Metal, Texas, Doom; Rise Of The Triad Musician Andrew Hulshult
Let’s say you’re a small developer working on the reboot of a classic shooter that last blew up the world 16 years earlier. You’re keenly aware of the fact that you have to get every single aspect of your remake exactly right, from game play to graphics, to making sure that the updates you add to hook modern gamers don’t come at the expense of what made the original so awesome in the first place. And oh yeah, you have to nail the soundtrack too. Especially since, as you’re well aware, the original game boasted a killer musical score, one that, even though all the tracks were midi-based early 90s sounding background music, remains well respected and, let’s be real, pretty awesome.
That was the dilemma facing the team at Interceptor Entertainment as they bring their revamped and reimagined version of the classic shooter Rise of the Triad to life. Having assembled a great team – originally brought together to work on the aborted Duke Nukem 3D Reloaded – they needed to make sure the new ROTT soundtrack kicked as much ass as the game itself. So how’d they do it?
Fucking metal, that’s how.
Enter Dallas-based musician Andrew Hulshult, possessor of the most metal name since Bonn Scott, who first appeared on Interceptor’s radar back when they were still working on Duke Nukem 3D Reloaded. According to Interceptor’s Dave Oshry, CEO Frederik Schreiber wanted a full metal soundtrack for that game, and demos Hulshult recorded on his own time were, as he put it, “by far the best they received.” It made sense then, when they decided to revive ROTT after DN3DRL was kiboshed, that Andrew would be the man they tapped to do that game’s soundtrack too.
So who is this kid? Born in Cincinnati, Hulshult has lived in Dallas since the early 90s when his parents relocated there when he was still in kindergarten. He first picked up the guitar in middle school, “around 2000″, and grew up during the aughts blasting metal and exploring the Dallas music scene. “It’s a cool place to be,” he told me, and despite the heat (when Game Front was there in August, temperatures reached 115. Ouch.) he’s not kidding. Dallas might be one of America’s less celebrated big cities, but it’s always had a vibrant music scene, launching the careers of bands like Pantera, The Reverend Horton Heat and more recently, Chillwave darling Neon Indian. “The culture of music, a lot of it is really heavy stuff, a lot of metal,” Hulshult said, but was quick to point out that there’s also a lot of variety. “A lot of really cool friends that I have that are in some punk bands, ska bands, a lot of indie groups around town, it’s a big melting pot.”
Andrew’s been in that melting pot since he was a teenager providing vocals for the metal band Burying The Trend, which formed back in 2004. We got to talking about that, and considering my own metal knowledge is rudimentary at best, Andrew was nice enough to humor me as we discussed the sound of Burying The Trend in context of the evolution of the genre over the last couple of decades.
I myself was never into metal – largely because my first exposure was to hair band shite. It took a long time for me to get over that, and the interesting thing to an uninitate like me is the way that, especially in the last decade, it has proliferated into numerous, almost esoteric subgenres. In a way, the decline of Rock as the dominent form of popular music in America has liberated Metal, allowing it to go into some seriously dark, and seriously interesting directions, almost in the same way Jazz did back in the 50s. Whether I’m off base or not, Andrew agreed that the genre has incredible diversity and talked a bit about how that affects the sound of his music, and that of his band.
“The evolution has kind of gone from everything being riff based in the 80s, to the 90s where they start playing around with speed and rhythm and the idea that the guitar is following the kick drum and the snares as much as possible,” he told Game Front. “That whole nu metal genre that was happening from like ’95 to 2000, it was during the breakdown of the song, ‘everybody plays drums’, essentially (if you understand that terminology), that’s kind of spawned into its own thing.” Andrew specifically cited Sevendust as a band who helped make that happen. “They’re really really good at that,” he said, “and I don’t think they get enough credit for that.”
“You’ve got all these different genres that popped up from that, like tech metal which uses a lot of dance stuff, a lot of big bass drums, synths in the background, you’ve got Death Metal which is like 100 mph all the way through, unless you get certain bands that can really pull it off at a slower tempo, you’ve got the hardcore kids. A lot of it is just really percussive.”
As for Burying the Trend, “We don’t really have a specialty.” That’s in part because, as he put it, “The way I look at it is that metal is metal,” and in part because these guys are young. “The last record we did [New World Order, available via their site] were all songs written when we were like 17 and 18,” he said, and BTW, that was around 2006. So feel old, you old, old person. Hulshult added that while he thinks this material was good at the time, they’ve grown a lot. “So now what we’re doing is trying to make an entire record that’s really diverse. Not something for everyone, but something that really pleases us, something we want to listen to.”