The Protomen. From left to right, top row: The Nightwalker, Sir Robert Bakker, Murphy Weller, Turbo Lover, Reanimator, The Gunslinger, The Gambler; bottom row: Commander B. Hawkins, K.I.L.R.O.Y., Raul Panther.
Video game music
|Associated acts||Makeup and Vanity Set|
|Members||Commander B. Hawkins
Sir Robert Bakker
- 1 History
- 2 Concepts and themes
- 3 Cover albums
- 4 Musical style and influences
- 5 Major festivals and convention appearances
- 6 Band members
- 7 Discography
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Little is known about The Protomen, other than that the band is based in Nashville, Tennessee. Their stage names are largely references to pop culture films, song titles, and fictional characters. The group members refer to themselves as storytellers, creating a "rock and roll fable"; they are not characters in their stories.
The band is composed mostly of MTSU recording program graduates, and first came to be so that they could meet class deadlines and the need to record for their grades. Their first live performance was in April 2004. Most of the band had graduated and moved to Nashville by 2005.
In a 2009 interview, lead vocalist Panther stated, "We basically gathered up all of our good friends from the local rock bands of Murfreesboro, tied ourselves together, and tried to walk. And somehow it worked. At the time, we noticed a void in rock and roll. A hole that could only really be filled with grown men and women painting up like robots and playing some fierce and furious rock music based on a 1980s video game. We were fairly certain no one else was going to fill that hole. But, by god, it's filled now. You can thank us later."
The band has strong ties to the Murfreesboro and Nashville independent music scene, and some members are integrated into several bands simultaneously.
Concepts and themes
The Protomen's work is inspired by the first six NES Mega Man games. This franchise has an existing storyline featured in the games, manga, and anime; however, The Protomen have concocted a dark and dystopian version of the game's underlying world. The group is generally uninterested in concerns of making their story adhere to the original. Instead, they view the games as a jumping-off point for the story they want to tell, and have borrowed surface attributes of some characters while heavily altering their histories and functions.
The group has stated that they intend to make a three-part story. Two of the parts are complete. The third is currently in outline form. The overall story as envisioned by the group is tragic, and they "don't really expect it to end well for humanity." 
Act I (The Protomen)
In Act I, the band's first album, Dr. Wily is represented as an Orwellian ruler over a dystopic city, full of humans who are too scared to stand up to his control. Dr. Light creates a "perfect man, an unbeatable machine", Proto Man, to fight to free the City, but Proto Man is destroyed by the overwhelming power of Wily's armies. Defeated and despairing, Dr. Light then creates a second son, Mega Man, whom he attempts to dissuade from battle. Mega Man runs away from home and confronts his brother in an apocalyptic concluding battle. The album has been described by the band as "the sound of the end of the world" and straddles the line between chiptune and hard rock, with heavier focus on distorted 8-bit synthesizers and electronic instrumentation.
Group member Commander has stated that Act I "was made specifically to go against everything our recording teachers and fellow students were trying to feed us about making everything sound pristine and 'perfect.'". The album was recorded over two years in various Murfreesboro studios, using analog rather than digital production techniques. "Due Vendetta", the group's first recorded track, was completed in April 2003. The album was produced by then-Protomen member Heath Who Hath No Name.
Act II (Act II: The Father of Death)
For the band's second album the group, working with Meat Loaf producer Alan Shacklock, devised a prequel storyline to Act I. The second act details the rise of Albert Wily to power, the rivalry between himself and Thomas Light, and the tragic events which brought the City under Wily's control. The band states that Act II was designed to sound cleaner, reflecting a time "before the bomb dropped". Accordingly, the second album reflects a much broader range of musical styles and more lyrical instrumentation, embracing references from Ennio Morricone to Bruce Springsteen to Shacklock's own Babe Ruth. The album was mastered by Richard Dodd, a Grammy-winning recording engineer.
The Protomen are known for performing, along with their original rock opera, a variety of 1970s and 1980s cover songs in their live performances, typically related to the band's preferred motifs of heroism, struggle, and self-determination. On December 10, 2010, the Protomen performed along with Nashville band Evil Bebos for the latter band's farewell concert. Evil Bebos played a set entirely composed of Black Sabbath cover songs, while the Protomen in kind performed a set of Queen covers. The live performance was recorded and mastered, and on April 19th, 2012, the Protomen announced through their website and mailing list that the resulting live album, titled The Protomen Present: A Night Of Queen, would be released and was available for pre-order. Though set for a June 1, 2012 release, the album shipped early to those who pre-ordered it.
In November 2010 while performing at InDisFest in Atlanta, GA, the group announced their intention to formally record an album of their live cover songs. Recording began on February 6, 2011 with Act II producer, Alan Shacklock. On June 12, 2014, the band announced that an exclusive downloadable EP would be made available to attendees of their Warped Tour 2014 performances to promote the upcoming covers album, titled The Cover Up. The EP was released via a download code printed on a fake The Cover Up movie ticket stub, packaged inside of a laminate sleeve attached to a lanyard commemorating their appearance at Warped Tour. On January 23, 2015, the full Cover Up album was officially released to attendees of MAGFest 13, where the Protomen were performing two separate sets; the following morning, on January 24, the album was made available for pre-order to the general public through the band's website.
Musical style and influences
The group has cited the influence of "artists like Syd Mead, films like Eddie and the Cruisers and Streets of Fire, books like 1984 and Atlas Shrugged... those are the pretty obvious ones you can pull out of Acts I and II. But what you might not realize is that we own every Ernest movie ever made. And we watch them all the time.". Apart from previously mentioned, the band also draws inspiration from a huge array of other diverse sources, including Sergio Leone's films, the song "The Mexican" and musical groups Radiohead, Styx, Toto, Queen and Alabama.
Major festivals and convention appearances
The Protomen have performed at a number of conventions, festivals and showcases throughout their career.
In 2007, The Protomen played at Capcom's booth at San Diego Comic Con by Capcom's invitation. In 2009, the group competed for and won the right to perform at the Bonnaroo music festival, defeating several other Nashville bands. They played two showcases at CMJ Music Marathon in October of the same year. In 2010, The Protomen took part in the SXSW music festival and the mega-gaming conventions in PAX East in Boston (2010-2013) and PAX 2010 in Seattle. In 2011, they performed at the Houston Free Press Summer Fest. The Protomen have performed at the 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Nerdapalooza Festival in Orlando, FL and began their 2011 run at MAGFest 9 in Alexandria, VA. The Protomen have made an appearance at the Middle Tennessee Anime Convention (MTAC) in Nashville, Tennessee twice; once in 2007, and again in 2011. The Protomen have also performed in Eau Claire, WI at the Plaza Hotel and Suites for No Brand Con 2013. The band also performed at the very first PAX Australia in 2013. They played Warped Tour 2014 for its entire run. The Protomen will be performing at MAGfest 13 in January 2015.
- The Protomen – Independent, re-released under Sound Machine Records (September 3, 2005)
- Act II: The Father of Death – Sound Machine Records (September 8, 2009)
- Present: A Night of Queen – Sound Machine Records (June 1, 2012)
- The Cover Up – Sound Machine Records (January 24, 2015)
- Act III – Sound Machine Records (TBA)
- The Cover Up EP – Digital EP, released via download code at Warped Tour 2014 to promote covers album (June 13, 2014)
- "Father of Death" / "No Easy Way Out" – Limited 7" Vinyl [950 pressed] (2008)
- "I Drove All Night" / "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground) – Breaking Out (2012 Edit)" – Limited Cassette [1004 pressed] (2012)
- Makeup and Vanity Set Presents: The Protomen (2007)
- Johnson, Andrew (April 20, 2005). "How the Protomen kidnapped and forced me to ride around Murfreesboro blindfolded for 20 minutes just for a one-on-one interview". Sidelines. Middle Tennessee State University. Retrieved 2011-10-12.
- Hall, Jason (2006). "ALL about... The Protomen". Kentwired.com. Retrieved 2011-10-12.
- Nather, Eric (October 5, 2009). "Interview With "The Protomen", A Mega Man Rock Opera". Joystick Division. Retrieved 2011-10-12.
- Zadlo, Diana Lee (December 13, 2010). "The Protomen and Evil Bebos Tribute to Queen & Black Sabbath at Exit/In, 12/10/10". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 2011-10-12.