cool from this point on. I’d much rather be your friend than your enemy. I am a little outspoken at times, but mostly just misunderstood.

FN:  What is the band and/or album you’ve formed/released that you are the most proud of?

TMTYTF:  Oh I’m sure nobody will be surprised by this one but Stonekrank is the band and Ultimatum is what I consider my finest work. Even though there were so many more bands/albums I’ve formed/released that I’m very proud of. Stonekrank literally doubled their fan base after releasing Ultimatum. I released it on June 30th, 2010 and it remained a hot album well into September. It never reached that #1 spot but it is by far my highest selling and most listened to Figment album to date. I don’t know if I can top it, but I’ll sure as hell try. Even before I released it, I knew I was onto something big. I’m so glad all of you liked it as much as I did and saw the true creativity of Ultimatum. By the way, Stonekrank’s Taking Down An Empire is a close second, though.

FN:  What tools do you use to create your album cover and band images?

TMTYTF:  When I first started playing, I didn’t use any tools, just a direct copy paste. Then I started using photoshop. Eventually, ChildofAlma turned me onto Picnik.com and that has been working well for me ever since. Nothing too fancy, I usually just crop the covers square and adjust the colors and contrasts, etc. of my image, add any special effects, then add text.

FN:  Do you think design skills are necessary to be a top player on Figment? How do you think a player who doesn’t have incredible design skills can compete with players who do?

TMTYTF:  I realize that other players have mad design skills and crazy awesome art programs that the rest of us don’t have access to. I don’t have great design skills but I still managed to compete with the other players who do. So no, design skills are not necessary. A broad imagination is more of a requirement in my opinion. So are marketing skills (i.e. advertising).

FN:  Your label TooMuchTooYoungTooFast Records is not only home to all of the bands you create, but has also signed a number of Figment bands including The Angel’s Sin, Sanguine Symphony, x69 and Six-66 among others. Why did you decide to create a label? Do you think it’s enhanced your game play on Figment?

TMTYTF:  What’s funny is I didn’t create that label until almost 2 years after starting up on Figment. I always thought my bands had an implied label. After a while of playing and seeing other users have success with their record labels, I decided it was time for me to create one. Most, not all, of my bands are signed to TooMuchTooYoungTooFast Records. A few of them either switched over to Firecharged! Records or signed up upon forming (my other label, a bit more low key). Yes, I do feel that creating a label has enhanced my game play and I decided to let other bands from other users get in on my label because we gotta make it fun for them too.

FN:  You’ve clearly made some friends on Figment. Do you ever share what you’ve done on Figment with friends who aren’t on the site?

TMTYTF:  All the time. People get sick of hearing me talk about it. I’ve often said that fantasy football is for sports lovers, Figment is for music lovers. My real life friends don’t understand Figment, except for bobmuffin55, who is a real life friend of mine. He’s the only person I’ve ever recruited to Figment. Other than that, I think everyone else who doesn’t get Figment is missing out.

FN:  If you had to pick one Figment player whose work you admire who would it be?

TMTYTF:  Oh man, hands down ChildofAlma. He and I have a history on the site and I’ve probably been friends with him the longest. I mean, the dude created Sinthetic. And The Forgotten Falling. His work speaks for itself. I admire many other players as well, so I’m bummed I couldn’t give them a shout as well. You guys know who you are though.

FN:  Is there anything you’ve learned from playing Figment that you’ve been able to apply in the real world?

TMTYTF:  Marketing definitely. I think marketing on Figment and in the real world go hand in hand. Also, the graphic design of different album covers helps with creativity. I aspire to be in the music industry as a full time career. I have a deep, burning passion for it and there’s nothing else I’d rather do. All in all though, Figment has taught me a few things.

FN:  If someone asked you why you play Figment what would you tell them?

TMTYTF:  It’s a place where you can escape the real world and be yourself. You can express yourself through your bands and take them in any direction you want. It’s a virtual music industry and it’s about as close as you can get to the real thing without adding music. Figment is fun, and I will keep coming back!

 

One of the things I love about metal is that it’s never really lost it’s outsider status.  Sure it went mainstream for a while in the 80’s, but at it’s core metal never lost touch with long van rides and small clubs.  The question is how do you create a Figment of a band that captures that DIY spirit and make it feel real?  I mean so real you can smell the sweaty club, visualize the band shredding on a ridiculously small stage, and feel the thud of their thunderous riffs as they rattle your ribcage.  Well, look no further than the work of Infacticide.  She creates fake metal bands that aren’t just knock offs, but have a genuine aesthetic.  A lot of time clearly goes into them, and yet they seem so natural and effortless.  So who is she and how does she create these incredibly real metal figments?  We decided to find out…

Figment News:  Tell us a little about yourself.

Infacticide:  In character, I’m a foul-mouthed, dirty, slightly mad roadie. In reality, I’m pretty much the same thing only I get insults yelled at me from car windows a lot more.  I’m in love with music, and will pretty much listen to anything as long as it has soul to it. I’m a musician wanna-be, and a writer wanna-be, and playing Figment actually helps inspire me in both those pursuits. Other than that I spend my time camping in the forests of Nova Scotia, Canada, setting fires and drinking wine with my male counterpart, reading a lot of horror novels, painting, writing and wandering around in a stoned daze. Hey, may as well be honest!

FN:  Are you really the bastard stepchild of Vincent Price and Nyarlathotep?

Infacticide:  Not exactly. While the Vincent Price side holds true, I recently found out that I am in fact one of the thousand young of Shub-Niggurath, The Black Goat of the Woods. Iä!

FN:  How did you find out about Figment and what about the site keeps you coming back?

Infacticide:  I was recommended Figment by my bud inflatable_twerp of The Chosen Rejects fame. He knew that I’d be into the inventiveness and music-geekiness of Figment, and so I gave it a shot. When I found the metal scene of fake bands here I knew I’d found something worth doing for sure.

FN:  Have you ever created a fake band before playing Figment and if so, what led you to do so?

Infacticide:  Actually, yes! When I was younger I’d make up band names and draw little cartoony band members like there was no tomorrow. I’d often think about writing a story about them but those never really came through. Later on I’d try to form actual bands with my friends but they’d always end up as more of a bunch of ideas and ridiculous lyrics so I guess they could be considered fake bands too.

FN:  Based on the bands you’ve created on Figment you seem to be a big metal head.  Is metal primarily what you listen to or are you into other genres of music?

Infacticide:  Metal was my first and it will be my last, and it will be forever the closest to me. But that’s not to say I don’t like other styles. I enjoy folk and folk rock,because I grew up with it and because a lot of it speaks to me emotionally and politically as well. I love reggae, classic rock, punk, psychedelic, and chiptune, and I enjoy some old-school hip-hop, krautrock, and traditional Irish/Scottish/Scandinavian music as well. I just like writing from a metal perspective best, because that’s where my head’s at.

FN:  You also seem to like sub genres of metal – doom, drone, grindcore, etc.  Why do you prefer these off-shoots of metal?

Infacticide:  Stoner doom metal is definitely one of my more beloved genres. It pretty much encapsulates everything I love – weed, altered mental states, the occult, mysticism, brutality, Lovecraft, horror and totally slow, totally pulverizing heaviness. For someone whose favourite band is Black Sabbath, an entire offshoot of metal based solely around the ethos the Sab Four laid down has an inescapable draw. I create a lot of grindcore bands because they are just so damn fun to make, a lot of grindcore such as Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Anal Cunt have these hilarious nonsensical song titles which I like to draw upon. Plus a grindcore band which changes styles for each album?  And every album is based on a Nicolas Cage movie?  Why the hell not?!

FN:  What’s your band creation process like?  Are your bands influenced by real bands or do you simply decide on a genre and go from there?

Infacticide:  My bands aren’t really based on specific bands in reality. I either come up with a genre I want to work with, or I have a band name or some song titles that I think would work for a certain type of band, and start building off of that. Sometimes they’re completely off the cuff, but usually they’re thought out.

 

FN:  What are some of the real and/or fake bands that have influenced your fake bands?

Infacticide: Calavera Electrica is inspired by doom bands like Electric Wizard, Acid King, The Lamp of Thoth, and Reverend Bizarre…and formerwageslave’s Vorpal Queen has also been inspirational, being the biggest stoner doom band on Figment. The Ben and Jerry Murders are both my homage to Anal Cunt and my way of mocking a really, REALLY shitty band from my hometown. The Devil’s Dandy Dogs are inspired by old school stoner rock like Pentagram. Shroomurai is inspired by Death and other technical death metal bands, but with their own twist. My bands aren’t really based off other bands,more so they play in the styles of certain bands with their own twists and concepts.

FN:  Are the band members in your fake bands completely made up or are they based on real people?

Infacticide:  Most of my band members are made up, some of them I have very vivid visions of what they look and sound like in my head, while some of them are just names.  However, Marmalade from Calavera Electrica is based somewhat off my real life boyfriend, and Vern Hymen is just an actual musician version of me.

FN:  Is there a member of one of your bands that you think most reflects you as a person?

Infacticide:  As I’ve said, definitely Vern Hymen. I’m about as filthy, angry and ridiculous as her, though with less talent. She (and Calavera Electrica as a whole) is the creation I can most easily channel myself through, because they’re pretty much my dream band, what with the whole “getting stoned and thoughtful and jamming sludgy doom metal” thang.

FN:  What do you think the key is to having a successful band on Figment?

Infacticide:  I think it’s really all about showing care and genuine feeling for the bands you create. I personally love a band with a storyline or history, and when the folks behind their bands speak as their band, which is why I love such players as formerwageslave, inflatable_twerp, FuriousGrace and theHoseman. They really bring their bands to life and make them interesting to read about and keep track of, and that I feel is one of the most important things about Figment, making your bands and albums believable and interesting.  And that’s what I try to do too. I’m not too concerned about being successful though, I just think it’s all good fuckin’ fun!

FN:  Your bands all have great names – Mescaline Kimono, Shroomurai, Calavera Electrica, The Honest Somnambulists, Nicolas Rage, The Devil’s Dandy Dogs – how do you come up with them?

Infacticide:  My band names tend to come from cool things I’ve read in books or on the internet, and thinking “Hey, that would be a great band name!” Calavera Electrica means “Electric Skull” in Spanish, and I found that when I was researching voodoo for a story I was writing. The Honest Somnambulist was actually going to be my label name originally, but then I decided it would be better suited for a band. I think my only problem is sometimes my band names are difficult to remember or spell, but I like ’em, so they stay.

FN:  What is the band and/or album you’ve formed/released that you are the most proud of?

Infacticide:  I’m really proud of Calavera Electrica’s (CE) latest release, “Up Yer Dosage”. It’s been in the works for months, and I’m damn pleased with how it turned out. I was also really proud of CE’s concept EP “Pedal”, and Mescaline Kimono’s “Prairie Fire”.

FN:  What tools do you use to create your album cover and band images?

Infacticide:  Just Microsoft Paint and a lot of luck. I’ve been making ridiculous MS Paint collages for years, so I put that practice to use for albums like Shroomurai’s Detritivore. I’m planning on doing some hand-drawn cover art/band art in the future…

FN:  Your covers all have a very indie feel to them. Where do your cover design ideas come from and what’s your design process?

Infacticide:  I continue to not go too upscale with my art because I kinda like the sketchy feel that MS Paint brings to the process…however, there’s some wicked album art I’ve seen using other programs, so I may give that a shot sometime.  As for ideas, I usually base covers around a central theme for each band – Shroomurai has a psychedelic Asian aesthetic, CE has a druggy, old-school aesthetic, etcetera. I go on internet expeditions for wicked fonts and public domain images.

FN:  Do you think design skills are necessary to be a top band on Figment?  How do you think a player who doesn’t have incredible design skills can compete with players who do?

Infacticide:  I don’t believe that at all! I think if yer band has wicked songs and a cool vision then people will get into you regardless.  Design skill helps, to help be more eye-catching, but even subdued bands that are more minimalistic can still do well.  Hell, the first CE full-length I accidentally released without cover art, but people still checked out the album. We’re all still developing, because our bands are always developing, which is of course what makes Figment fun. Design is just another aspect that develops with the band.

FN:  You sprinkle your album descriptions with consistent mentions of your label, Good Horse Records, your in-house engineer Verchronica “The Inedible Moshbot” Bandicoot, and your recording studio, Ghost Pepper Studios.  Do you do this to create authenticity to your bands?  I certainly think it does.

Infacticide:  Well, thanks! I mostly put in references to the studio engineers, techs, roadies and so forth because I feel like the techs don’t get their due often enough. Recording and doing live sound and stage work is a rough job, but it’s fun as hell and those people are the ones who really help bring music to life in reality, so I feel they should be represented in Figment too! I respect numerous musicians, but when I’m at shows it’s often the roadies on stage hauling around amps that I wish I could be talking to.

FN:  If you could make one of your fake bands real and then join the band, what band would it be and what instrument would you play in the band?

Infacticide:  Without a doubt, Calavera Electrica. I would be the bassist and vocalist (though my singing skills are up for debate), and my boyfriend would fill the role of Marmalade on guitar. Interestingly, we’ve been thinking of starting a stoner doom band…so if I get back to practicing my bass, and we find ourselves a Dr. Sadism drummer…maybe CE will become more than just words on a website…perhaps…

FN:  If you had to pick one Figment player whose work you admire who would it be?

Infacticide:  Definitely formerwageslave. Everything that fellow creates is golden. Vorpal Queen, Lucifer and his boys, Janissary…solid fucking gold. He’s got brilliant ideas and writes his bands in such a way that I feel like I actually could listen to them or hang out and jam with them, and that’s damn inspiring.

FN:  If someone asked you why should I play Figment what would you tell them?

Infacticide:  I’d tell ’em “Because if you’re a music geek in whatever genre you desire, and you don’t have enough time on your hands to form an actual band, it’s a lot of freakin’ fun, man!” But seriously, even if you are a musician or a writer or a producer or what have you, Figment is still a brilliant place to boost your creativity and really just have a good time with these other rad folks who are just as in love with music and music creation as you are. And that’s a mafuckin’ fact.

Every now and then a new player arrives on Figment and within a very short time it feels as if they’ve always been part of our game.  FuriousGrace is one such player.  She’s creative, fearless and a hell of a lot of fun.  How do I know this?  Simple, look at her bands, read the news she publishes for them and of course, check out her albums.  Everything she does has an authentic spirit and flat out rocks.  So we thought, it’s high time we get to know this gal, and thankfully she was game.

FN:  Tell us a little about yourself. Are you really furious, and if so why?

FuriousGrace:  Hahaha, I can be! I am of Portuguese descent so I have very tumultuous feelings about things – on all ends of the spectrum. I am Canadian born though so I can be excessively polite as well. That isn’t a myth, eh. By day I save the world one loan at a time, but by night I save the world one pile of laundry at a time. It is a crazy and hedonistic life I tell you.

I have grown up with a love of music and life and laughter. For as long as I can remember there has been music around me – my grandfather was a folk singer in Portugal and sang with/wrote songs for the likes of some pretty amazing people, like Amalia Rodrigues (one of Portugal’s most famous singers of the Fado). He played the coimbra (guitar) and the accordian and he sang some pretty amazing and humbling and outrageous things. He and his friends would have singing throw-downs similar to rap battles, except with a few guitars and a lot of wine. My father, while not instrumentally inclined as a boy, would sing with him as well – there was this tradition around Christmas where troubadours would go door to door and sing for their supper, and entertain people from the richest to poorest. As he became an adult he picked up instruments here and there – guitar, a little bit of the keyboard.

As for me, I have always done something with music, though not professionally. I wanted to play the piano so badly as a kid that I taught myself. Same thing happened with a guitar. In high school I also took saxophone & clarinet, both bass and alto. I would love to learn a string instrument like the cello or standing bass. Or a bass guitar would be fantastic. Even now as an adult, I will plunk around on instruments when I can. I find it to be relaxing and it feels like home. Listening is just as emotional an experience for me as well – it is a full participation for me, instead of just recognizing noise and words put together into song, I really try to feel what I am hearing. It’s an international language and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

FN:  You’ve created one of the strongest all-girl bands on Figment in Cherry Vendetta, yet as you’ve probably noticed Figment is in many ways a reflection of the real rock business in that the majority of our players are male and so are the members of their fake bands. Do you think it’s harder for women in the real and fake music industry?

FG:  That is a difficult one to answer. I think in some ways it’s harder to get noticed and taken seriously, if that makes sense. It’s easy to get noticed and waved away or looked at like some sort of freak or fancy new shiny toy, you know? “Wait… a girl? A girl who performs music? A girl who performs as well as we do? We must see this in action!” And then they do their best to tear them apart. Look at Courtney Love, who admittedly was/is a car crash of a person, but it appeared as though this was emphasized more than a male lead of a band because there’s no way a woman can be strong in the industry and not be crazy or on drugs. At the same time, I think there are currently some rather strong figureheads in the music business that are trying to bring some balance. Look at great musicians like Feist, Emily Haines (lead singer of Metric), Tegan and Sara, Taylor Swift (who at the very least is poised and more polished than her counterparts from the Disney factory), Carrie Underwood, Beyonce Knowles, Gwen Stefani, Bjork, and of course that Lady, what’s her name, Gaga? (ha ha). While being in the minority compared to how many male peers they have in their respective genres, they all represent our gender quite well and are an inspiration to other aspiring female musicians. I also feel that the advent of internet sites like Youtube et al really make it easier for unknowns to gain more exposure, and this includes women.

FN:  Are you a big fan of the Riot Grrrl movement?

FG:  I am a big fan of any movement that allows me to rock out with my frock out (I’m censoring myself here but you get the point). I was a young teen when a lot of those bands became really popular (along the same time as grunge ruled the world) and it was really empowering to see these women taking on roles that were primarily led by their male counterparts and in some cases doing it better. It answered to something primal and angry in me (and in my generation in general I guess). I especially loved Sleater-Kinney and L7, but I listened to it all. At an age when you are starting to figure out who you are, it was pretty amazing to have all these women screaming out about how awesome we are and can be.

I feel the early 90’s in general brought some really interesting music and I’m kind of sad that a lot of what I hear lately is the same noise using those voice synthesizers and ugh. Do I sound old? I think I sounded old. Hmm.

I also loved rock and punk from the 70’s. Music was different then. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a generational thing. I grew up in the 70’s listening to my father and uncles playing the Beatles and Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd and Iggy Pop and all that noise. It just shapes you in a way that is hard to explain. Like that apothegm “you are what you read” except exchange it to refer to music.

Honestly though, I love ALL kinds of music. There is very little I won’t listen to or at least appreciate its aesthetic. My preferred genres however are metal, grunge, punk, rock & roll, classical, goth, jazz, industrial, indie… you know, this list is getting ridiculous, I should stop now.

FN: Squidbitchez are another all-girl band that you created, but they seem to be more rooted in the goth/industrial scene. What was the creative impetus behind that band?

FG:  I was pandering to a very specific audience when I created that band, but also, I went through a huge goth/industrial phase through high school that I never really outgrew. I loved bands like Cranes, Switchblade Symphony, Depeche Mode, The Cure, VNV Nation, and others, and felt it would be nice to make a tribute of sorts to them. I have a serious love for cephalopods, and this is a nod to the most awesome of them – the squid. It has a bit of a Lovecraftian bent as well which tickles my fancy.

FN:  Had you ever created a fake band before playing Figment and if so, what led you to do so?

FG:  Of course I have! My friends and I in high school were all music nuts. We’d talk about what our ideal band names would be and figure out entire albums and what we’d say in interviews etc. What led us to do so was that we’d sit in my friend’s basement jamming on our guitars or in general watching music videos, playing music, being all deep and shit. We had it all figured out. We’d be famous but not infamous – a “quiet” fame, where we could still be free to bum around without being trampled, but allowed to live off doing what we loved. None of us actually got around to doing it, but it was awesome to dream it all up.

FN:  What’s your band creation process like? Are your bands influenced by real bands or do you simply decide on a genre and go from there?

FG:  My bands are a complete figment of my imagination. There isn’t any real influence by real bands but there is an inspiration or kernel of multiple bands in some of them (like Cherry Vendetta). The process is pretty simple – I choose the genre, and then try and figure out how to make it mine. It is in some ways easier because I am in the minority here – there is little in the way of competition with other female players, so I am free to extend my imagination without having to worry about doing something that’s already been done. The names are kind of playful things that come from tossing words together until they fit.  Squidbitchez was easy – I have a friend who also loves cephalopods and I made a “harem of musicians” for him. He is a user on figment as well – creator of some fantastic bands like Lucifer and the Long Pigsformerwageslave.

After I figure out a name for the band, the rest sort of writes itself! I find images that make me think of the name – this can take a lot of digging and time to find something. I think about what a member of the band would be like – brief histories, if you will, that I have yet to fill in but they are there in my mind. When I decided to create Cherry Vendetta, it was on a whim – I was listening to the Tank Girl soundtrack (it is still a solid soundtrack in my mind – and that story made me want a tank in the worst way! Still do!) and it made me think “hey, I haven’t heard of a riot grrrl band in forever!” so I discussed it with formerwageslave and he agreed it would be pretty kick ass. I toyed around with names and when Cherry Vendetta came to mind, it’s like the imaginary band wrote the rest for me – I just knew exactly how it would be. Angry and raunchy and in your face. It was so easy to do as I already had the background exposure. I’m thinking my next challenge will be something jazzy. We’ll see.

FN:  I’ve noticed that you’ve made a point of creating members of each of your bands. So for instance, Sexasaurus Rex in the Truth Finders. Do you think that adds another level of reality to your bands and/or gives you more ways to be creative with the band?

FG:  Absolutely! It breathes life into what I would otherwise consider to be a 2-dimensional process. I’m not casting any aspersions against those who choose not to take it to that next level; I just find it makes things more interesting and fun for me in the process. By giving the band a “voice”, it puts the figment to another level – there are more opportunities to interact (jam sessions with other bands etc) and in general gives me a better feel for how I can describe albums (where they came from, what was happening at the time) and posting news items (more like a blog, which is how most real band sites handle their news items anyway).

FN:  Are the band members in your fake bands completely made up or are they based on real people?

FG:  For the most part they are completely made up. Some of the things that come from Cherry Vendetta and Squidbitchez are aspects of myself and my friends though. The names of the people in Truth Finders are the internet pseudonyms of people I interact with on another site.

FN:  Is there a member of one of your bands that you think most reflects you as a person?

FG:  Hmmm. Good question. I’m not as angry as Cherry. Probably Antoinette from Squidbitchez or one of the other Vendetta girls. Definitely Furious Grace from Truth Finders, since that band is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek creation for people I know rather than a sincere contribution here.

FN:  How did you find out about Figment?

FG:  This will make you laugh, but figment came to my attention when I was busy trying to win an apprentice-type competition for my gang in a web-based rpg called Hobowars. (You get to be a hobo who fights other hobos for fame and fortune. Need I say more?  We were split into teams and my team won this particular aspect of the comp – to create a fake band here and make an album, etc. I found however that I fell in love with the site – it really resonated with me on a personal level because I’ve been that dreamer, you know? As team captain, I was tasked with creating the figment account (rather than bombarding you guys with a kazillion different individual ones). We made two bands – Squidbitchez and Truth Finders – so that there would be one completely made up and one that sort of represented everyone on our team. It was a lot of fun, and I stuck around even after the others lost interest. I haven’t looked back and I even got my daughter hooked on it.

FN:  Was there anything in particular that made you want to play the game?

FG:  Everything! I found the whole concept of making up the band name and song titles and album cover and all of that so alluring, since it’s something I kind of did in high school anyway, plus I am a very creative person and this was just one more outlet for me to plug in to. The feedback is addictive and so far I’ve encountered some really cool people. My only issue is with communicating on the site – it gets a bit frustrating – but we manage somehow. I’ve had some real life issues and commitments that took me away from it for a while, but I have had things swimming in my head anyway stored up for my return. It’s a new year after all and it’s full of possibilities!

FN:  What do you think the key is to having a successful band on Figment?

FG:  Beats me! I don’t consider myself as having one. I guess the answer is to be creative, know your genre, and network! Don’t be afraid to push boundaries, and communicate with other creative minds. I’m not really sure how I managed to be as “successful” as I was as quickly as I was. It was probably Cherry’s gutter mouth and my dedication to the role play in the journaling and everything else. You have to really commit to this, it isn’t enough to spam out “go check out my band, check it out, I busted out another 50 albums just now, c’mon c’mon c’mon”. It’s too much. It isn’t enough to just rest on your laurels and wait for things to come to you either, but there are other ways of putting yourself out there – dedicate yourself to interacting with others, find like minded people, create a twitter, and do stuff that way – it isn’t rocket science.

FN:  Your album covers are simple but very visually effective. They really create an image for the band without too much text or image manipulation. How do you decide on an album cover image and is it the genesis of an album or do you have an idea and then look for a corresponding image?

FG:  I use the K.I.S.S. method. Gene Simmons really had something there. Har har. Seriously though, I figure out my album first and then look for the corresponding image, though sometimes both come to me at the same time. Sometimes one will shape the other. I try not to cross genres – doesn’t make sense to have a bunch of flowers and pandas for a goth industrial band that worships Cthulhu, but a skull with bones that look like tentacles are perfect. Sometimes I just type random words into google image finder and see what I find. It can take some digging. Literally hundreds of pages. Mine is a labor of love.

FN:  What tools do you use to create your album cover and band images?

FG:  At first I used MS Paint (no lie!) and then I remembered I had Photoshop. I am also a fontaholic. I can’t help myself. So I am constantly trolling for new fonts. I troll the internet for royalty free photos or images that are so deep down in the trenches that their owners wouldn’t even recognize them. Then I polish them up or rip them to bits and make them my own. I don’t use any special tubes or addons or anything for photoshop either – just the bare elements – and sort of fudge things together until they come close to what I had envisioned. Sometimes I’ll ask for feedback from others but mostly it’s a haphazard process and I just play it by ear. Not very professional, I know.

FN:  Your fake record label has quite a cheeky name. Is that part of your Riot Grrrl aesthetic or simply a joke?

FG:  It was the name of my team in the above-mentioned Apprentice competition. Team Pocket Taco. I loved it and kept it because it made me laugh. Plus I tend to be rather cheeky and smarmy so I felt it represented my ‘non-furious’ side rather well. It was a good holla at the Riot Grrl movement as well without being a bitch about it. But also a bit of a stab at the Record industry as a whole – they are a bunch of pocket tacos except I’d start spelling that with a C instead of a P. I am a fan of independent labels and self-publishing folks, I hate the idea of musicians working for pretty much nothing and not even owning the rights to their own materials at the end of the day. This rant could go on but I won’t go there. I think I’ve made my point. :)

FN:  What are some of the real and/or fake bands that you would say have influenced your fake bands?

For Cherry: Sleater-Kinney, L7, Bikini Kill

For Squid: Switchblade Symphony, Cranes

For Truth Finders: None really, I was just farting around trying to see what the site was about.

FN:  Any Figment players who you’d like to laud for their work?

FG:  Oh gosh this one is tough. There are so many! formerwageslave to be sure. Even though I am biased with his being my friend, I am really really proud of his contributions here! And he is this incredibly talented person outside of the figment universe – he’s one of those lucky bastards that has a really real band as well, you know? Just all around a great person.

I also love inflatable_twerp, he’s just hilarious and is really super dedicated to his chosen genres. Our collaborative efforts between Cherry Vendetta and the Chosen Rejects was really fun. I am hoping to get into some more collaborative efforts with him or other members of the community.

JoshTheRadioDude has some pretty cool stuff. Pretty creative.

poppinfresh is pretty f’ing fantastic – I absolutely LOVE the whole Bleatles thing, coming across that stuff just made my day. It is incredibly creative and cheeky.

frizbee’s work with Eccentric Arcade is nothing short of awe-inspiring. He really takes figment to an entire new level and his dedication is nonpareil.

TMTYTF has some amazing output with Stonekrank and I find the list of albums he’s put out rather intimidating, but I guess it comes of being here forever.

There’s tons more but those are in the forefront. I’d mention my daughter’s creative output but that would be nepotism. Plus I don’t want to out her.

FN:  If you could make one of your fake bands real and then join the band, what band would it be and what instrument would you play in the band?

FG:  Again, this is a difficult one to answer. I don’t know if I’d have the same energy at 34 to put into a band like Cherry Vendetta that I would have had at 17, but I would probably love it. Squidbitchez would also be fun. I would love to be like Antoinette and play the violin in some awesome gothy way, you know? Be all “that’s right bitchez, I rock this violin like there’s no tomorrow! Now let’s sing about how there’s no tomorrow!” Breaking strings with how mad I slam that bow across the thing. Plus I think it would come as a quiet fame like I mentioned above – not really in your face, a very select audience, but still worthy and life-fulfilling. And fun. Especially that.

FN:  What is the band and/or album you’ve formed/released that you are the most proud of?

FG:  Cherry Vendetta’s “Screw The Scandals”. While Peepshow is fun and I find the album cover really came out well, Scandals had a more hand-crafted feel – the typical garage band with no money scrapping together enough coins to put together a small number of songs they are really proud of. They didn’t have enough money to hire a cover artist so they just went through some old photos and found something crazy and slapped on a title. I think I pulled it off perfectly. The band itself is something of an accomplishment – I am still sort of in shock over how well it was received by people in general and it inspires me to continue on. So thanks, everyone. You rock. Really.

FN:  If someone asked you why should I play Figment what would you tell them?

FG:  I would tell them that if they love music and have always dreamed of having a band but didn’t actually have the time or talent to be in one, this is a great way to live vicariously. I’d show them how it works, what I’ve done with it, and get them energized about it. But most of the people I’d recommend the site to, would already understand. Because it would hit them just like it hit me – a bullet through the breastplate to the heart. I love this site. Kudos to you.

Jaymundo hasn’t been playing Figment for that long, but he plays it like a pro!  His bands seem so real it’s hard to believe they’re fake, and the albums they release are always well though out, well designed and well written.  So who is Jaymundo and how does he do it?  We thought we’d find out in the fourth installment of our series “Figment Player Profiles”.

Figment News:  Tell us a little about yourself.

Jaymundo:  I’m Jay, I’m obsessed with music.  I honestly believe that the world couldn’t function without it. I have a range of hobbies that all differ from each other.  I’m a keen script writer, music producer/remixer, snowboarder, model builder and entrepreneur.

FN:  You mentioned on your profile page that you’re a bit of a music junkie and judging from the genre’s you listed you have quite a diverse musical palette.  When did you first start listening to music?

Jay:  I’d say I first started taking notice of music when I was around 6 or 7, I grew up with a lot of country & western in my household and that’s what I remember hearing and enjoying first. It just went on naturally from there, I started making mix tapes in school and then CD’s to Playlists as technology progresses. I don’t think people should be limited to one genre, all music is art.

FN:  Do you play an instrument?

Jay:  I played a lot of guitar in school and dabble now and again. I’m trying to get into Synth but it’s harder than it seems.

FN:  Why do you create fake bands on Figment?

Jay:  I have worked with a lot of bands on my local scene in promoting, marketing, booking etc so Figment just spoke to me as a good pastime.

FN:  Had you ever created a fake band before playing Figment and if so, what led you to do so?

Jay:  I can’t say I did. Figment was the first site that I saw that was doing this kind of thing before then I hadn’t really considered it.

FN:  What’s your band creation process like?  Are your bands influenced by real bands or do you simply decide on a genre and go from there?

Jay:  Most of my ideas come to me at work while I should be focusing on something else. Most are inspired by real bands and if you look hard enough at most of my bands you can see who is inspired by who.

FN:  What inspires your band’s albums – current events, historical events, personal experiences, etc?

Jay:  I look at what real bands are doing and have done and I try to create something that would fit in the real world at this time.

FN:  When you create a band do you already have their debut album in mind or does it take you a while to decide what direction to take them in?

Jay:  Most of the time I have it in mind. Sometimes however, I create the band simply because I have the idea in my head and want it out.  Then it takes time to come up with the debut.

FN:  Your album covers are well thought out and executed.  Do you have any graphic design experience or training?

Jay:  I did graphic design at school and have always been a strong drawer so you could say I have some experience. I mainly edit and combine images to come up with my covers. Sometime I use copyright free images and edit those or get permission from artists on social sites.

FN:  What tools do you use to create your album cover and band images?

Jay:  As I said I use what Images I can within the rules. Other than that I use Photoshop, MS Paint and Corel Draw.

FN:  Your label East Bank Records has already developed several bands including Dallas Massacre, Burn By Numbers, Beast Hunter, The Detroit Mongrels and Dr. Poncho.  What do you think is the role of a good fake label?

Jay:  I think a good label is one that doesn’t restrict itself to one style of music. I think a good label is a diverse one.

FN:  Any plans to sign bands to EBR that were created by other players?

Jay:  For now I have no plans to sign an outside band. Who knows, maybe in the future the right band will come along and I will go for it.

FN:  What are some of the real bands that you would say have influenced your fake bands?

Jay:  Manowar, Tool, The Devil Wears Prada, Volbeat, The Sword, Bury Tomorrow to name a few.

FN:  How about fake bands or should I say are there any bands on Figment that influenced your fake bands?

Jay:  In the nicest way possible… no. It’s not anything personal I just prefer to stick to my own ideas from real bands and not tread on any other players toes so to speak.

FN;  What do you look for in a fake band?

Jay:  A good creative name, good album art and a good bio.

FN:  If you could make one of your fake bands real and then join the band, what band would it be and what instrument would you play in the band?

Jay:  I’d have to say Dallas Massacre on guitar so they could finally have two axe men.

FN:  What is the band and/or album you’ve formed/released that you are the most proud of?

Jay:  I’d have to say Ruffian by Detroit Mongrels. It was the first album I really created that was long and had a mixture of tracks.

FN:  What would you like to see added to Figment in the way of features, improvements, etc?

Jay:  I’d like to see a forum and the ability to leave messages on players profiles instead of just band pages.

FN:  If someone asked you why you play Figment what would you tell them?

Jay:  Because It combines creativity with music.

Time for the 3rd installment in our on-going feature, Figment Player Profiles!!!  I know, you haven’t slept in weeks waiting in anticipation for this latest installment, but hey all joking aside we have a good one for ya!  Tyman is a long-time Figment player having joined the site 2 years ago.  In that time he’s built up quite a stable of bands with a surprising number of musical genres represented.  Whether he’s putting together the latest version of the successful musical video game “The Next Rock Legend” or cutting a record with his metal band Fragile Agony, Tyman is always at work even if it is play.  We talked with him recently to get a better feel for what he’s like on and off Figment.

FigmentNews:  Tell us a little about yourself.

Tyman: Well, first of all, I’ve been a musician for as long as I can remember, and I hate sports. I like a lot of different bands, but the ones I like the most are Dream Theater and Metallica.

FigmentNews:  How did you find Figment?

Tyman: My brother, known as Myoxis on Figment, showed me the site, and I thought it was pretty cool. So, I joined.

FN:  What attracted you to the site?

Tyman: The topic of the site: Fake Bands. That really interested me, because I’ve never heard of a fake band website before. I also liked that you can make you’re own albums and earn fake money. It’s original.

FN:  You mentioned on your profile page that you’re a musician and that you are part of a 2-man band with another Figment player.  So are you like the White Stripes?  Do you play guitar and your friend plays drums?

Tyman: On the first part of the question: Sort of, but obviously we’re not brother and sister (or a divorced married couple, whatever the White Stripes are), and on the second part: It’s actually the other way around. I play drums and I sing, and metallicstone is the guitarist.

FN:  Your album covers and band/album descriptions have really improved over the past year or so.  To what do you attribute this to?

Tyman: Well, I’m not so sure. I just come up with them, but thanks for the compliment!

FN:  What tools do you use to create your album covers?

Tyman: Well, I look up images on Google that look pretty cool, and then I use Microsoft Paint, probably like others on Figment do.

FN:  What’s your band creation process like?  Do you lean on the bands you like for influence or do you simply decide on the genre and go from there?

Tyman: I just decide on the genre and go from there. Nothing special.

FN:  When you create a band do you already have their debut album in mind or does it take you a while to decide what direction to take them in?

Tyman: 50-50, whatever happens. One day, I might plan it, the next it’ll take me a while to put in what direction I want it to be in.

FN:  Your bands run the gamut as far as genres go – Prog Rock, Christian, Alternative, Grunge, Metal and straight up Rock N’ Roll among others.  Do you listen to a lot of different types of music?

Tyman: Not really. I mostly listen to Prog Metal, Rock, Metal, and Grunge. But, I do, sort of, like Slipknot (3 songs only). So, I listen to whatever I like, and nothing I don’t.

FN:  You were one of the first players to have a band break up as well as have a band re-form.  What inspired you to do that?

Tyman: I HATE IT WHEN BANDS BREAK UP!!! That’s how I was inspired. ‘Nuff said.

FN:  Speaking of inspiration, what are some of the real bands that you would say have influenced your fake bands?

Tyman: Fragile Agony and AlphaGhost were DEFINITELY inspired by Dream Theater, The Silver Stones were inspired by Metallica and Megadeth, Aggression of Confusion was inspired by Rush and Trapt, Dark World was inspired by Lacuna Coil, my latest band Homicide Machine was inspired by a new band I like called Fear Factory, as well as inspired by Slipknot and Linkin Park, and I do say cudos to Trivium for inspiration of Apocolantis.

FN:  How about fake bands – any bands on Figment that influenced your fake bands?

Tyman:  Shane Osiris inspired me to make Evan Dumare, and Pusher inspired me to make Decrease Magnum, a small fanbase Glam Metal band I formed. Those are the only ones I can think of at the moment.

FN:  What do you look for in a fake band?

Tyman: A good band description, cool album covers, as well as names, and how interesting it is to me.

FN:  Any Figment players who you’d like to laud for their work?

Tyman:  I want to get started with Crypt_Keeper, he’s been on Figment for a month now, and his band, Werewolf Concerto, has gotten REALLY POPULAR!! I hope he’s enjoying Figment, because I’m really enjoying what he’s making.

I also want to name TMTYTF. Dude, you come up with pretty cool covers, and I admire you for that. By the way, congrats on the #5 spot in popular bands with Stonekrank. Their fanbase really has grown.

Another player is algoreyou. He has pretty interesting album covers, and I think Old Republic is pretty cool.

And last, but not least, javdoc! Merchants of Metal is really cool, plus, congratulations on winning the album cover contest.

FN:  Have you always created fake bands?  Or is this something you thought would be fun after seeing Figment for the first time?

Tyman: I actually came up with the names Trapzone and Kings of Rock when I was younger. So, yeah, I have always come up with fake bands, and all the others, I came up with on Figment (except Heaven Starz, The Silver Stones, and Spee D I).

FN:  Where did the band name “The People Who Are Made of Plasma” come from?

Tyman: I don’t remember. I think I was thinking about lasers or plasma. Either that, or I just created it for fun.

FN:  If you could make one of your fake bands real and then join the band, what band would it be and what instrument would you play in the band?

Tyman: Definitely Fragile Agony! Except it would be Metal instead of Prog Metal, because my skills aren’t technical.

FN:  What is the band and/or album you’ve formed/released that you are the most proud of?

Tyman: The band I’m proud of is The Silver Stones, because that’s the band I have the biggest fanbase I’ve had. The album I am most proud of is “The Sign of Depression”. That’s the most popular album I’ve EVER made.

FN:  What would you like to see added to Figment in the way of features, improvements, etc?

Tyman: Honestly, I’m fine with how Figment is already. I don’t think any changes need to be made.

FN:  If someone asked you why you play Figment what would you tell them?

Tyman: I’d say “I play Figment because it’s entertaining. You should make a profile!”

In the second installment of our Player Profiles series we thought we’d get to know the player known as JoshTheRadioDude.  For those of you who missed our first player profile, this series is aimed at spotlighting some of the creators behind the bands on Figment.   We’ll talk to actual Figment players to see where their inspiration comes from, what tools they use to create and market their bands, and what they like/dislike on Figment.

JoshTheRadioDude has playing Figment since November of 2009.  He hasn’t created a lot of bands or released that many albums (4 in total), but everything he’s created on Figment is top notch.  His bands all have strong back stories, strong visual identities and great song titles.  Judging from his username you’ve probably already guessed that he has a background in commercial radio, but we thought we’d give you all a chance to get to know him a little better.

Figment News:  Tell us a little about yourself.  (You can be as vague or as specific as you want to be.)

JoshTheRadioDude:  Well, I’m a freelance web and graphic designer with many other hobbies and interests, among which are music (first and foremost), sports, writing, politics, all things media and, oddly enough, city planning.  I also have a second job during the school year as a P.A. announcer for a local private school, and I’ll tell you right now, very few things in life beat getting paid to watch sports.

FN:  How did you find Figment?

JTRD:  Through a Facebook ad for a Figment band, as a matter of fact.  Darkling, if I recall correctly.  Unlike most ads, it caught my eye, so a “good job” and thanks are due to Tim Mamba!

FN:  What attracted you to the site?

JTRD:  Being the creative person I am and loving music as I do, it just seemed like a natural fit.  Plus, I have several “fantasy” hobbies.  That city planning interest I mentioned before has resulted in numerous maps of cities that don’t exist (as well as an addiction to SimCity).  I’ve come up with ideas for countless radio stations that will never exist.  I’ve created complete non-existent universes for stories that I’ve written just to make them seem more realistic so that I know exactly what I’m writing about.  It’s a sickness, really.  But it’s how I relax, so creating fake bands and fake music is just an extension of that.

FN:  You mentioned on your profile page that you’re a former radio DJ and that you are in the process of starting two internet radio stations.  What’s it like working in radio?  Are your internet stations up and running yet?  And if so, where can we find them on the interwebs?

JTRD:  Radio is my first love!  There’s no doubt about that.  I could go on for hours and hours about my passion for it, but suffice it to say that when you’re working at a station with people who are just as passionate about it as you are, your employers included, it is the best job in the world.  Nothing gives me more joy than to be on the air, doing my show and knowing that thousands of people out there are listening to what I’m playing, are interested in what I have to say and are entertained by the way I choose to present the content.  Not because it’s about ME, but because I genuinely enjoy serving people and making them happy!  The rush I get when I turn on that microphone is like no other.  Sadly, the industry is crumbling, and finding the opportunity to do things the right way on the air is almost impossible today.  That’s partially why I’m starting up my two Internet stations.  They’re not up and running yet, but I’m getting closer to getting them online each day, and I’ll be sure to let the Figment community know ahead of time when the official launch dates will be.  One station will be a talk outlet focused on the city where I live, and the other will be a Top 40 station.

FN:  Do you think you’re experience as a DJ has had any influence on the band’s you’ve created on Figment?  And if so, how?

JTRD:  Oh, absolutely!  I think above all, my musical tastes have been shaped by the music I’ve played on the air, and that goes both ways, better AND worse.  Most of my time has been spent working in the Adult Contemporary format (aural brain death, as it were), and I try to avoid the lighter, slower stuff as much as possible as a result.  I was never a fan of softer music.  Growing up in Miami, I listened mostly to hip-hop, R&B, pop and dance music, and the opportunities I was presented with to get into the radio industry never took me down that road (which is why I’m fulfilling that dream online).  I actually started out in the Christian music format before moving to the mainstream stuff, then went BACK to Christian soft rock and Christian modern rock later on.  The more modern Christian stuff is great, I love it, but the lighter stuff, Christian or otherwise, is just not my cup of tea.  There’s a common reality among radio types: we generally don’t listen to the music we play on the air.  If you end up working at a station that plays the music you truly enjoy, you’re one of the lucky ones.  So while my tastes were already formed before I started on the air, they were even further solidified by the formats I worked in, and the bands I create on Figment are a reflection of that.

FN:  Are your bands inspired by any real bands or are they more figments of bands you would have liked to have formed yourself?

JTRD:  A little of both, actually.  <3 is based on the attitude of bands like Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco and All-American Rejects, but their formation is based somewhat on a band that some high school friends and I were talking about forming years ago.  Fitchburg Subdivision has roots in a more recent series of real-life events, though there was no talk of forming a real-life band.  The Doll House Girls are a take on girl groups like The Pussycat Dolls, Danity Kane and so forth.  Free To The Public is the one band I’ve created so far that really just came from a desire to do something different.

FN:  You mention that you are Top 40 kind of guy.  Do you think it’s harder for fake pop bands to get traction on Figment versus other types of musical genres?

JTRD:  That’s what I’ve experienced so far, yeah.  Most of the Figment community seems to be much more heavily rock-oriented.  The artists in other genres that are successful, like Zandergriff Miggs for example, seem to be the exception because they’re so unique.  And I like that, I think that’s a great challenge to have to meet, because it drives people to be more creative, to hone their talents and find out what works and what doesn’t.  I’ll be the first to admit, I’m still figuring that out.  I’m pretty new to the site, so given my relatively slow rate of putting albums out, it may be some time before I do, but it gives me something to work toward, and I appreciate that.

FN:  All of your bands have extensive back stories and a strong visual image.  What advice do you have to share with your fellow Figment players regarding the best way to go about creating a band on Figment?

JTRD:  Create, create, create.  I’m a very detail-oriented person when it comes to things that I have a passion for, so I try to go for as much realism as possible, and that generally leads me to come up with all sorts of additional ways to make a band seem like something you’d encounter in the real world.  That means back stories, a solid idea of who’s who, what each member’s musical tastes are and how that influences the band, what images reflect those influences and how they can come together to reflect the overall style of the group, what’s going to be identified with the band visually as opposed to the album and vice versa and, finally, song titles that fit both the musical style and the theme of the album if there is one.  In essence, it takes me a lot of planning to put a band together and just as much to put together an album.  If you go into detail and think everything out ahead of time instead of just grabbing an image and slapping your band’s name on top of it, you’re going to have a quality product.

FN:  Your album covers are really well done.  What tools do you use to create them?

JTRD:  Thank you!  I just use Photoshop, to tell you the truth.  What I think really goes into them to make them pop is the amount of work I put into them.  I have to start out with a specific idea of what it is I want before I begin, and I’ll find pictures or images online to get started with.  Some of them will be used, most of them won’t, at least not for the purpose I originally intended.  But once I get to a satisfactory point, I’ll put everything together.  It also helpes to have a good collection of fonts and a working knowledge of the effects in your image editor.  Just experimenting will sometimes lead me to what I’m looking for or something even better.

FN:  One of your most successful bands is Fitchburg Subdivision, who recently placed 3rd in our 2010 Figment Album Cover Design Contest and had a long run at #1 on our Hot Albums Chart.  Yet you yourself have said in comments on the blog that you were surprised by their success.  Why?
JTRD:  The cover itself was actually designed as one of those random picture / random Wikipedia article / random quotes things that floats around Facebook every once in a while.  To be entirely honest, I didn’t really put too much work into it.  Then when I realized it looked better than probably any album cover I’d ever designed before, I decided I should use it on Figment.  The track listing was what got more attention from me than the cover design, but somehow it all fit together.  What surprised me was that an album cover that just got thrown together on a whim late one night ended up becoming my best-selling album so far and skyrocketed to #1 before I even knew it!

FN:  Do you think there was something you did on the Fitchburg Subdivision that you might carry over to some of your other bands or do you think it was merely one element (album cover, song titles, back story) that led to their success?

JTRD:  I’m not sure.  I think the style of the photo I used on The Virtue Of Fools was probably the biggest selling point, but finding a picture like that again is going to be somewhat difficult, even if I take it myself.  The band’s logo got some praise from William Schaff in the album cover design contest, and I feel that was a compelling part of it as well, so I might see what I can do to play on that success.

FN:  Do you actively try to build and maintain a fan base for each of your bands on Figment?

JTRD:  I do a little promotion among my friends outside of Figment, but as for the site itself, I’ve just sort of put out what I do and let people find their way to my bands.  Part of that just has to do with the fact that I have less time than I’d like available to dedicate to such a hobby, but it’s also because I want to grow fan bases naturally instead of advertising myself, at least for now.  It gives me a better understanding of what’s working on the basis of what people actually like and enjoy as opposed to what’s selling through self-promotion.

FN:  What does it take for you to fan a band?  Buy/listen to their album?

JTRD:  Hmm… that’s a good question!  I can’t say I’ve ever really thought about it before.  I think, first of all, a band has to have a name that grabs my attention.  That’s actually the first thing I see; the band’s logo doesn’t necessarily attract my eye up front, even though I’m very much a visually-minded person when it comes to covers and such.  Genres also matter to me.  If I wouldn’t listen to it in real life, chances are I won’t buy it on Figment.  There ARE exceptions to that, however, and they’re usually because something about the band and/or album intrigues me; usually the cover or themes found in the music.

FN:  Any other players who you’d like to laud for their work?

JTRD:  TMTYTF has been a great source of support for me on the site.  He’s been a fan from almost the first day I joined up, and he’s helped promote some of my bands through the tours he’s set up.  He’s probably one of the most prolific members of the community, too.  I don’t know how he does it.  I like to joke that I have too much free time on my hands, but… geez, man, take a break!  Haha!  No, seriously, check his stuff out, it’s really enjoyable.

FN:  Have you always created fake bands?  Or is this something you thought would be fun after seeing Figment for the first time?

JTRD:  You know, come to think of it, I’ve been doing this as far back as the age of seven.  I remember my first fake band was with my next-door neighbor.  We called ourselves the Red Hot Rockers.  Not exactly creative, but what do you want from a couple of seven-year-olds?  I also recall one I came up with in high school called no ¿dea, which actually came about as a play on a joke about The Who being on stage and someone asking “who’s playing?”  The obvious response would be “yes,” and it would just devolve into a whole “Who’s On First?” routine from there.  I’ve come up with many other less memorable fake bands between and since then.

FN:  Your album covers tend to have a strong visual identity.  Do you seek out specific types of images to match the band or album content?  Or do you start with an image and create everything around that?

JTRD:  Well, as I said before, I tend to plan everything out ahead of time, so my covers are generally a compromise between the perfect image I have in my mind and what I’m able to piece together with what I can find that comes close.  In relation to the content of the album itself, the cover always has a relation to either the music or the band in terms of lyrical content or just general attitude.

FN:  What is the band and/or album you’ve formed/released that you are the most proud of?

JTRD:  The Virtue Of Fools has had the most success for certain, and I’m very proud of it, but I think if I had to choose which I’m most proud of overall, it would have to be DHG’s first album, “Wanna Play?” They’re the group I’ve put the most work into so far, and even though the fan base is small and the genre isn’t exactly the most popular on the site, I’m satisfied with the result of my effort.  I think it’s likely the most realistic album I’ve created yet in terms of cover, style and content.

FN:  If someone asked you why you play Figment what would you tell them?

JTRD:  When I won third place in the album design contest and I showed my mother the copy of Record Store Days on a recent visit, she had a great summary description of the site: it’s like fantasy football for music lovers.  I love music, I’m a creative person and I enjoy competition.  Figment combines all of those factors into one amazing, very fun game!

As you know, we often interview Figment bands here on blog.  It’s a great way to get to know more about the band and allows the player who created the band to really flesh them out.  What we haven’t done yet is turn the spotlight on the the actual creator themselves, and that’s why we’ve decided to start a new featured called Player Profiles.  In Player Profiles we’ll talk to the actual Figment players to see where their inspiration comes from, what tools they use to create and market their bands, and what they like/dislike on Figment.

When we discussed what Figment player should kick off this new feature, all of us here at Figment immediately thought of frizbee!  For those of you who aren’t familiar with frizbee, he’s the mastermind behind bands like Eccentric Arcade, Coxswain Insignia, Mac & Cheese and Tucker Jackson among others and the recent winner of our Figment Children’s Album Contest.  For those of you who are familiar with him, we wanted to give you some more insight into how he creates and markets his bands.  Whether it’s his constantly updated and detailed band descriptions, his incredible album cover design work or his pioneering use of Twitter, YouTube and the web to promote his bands, frizbee always sets the bar higher with each new band or album.  His friendly, humble, collaborative but competitive nature has made him a popular player on the site, and in our opinion the perfect person to kick off our player profiles.  So without further adieu, we give you our conversation with frizbee.

Figment News:  Tell us a little about yourself.

frizbee:  Well, I’m 24, about to turn 25 next month. I’m originally from California and lived between there and Hawaii from about the time I was 6. My family uprooted to Oahu, Hawaii permanently when I was 14, and I lived there for about 5 years before moving to Wisconsin to be with my then girlfriend who is now my wife of 3 years. I’m a music fanatic and a severe Photoshop junkie. I’m currently a student of Graphic Design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

FN:  How did you find Figment?

frizbee:  I actually discovered Figment through this thing on Flickr called the CD Cover Meme Pool. I don’t even remember how I happened across that in the first place, but it quickly became an obsession. It was a place where you could play the CD Cover Meme game, and share the covers that you created with everyone else in the group. Sadly, the pool is no longer around. But shortly before it’s disappearance, somebody had posted a link to Figment in the discussion board. Initially I was intrigued at the concept, so I checked it out. After I took the virtual tours, I was instantly hooked.

FN:  You’ve mentioned in comment posts on Figment News that you’ve always dreamed of being a rock star.  Any reason why you never tried to be one?

frizbee:  I have actually attempted rock stardom in the past, but unfortunately it didn’t pan out. When I was about 16, I was hired on as a singer for this band that this kid was putting together. I had never really met the guy, but a friend of mine had met him and told him about how I wanted to be in a band, and suggested me. I never even really auditioned, it just sort of happened. I was more than willing to give it a go, but the kid had some serious grandiose delusions about overnight success, and everybody got real sick of it real quick. We had a few practice sessions, one of which was actually productive and turned out something decent, and then we quickly disbanded. Beyond that, I’ve just never had the time or known the right people to attempt the dream again. I still hope that it may happen someday.

FN:  You’ve really created quite a roster of bands on Figment.  Are your bands inspired by any real bands or are they more figments of bands you would have liked to have formed yourself?

frizbee: My bands, like all bands really, are most certainly inspired by other bands. But I never create a band with the sole intention of it becoming a carbon copy of an existing band. And all of the bands I create are extensions of my musical tastes and styles. That’s what is so great about Figment; you can create every band you’ve ever dreamed of creating. Eccentric Arcade is my rock, that is the band that I dream of one day having. I never stop coming up with new ideas for EA. I have plans for EA that go so far into the future it’s scary. Sometimes I wish I did more with some of my other bands like Coxswain Insignia or Neutron Emission, but I don’t ever want to produce something just for the hell of it. When the time is right, it will happen. I have bands that have yet to be brought to life on Figment simply because it’s just not their time yet. I knew I was going to create Solomon X. Lambert for several months before it actually happened.

FN:  Who are your inspirations?

frizbee:  Wow, that is the question to end all questions, isn’t it? Man, where do I even start? Musically? I like everything, I really do. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have an incredibly eclectic musical palette. Queen is my favorite band and has been ever since I was a kid, but KoRn is a very very close second. I love ICP and Twiztid, but I also love stuff like Taylor Swift and Keith Urban. And I’m not afraid to admit that I own every Spice Girls album. You gotta have variety! As far as who inspires me from a design aspect? That’s a bit of a trickier question. Mainly because I never really know who designs anything. I see things that inspire me everyday, but it’s not like everything has the designer’s name slapped across it, so it’s hard to pin stuff like that down.

FN:  With each of your bands you seem to have created a lot of depth to their back stories and their overall visual image.  What advice do you have to share with your fellow Figment players regarding the best way to go about creating a band on Figment?

frizbee:  The biggest problem that I see with a lot of users on Figment is that there are too many cooks in the kitchen. This is especially a reoccurring problem I’ve been seeing with new users. Everybody wants to join the site and immediately start creating band after band after band. Which isn’t necessarily a band thing. Hell, I’ve got about 6 or 7 bands myself. But you have to pace yourself. If you create 5 bands right from the get go and release your allotted number of albums for the band on the first day, you’re just pumping stuff out for the hell of it. There’s no creativity, it’s just mass produced. Treat your band(s) on Figment like you would treat any real band. You’ve got to put in the time. You don’t throw a bunch of people together, hit the stage and become the next big thing right away. People want to know who you are, where you come from, what you’re trying to say with your music. You gotta market your band. When I see a band and the band description is just “We play metal!”, that immediately turns me off. I want to know about the band, I want it to feel real. You don’t have to be overly detailed or develop some extensive back story, but for me it’s gotta be more than “We’re a band. Jeff plays bass, Frank plays drums, Chuck plays guitar. We rock hard!” I also think that the album artwork and the song titles are of extreme importance.

FN:  Your album covers are really well done.  What tools do you use to create them?

frizbee:  I’m all about Photoshop. Almost all of the album covers I’ve created have been created in Photoshop (PS). I say almost all of them only because there was a short stint when I was forced to use Gimp in place of Photoshop. The first Eccentric Arcade album, the first Coxswain Insignia album, and the first Neutron Emission album covers were created long ago with PS on an older computer that died before I discovered Figment. Up until the Xenophilia Live album, everything was created using Gimp, as it was my only source of image editing on my computer at the time. I have since then upgraded to PS once again because it is required for my schooling. I’m so happy to have it back. Gimp works all right in a pinch, but it’s no substitute.

FN:  I understand you’re taking graphic design courses?  What’s that like, and has Figment helped prepare you for these courses?

frizbee:  That’s true. I’m in my first year at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh; I’m going for my bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time to be a graphic designer, so it’s awesome to finally be on the path to achieving that dream. So far everything has been going great. As with any school I don’t always love my classes or my teachers, but that’s just part of the game. I don’t know if Figment has helped prepare me for school, but school has certainly helped prepare me for Figment. The more I learn, the better my album covers get.

FN:  How do you promote your bands once they’ve released an album?  Any pointers on what to do and what not to do?

frizbee:  For the most part, I tend to let the albums speak for themselves. I’ll announce it in the news section of the band’s page, and the Eccentric Arcade Twitter page is a great source of promotion. But I generally tend to just release it into the wild and let it run free. I feel that if it’s meant to do well, it will do well. Sometimes the success of an album can shock you. I’ve released some things that I think stand a chance of doing really well that completely bomb, but when you get the ones that blow up…that’s an awesome feeling. For new Figment users, I would advise that you promote your band(s) moderately, but don’t go overboard. You don’t want to oversell yourself. If you start hounding people to listen to your band or by their new album, that’s just going to turn people off.

FN:  It takes time to build and maintain a fan base for a band on Figment.  What is the most effective way to do this on a sustained basis?

frizbee:  Like the real music industry, it seems like a little gimmick goes a long way. If you look at the top four Top Bands on Figment, they’re gimmick bands. Everybody loves a gimmick, but I think people rely a bit too much on it. In my opinion, the best way to build a long lasting fan base is to be original. That’s why bands like !? and Fait Accompli are so great and have such a dedicated fan base. I get excited when I see that !? comes out with a new album, or when I see that Gnome is in the studio because they bring originality with every single release.

FN:  With Eccentric Arcade you’ve not only promoted the band on Figment, but also on YouTube (through a video podcast), on Twitter and with their own website.  Why go to such lengths to promote a fake band?

frizbee:  Why not? When I first decided to start the Eccentric Arcade Twitter page, I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be. I was honestly a bit worried about it in the beginning. I didn’t want people to think “Ok, this guy has taken it one step too far.” But I felt that Figment was the place where you could take that extra step, and live that rock star dream that you’ve always wanted without being judged. So I decided to take it one step further and spread the word beyond just Figment. Now I have Jimmy Eat World following Eccentric Arcade on Twitter. How ridiculous is that!? And the YouTube channel was something that just seemed natural. I figured if I was going to go to these lengths to make the idea of Eccentric Arcade as real as possible, people needed a face and a voice to put to everything. If you’re gonna do it, do it big!

FN:  What does it take for you to fan a band?  Buy/listen to their album?

frizbee:  A great album cover is a guarantee to catch my attention. I’ve bought a few albums just because I thought the artwork was awesome. But you’ve gotta have the whole package. If the band doesn’t feel real, I’m not going for it. There are a lot of bands that I think try too hard, and I do think there’s an overabundance of metal bands on Figment. But if you’ve got a clear identity, good songs and good artwork, you’ll catch my eye.

FN:  Any other players who you’d like to laud for their work?

frizbee:  Oh, of course. overground is awesome, one of the best players in the game, in my opinion. Not only is Fait Accompli amazing, but the side project O’Blivion was the first band I ever became a fan of on Figment. I’ve done a lot of great work with him on the Xenophilia Tour and the Eccentric Arcade/Fait Accompli hybrid, Nom de Guerre. letswasteanafternoon is another great player. He’s the guy responsible for !?, another one of my favorite acts on Figment. I’d love to collaborate with him in the future. And theHoseman is something words can’t even describe. That guy has copious amounts of genius overflowing out of his ears. Not only is Zandergriff Miggs and the Parliament of Owls one of the biggest bands on Figment, but he’s the brains behind Prime! That was a groundbreaking moment for Figment. Prime! took it to an entirely new level with being the first rock opera on Figment. It had a huge cast made up of all these amazing players in the Figment world, an incredibly rich and detailed plot. It still blows my mind. It was an honor to be a part of that, and I would absolutely love to work with theHoseman again in the future.

FN:  What is the band and/or album you’ve formed/released that you are the most proud of?

frizbee:  Hands down, Eccentric Arcade. Eccentric Arcade will always be the band that is first and foremost for me. Even when I’m working on new projects for my other bands, I’m still thinking of new things for EA. I’d have to say that the album I’m most proud of is EA’s latest album, “Dropping Knowledge”. That album was in the forefront of my mind for a long time. I came up with that album title when I was, like, 12. And not only did the album do well, but the single for “Jar Full of Hearts” is EA’s most successful single to date.

FN:  What would you like to see added to Figment in the way of features, improvements, etc?

frizbee:  I’m interested to see when/if/how the feature to be able to take your band on tour works. It’s something that has been listed as “under review” on the Feedback for a while. That could be very interesting. I do also really like the idea of the ability to set a release date for an album, and have it automatically release on the set date. Just set it and forget it!

FN:  If someone asked you why you play Figment what would you tell them?

frizbee:  I would tell them that I don’t play Figment, I live Figment. I do anything and everything I can to make everything I do on Figment as real as I can. Figment is where we get to be the rock stars we used to/still do dream about being, so why not go all out?