RANDOM ENCOUNTER at Orlando Nerd Fest
1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9 | Orlando Airport Marriott, 7499 Augusta National Drive | 407-851-9000 | randomencounter.com
Some Florida kids’ most treasured childhood memories revolve around beach days and theme park visits, but Random Encounter drummer Moose recalls a vivid adventure where he took the Big Whale to the moon and explored underground caves for hours in Final Fantasy IV, mainly to space out to the music. It comes as no surprise, then, that nearly a quarter of Random Encounter’s music repertoire is comprised of energetic covers of music from Final Fantasy.
Moose and bandmates Careless (accordion-playing frontman), Rook (bass), Kit and Konami (guitars) bonded over video games like Final Fantasy, Metroid and The Legend of Zelda, performing nostalgic covers and original songs inspired by games they love. They’re increasingly popular at conferences like MAGFest, major concert events like Video Games Live and humble indie clubs like the Geek Easy, where they recorded their newest album, Let Me Tell You a Story, inviting attendees to sing along as their chorus.
“To gamers, it’s more than just pretty music. It’s memories,” Rook agrees.
In May, Random Encounter performed three dates with Video Games Live and impressed tour organizer (and award-winning video game composer) Tommy Tallarico so much, he made them an integral part of his show and invited them to join Video Games Live in Europe this fall. This week, the band is part of the massive lineup at Orlando Nerd Fest, performing for the second time on a bill with their idol, Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu, whom they met by chance at MAGFest 10.
“We actually got to meet him,” Careless says. “He was hidden in the crowd, just walking around like a regular person, and he stopped by our sales booth. So I gave him a T-shirt, CDs and stuff.”
Also on the horizon, Random Encounter was invited to soundtrack their first video game, Super Galaxy Squadron, estimated for release this winter by indie developer Psyche Studios. A blogger at Indie Games has already built up anticipation for the game, which Random Encounter describes as like “an SNES version of Galaga,” based on gameplay previews on YouTube.
It’s a different songwriting challenge for the nerdy rock band whose sonic range is already quite diverse, from grungy alt-rock channeling on tracks like “Death of a Friend” to accordion-led romps like “Ocean King” to fan-favorite covers like “Cave Story.”
“We really want to make sure we capture the feel of the game, not like, ‘Here’s generic music to plug into your game,’” Careless says. “So we’re asking questions like, ‘Are the bosses fast-moving or are they slow?’ Because that changes how we’re going to do the music.”
For a band whose writing process involves playing through a game and then arranging music based on that experience, it’s a new twist to attempt, but what gamer doesn’t like a challenge, even if it whitens your knuckles around the controller? They’ve broken up the game’s levels to rise to the task, because Random Encounter knows well how vital music can be to the game experience.
“Music can really make or break a game in a lot of cases,” Kit says. “There are certain situations where you play a game and after you’re done playing it, you can think back to different parts of the game and hear the music in your head. It obviously meant something.”