soul-punks the black tones smash fascists in new game

October 24, 2018
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Growing up in the 90’s with semi-strict but formerly radical parents was weird when it came to video games. Mortal Kombat was off-limits for being too violent, but Wolfenstein was A-OK cause you get to “smash the fash.” [In hindsight, this was sound policy — I’m sorry about that tantrum, mom.] Seattle alt-rock sibling duo, The Black Tones, takes the cathartic power of fighting 8-bit white supremacists into the 21st century with They Want Us Dead, the video game they created as a tie-in for their new single. It’s a browser-based, old-school, side-scrolling fighter game with the option to play as either Eva Walker (guitar and vocals) or Cedric Walker (drums). Through a handful of pixelated levels, you duke it out with tiki-torch-wielding alt-righters, the Klan, and straight-up Brown-Shirts, all while a chip-tune version of the group’s new single, “The Key of Black (They Want Us Dead),” keeps you pumped. Ahead of the game’s release, AFROPUNK checked in with Eva about transforming their song into 8-bit action.

Where did you get the idea for the game?

We loved video games when we were kids. So when one day about a year ago my boyfriend Jake and I were talking about the band having its own game, the idea to fight hate groups was a no-brainer. We came up with the idea to use the Kung-Fu template, that old NES game, and Jake reached out on Facebook and our programmer Corey Kahler answered the call. He introduced us to David Brender who designed the characters and levels.

How does the game tie-in to the song “The Key of Black (They Want us Dead)”?

The game’s music is an 8-bit version of that song. And the song itself is about these people who want us dead simply because of us being who we are, Black. This can relate to people with other identities as well though — Queer, Muslim, Trans, whatever. It’s about these hate groups that are infiltrating the police department, politics and so on.

What was your favorite game growing up?

We really liked Super Nintendo games like Super Mario World, Starfox, Donkey Kong Country, Tetris Attacks and Smartball. As well as Playstation games like sports games (EA sports), and action games like Metal Gear Solid. Metal Gear was like a movie, it was intense!

Any plans for a sequel?

If someone wants to give us money to do a sequel, we’ll keep making them. Otherwise this might be it. Jake is chiming in here and saying he’d love to see the game modified for cell phones but that would take an investment.

Do you have any more music coming out soon we should be on the lookout for?

Yeah! Next year we’ll have a full-length record coming out, which will include “The Key Of Black.” We worked on most of the music with the legendary producer, Jack Endino, also known as the Godfather of Grunge. We’re very excited to get it out into the world!

Check out They Want Us Dead and pick up The Black Tones’ latest single on the group’s Bandcamp page.