An Interview with Press Play On Tape

by Neil Carr

The only band in existance (Unless you know different) who devote their time into playing C64 music. They have played live in concert and have appeared on Danish radio. So we asked them about these matters and here's what they had to say.

Born: 0
Nationality: Danish


NAMES, HANDLES and AGE:

PRESS PLAY ON TAPE are:

Søren Trautner Madsen (trauma, 30)
Theo Engell-Nielsen (beyond, 29)
André Tischer (tischer, 24)
Martin Koch (myth, 29)
Jesper Holm Olsen (dunkel, 26)
Uffe Friis Lichenberg (zonk, 26)
Mike Ditlevsen (ztiletto, 22)

Who were your favourite c64 composers?

Obviously ROB HUBBARD!!!!!! With Galway & Daglish as runner ups.

What are your favourite sids?

trauma: Really depends on my mood. But apart from Mission AD, Parallax
(hiscore) and HypaBall I would say: All Rob Hubbard - Sids

dunkel: My Rob favourites are: Shockway Rider and Auf Wiedersehen monty
which are very guitar-ish, but also Commando and Knuckle Busters are great.
Mission AD (Fred Cray), Ghosts 'n Goblins (Mark Cooksey), Future Knight
(Ben Daglish) and Driller (Matt Cray) are amongst other favourites.

zonk: Rob Hubbard - Monty on the Run. Hands down.

beyond: Well, I'm really a great fan of Rob, but I also like System 3's
Flimbo's Quest and Hüelsbeck's The Antics, Chip War (all three of
them).

myth: Rob Hubbard's sids of course - and Mark Cooksey's Ghosts 'n Goblins

ztilleto: Sound from the GOD (Rob) it must be Delta, Skate or Die, then
(Ben Daglish & Anthony Lees) Last Ninja 1, (Matt Grey) Last Ninja 2, (David
Whittaker) Lazy Jones (good simple redoings of known music), and more...

Which other c64 arrangers/musicians do you like?

zonk: I like most of what I've found at R:K:O, but admit being partial to
Puffy64, Instant Remedy, otto / TSR and M .

beyond: I must add The Dead Guys to that list, they are great.

ztilleto: well I must say Makke also made some good remixes, special the
Ode to my c64 a hammerfist remix... Of course Puffy64, well he made a lot
of Last ninja remixes which I like.

What are your fondest memories of the c64?

trauma: Apart from the obvious: competing in all games with my friends and older brother... I would say: The first time I really saw the power of the sid chip: "One man and his droid", the second time I really saw the power of the sid chip: "Making my own music in Sound Monitor" and the third time I ... "Arkanoid"! dunkel: The rush of starting up a new game and being thrilled about the music. Listening to game and demo music on the c64 was a thing a good friend and I (Hello, Sune) did a lot. We would listen to the same tunes over and over discussing how the creators did this and this to make a special sound. I remember the first time we heard the drums from Arkanoid - I think we drove everyone around us nuts with our human-beatbox version of this 😊 The first time I thought about playing SID on real instruments probably came when I was about thirtenn years old: One day Sune (who played drums) cranked up the volume on his stero and jammed along with Shockway Rider on his drums - it was awesome! zonk: ...I never had... a... c64... (sob) I had an... Amstrad... Which basically meant that my fondest memory of the c64 would be spending countless hours and a LOT of energy manouvering for time with my mates machines. beyond: The time when I really knew the machine inside out and knew how to do all the demo tricks. My friends were impressed---the first time my nerdy tendencies didn't backfire. All my demos had ripped Rob-tunes!!! myth: I spent a lot of time on games; Elite was a big favorite. ztilleto: Well it must be sitting at my next door neighbors and playing with them or against them... I recale som fun times with Bruce Lee, with two players... ;)) always been fond of playing two or more in computer games... Hey they where the ones to introduce me and later getting me hooked on the c64 ... Thanx... ;))

Who plays what?

beyond: Keyboard (Roland JV-90)
tischer: Keyboard (Korg M1)
dunkel: Guitar (Blade guitar and a Line6 POD amp simulator)
myth: Guitar (Ibanez guitar and a Pandora amp simulator) and a kazoo.
trauma: Drums (Roland electric drums)
zonk: Bass
ztiletto: Sound technician

You can see on the above equipment-list none of us use any real amps
when we play. This means that everything can plug directly into the mixer
without any microphones (except for speaking announcements) which makes
sound setup very easy.

Why did you decide to create a c64 revival band?

dunkel and trauma had made some demo-recordings of Thrust and Aztec
Challenge around 1994 in a studio. Later we met around 1996 at the
Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen where trauma
and dunkel joined with myth and beyond and got a band together playing
rock-covers. There we made a cover of Aztec Challenge but the band
eventually stopped playing. Then around 1999 we sort of played around with
the idea of make a c64-band for playing a one-off gig at The Party (an
anual computer party held in Aars, Denmark) because we were going there
anyway with our demo-group hybris/NEMESIS.


What are your thoughts on how well the party 2000 concert went?

It went horribly and brilliantly at the same time. We didn't play well (3 days with not enough sleep and no practise...), but we got the biggest kick out of the almost fanatic audience. That really hit an all time high as an adrenalin boost. Thanx fellas. We performed to make a kind of Fun Happening - sort of like: Look at us silly geeks here on the Stage. Come on over and have fun with us. The reception we got took us quite by surprise, especially all the attention we got afterwards. It's clearly something we would like to do more if anyone want us to come and play (hint hint). It's no secret that none of us are skilled musicians but we have a lot of fun together playing these tunes and if people like it (if nothing else for the pure geek-value), then we're happy 😊

How did the concert come about?

By the strange ways of fate. Dunkel told a friend of his about this idea about making a c64 revival band and this friend happended to work with one of the organizers of The Party who then contacted us and would like to know what this was all about. So we actually had a gig before we even had rehearsed for the first time 😊

I see by your music that you have made many Rob Hubbard covers. Why is
this?

For starters: He is the God of SID!!! It's as simple as that. But also his
tunes are simply the ones best fitted to a garage band as ours. They are a
good length for live performances (most of them between 3 and 5 minutes),
they are VERY varied (and thus both interesting to arrange, learn and
play), and they have his distinct blippety-blop-rythms that are very fun to
translate into guitars and synth. That also gives everybody something to do
in the tunes. Just to give an example of how much more interesting Rob
Hubbards music is to play: Our form for Warhawk takes up more than a full
page (without the solo), while our form for Ghosts 'n Goblins takes up less
than half a page (WITH the solos). The tunes are of equal length.

dunkel: Personally I find many of his melodies and solos very well suited
for guitar. I don't know if Rob can actually play the guitar (he played
keyboard?), but they certainly have a very great potential for being played
on a distorted axe!


I also see that you have not yet done any covers of the music by
martin Galway, is there a reason for this?

This is actually a continuation of the answer to question nine. We would
love to play some Galway. We think he was great. He did a lot to develop a
very special sound. But... that is also the problem, cause as a matter of
fact, most of his tunes just don't work when the sound is changed. Take for
instance the much requested Comic Bakery. This would surely be a
humongous hit played live, but would only take 30 seconds (or be
boring). The solo is 15 seconds long, and the complete form takes up two
lines on a piece of paper. And it repeats, repeats, repeats, and
repeats. And what would Arkanoid be without the distinct drums? One of
the only ways of redoing Galway is by COMPLETELY redoing Galway! And we
have tried to remain faithful to (most of) the originals.

We had the idea that we would represent as many of the old Greats as we
could, but we simply have not been able to find a Galway tune that would do
well played live. We are still trying, though, and maybe the hiscore tune
of Wizball will work. We must wait and see.

what was the hardest part of playing live?

Nerves, blisters and lack of physical fitness. Remember, that we are just
happy-go-lucky amateurs, and few of us play our instruments on a regular
basis. For instance the set at The Party was arranged with the slowest tune
Wizardry right after the fastest tune Krakout simply to ensure that
trauma (on drums) survived.

Will there be anymore Live concerts from PPOT?

Certainly (if anyone want us to 😊 We are all computer scientists either working or still studying but this band is a great hobby and a fun way to keep together. The only problem is the rather narrow audience potential but at computer parties and other events where people who know c64 music meet there's clearly a potential for a PPOT concert.

What are your thoughts on the appearence at Harddisken (the
harddrive), the Danish Radio Show?

This was done live on radio but compared to playing live on stage you have no audience in front of you which means that you can concentrate a lot on playing and not as much as looking funny on stage. Together with the fact that we had an excellent sound technician from the radio who provided us with perfect monitor sound, it probably made us play as good as possible and gave a very good impression of our skills. So basically we think it went really very well (Thrust especially) but not without glitches from time to time (the reason dunkel screwed up the solo in Warhawk is because he was going to be interviewed right after the song and suddently he got nervous thinking about this 😊 Also myth messed up his Solo in Ghosts 'n Goblins because the other guests in the show actually bumped into him while leaving the studio 😃

For people who don't know exactly what the show was about could you
breifly explain it?

Harddisken is a program airing on Danish national radio covering stuff
about computers, technology, trends and it's effect on society. The host
thought it would be fun to have us play live in the studio instead of them
playing CD's (the actual show was about computergames).

What is the hardest part of creating c64 covers using real
instruments?

Actually the hardest part has been agreeing to which tunes to use. But
apart from that the hardest thing has been to find something for everyone
to play in the non-Rob tunes. Rob has so many details and small riffs
that we actually often had to ignore some of them, but with most other
tunes six people are actually one or two too many. In all our covers we
have tried to include as many of the original elements as possible; that
has sometimes made it necessary for one of the keyboards to play cowbells
the complete song (like in Outrun or Auf Wiedersehen Monty). It is
usually a hard part to convince the poor fellow that THAT will be his
role in that tune.

Also sometimes things are just very weird or fast (or both) which can be
difficult to play on a real instrument. Some things work out great for
guitar, other things for keyboard and sometimes you either have to simplify
or play the tune slower. It's a fun and challenging thing to do, however.

What type of feedback have you had?

We got a lot of email from people who liked it and thought it was a fun idea. Also the mp3's have been heavially downloaded from our website which shows that people are (at least) interested. Also LaLa made a very fair review on the c64rmx mailinglist. From time to time people discover us and mail to tell that they like it which is nice 😊

Out of the tunes you have created which was the most difficult to
master?

Krakout! Because of the speed. Krakout was included because it is fun, and
we wanted to have some Daglish. We never really got good enough to play it
at correct speed. For some reason (actually: for no reason at all) we have
always had extreme trouble getting Thrust to sound good, even though it
was the first tune we ever rehearsed (or maybe BECAUSE it was the first
song we rehearsed). Actually we didn't get it right before the performance
at Harddisken, where it suddenly rocked big-time, and is now probably
the best of all our recorded tunes.

Have you considered releasing any albums?

We have thought about it and are planning to make at least some demos using
our own computers for recording (remember from q5 that we don't use any
microphones for recording, so a recording studio is not that essential). We
will see how this goes and maybe decide to do a CD.

What have PPOT got planned next?

Make some demo-recording and try to get a few gigs here and there (feel
free to contact us). Also we need to extend our repertoire. We have been
doing much rock-stuff but perhaps we will try to play other genres as well.

Which cover are you most pleased with?

As mentioned earlier, the recording of Thrust is probably the best of the
available mp3's on the net - so quality-wise that would be it. But then
again: We all have our individual favorites. For instance Aztec Challenge
rates high because it is a cover that has a drastically different mood than
the original - but still is very faithfull regarding the notes and the
form. Beyond the Ice Palace is the most fun to play - that's why we do
it so lousy... We are constantly on the verge of cracking up laughing. Out
Run
is the one tune we are all most comfortable with. The tune that ALWAYS
goes well. Auf Wiedersehen Monty is a favorite of dunkel because it has a
great guitarsolo, while Wizardry is a favorite of myth as it allows him
to get to the edge of the stage with his guitar and flirt with all the
screaming toy-bear-tossing 14 year old teenage girls in the front
row... ;-)

So our own opinions differ as much as everybody else's. And it also changes
every time we play. A big factor is if you actually spent months playing the
game with the tune in it way back when... but hey... we love them all.

If there was a tune you wish you could claim as your own, what would
it be, and why?

As computer scientists we have a very technical view on the world, so if we should claim a tune as our OWN, it would have to be one of the tunes that broke the technical bounderies of the time. Tunes such as the very early Rob Hubbard (for introducing synth-like sounds) OR Arkanoid (for introducing samples). But then - breaking technical bounderies is really not, what PPOT is about 😊

Who do you think gives the c64 remix scene the biggest boost, and why?

Chris Abbott! He is the guy that keeps it all together. Go Chris! Also kwed
for R:K:O obviously.

Also it's great to see so much work beeing done on c64-remixes while
reading the c64rmx mailinglist. Much of this music really deserves to be
played on better instruments than the SID.

Lastly feel free to add anything about you or the scene?

Just a big thanks to all the people who like our music! And thanks for all
your feedback, we really appreciate it - please send us more at our e-mail
address: ppot@hybrisNEMESIS.com. Watch our home page
http://www.hybrisNEMESIS.com/ppot/ for news and remember to support the c64
remix scene - check out http://www.remix.kwed.org/, R:K:O and
http://www.c64audio.com/, Chris Abbott's homepage.




- Neil

Interview date: 27.04.2001