In partnership with Square Enix
For many of us, the most exciting event we could hope for in an average day at the office is tactically manipulating the tea tour to one’s own advantage, or perhaps an unforeseen fire alarm. But while working on Square Enix’s next hit game, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Steve Szczepkowski found himself living out his rock ‘n’ roll fantasies from the comfort of his office at Eidos Montreal’s Canadian headquarters. By day a sweet-mannered senior audio director Szczepkowski is now living a double life as a god of rock waiting in front of the band Star-Lord, a band that rocks so hard their latest video, which has just been released, looks like gnarled 1980s Saturday morning cartoon about kickass heavy metal vikings. Check it out above.
The daring effort came as a result of an adjustment to Peter Quill’s origin story that dictated that he took his superhero name, Star-Lord, from his favorite rock band. This posed a problem because, well, there wasn’t a 1980s band called Star-Lord. The solution was to challenge Szczepkowski to fill in the blanks, and he did so by providing not just a track, but a complete period perfect hard rock concept album reminiscent of stonewash denim and video clips shot in a desert canyon. in a windstorm. Fans of Judas Priest, Megadeth, and Meat Loaf should give it a try immediately.
The album, ‘Space Rider’, comes with a separate orchestral score and licensed ’80s soundtrack with Rick Astley, Kiss, Gary Numan, Iron Maiden and even New Kids On The Block, which kicks off. when you, as the Star-Lord, take your team into battle. All that to say that Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is not just a game that takes its music seriously, it is a game that could change the expectations of game music forever.
With his Robert Plant curls and Motorhead T-shirt, the man who appears on Zoom to talk about his work on the track – and, in particular, the Star-Lord album he recorded almost on his own – seems to have must have been on the cover of Kerrang! a few times in the 90s. It turns out he wasn’t, but not for lack of trying. âUntil 30 years old, all I did was play music and work just long enough to keep me on the road,â says Steve. âBut once I hit 30, I thought maybe that wouldn’t happen. So I’ve been waiting in the queue for a while. Sometimes people say luck is actually fairer to be the guy who hung around long enough!
There’s a bit of an analogy to our hero Star-Lord himself – snatched from Earth as a boy in 1989 and making his way to reluctant galactic hero status via a stint as space mercenary. âIf you were a hard rock kid like I was in high school, you could relate very well to young Peter Quill,â says Steve. “You don’t fit in, girls don’t like you, your hair is a bit between long and short, you just can’t get that cool factor that you feel is there.” I can totally relate to that.
It’s easy to imagine Peter Quill enjoying the Star-Lord album, with his Frank Frazetta style cover art, angular logo (reproduced as a patch on Star-Lord’s jacket in the GOTG game), perfect sound at the time, a riff-tastic and songs about space adventures. The only period detail missing is the problematic lyrics about acceptable things in the ’80s. âI sat down with the creative director and said,’ Look, I don’t want to cross any barriers because obviously with Marvel and Disney on board, I can’t write Motley Crue songs about going to strip joints. “Steve laughs.” Although I slipped in a reference to the Black Hole Saloon, which looks a bit dirty. “
Under the sci-fi guise, Steve says, the album’s themes are universal. âWe’ve put together a list of about 10 high profile topics: family, thick and thin, things like that. And when I looked at it at home, I’m like, Fâ, that’s about my life, you know. Someone says, âI don’t think you can do thatâ and you say, âOkay, take a step back and look at meâ. When I started to write, especially the lyrics, I found I was getting down to it. So I hugged him and said, “Well, I guess I’m really making a record.”
Writing an album in the guise of Quill’s favorite band also led Steve to delve into his lifelong love for Kiss, the American band who dresses like comic book heroes and rock like demons, well. than today with thicker makeup and unpopular views. Kiss even got their own Marvel title in 1977, the great thing being that the band donated blood and mixed it with red press ink, allowing the publisher to brag that the issue was in print. in the group’s own blood. âWhile they might not be the kind of people I admire now, I can watch Kiss and be 12 again,â Steve says. “Lyrically, they’ve always talked about positivity and self-confidence, going against the grain and against the grain.”
It’s also a pretty good summary of Steve’s MO when he was working on the Guardians game. Rather than wait for a list of audio requests from game designers, he actively worked to incorporate sound and music from the early stages by “being that kid who always wants to get in the game.” This is how the âhuddleâ feature was born, in which you, as the Star-Lord, lead the five-man group into battle to the tunes of Joan Jett’s âBad Reputationâ or 29 equally brilliant tracks. .
âI had seen the task force we were working on in the office and I thought to myself: what could I do about this? Explains Steve. âSo I literally started grabbing fight footage, cutting the sheet music and dragging licensed music – and then saying, ‘Ohhhh, that’s pretty cool. Â»Â» At first glance, some of the tracks seem slightly incongruous – like the one from Hot Chocolate. Everyone’s a winner, âbut that’s where the real magic lies, says Steve. “I found that pop songs were actually the best bang for the buck, because of the juxtaposition with the frenetic combat that takes place on screen.”
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy represents more than four years of work for Steve, but after hearing his brilliant album Star-Lord, one has to wonder if he could leave Eidos Montreal soon for this long career on stage. Should we expect Star-Lord to play Download and Hellfest next year? “I mean, you know what?” I would love to take a stage to open up to someone, of course I would, but it’s something Marvel should be supporting, âSteve said. So for now, he’ll have to settle for his dad-band, a classic rock cover band that recently reunited for their first practice since the pandemic. âWe’re called RockHed,â Steve explains, âwith an ‘e’ – to make rock ‘n’ roll official, you know. “
With guards mix of licensed tracks, sheet music and full album, brand new album, it is no exaggeration to imagine a time when established artists would sign up to write albums for games, like, say, folks of the years 1960 Simon & Garfunkel doing the soundtrack to the film Le DiplÃ´mÃ©. âI mean, maybe without realizing it, I’m kind of opening up a vanguard here,â Steve says. âVideo games are a great way to integrate music, especially how the music industry has changed these days. But getting a real band to do it would cost a lot more than having your senior audio director write an album! “
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy arrives October 26 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, PC and streaming via GeForce. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cloud Version for Nintendo Switch will also be released on October 26.
What if: Guardians Of The Galaxy was a band?
Star-Lord singer / songwriter Steve says he considers the Guardians of the Galaxy team to be a five-piece band. So who plays what?
Star Lord: âThe leader, of course! “
Drax: âHe has to be the drummer. I mean, he’s built to beat things.
Gamora: “I think she would shred a few hits on the guitar.”
Groot: âI think he maintains the rhythm section with Drax. He has the fingers for the bass guitar.
Racoon rocket: “I imagine him with a SG [guitar] bouncing onto the stage like AC / DC’s Angus Young.