A Lot to Enjoy: 3D6’s Space Fapping

Album cover for Space Fapping with letters 3D6 heading towards moonSpace Fapping is 3D6’s follow-up to 2011’s Damage and it’s almost out of this world. If Damage were an 18 on 3d6, then Space Fapping is a 17. The trio of Las Vegas gamers continue to satisfy with their brand of humorous, dirty, nerd punk throughout the album’s ten tracks. While the focus tends towards science fiction, 3D6 remains firmly rooted in fantasy RPGs, beginning the album with “Save Does Not End”, lifting the term from D&D. The saving throw is for the “18 ongoing rocking damage” as 3D6 promises to “fuck your ears with our nerd punk dicks.” It’s fair warning and a strong opener for the album, with the party facing spider-summoning drow in a dungeon in search of an axe. My favorite track on Space Fapping is the gamer anthem “I Killed a Dragon”, which at first listen could apply to any fantasy RPG. The narrator’s dragon-slaying goes unappreciated out of game as he repeatedly sings “I killed a dragon / and you don’t even care” and only later does it become clear that he’s not singing about a tabletop game, but instead about a video game (Skyrim), ultimately losing his wife to his gaming addiction. “I’d Rather Live in an R.P.G.” rounds out their gamer songs and is yet another sing-along gamer anthem. It’s for all the gamers tired of reality, who’d “rather live in an RPG / Creating who I want and how I want to be / There’d be no rent or power bills / I’d just go out and hone my skills / Defeating enemies for gold and XP”.

Stellar Songs: I Love Star Wars Anyway, The Whore of Enterprise D

Despite labeling George Lucas as the enemy and threatening to punch him in the face, “I Love Star Wars Anyways” is 3D6’s love song to the universe Lucas created, both tenderly nostalgic and humorous at the same time. Think of a more critical version of the film Fanboys as a song and you get “I Love Star Wars Anyways”. The main villains are the prequels and new editions with 3D6 rhyming, “When we were kids we used to watch those movies every day / Leia was the first girl that I thought about that way / And all the Gungans in the world cannot take that away”. The next track,”The Whore of Enterprise D”, is downright dirty. The song highlights 3D6’s lyrical genius with lines like “I just saw her leave Ten Forward with Deanna Troi / Carrying some synth-ale and a double-sided toy”. It’s probably 3D6’s raunchiest song and the most likely to offend as the whore makes her way through the Next Generation’s crew (with Picard notably absent). Wesley also doesn’t get any, but she’s not xenophobic; “Even after Klingons it’s not long before she’s healed / She can take a pounding like the ship’s deflector shields”. 3D6 offers up a pretty even contribution to the classic Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate because both “I Love Star Wars Anyway” and “The Whore of Enterprise D” are so awesomely good.

Of the space songs, the album’s closer “Red Shirt Requiem” is my third favorite. It’s a filk dirge that slowly builds with orchestral strains that I could see hardcore Trekkers wanting played at their funerals. The chorus is moving: “You were killed in service of Starfleet like so many brave women and men / And although you are are gone / You will always live on / In our Red Shirt Requiem.” The title is about the only humorous part, though I can imagine Trekkies lifting up cups of Romulan Ale and swaying with phasers out to it. “Satellite of Self Love” provides the album’s title with its chorus of “Space Fapping! Space Fapping!” and references Mystery Science Theater classics Eegah! and Manos! Hands of Fate. The song also features the sound of space fapping, a liquidy, squishy sound. When performed live at the Space Fapping release party, singer Dave replicated it by moving his cheek back and forth rapidly into the microphone. I prefer “Jerkin’ Off” myself.

Return to Parvo and Others

Space Fapping also regurgitates the topic of parvo in “Parvo Deuce” and the theme of not eating poop, with a mention of “don’t eat poop” in “Save Does Not End” earlier as well. The band sells T-shirts with the phrase, but the chorus of “Parvo Deuce” is dark and lacks the light charm of “That Parvo’s a Real Killer”. However the stanzas featuring Mario Brothers, Smurfs, and bantha poodoo are hilarious. “Stonerd” is possibly a bona fide stoner nerd anthem, but not being one, I can’t relate. “Part of me is Stephen Hawking / Part of me is Cheech and Chong,” is how the band explains the mixed love of weed and painting miniatures. “Why Do I Go Out in Public” is more compelling musically with attention divided between shopping, going out to the movies, and going to shows with the accompanying “dicks and morons, bitches, jerks, and assholes” found there.

“You love this band, call yourself a fan, want to see a show”

While I would steer new listeners to Damage over Space Fapping, 3D6 has successfully passed that important Sophomore Album saving throw that cripples many bands. In “Save Does Not End”, drow and dungeons dominate the first stanza, but there’s no fantasy in the second stanza as the band accurately predict that a listener will “love this band, call yourself a fan, and want to see a show”. To see them for yourself, check out 3d6band.com. Get Space Fapping on Amazon or iTunes.

Kirby Krackle’s Jim Demonakos on Gaming, Nerd Rock, and Conventions

Jim Demonakos is the songwriting partner of Kyle Stevens. Put them together and you get the superheroic sounds of Kirby Krackle. For more on Kirby Krackle’s most recent CD, Live in Seattle, be sure to check out the small article and video I did with Kyle back at Comic-Con. As Demonakos revealed when we spoke at the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival which Kirby Krackle “headlined” on November 3, he also has a secret identity deep within the world of comic books, or maybe it’s not such a secret. Jim Demonakos is one of the writers of a successful New York Times best-selling graphic novel and the director of the Emerald City Comicon. Demonakos is also a newlywed and shared his thoughts on gaming, Kirby Krackle, and Las Vegas.

Jim Demonakos the Gamer

Box artwork for Zombicide featuring Survivors fending off attacking zombies

Zombie Apocalypse? Demonakos is a Zombicide Fan

CG: How did you get into tabletop gaming?
JD: Well as a kid, especially if we’re talking board games, I was into all of the classics. Played a lot of Monopoly as a kid, Scrabble, Risk, and Chutes and Ladders, all that. As I’ve gotten older I really like a lot of cool tabletop games. For example, I have a biweekly Zombicide game. I backed it on Kickstarter, totally great back, like I was really happy. We’ve been playing it now, like I said, we have a group of five of us and we just do all the campaigns. And there’s a cool Kickstarter-only campaign which is like a super-hard map: you go through five different scenarios.
CG: What level did you back it at?
JD: Just the $100 level or $125. Basically I got the game and all the extra zombies, and then three extra characters which have already come and then there’s another three coming in March. I also backed their other game that’s not out yet. Sedition Wars?
CG: Yeah, Sedition Wars. Mike McVey.
JD: So I’m looking forward to that. I play a lot of Catan and… Carcassone. Also I really like Ticket to Ride. I just tried the Northern Edition and thought that was super cool as well. A lot of boarding gaming fun.
CG: So Zombicide for you has really lived up to the hype?
JD: Yes! Yeah, I’ve actually really enjoyed it. I think it’s because it’s nice that we’re playing all together, so you can try to make a strategy and be like, “Well, why don’t you try to go for the token and we’ll hold off the zombies over here. Why don’t you get in the car? Oh! You have the Molotov, well then gather all these guys here. You’re Slipper so I can get out of the way. Alright!” I think there’s a really fun cooperative element to it instead of just-, not that I don’t understand Carcassone where it’s more versus, but I think that Zombicide for sure, I was extremely happy with my purchase.

Band members Jim Demonakos and Kyle Stevens sitting behind merch booth at comic book convention

Kirby Krackle: Jim Demonakos (L) and Kyle Stevens (R) at Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival

CG: Are you playing with Kyle or are you playing with different friends?
JD: No, I don’t actually like Kyle. It’s a weird thing. [Laughs] Yeah, we get together enough. We see each other enough with Kirby Krackle stuff that usually when it’s social time, it’s hey, let’s go get dinner or let’s see a movie together, but we actually don’t game together. We tried weirdly – just to go into a video game mini-rant – we tried to video game together when DC Universe Online came out. It was such a cluster. Nothing was working right. We were both on our cell phones trying to coordinate. The audio’s not working on our headphones-
CG: Over PS3?
JD: Over PS3. It was horrible. It actually made me return the game. I was like, “Well, I wanted to play this with Kyle, wanted to do something fun, and now I’m just done with this.” But I haven’t really video gamed in a while. I’ll play super casual stuff on my iPad, but it’s more board gaming these days for me.

CG: Did you ever get into miniature wargaming with Privateer Press up there, Wizards-
JD: Yeah, like actually the only one I did for a long time was Heroclix, that was the closest I got to miniatures. I never did D&D Miniatures, Games Workshop, 40k.
CG: And did you ever get into Magic: The Gathering? You’re in Wizards of the Coast territory up there.
JD: You know what’s funny? Literally everybody I know – except for Kyle – plays Magic and I just never did, but not for lack of interest. Listen: Magic, just like any other hobby is expensive, you’re going to spend money and do your decks. I always just spend all my money on comics. As a kid that was my thing. I thought Magic was totally neat, I just never did it. I was just happy to keep buying more Fantastic Four comics and keep being on that path.

Songwriting for Kirby Krackle

CG: Now you’re obviously the silent half of Kirby Krackle.
JD: Yeah, I’m the Bernie Taupin to his Elton John.
CG: Ok. So do you guys actually work collaboratively or you actually write most of the songs?
JD: So I write the songs with Kyle. Kyle writes the music and I help write the lyrics along with Kyle. So I write. That’s pretty much what I do; I’m a writer. I released my first graphic novel earlier this year. I’m totally OK with not being on stage. I don’t pretend I’m a musician. I’m a lyricist and I’m totally cool with that. It’s my job in the band and I love it.

CG: Do you start singing your owns songs while you’re doing tours, like going “Up Up Down Down B A Select…”?
JD: I will say occasionally I do, but I like to sing. I’m an in-the-shower, in-the-car kind of singer. I’m not very good. I like karaoke a lot because it’s ok if you’re terrible, because I am. Karaoke’s a lot of fun. I do occasionally get one of my own songs stuck in my head. It’s like, “This is weirdly annoying because I’m the one that wrote it and yet it’s really catchy.” For example, “Up, Up, Down, Down”. Especially when we’re at conventions because we talk about it a lot, like “Going Home” gets stuck in my head.
CG: Ok, which is about leaving conventions.
JD: Yeah and so those are a couple that will just pop in my head. And also if someone says something that’s similar to a lyric, because you know our stuff is pretty broad, so sometimes someone will say something and it’ll just get me on the track of one of our songs and then that’s stuck in my head for a little while until something else kicks it out.

CG: If you’re doing a “Vault 101”, have you both played Fallout 3.
JD: Yes, totally. We’re both super into the game and that’s how that came about. When we both get excited about something it makes the song-, like we’re both big Green Lantern fans, that’s how we wrote “Ring Capacity”. There’s occasions where I’ll be a bigger fan of something or he’ll be a bigger fan. The one thing I can think of offhand is “Take it From Me.” I’m a huge Megaman fan and he’s only casually played, so when we wrote the song, I was a little more driving because I was like “There’s these robots, there’s these things.” And he’s like, “Cool, I know all that because I’ve played it.” But he doesn’t have the sort of depth because it’s not a game he was super into and then the flip side will be true as well. We’ll go to write something else and he’ll be the more knowledgeable one and I’ll be familiar enough that I can contribute, but not as much where I get those deep references.
CG: What was your favorite Mega Man power?
JD: I always thought that Cut Man was pretty cool because he had the open blades. Weirdly I always thought that Bubble Man was fun-, I guess it technically was Water Man depending on how it was, but the bubbles would do more damage because you’d actually shoot out more than one bubble. Like a Mega Blaster, you’d only have one shot, obviously over and over, while this one, you could do a little more damage and that was good.

Guitarist and singer Kyle Stevens playing live performance as Kirby Krackle in Las Vegas library

Kyle Stevens Performing Live

CG: Does Kyle handle all of the musical arrangements?
JD: Yes, that’s all Kyle. I do feedback as in, “I don’t like how this sounds.” I use the vocabulary that I know like, “Listen: I want it to sound more dun-dun-dun-DUN, does that make sense?” And he’ll be like, “I get what you’re saying.” Because I don’t have the right knowledge to go like “Can you make that a D Minor? Or an A or whatever.” I’m like, “There’s a certain feel to it. I want it to feel like this.” And I’ll try to express it, but generally 99 times out of a 100, he’ll be like “This is what we’re working on arrangement wise.” There’s very few times where we’ve had a real disagreement of how much or how little we like something. It works out well.
CG: Does he record the drums himself?
JD: No, no. So he’s guitar and vocals, we have a drummer, a bassist, another guitar, and keyboards.
CG: I have never seen these other people.
JD: Correct. Not here. If you come up to Seattle for Kracklefest we have a band. Here PJ’s doing drums for us, so you’ll get a White Stripes-
CG: PJ Perez? [A Las Vegas A&E weekly newspaper contributor, comic book writer/artist, occasional scenester, and apparently a drummer.]
JD: Yep! So you guys will get a White Stripes situation which makes PJ Meg but that’s ok, that’s fine. That makes Kyle Jack.

Emerald City Comicon and The Silence of Our Friends

CG: It also seems that you guys have a pattern built up with conventions. You’re up in the Seattle area, so you go to Emerald City, San Diego… now you’ve been to Vegas three times?
JD: This is our third time, yep. Our standard conventions, what we’ll do: we always go to Calgary and we always go to Toronto. What we tend to do is do every other year on other shows, so for example we did C2E2 a couple of years ago in Chicago and so we’ll do it again next year. We skipped New York, but we did it last year, and we’ll probably do it next year. That’s one of the things where we’re just figuring out what to do. We can only afford to do so many conventions, so we go to ones that we have a good audience at and we have something to bring back, but we’re always open to trying new shows. Like we did Phoenix [Comicon] years ago…
CG: And that show’s been growing and growing.
JD: Yep and so the guy who runs it asked if we’d be interested in coming out in 2013 and we said yes, so we’re probably going to Phoenix. There’s definitely our standards, the few you mentioned and then there’s everyone else, which we’ll figure out.
CG: Vegas has to be the smallest. I mean this year this is actually starting to look slightly like a comic book convention.
JD: Yeah, there’s dealers outside, there’s an artist’s alley, and a good crowd. No, I agree. And you guys just launched a show here, the Las Vegas Comic Expo.
CG: So you guys are always checking. Who’s scouring?
JD: It’s me, because I-, so I run – I don’t know if you know – Emerald City Comicon. That’s my convention.
CG: No, I didn’t.
JD: That’s my job, is that. Part of my job is awareness of conventions around the country. Knowing about the Vegas show was just one more [show]. This is super cool. And we came and actually checked it out. Coincidentally that show was going on.
CG: Back in September?
JD: End of September, because I was here for two days, because I got married in Vegas last month. It just happened that the Comic Expo was also happening. So yeah, I’m always pretty aware about shows and their ins and outs.
CG: But at the same time you’re writing a bunch of songs.
JD: Yeah, it’s a great creative outlet, like I mentioned before, I wrote a graphic novel.

CG: Let’s talk about the graphic novel!
JD: It came out in January. It was totally a great experience. We spent four weeks on the New York Times best seller list, which I thought was great for a first time thing. It’s called The Silence of Our Friends and takes place in 1960s Texas. It’s about two families struggling with a racial divide going on during a pretty heavy time during the Civil Rights movement. It follows these families at some real events that happened at Texas Southern University.
CG: And where are you from?
JD: Seattle. But my buddy that I cowrote the book with, he grew up in Texas, so it’s a fictional autobiography, because a lot of the stuff is from what he remembered as a kid and we interviewed his dad about events that happened during that time as well, so a lot of research. And Nate Powell – he won an Eisner for Best Graphic Novel a couple of years ago – illustrated it.

CG: When you’re here though at the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival, this is almost nothing, right?
JD: This is a lot of fun! We have a great time here. Like here I’m an exhibitor, there’s two different mentalities. It doesn’t matter the scale of the show; if you’re not running it, then it’s not your problem. Here, it’s like “Cool. Tell us where to be! Here’s our table. I’m going to just sit around and talk to people about music.” I’m 100 percent cool with that.

CG: Are you a Marvel guy or DC?
JD: I would say I grew up a Marvel guy. I would say Marvel. There’s DC books that I love, like Green Lantern and Batman and a couple others, but I’m pretty much a Marvel dude.
CG: Well, you probably started following writers now, where you like the writer.
JD:Yeah, for sure. It doesn’t matter what they’re working on, I’ll check it out. Sometimes I don’t like it, but sometimes I do, depending on what it is. I definitely follow a lot of writers.

CG: You’re in the industry in a different area-
JD: I also own four comic book stores as well.
CG: Ok. How much do you let that affect Kirby Krackle?
JD: Not a lot, aside from just familiarity with comics, which is what a lot of our songs are about. We don’t really mix, I guess. I know a bunch of professionals from working Emerald City, some of them know Kirby Krackle and like it, some don’t care. They’re kind of, for me, two separate worlds.

CG: Do you have plans to do another graphic novel?
JD: Not offhand. I think for right now I’m really keeping busy with all the other stuff I’m working on. We’re working on a new album, so that’s taking up a lot of writing time. Again, in terms of creating the graphic novel, that was definitely something I enjoyed. I haven’t found inspiration enough of something that I want to do for another graphic novel, if that makes sense. When I have a story to tell, that’s a format that I’m very happy with.

CG: So do you think for this coming Comic-Con in 2013 you’ll have a new album yet by then?
JD: Probably. Our goal right now is maybe end of April, but we’ll see, but by July, we think so. By July.

Game On with Nerd Punk Band 3d6

Band logo for nerd punk rockers 3d6 with text 3d6

I first heard 3d6 on my friends’ podcast, the GUBAR Podcast, and then saw them at a backyard show and was blown away by their catchy melodies and great gaming lyrics. Damage is the first album from the Las Vegas locals, which I highly recommend. 3d6 recently played the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival and introduced a great new song about saving throws, “Save Does Not End”, which bodes well for their forthcoming follow-up album. For more news on it and upcoming shows, check out their website at 3d6band.com. 3d6 is David Thomas, Anthony Bassett, and Rudy Thomas.

CG: First, you have a new lead singer since recording Damage, but he’s not really new to you guys. Who do we have in place of Jimmy?
Anthony: We moved things around quite a bit. Dave is our singer now, in addition to being our guitar player. I’m our former drummer and now our bass player. Our new member is Rudy, David’s brother, who is now our drummer.

CG: So, your second song on Damage, if you had to pick one who would it be? Queen Amidala, Princess Leia, Seven of Nine, Lara Croft, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “the blue chick from Avatar“, Jessica Rabbit, Mystique, She-Hulk, Arwen, Legolas, Starbuck, Scully, Olivia from Fringe, Marge, Leela, Lois, or Cheetara?
David: For me, I think I’m gonna have to go with Mystique and Leela. But Jessica Rabbit and the Avatar chick are good ones too. Mystique just lets it all hang out but Leela is independent and will probably dominate you in the bedroom. Blue girls and one-eyed alien chicks.
Anthony: Though Princess Leia was my “first”, I’m going to have to say Seven of Nine. A close second would be the combined Jessica Rabbit and Arwen. I try not to fantasize only about individual women, if I can help it. What’s that the Vulcans say? “Infinite diversity in infinite combination?”
Rudy: She Hulk looks fun.
CG: Now which one “is the shit”?
Anthony: Caprica 6 from Battlestar Galactica, obviously.

A Band of Gamers

Nerd Punk Musicians David Thomas and Anthony Bassett of band 3d6 playing guitar and bass at Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival

Guitarist David Thomas and Bassist Anthony Bassett

CG: How did you guys get into tabletop gaming?
David: Watching movies and playing fantasy games all my life made me want to try D&D when I got older, but I didn’t want to admit it to anybody. But everyone has played Monopoly and such, you just have to find the right people so that you can enjoy it together. I personally love cooperative tabletop games. Going head-to-head can get nuts. Like that B.S.G. game where everybody just lies to each other.
Anthony: I had been playing board games since childhood, but I started playing table-top RPGs in college when I fell in with…that crowd. My first was a Star Wars RPG, in which I played an Ewok Crime Lord named Jingy. When Dave and Jimmy and I were in a Weezer cover band together, we fired up our own D&D game, and we just kept going.
Rudy: Older nerds showed me the way. Nerdism is something that is passed down.
CG: What do you guys play now?
David: I really love to play some Arkham Horror. Heroclix was cool too but I honestly only played it once. I would still love to get some more D&D games going! 4th edition!
Anthony: It’s hard to get everyone together for ongoing campaigns, but we had a nice D&D game going for awhile. We’ve also spoken of firing up a game of Dragon Age table-top RPG. And no, NOT because the base roll is 3d6, but that is rather awesome. Due to scheduling restrictions, we generally find ourselves playing board games, like those D&D dungeon crawl games (Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of I-Shart-Alot, etc.) and other co-op, multi-player games. My shelf looks like a Fantasy Flight catalog. I also have a pretty good collection of Heroclix.
Rudy: Arkham Horror, a cool pirate game called Sword and Skull, and D&D games.
CG: Does the band game as a group ever?
Anthony: Yes. But it’s hard to get everyone together that often. When we do manage to find a time to get all of us in the same place, we usually end up using that time for practice, writing, or recording. But it certainly does still happen!

3d6 Bassist Anthony Bassett in a red box D&D shirt holding tshirt that reads don't eat poop and CD of album Damage

Don’t Eat Poop: Bassist Anthony Bassett Shows 3d6 Merch at Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival

CG: What’s the story with “Ranger”? Whose character was that?

Anthony: “Ranger” is about Grikthor Blackfoot, Dave’s character that only got to level 3 or something like that. Right around when he graduated from college, Dave ended up moving out to California with family for a few months, and it was hard on the party, so we thought it best to kill him off. Anthony was the Dungeon Master at the time and he weaved our sadness into that series of game events. Jimmy was so moved and inspired by it that he turned the epic story into lyrics, and had Anthony set it to music. It was a sad day, but an honorable way to die.

The Musical Side of 3d6

CG: Musically what are your influences?
Dave: I listen to a lot of different music, but one of my all time favorites is Mars Volta. I say it so much it bothers people. When it comes to 3d6, I feel like my interests in The Dead Milkmen, Green Jello, The Descendents, old Pennywise and Offspring start to come out. For some songs, I just think about what I was writing when I first started learning guitar. It was much more primal and power-chord based. But I also love technical stuff, hip hop and metal. Frank Zappa, Eyedea & Abilities, Black Dahlia Murder…I could go on for days.
Anthony: I grew up playing violin, and ended up going to school for music, so I listen to a lot of the more academic stuff like classical and jazz. I also really love metal and funk. But I think in 3d6, my love of bands like Weezer, Offspring, and Green Day comes out most clearly. You can tell I was a child of the 90s.
Rudy: I see things and think about what they sound like.

CG: Which is your favorite 3d6 song?
David: “I’m A Nerd” because the lyrics are so true. I can sing that song any night and mean it.
Anthony: I want to say “Robot Overlords”, but I’m also extremely proud of a couple of our new songs that have yet to be played in public. You’ll have to wait to see which ones I mean. I’ve said too much already…
Rudy: Our new song, “I Killed A Dragon (And You Don’t Even Care).”

CG: I’ve only seen you at your backyard show and at the library of all places, but do you guys play out with other punk rock bands at bars and regular shows?
Anthony: We’ve played with a variety of bands from all over. We enjoy playing at the Double Down Saloon, and the Cheyenne Saloon has always been there for us, too. We particularly like teaming up with Geezus Cryst & Free Beer, as well as Time Crashers. Those guys have a sense of humor. Please check them out immediately. We also play a lot with our friends, .Bipolar, but they are pretty damn metal.

Nerd Punk Rocker Rudy Thomas Playing Ludwig Drums at Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival

Drummer and New Addition to 3d6 Rudy Thomas

CG: Who are you aware of out there that also has a real gaming focus. There’s the Double Clicks with whom you’ve played before, but anyone else?
Anthony: We loved playing with The Doubleclicks, and we also recently played with The Protomen – who have a brilliant Mega Man-themed rock opera thing going on. But other than that, we haven’t really seen many other bands who sing about gaming. Most of the time, there will be one or two members from one of the other punk bands who will come up and say that they play D&D or Skyrim but a lot of people are afraid to admit their nerdy interests. We did just play with Kirby Krackle, however, and those guys are legit nerds.

CG: Any plans for a follow-up to Damage? What are your plans for the future?
Anthony: We are almost finished recording our second album, “Space Fapping”. We definitely want to do some more music videos, but most of all, we would like to play at PAX, and/or Nerdapalooza, or things like that. It can be hard to get the nerd fan-base to leave their computer chairs and gaming tables, so we gotta work our way to where they already gather.

Nerdcore Punk Band 3d6 Deals out the “Damage”

Classic and poorly drawn RPG warriors battling on cover of Damage album by 3d6Geek rock. Nerd rock. Gamer rock. Whatever you want to call the style, Las Vegas band 3d6 knows how to rock and the band’s first album Damage rolls an 18 on 3d6. Damage features ten punk rock songs sure to have every nerd fistpumping along as 3d6 roams lyrically through fandom at large.

Gamer Anthems: Game On and Damage

From the start of Damage with “Game On”, 3d6 makes it clear that gaming is a central focus. The song’s narrator finds a new game around the corner, creates a “character sheet” and is soon questing with a wizard and a fighter. The problem is the Dungeon Master. At first, the Dungeon Master “said he’d help me level faster”, but then he “needs to add up XP faster”. Any song about smacking a Dungeon Master and then killing the Dungeon Master who “should have let me level faster” grabs my attention, quick catchy tune aside. As an oftentime DM, I’m still not sure whether I want to fully embrace the song’s lyrics or not, but it is very cool to hear a song about Dungeon Masters.

Later on the album, “Damage” makes heavy references to Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition beginning with a rogue’s attack using Light Blade Proficiency, Stealth, surges, Sneak Attack, and Armor Class. The next stanza is about “tracking orcs across the land / flaming hand-axe in one hand” and using Hunter’s Quarry. There’s a slow breakdown as a flail is crafted and magically imbued, but then the fast cries of “3d6, 3d6, 3d6 damage!” are back until the end. Great stuff. It also serves as the G.U.B.A.R. Podcast’s intro song for good thematic reason.

And All the Rest

Gaming references still permeate the rest of Damage, including the song titles “Critmiss” and “Ranger”. “Ranger” is unquestionably about gaming, featuring “Grigthor Blackfoot, Elven Ranger” who “gave his life for friend and stranger” questing across land and sea, but while the ballad still has a driving tempo, its tenor is much darker and something of a downer. The value of nerds to society at large is proclaimed in “I’m a Nerd”, as well as an explanation for why some don’t like D&D or MMORPGs, because “you never did go down that path / Because you can’t handle first grade math”. “Critmiss” takes the concept of a critical miss and applies it to the narrator blasting chunks in his boss’s lap at a party and crapping in his hands at a concert. If video games are more of your thing, “Kick Your Ass” pays homage to video games of the past, proclaiming “When it comes to Halo / I’ll just have to pass / But give me a joystick with one button / And I’ll kick your ass (kick your ass)”.

“Jerkin’ Off” and “That Parvo’s a Real Killer” follow in the scatological vein of “Crtimiss”, with “Jerkin’ Off” cataloguing the various fantasized-about femmes of fandom. While the chorus of “Parvo” is enjoyable in its own right (“Don’t eat poop! You really shouldn’t eat poop!”), some of its rhymes are the best on the album and take place over pleasant surfer chords. My favorites are “Little Scooby Doo / Dropped a little poo / That he thought was candy / Till he took a bite / And he turned all white / And that’s the end of Shaggy” and “Chewbacca the Wookie / Took a big ol’ dookie / In the sand of Tatooine / Han Solo tripped on trash / Then his face went smash / Now his nose is green”, but “Parvo” also features Splinter, Space Ghost, He-Man, and The Muppets.

One of my favorite 3d6 songs has nothing to do with gaming; instead “Robot Overlords” details the rise of robots a la the Terminator films and features a harmonized chorus and a binary breakdown of “001001” and so on. Yes, Flight of the Conchords also had a similar binary breakdown in a song, but 3d6’s is different, at least musically. I’m not fluent in Binary myself.

3d6 Live

I’ve only seen 3d6 live once, but Damage captures the band’s energy and interests quite well. Damage’s third track, “Glamazon”, is really best live where the audience is encouraged to sing along during a crowd participation part. If you have the chance to see 3d6 live, I highly recommend it, but until then Damage should do quite well to tide you over and is available on iTunes, Amazon, and from 3d6 directly.

Kirby Krackle’s Newest Offering: Live in Seattle

Kyle Stevens with Pac Man lanyard at Comic Con 2012 in the Kirby Krackle booth

Kirby Krackle’s Kyle Stevens

While at Comic Con 2012, I took the opportunity to get Kirby Krackle’s new live CD, Live in Seattle. Recorded in their home town at KrackleFest in March this year, the new album could serve as a wonderful introduction to the talented song-writing duo of Kyle Stevens and Jim Demonakos. The album features some of the best numbers off of their three previous studio albums including the Green Lantern-themed “Ring Capacity”, the Fallout great “Vault 101”, and “Great Lakes Avengers”, inspired by Marvel’s weak-link team. Adam Warrock guests on “Roll Over” and “Booty Do Math” and there’s a cover of “Take on Me”, all for only $10. While many other nerd rock bands only excel lyrically, Kirby Krackle is one of the few acts in the wizard or nerd rock genre I’ve heard that successfully blend incisive lyrics with catchy tunes.

Having seen frontman Kyle Stevens perform twice here in Las Vegas at the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival, the new live album perfectly captures Kirby Krackle’s energy. The band is working on a fourth studio album and already has “Web-Slinger/Hope-Bringer” available for download on iTunes. If you like nerdy music about comics, video games, conventions, and zombies, I suggest Kirby Krackle’s first and second albums in addition to the new live album. Live in Seattle would almost be a greatest hits album except “Marvelous Girls” and “Zombie Apocalypse” from the band’s self-titled debut album are missing.

At Comic Con Kirby Krackle and MC Frontalot opened for director-comedian Kevin Smith on Friday night. I caught up with Kyle Stevens on Sunday and recorded a brief interview about the band’s plans for the future, his own background in D&D, and some of his favorite nerdcore and nerd rock acts.