Trumpeter Adam O’Farrill and drummer Zack O’Farrill co-lead the O’Farrill Brothers Band, which has already put out two records in the past few years: 2013’s Sensing Slight (ZOHO) and 2011’s Giant Peach (ZOHO). This Friday, April 25th, 2014, the brothers will become supercharged after a dose of Super Mushroom: they’ll be presenting the début performance of The Super O’Farrill Bros., which features different, electronically-charged personnel from their usual band. We spoke with the brothers (accidentally interrupting Zack’s Starfox 64 session) to discuss the motivation behind this fun, new project.
The Jazz Gallery: When did this project begin? What was the original inspiration?
Zack O’Farrill: It’s been the Super O’Farrills for a month, right?
Adam O’Farrill: We’ve been rehearsing since around February, I think. The whole thing is based around the idea of playing music that’s inspired by video games that we grew up with. It’s the first time we’ve experimented with a lot of different electronic instruments, and it’s interesting because the way we play together—it’s like playing a video game.
ZO: Our rehearsals are as much talking about video games as playing the music.
TJG: Which games are in the Super O’Farrill Bros. canon?
AO: Sonic the Hedgehog, The Legend of Zelda, Starfox, Kirby, a lot of different stuff…Metroid Prime—a lot of Nintendo stuff. One of the keyboard players is a diehard Nintendo fan and the alto player told me his goal is to play every Playstation 2 game by 2020, which is insane. He’s actually playing the Nintendo DS on the gig!
AO: It’s a program that came out that’s like a synthesizer: you use a touchpad and just play.
ZO: It’s more like a sequencer the way it organizes the sound and does stuff with it.
TJG: Can you say more about the relationship between music and video games?
AO: It’s kind of something that’s been part of my whole philosophy of playing music. I feel like playing music for me can be a very cerebral thing: figuring out how to beat a level, how to play a piece of music the best way and get the best score with the most amazing efficiency, get all the secrets.
ZO: There’s also a certain parallel there with single player and multiplayer.
AO: Some of the things that have worked have been kind of like putting the musicians in situations that are on one hand a cooperative experience, but on the other hand like a fighting game between the alto saxophonist and the guitar player.
TJG: Will you be doing any covers?
AO: It’s all originals so if you’re hoping to hear Super Mario you might be disappointed, but you may be more pleasantly surprised by what we’ll have in store.
TJG: Favorite game of all time?
ZO: [contemplative pause] My favorite game of all time is Super Mario 64. Either that, or Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask.
TJG: Really? Not Ocarina of Time?
ZO: I prefer Majora’s Mask: I think it has deeper levels of gameplay that Ocarina of Time doesn’t get to. It’s also more colorful and darker, and much weirder.
AO: I don’t know. I really like Super Smash Bros.
TJG: Any final comments about the band?
AO: The actual band is a very, very eclectic group of people that have managed to come together really well. Everybody’s really different: the keyboardists mainly work in electronic music so they have a really interesting perspective—a music that’s a hybrid of electronic and live improvised music—and it’s really, really cool.
ZO: I also think we’re subconsciously trying, in a very public way, to destroy any notions of there being any high versus low culture. We’re taking something that’s been put into this ivory tower like jazz and mixing it with something that’s definitely considered something throwaway and meaningless in life by most people. By mixing jazz and video games and taking our inspiration from the video games we play, I think we’re subconsciously saying a lot about high versus low culture.
The Super O’Farrill Bros. take it to the next level on our stage this Friday, April 25th, 2014. The band features Adam O’Farrill on trumpet, Patrick Bartley on alto saxophone, EWI, and Nintendo DS, Travis Reuter on guitar, Isaac Sleator on piano and keyboard, Max ‘Maxo’ Coburn on keyboard and laptop, Walter Stinson on electric bass, and Zack O’Farrill on drums. Sets are at 9 and 11 p.m. $22 general admission and $10 for members. Purchase tickets here.