Picture the scene: a Stormtrooper takes the bass and Boba Fett plays drums while Darth Vader and two Sith employees shred on guitar, playing adapted versions of John Williams’ iconic Star Wars compositions live to an audience of cosplaying Star Wars fans. There’s actually no need to picture it, because in early February 2017, that scene will play out across a load of UK venues. This is Galactic Empire, the metal band playing the gnarliest Star Wars melodies ever heard.
As Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hit UK cinemas, NME spoke to the band’s frontman, Darth Vader (Chris Kelly) about the origins of the project, their self-titled debut (out February 3), and what fans can expect at their UK shows next year…
When did you decide to make an album of Star Wars music?
“Our drummer, Grant McFarland (aka Boba Sett) made a drum video of himself playing along to the Imperial March a few years ago. Eventually he thought to expand on that idea by adding guitars to the arrangement, which then snowballed into an entire album’s worth of material.”
How did you go about adapting John Williams’ music to play as a band?
“Grant and our bassist Carson Slovak (aka Bass Commander) did most of the leg work on that. My job was just to figure out how to make it playable. They spent months separating each section of the original orchestrations and making sure nothing was overlooked. There is not a single part of the original pieces that isn’t represented in our arrangements.”
How is your live show different from other bands’?
“We’re a Star Wars metal band. That in itself is pretty unusual. Iconic music paired with a professional light show and hopefully an audience full of fans in costumes should hopefully make for a truly memorable experience for everyone.”
Should fans be worried of your choking power, Darth?
“Unless they are members of the Rebel Alliance, traitors, or have failed me at least once, they should not worry about meeting the business end of my power.”
Where do your suits come from?
“Our armour is forged by a master craftsman with only the galaxy’s finest materials. Also Amazon.”
Doesn’t it get hot performing in them?
“It gets hot performing in street clothes so I can’t even imagine what these new costumes are going to feel like. We’re doing everything we can to make our live costumes as light and breathable as possible, but it will inevitably be a show that requires a water break every now and then.”
What other challenges do you face when you’re performing?
“Aside from playing and maneuvering in the costumes, just remembering these songs every night is something I’m sure we’re all sweating a bit. This is easily the most daunting material any of us have ever taken on as musicians, but we’re all extremely excited to bring it to our fans.”
Does Emperor Palpatine approve?
“Upon reviewing our progress, the Emperor said, and I quote: ‘Gooooooooood’.”
Do you consider yourselves evil or is the spread of the Galactic Empire only a good thing?
“There is no good and evil. There is only the force… and the correct side of it which, of course, is the Dark Side.”
How excited are you for Rogue One?
“We are excited for anything and everything involving Star Wars. I know a lot of people were skeptical of Disney taking over the franchise, but I personally am stoked on the timeline they’ve released for the saga. I can’t wait to see how it progresses.”
Finally – what will you do to Rebels who come to your shows?
“I believe there was some talk of choking earlier.”
See Galactic Empire live at the following UK dates:
London, O2 Academy Islington (Wed 1)
Southampton, Joiners (Thu 2)
Milton Keynes, The Craufurd Arms (Fri 3)
Brighton, Patterns (Sat 4)
Plymouth, The Hub (Sun 5)
Bristol, Fleece (Mon 6)
Cardiff, Globe (Tue 7)
Birmingham, Academy 3 (Wed 8)
Leamington Spa, Zephyr Lounge (Thu 9)
Manchester, Satan’s Hollow (Fri 10)
Edinburgh, Opium (Sat 11)
Glasgow, O2 ABC (Sun 12)
Newcastle, O2 Academy (Mon 13)
Reading, Sub89 (Tue 14)
Oxford, O2 Academy (Wed 15)
Derby, The Venue (Thu 16)