Just recently I (Robin Ek, TGG) had the great pleasure to do an interview with elguitarTom (Tom has made tons of awesome game Metal covers and music videos on Youtube). So we talked about everything from Tom’s Youtube videos, Metal covers, Doom memories, to his thoughts on “Brutal Doom” and much more. So, with that said, please enjoy my interview with Tom =)
We’re going to start of this interview by having you do a little introduction of yourself. So, please go ahead Tom. Kick-out them jams my Metal brother! \m/
Hello Robin, thanks for having me. My name is Tom. I am 35 years old, and I am currently living alone in Oslo in Norway. In my free time, I like to play video games, make music, work out and watch movies. I am not so much of a gamer anymore since I rarely have time, so I would consider myself an ex-gamer. However, occasionally when there comes a game I just have to try, I install it. Nevertheless, it usually ends up with not completing it or getting bored too fast. I am between jobs now, since my last company, I worked for lost their license (security company for night clubs), and I will start in a new company as a driver who transport VIP persons from airports to hotels. It’s not the best pay, but it beats working in an office or other jobs that are incredibly boring. And I like to drive! I also have a motorcycle license, so I enjoy being on the road.
I will start to study in August, but I am not quite sure which study yet: I’m going for either 3d animation or music production. It’s a tough choice since I am interested in both. I feel I have done so much with music, when it comes to production of songs, mixing and mastering so maybe it will be a waste of time? Nevertheless, it can help to improve me a lot, and they also show you how you can make a good living out of it. It’s some business aspect as well in there. However, if I go for 3d animation, I could probably get a better paid job, and it would definitely benefit my Youtube channel; being able to make more professional effects. Nevertheless, it all boils down to what you love doing every day, so I have to think long and hard about it for 10 days now.
If I’m not wrong now, you’ve been active on Youtube since 2012 right? And from then to now you have uploaded quite a lot of videos. So I’m curious to know how everything started for you? I mean, when, where and why did you decide to start uploading Metal covers and videos on Youtube?
Well, if we go all the way back, it all started in 1992. I was only about 12 years then, and I had just gotten my first computer; a 4×86, 66mhz with 4 mb of ram hehe. When I didn’t play DooM, I made music on this program called Fast Tracker 2. I had always loved music; it started with Michael Jackson when I was a child, then went over to ABBA, then to Roxette and then Eye of the tiger (and all the other rocky soundtracks). You can sort of see which way it went; to more and more heavy rock stuff. However, one day in music class when I was about 14 years old, every student brought with them their favorite song, and this one dude put on Metallica’s “One”. My jaw dropped. It was amazing!
The guitars, drums, vocals, fast riffing. I never heard anything like it. So from there on I bought all their albums. It was actually Lars’s drumming I loved the most in the beginning. I even played air drums to all their songs hehe! This is what made me install Fast Tracker 2; I started making drum beats in this program and then adding bass and guitars. All these instruments were of course all computerized, and it sounded very electronic. Nevertheless, I did manage to find some decent drum and guitar samples that sounded kind of heavy, and it did the job. In Fast Tracker 2 your computer keyboard turns into a synthesizer, so all the buttons are like notes you can put in while the tracks glides downs. It’s pretty intuitive and easy, and it was also my first step into music production. I think I probably made over 100 songs in that program hehe.
Due to me loving the drums so much I asked my mom for a drum kit for my 14 birthday, but it was too expensive, so I got a guitar and an amplifier instead. The guitar brand was Falcon, who was a mere copy of a Fender stratocaster and the amp was a small Peavey. I started learning all the Metallica songs the first year. I bought tabulator books in the guitar shops of all Metallica’s albums. At the same time, I went to this guitar teacher for three years.
He was a good teacher, and I think he knew what to teach for students not becoming bored. I looked forward to every lesson with him. Besides playing and learning guitar I still kept making music on Fast Tracker 2. When I was 18 years old, I had made some songs in a collaboration with another student of mine. He came up with these great ideas to make music inspired by games and movies. He added voices and sound effects while I did all the rest hehe. In the matter of fact, people in our friend group thought some songs were so good that they wanted a copy and then to spread the songs around. Some special songs I remember we made was called “The machine”, “The Killer –> later to be renamed “Rambo” or “First Blood” (not sure hehe). I might remake those songs in the future.
After this period I dedicated more time to master the guitar and various techniques and kept playing Metallica songs and Sepultura and Pantera as well. Furthermore, getting some better guitars and amps helped me getting more inspired. Because if you have crappy sound, it’s not fun to play for too long, you know! But again; sound is subjective. Back then I thought my sound was amazing hehe…if I heard it today my ears would probably bleed.
Then, if we fast forward:
I actually started a channel in 2010 called “Musicduct”, but it was sort of crappy hehe. I had just learned how to use a DAW and VST plugins so the sound wasn’t that good, and I used a shitty logitech webcam to film, so the quality was very low resolution looking like grainy mud. However, it got some subs and some views and positive feedback. The channel is still up if you want to check it out. When I got a brand-new guitar (JH-LTD 600) in 2012, I decided to make a new channel. I just made up the name on the fly; heck, I like to play electric guitars, and my name is Tom 😀 it’s a bit silly, but it’s simple hehe 😀 I also now had better equipment and more experience in recording, so I sort of wanted to start with a blank sleeve in a way.
I take it that you’re a big fan of Doom since you’ve done a lot of Doom covers over the years. So, when did your Doom fandom start? And which Doom game do you like the most so far?
I first discovered DooM through a friend. He was a complete and utter nerd; transparent white, glasses, zits, the way he spoke, his laughter; Everything just oozed nerd. However, he was hilarious and funny, so we became friends =) And best of all; He had three computers! And all linked together to play on lan, on a long desk in his parents living room. So while they watched “Neighbors” on their TV, me and him deathmatched and cooped each other in DooM. All while his sister also playing X-Com Ufo Defense next to us on the third computer. Yes, she was a nerd too, and they all had asthma in this family because it was quite dusty there. And after a few hours in their house, I sort of felt I had gotten some fur balls down my throat :/
However, this was early on. So it was the DooM shareware version, and he didn’t have a sound card so we just got these shitty computer blip blip sounds. However, later that year I got a 486 computer with a 66mhz CPU and 4mb ram :3 And most importantly: It came with a soundblaster sound card! And I had also just gotten my first full version copy of DooM! I was blown away when the heavy fast music started and the guitar shredding came in! When I first picked up the shotgun and blasted my first demon and the way the shotgun roared on my speakers, and his loud scream emerged, I started laughing and smiling of joy. I turned up the volume and played the whole evening.
I also called my nerd friend and invited him over to witness this mayhem. I saw in his eyes he got extremely jealous. Then after a few weeks he had gotten a new pentium computer with 90 mhz and 8 mb of ram! And a sound card of course. Adlib I think it was. He also had upgraded his other computers, so we could lan more at his place, both having good sound and better fps. I think he got worried I would just sit at home with my own computer if he hadn’t upgraded hehe 😀
After a while, we started playing DooM over modem (me sitting in my house and him in his), but it was not the same. It’s so much more fun when you sit next to each other and can laugh and scream at each other and also punch each other when you get mad hehe 😀 So we went back to play over lan at his place. Which DooM game is my favorite you also asked? DooM 1. Mainly because of the impact it had on me. DooM 2 was basically just the same game, with the super shotgun and new maps. I of course, played DooM 2 the most. Nevertheless, DooM 1 will always have a special place in my heart.
So yeah, this is pretty much why I love DooM so much. I sort of miss this dude too. Not sure what happened to him. After school, we all went our own way.
Do you prefer Brutal Doom or Project Brutality? And have you ever had any thoughts on making any music for any of them?
I have not played Project Brutality. The video footage in my last video is just ripped off Youtube. I also didn’t know that was project brutality before someone mentioned it in the comment section. So I really can’t answer that question. Nevertheless, I can answer you this; I actually prefer original DooM played on DosBox; simply because it gives me nostalgia. You can’t jump. You can’t look up and down, and the fps is a bit low in certain areas. And there is also a mouse fix so you can use mouse and keyboard. I love it 😀 hehe. And you get the original sound and soundtrack. Furthermore, Project Brutality stole a lot of models, weapons and sprites from Markus’s BYHAE, so I am a bit annoyed by that. It also made him furious too.
I won’t make music for Project Brutality, even if they asked, simply because I don’t like people who steal other people’s stuff. They didn’t even ask for his permission. They just ripped it out of his game. Markus spent hundreds (if not thousands) of hours making those sprites and animations. Markos from Brutal DooM did ask me to make a song for his Predator / Terminator mod, so I just told him he could use my Terminator theme. Not sure if he used it though. He is a busy guy, so am I so we don’t talk much. And at that time I was busy with BYHAE. He has helped me promoting my videos though, he is also one of the reason my channel grew pretty fast from 2013 to 2014.
Just recently you released a track called “DooM Medley: IDDQD”, and you also uploaded a +20 minute long tribute video to Bobby Prince to help collect money for Bobby’s medical fund. So, how did everything turn out? And how’s Bobby doing today? And how did you come up with the idea to support Bobby in the way that you did? Furthermore, has Bobby said anything to you about it?
Well, according to the news on his crowd funding page, he has had two months of heal and are in great shape. He is preparing for the final stage of the surgery. So let’s cross our fingers and hope that he will pull through!
I came up with the idea after one of my subscribers told me he had cancer and sent me a link to his crowd funding page; I thought that my channel could drive in a lot of money for him (and it did!) and I felt I sort of owed him; Because without him my channel wouldn’t be where it is today. Face it; It’s pretty much a DooM music page hehe 😉 That plus all the joy he has given us in our childhoods. Bobby has not contacted me. I think he is busier recovering. Maybe he will when he gets well again?
What’s your thoughts on “Doom 2016”? And did the game live up to your expectations?
It’s the best FPS shooter that has come out in many years for sure! And the music fits like a glove; Dynamic and heavy and punchy. Mick Gordon is the new generation of Bobby Prince! I had my doubts on the game, so it surprised me in a positive way. I have not finished it sadly, since I came to a level where the game constantly crashed. I heard it’s fixed now, but I had to reinstall everything on my computer, and the thought of playing through all those levels again sort of puts me off. Maybe it’s not a good sign, but I think it’s more about me getting older, and I don’t get as excited about games as I did when I was younger.
Where do you think that ID should go next with the Doom universe?
I would like to see more innovation, because I kind of felt that DooM 2016 didn’t give us anything new or groundbreaking. So maybe ID could take Doom to the next level when it comes to weapon physics and body damage like never seen before? I think it would always be cool too really shoot off a demon’s limb by limb until he just lies there screaming in agony. Alternatively, he tries to crawl towards you after you shot off his legs. Furthermore, have the ability to mold and sculpt their bodies with a chainsaw with disgusting details hehe! I sort of miss the first “wow” experience I first got when playing original DooM. Everything just felt so fresh, new, groundbreaking and a bit illegal in a way. I am sure with today’s technology this can be done again.
For how long have you been a Metal fan? And how did your Metal fandom start? I would also like to ask which bands that you like the most?
I answered that question in-depth in your early interview, but for the tl;dr people: Since I heard Metallica’s One back in 1992. Bands I like the most: Metallica, Pantera, Sepultura, Slipknot, Sybreed, Arch Enemy, In Flames, and probably some others I just can’t recall at the moment…
Do you have a band? Or do you play all the instruments yourself? And for how many years have you played guitar? Furthermore, what’s your Metal axe (guitar) and gear of choice? (sound equipment).
I don’t have a band now. However, I have had a few bands in the past. After the army in 2003, I joined a death metal band called Xtuum. It lasted a few years. We played some small gigs, it was pretty cool. The drummer was amazing, and the lead guitarist who made the songs was amazing too. So were the vocalist and bass player as well. She was female, btw, and from German (a very cool girl). I sort of felt like the shortest straw in a way, but the lead guitarist assured me I was good so I kept playing with them. However, I felt more like a tool in that band, since I just played what they told me to play. I could not use my creative abilities. However, one day, the drummer had to go to jail since he was awaiting a sentence. He was also an ex-member of Hells’ Angels. The dude was kind of a douche bag and thought he was tougher than he was. Nevertheless, he sure could play!
When the drummer went to jail, the band fell apart…Because we couldn’t find a new drummer, and the vocalist just sat home playing Playstation instead of showing up on rehearsal. So one day I just called the lead guitarist and said “I’m out”.
After that I didn’t play in a band until 2010, when I met a very good drummer and bass player. In that band, I made all the songs, and we had a good time. Until one day, when I and the drummer found out the bass player had rented our rehearsing room to other people and taking all the money for himself…Furthermore, they had been playing on my guitar, my amp and the drummers drum kit as well. We found out all about this one day when one of his cymbals had a crack in them. And suddenly my amp didn’t work (the fuckers had plugged it in wrong so it had blown some fuses).
When I confronted him, he said he got so scared and nervous since I had yelled at him (he obviously had some weak nerves), and mentioned that in his life, there can be no stress or bad feelings. So he left the band! The drummer were his close friend, so he left too. Nevertheless, the songs are mine, and I have copyrighted them, so they can’t use them muahaha! 😀 If you want to hear the songs; Google “Rautavalta”. It’s the first link that comes up, and the songs are on a page called “Urørt”. And yes, it’s me on the vocals hehe.
I have played guitar for around 22 years. My favorite guitar is my ESP SV Standard (flying v). It just looks bad ass and it feels amazing to play. And it sounds great. It’s mainly tuned in C so I used it a lot before when I covered Arch Enemy songs or recorded the more heavy and slow songs for DooM. Sadly, it’s not good for recording since you have to stand up when playing it. Sitting down with it is a pain in the ass.
So for recording I use my LTD JH-600. For recording I use VST plugins since where I live I can’t play too loud. I have neighbours. Nevertheless, they play loud music themselves and party a lot so I can play pretty loud for a long time without any complaints hehe. However, the thing is if you want to record a real amp, you need to play very loud (so that the cabinet speakers vibrate) and it’s a fucking chore with all the microphones, cables and room reverb etc etc… so the best, quickest, easiest and painless way is VST plugins.
But beware; lot of shitty plugins out there. Sadly, the most expensive ones are the best ones. I do recommend these ones. They sound just like a real amp:
– Bias Fx
– Revalver 4
– Amplitube 4
– Engl 6405
So far, the best one now and newest are the Spark. It emulates the Marshall amps and cabinets, and it sounds 100% real. I don’t think any professional sound engineer can notice it’s a vst plugin. I just plug straight into my sound card. Make sure it’s a PCI sound card with low latency. I have tried USB sound cards, and I don’t like them; too much delay and suddenly you can lose sound. For pickups, I recommend EMG81. For live play, I recommend Seymour Duncan. Mainly because they have more punch. However, EMG81 has more clarity and sharpness and is easier to “mold” in a mix. Furthermore, for live play I recommend Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier with an Angel 4×12 cabinet, or the Peavey XXX 2 with the same cabinet.
All instruments are played by me, except drums. I use Superior Drummer 2.0 with Metal Foundry and custom reverb, limiters, and sometimes I download presets made by others to share. For bass, I use just a cheap bass guitar I bought in Peru. I think it’s called Sunstar. It does the job and it sounds awesome (in my opinion). The guy in the store said to me: This is a very good bass! And it was very cheap. Only cost me 100 dollars hehe.
It’s no joke when I say that you’ve done Metal covers of everything from Contra, Quake 2, Doom, Wolfenstein 3d, Akira, Crusader No Regret to Terminator 2. So I take it that you love games, movies and anime a whole lot? (do you have any favourites?).
Yeah, favourites are Ghost in the shell and Akira. I am not a huge manga or anime fan, but those two movies you just have to watch. I also like Perfect Blue (it’s a horror manga, and a very very good one to. So it’s a must watch!) Favourite old games are DooM 1 and 2, Quake 1, Wolfenstein, Golden Eye, Perfect Dark, Contra. So many, I have probably forgotten a lot! Normal movies; Mostly every good action flick from the 80’s. Total Recall, Running, Terminator, The Thing, Bladerunner, Alien, Aliens, etc… Also a lot of movies I have forgotten. I am a movie nerd. I can watch everything almost. Well okay, except romantic comedies, haha! 😀
What games are you currently playing? And what games are you looking forward to playing later this year?
Currently, I am not playing anything. I do love hardcore games and simulators actually. I have a weak spot for WWII combat sims. You know, Battle of Britain, that sorts of stuff. However, I enjoy modern jet/ helicopter sims as well. I’m also a sucker for hardcore racing sims like Nascar Racing 2003 and iRacing. As I find them to be top-notch! I have also played Elite Dangerous a lot this winter. However, now I don’t feel it can offer me more. So I wait for their next big patch before going into the cockpit again.
Currently, I am looking forward to an indie game called Routine. It is a first-person horror game set in a space station with a 1980 feel to it. It has been in development for over six years and will probably come out in a couple of months. It was set to a March release, but they said they will polish it more, and they pushed the release date a couple of months. I love that. I hate what is happening on the early access / alpha scene at the moment. People get all this crappy unfinished games, and the developers abandon their games and run away with the money. Either that or they just milk the product forever and keep it in alpha until hell freezes over! Other than that I look forward to Bannerlord (Mount & Blade: Warband sequel).
I know that you got a lot of songs on Bandcamp, but have you ever thought about making a full-length studio album before? And “maybe” a best of collection?
But I have! I have one album there; songs from the DooM Concert with some bonus tracks. Next will be the BYHAE album. It got 30 songs that is sort of finished. I just need to re-master them with better sound and make some of them a bit longer. You see, they are made to fit the game, so they loop. I have to make each song end somehow hehe. It would be boring to have every song just fade out. I am also planning to release the BYHAE album with a BYHAE concert. Similar to the DooM Concert, except this one will be much better when it comes to special effects, camera angle, and sound. It will also be longer. But… I can’t say when yet! A “best of” collection is a good idea, Robin! I will maybe do that 🙂
I would love to hear your thoughts on today’s music in general, MTV and the music industry. On a personal level, I just stick to the indie and underground scene, because that’s where the “real” talent is found.
That is a tough question, because sometimes I “sin”. You know; One time I heard Lady Gaga’s “Judas” on radio. And in my car, I have a pretty awesome surround speakers with good punch. And I tell you; that song is friggin heavy! If it had heavy guitars on it would kick even more ass. Plus I feel that Lady Gaga gets a lot of hate she doesn’t deserve. Maybe it’s because of her name? The name sounds pretty stupid hehe. However, she is actually the only artist out there in the pop industry today that makes her own music and her own production. So she is totally independent and free. So Lady Gaga is sort of indie, but a very rich indie artist hehe. And she is a great performer; she can dance and sing well (unlike many other artists in her genre). I actually liked the Metallica and Gaga collaboration. Especially if you find the dressing room rehearsal edition where everything went smooth.
But I also listen to a lot of indie / underground on bandcamp and soundcloud as well. Perturbator is very good. Check him out on bandcamp. Heavy / dark synth inspired by the 80’s. I think they call it Synthwave if I am not mistaken. Other than that, yes, most of the new stuff today sucks. It’s all about bling bling, cars and sex. Simply put, it’s just shallow bullshit. Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne should not have been born.
Have you ever played live for a lot of people before? And have Video Games Live ever reached out to you? (in my oppinion, you are a very underrated guitar player).
Well, that depends on what you mean with “a lot” of people. Because when I played live in high school, it was about 2000 people watching. And in my Xtuum band, we played live many times but in small clubs. Some clubs maybe for 100 people, other times 500 people. I never heard about Video Games Live until now hehe 🙂
There is a lot of underrated musicians on Youtube. It’s flooded with them. So it’s kind of a needle in a haystack. I could also do like what the popular musicians there do; metalize popular pop songs to be famous, but it’s not my style. I also feel it’s a bit selling out in a way. If I don’t enjoy it, I won’t do it. I rather play and create music I 100 % enjoy. Money won’t make you happy anyway. And as long as I can afford doing what I love to do I am happy.
I must also admit there are also a lot of overrated popular guitar players / musicians on Youtube that have tons of views and subs; However, when I hear their stuff, my ears bleed. And I am like “wtf…how can people listen to this crap?”. But then I discover they get their views for other obvious reasons; boobs, looks or their “charming” personality hehe. So again; popularity has nothing to do with quality or how good you are. Nevertheless, this is the society we live in I guess :/
How do you make your picks for your Metal covers? I mean, do you choose which song (songs) that you should cover on random? (what you feel like doing at the moment) Or is it done mainly via fan requests?
If I hear a cool song from a game or movie or song in general, I write it down on my “to-do list”. However, sometimes I just get inspired by something I hear on the fly, and I just go for it. My main thing is I always do what I want to do. I never force myself to something I don’t like. That is why it can go a few months between my uploads. Even so, it’s also due to the fact that it takes a lot of time to record, mix, master and record stuff. If I do a video with lots of editing and effects it will take even longer. Especially when you see me as five guys on-screen. I also don’t do requests, but if they have a good idea I like, then I write it down for future reference.
Which guitar players do you like the most? And who inspired you to pick up the guitar?
I like Dimebag Darrel the most. He is the best metal guitarist I have ever seen. As he has this incredible tight rhythm, but also a very good soloist and shredder. And he has the best vibrato and vibarm skills I have ever heard. Nobody can make a guitar squeal like him! The other reason I like him is due to his personality; Down to earth, and kind. So Dimebag is a trademark of good self-esteem and self-respect with no doubt.
Others are James Hetfield and Joe Satriani and Paul Gilbert. Every time I see James Hetfield play I feel inspired to pick up the guitar and create something. Joe Satriani just makes amazing instrument albums. The same could be said with Paul Gilbert as well. Furthermore, Paul Gilbert has to be the fastest picker in the world I think. It was also Metallica who inspired me to learn the guitar in the first place, so I owe a great deal to them. They have also the best songs in the world (in my opinion). Master of puppets and Ride the lightning are the best albums I have ever heard, both in terms of sound quality and songwriting.
What’s your plans, hopes and expectations for 2017? And is there anything that you would like to say to our readers before we wrap this interview up?
To drink and get laid! Nah, just kidding 😀
2016 was a tough year for me. Because my girlfriend broke up with me, and I lost my job. So the bills stacked up…Even so, at least 2017 looks to be a brighter year: My plans are to study either 3d animation or music production. I have to decide now in 10 days. It’s a full study of two years. I will be going to school with 20 year olds hehe. So I will feel old hahaha 😀
I also plan (or hope) to release the BYHAE concert along with the BYHAE album on bandcamp this year. If not, it will be in 2018 for sure. Other than that, just keep trying to improve my guitar technique, and get better at mixing and mastering and improving my overall sound. I also wants to incorporate more synthesizer / classical instruments into my songs again. Something I did more in the past, and that I sort of miss. Honestly, I’m not sure why I stopped. It also adds more dimension I think, and atmosphere as well. – And upload videos to Youtube of course! I wish I could do it more frequently, but like I said; I like to just make stuff I enjoy and want. And if I don’t feel inspired it’s better to take a small break.
I would also give a shout-out to my subscribers; you are the best! Rock on! \m/ -____- \m/
Robin “V-Act” Ek
Editor in chief
The Gaming Ground
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