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
The Protomen is an American rock band best known for composing original concept albums loosely based on the popular video game series Mega Man. The Protomen have achieved a cult following thanks, in part, to an active and vocal internet fan base, intensely theatrical live performances, and a heavy touring regimen.
Little is known about The Protomen, other than 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 was composed mostly of MTSU recording program graduates, and first came to be so 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 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", Protoman, to fight to free the City, but Protoman is destroyed by the overwhelming power of Wily's armies. Defeated and despairing, Dr. Light then creates a second son, Megaman, who he attempts to dissuade from battle. Megaman 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.
Act III 
A song from the upcoming Act III was played at PAX 2013 and at Magfest 11 and in their current 2013 tour.
Cover Albums 
The band performs a variety of '70s & '80s cover songs along very specific themes in live performances, usually related to the band's preferred motifs of heroism, struggle, and self-determination. Because these covers have been consistently popular with the group's fans, they announced their intentions to formally record them on November 2010 while performing at InDisFest in Atlanta, GA. Recording began February 6, 2011 with Act II producer, Alan Shacklock.
In addition, they planned to release a full length of Queen covers, recorded live in Nashville, TN during a Queen/Black Sabbath tribute concert on December 10th, 2010. Though set for a June 1st, 2012 release, the album shipped early to those that pre-ordered it.
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.
Band members 
Full length 
- The Protomen - Independent, re-released under Sound Machine Records (September 3rd, 2005)
- Act II: The Father of Death - Sound Machine Records (September 8th, 2009)
- Present: A Night of Queen - Sound Machine Records (June 1st, 2012)
- "Father of Death" / "No Easy Way Out" - Limited 7" Vinyl (2008)
- "I Drove All Night" / "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground) - Breaking Out (2012 Edit)" - Limited Cassette (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.
- "NEW TRACK from The Protomen Act 3!". Retrieved 2012-09-01.
- 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.
- 2009-10 Electronic Press Kit