by Brian Connor
The Protomen, an indie-rock band inspired by the video game series Mega Man, will return to Danbury, Conn. at all-ages venue Heirloom Arts Theatre on Tuesday, April 3. The band is touring in support of their latest concept record, Act II: The Father of Death, the second of three epic installments.
The Protomen are quickly gaining popularity with each tour. Since the band’s inception in 2004, the band has been winning over music and video game fans all over the country. Like most bands, their beginning was modest, but they have become a popular band to see at the Heirloom Arts Theatre. The staff is eagerly awaiting the band’s return to their stage.
“The first time they played here there were maybe 15-20 people,” said JayLaPierre, owner of the all-ages venue. “After that, we hit 100 people, I’d say. I found it interesting that the local draw was outweighed by people coming in from as far away as Vermont and New Jersey.”
The Protomen’s songs are written about fictional people and places that populate the band’s vision of the world within the Mega Man video game series. Unlike traditional rock bands, The Protomen include ten members who wear costumes resembling the characters they have created and those preexisting in the game. The band utilizes a range of masks and face paint, as well as a motorcycle helmet that resembles the namesake of the band, the Mega Man character Protoman.
“One time they were here, they had gotten into an accident a few nights before and had the back door of their van tied together with tarps and rope.” said Jay LaPierre, owner of Heirloom. “They were on a full tour and it didn’t even phase them.”
The creativity of the band is not lost on those who do not play video games. LaPierre does not see himself as a video game fanatic, but he does see the art and music behind the band.
“The idea of what they do and how it has been executed is the true spirit of independent music,” he said. “They took the concept of the video game and created their own stories about that world and present it in almost a rock-opera way. Not only is their music good, but the stage show is what really draws people in.”
Although The Protomen have proved they love to create music, records, and costumes, their lives as independent musicians are not easy. They travel long distances, crammed into a van with all their belongings.
“We have found that the group is a very dedicated band,” LaPierre said of The Protomen, who have played at Heirloom several times. “One time they were here, they had gotten into an accident a few nights before and had the back door of their van tied together with tarps and rope. They were on a full tour and it didn’t even phase them.”
Heirloom Arts Theatre has developed a true comradery with The Protomen, and the venue is no stranger to the struggle of independent music. LaPierre owns and runs the thetre with only volunteer help.
“Shows like The Protomen do not happen often for us,” he said. “We are a room that can fit over 300 people in it and our average attendance is maybe 50. Perhaps it is the state of the economy? Because we are so hand-to-mouth, our marketing budget is nonexistent. We rely heavily on local bands doing their share of promotion, online social networking, and old fashioned word-o-mouth.”
The Protomen will return to Heirloom at 8pm on Tuesday. Opening acts include Mile Marker Zero and The Arsonaut. Tickets atre $10 in advance and 12: at the door. Doors at 7:30pm. Heirloom is located at 155 Main Street in Danbury. For more information and to pre-buy tickets, visit heirloomarts.org.