Video game aficionados rock out with own mixed genre band
On a dreary, drizzly night, like something out of a video game preamble, the city is awash in a wallowing mood.
But in the depths of Kensington Market’s Neutral bar the promise of a dry spot beckons.
There, in the slivers of gold light, the profiles of the quartet that is First Person Shooter jump from the darkness.
Guitarist-vocalist Nikkole Stone’s blue eyes pierce the ebon haze that lurks in one corner, while only a smile is visible from her fellow minstrel Ryan Couture, who hides his eyes under the brim of his army cap.
Christina Kontos, synth-specialist sits beside Stone, while bassist and Forest Hiller Darren Mehta plants himself to Couture’s left.
“It wasn’t always boys against girls,” Couture says, with a smile.
Stone shoots back.
“It’s nice to have another girl in the band though.”
Couture is referring to the division in the band: Red Team, Blue Team.
Playing off of the theme of popular computer games like Doom and Quake every one of the band’s performances is called a mission, and every musician a player.
Even the current lineup, with the ladies as the red team and the men as the blue team, is referred to as the “2.0 days”.
“I really dig video games because it’s like all the arts are coming together in the creation of them,” Couture says. “There’s storytelling, there’s filmwork and especially music.
“It’s nerdy still but when you get right down to it and look at it, it’s pretty high art.”
Couture is not just an avid player, he went to school for video game design.
“I got all caught up in the philosophical implications of video games,” he admits, adding he’s fascinated by the hedonistic release that 3D worlds like Going Postal 2 offer, which led to the band’s name.
“Really it’s a consequence free environment and lets out the worst in people,” Couture said. “Nobody would actually do that in real life.”
“One would hope,” Stone adds, with a sly grin.
Playing with band names is easy, but when it comes to classifying their style, a glitch in the matrix is apparent.
“We’re kind of in a weird spot,” Couture says. “We’re a little too reasonable to be industrial, but a little too angry to be a pop band.
“I’ve always liked heavy music but … you can’t be pissed off all the time.”
The band’s not wanting to be chained to a particular genre didn’t detour Mehta when he arrived.
“Joining this band was a no-brainer,” he says. “I’ve said my bass was my first love, so this lets me do it and in a setting I’m familiar with.”
“If I’m going to be in a band, I want it to be one that combines the two styles I really like: electronic and rock,” she says.
“The only band I’ve been in, sure enough, is a fusion of both of those styles — it was meant to be.”
As far as first missions go, Couture and Stone’s premiere was at the Horseshoe Tavern in late 2005. The show was the most terrifying experience Stone has ever had, she says.
“There was a couple of things the boys didn’t warn me about: it would sound like crap on stage and also you can’t see anything,” she says. “So I get up there, I can’t hear anything, I look down and I can’t see the fret markers on my guitar … I’m like, ‘Oh my God’.”
Mehta and Kontos joined up later at a memorable show at North York’s Seven Star Billiards.
“We went under a different name just in case it was a total disaster,” Couture says, with a laugh.
“It was like a beta testing for the new band,” Kontos quips.
With First Person Shooter gelling well, the band’s ready for their next quest: kill the bad guys, rescue the girl and save the world.
Well, in the musical sense at least.
Catch them at Downsview Park’s U-Turn Festival on Aug. 2 to see if they succeed.