Video Game Music Re-created: Descendants of Erdrick Interview

Every gamer has a soft place in their heart for the games we play, and also for the music that comes from them. For many of us, these tunes make up the very foundation of our musical palette. Hearing a certain tune can instantly take us back to a time when we were young, care-free, and doing what we loved, gaming. And although hearing a song in its original 8-bit or 16-bit rendition is nice, hearing it recreated in full musical tone adds so much more to the love and nostalgia. Enter the Descendants Of Erdrick!

Dedicated to re-creating classic NES and SNES instrumental music with a rock/progressive-style, The Descendants of Erdrick have come onto the Austin, TX music scene and have quickly made their mark. Members include Amanda Lepre and Mike Villalobos on the guitar, Chris Taylor on the bass, Lauren Liebowitz on flute, and John Pike on the drums.

I recently caught up with the “D of E” for some background information on how they got started, the name, and the influences that have made this band one of my favorites.

How long have you been together and how did your band get started?

Amanda – I was very fortunate to meet Chris a couple of years ago at a show we both played. We instantly started talking about video games and music — so it was only a matter of time until we did something about it.

Chris – I asked her about her Chrono Trigger tattoo and that got us talking about old Super Nintendo RPG’s. I happened to have a bass on me and played the bass-line for her and that was that.

Amanda – I had been toying around with the idea for Descendants of Erdrick as far back as 2007, but it was never a solidified idea until around mid-2009.

Chris – Amanda and I were invited to play a few shows at Game Over Video Games during their “Classic Game Fest”, where they were having an outdoor NBA Jam tournament on a gigantic inflatable TV. We quickly put together a half-hour set, with a friend helping out on drums. The crowd was very understanding.

Amanda – We really wanted to get a full band going. So we put the word out and found Mike “Lobos” Villalobos by a stroke of luck. “Fortune smiles upon thee! Thou hast found a guitarist!”

Chris – We also found John. He turned out not only to be an amazing drummer, but a sound engineer as well; so that was nice. I’ve always said that every rock band needs a flute player, so we were doubly fortunate that Lauren found us as well.

Who came up with the band’s name? It’s a Dragon Warrior reference?

Chris – It was Amanda’s idea, she wanted to call it Descendants Of Erdrick before there even was a band.

Amanda – I’m a loyal fan of the original Dragon Warrior/Quest trilogy and wanted to create a name that was both unique and meaningful. In the first Dragon Warrior, you’re a nameless hero with no identity, except that your bloodline is believed to be from a legendary hero named Erdrick. After the lineage is proven, your nameless hero sets out to explore new lands, establishing new heirs to the order to come together in times of crisis. I wanted to play on this idea and create a scenario where we are ALL “Descendants of Erdrick.” And we were brought together by fate. . . TO ROCK!

Chris – Initially we were worried that the name would be difficult to remember, much less spell (it seems there are two accepted configurations for “Descendants”). We kicked around a couple of other names, but we just loved D of E so much we kept it and sure enough, people have had no trouble remembering it.

Why video game music as opposed to any other genre?

Chris – When the band was started, it had to be video games. Everyone in the band had the experience of growing up in the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. So to an extent, our interest in video games predates our interest in performing music. There’s also something uniquely thrilling about rebuilding a tune that originally existed only on a tiny sound processor and then playing it on real instruments. It’s almost like we’re getting to hear what was in the composers’ minds when they wrote the tunes.

What games influence your band the most?

Chris – Ninja Gaiden, the real deal; none of this newfangled Xbox nonsense.

Amanda – Of course, Dragon Warrior was one of my first influences, with its Baroque-styled 8-bit composition. There was also the epic sounds from Legend of Zelda series, the Final Fantasy series, and other classic RPG’s — right down to the eerie atmosphere of the Metroid series.

Lobos – The ever memorable tuneages of Mega Man 2 and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

Lauren – Musically? Since we play 8-bit and 16-bit music, Yatsunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger) and Nobuo Uematsu, especially FF6. And Metroid has the best atmospheric music. More recently: Suikoden, Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time, and Beyond Good and Evil.

John – For me, it was the action/adventure type games with Legend of Zelda II: Adventure of Link being my absolute favorite as a kid.

How do you decide what to record/perform, because there is so much great video game music out there? Do you decide by popularity, nostalgia, or focus on a particular console?

Chris – Indeed, there is so much great music out there in the world of game that we frequently run into trouble trying to take too much on at the same time. “Popularity” and “nostalgia” are certainly deciding factors, but I think the main driving force behind what music we play is the music itself. We’ll play music from a game hardly anybody knows or remembers if we like the song enough; a good example is T & C Surf Design: Wood & Water Rage, which is a surfing/skating game released by LJN that (some may say) is not a very good game. The game practically has only one song, but that song has a guitar solo that is so rad we just had to do it. Lobos is really great for that because the dude is a force of nature on the guitar; he often learns the most complicated part of any song within a few hours of hearing it.

Do you do any original music also?

Chris – Not within Descendants Of Erdrick. We all have our creative outlets for original material, but D of E is very much a band that plays video game music. We do try to add our own spin to things, but there are groups that do great original music *about* video games; check out Man Factory in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We played a show with them, and they have this amazing rock opera dedicated to Street Fighter II. Amanda’s songs are very video game inspired though, I know that much.

Amanda – Video games are definitely an inspiration for my own material. I have several songs that draw subtle cues from games I love.

Do you take request? I want some Halo and Sonic tracks.

Chris – Yes, we are very request friendly! We might have otherwise missed some of our favorites had they not been passed to us via request. Little Nemo: The Dream Master is one of those. A friend invited us to play a party and simply asked if we knew the game, and though I did, I hadn’t even considered the music. It turned out that the first and last stage tunes are amazing. So not only did we learn the songs for the party, they’ve become a mainstay in our regular performances because we just love them.

Sonic is certainly on the “to do” list. We’ve had quite a few requests for it, and it’s really about time we gave the Genesis some love. I’m not personally familiar with Halo, except for LAN parties where the only music was the incredulous shouting of friends. But we’ll look into it!

Where can we find or buy your music? Also where can we catch your live shows?

Chris – We have so far recorded one EP, called But Thou Must, which can be found on our website (, Myspace, Facebook, Reverbnation, and at our shows. John Pike, on top of being our most excellent drummer, also did a fantastic job engineering and producing those songs. We also have a few videos up on YouTube, and we’re working on getting an iTunes presence together. Being in a band that appeals to a lot of internet users, we’re trying to spread out as much as possible.

Right now, we’re gearing up for a show at a metal club, called Elysium, on April 8th in Austin, TX. We’re also playing a day-time benefit show at Encore, on April 17th; more information will be provided on our website. We are open for booking for all of your video game related parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, chili cookoffs, quincenearas, and funerals.

If you’re loving the Descendants Of Erdrick, and I know you are, visit their website, friend them on MySpace, fan them on Facebook, and fan them on Reverbnation. “Thou Must!”