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How 'The Karate Kid' & 'Back To The Future' Inspire This Aussie Band's Music

28 August 2020 | 5:46 pm | The MCP

To celebrate the launch of the video for their track 'VantaBlack', mysterious progressive-electronic group The MCP have a wild chat with a couple of their artist mates Sindy Sinn and Jeremy Lord, responsible for their single artwork. Just like influences for the band itself, expect lots of movie and video game references from the mid to late '80s and early '90s.

Cue Music....(In a deep movie-trailer style voice) “In a time... when working from home is a global phenomenon... (low end bass fades in) ...and washing your hands at least 25 times a day just isn’t enough (sound effect, flickering light, cue megaphone style news report) ...when all hope had been lost.... (kid crying, fade in MCP drum beat) ...A new sound was created, in a little place at the bottom of the earth... called Australia.” (End Scene, Cue title of interview)

MCP INTERVIEW their artist mates SINDY Sinn and Jeremy Lord!!

Cue theme song...

“starring: Sindy Sinn as... artist of cover art for VantaBlack... (Fade in daytime soap-opera style violin) ...and Jeremy Lord... as the artist who designed the cover art for DWAM. (Pan to both artist giving Big thumbs up, then fade music and cut to interview)...

Hey guys!

Jeremy Lord: Hey man!

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Sindy Sinn: Hey duuuuuuude, thanks for having us. Happy to be a part of your MCP world.

How’d you like your intro?

Lord: Suitably rad - I’m picturing a grainy picture with lots of flare effect on blocky type.

Sinn: Loved it. I usually fast forward through the previews, but that’s a good one. Hopefully it gets more glitchy and grainy as the VHS is more and more watched. Nice to be here alongside art-pal Mr Lord on such a rad project. If we can lots of smoke-machines and lasers for this interview, that’d be great. 

First up, I have to ask you a question of great importance - What’s you’re official stance on Karate Kid. Are we Team LaRusso? Or Team Cobra Kai?

Lord: Team LaRusso - but only because Miyagi is a boss who catches flies with his chopsticks. Otherwise Daniel LaRusso is a total dweeb. Rad hair-do though...

Sinn:  Maaaannnn I watched The Karate Kid a thousand times growing up. Definitely felt for LaRusso. Watching Daniel go on cute cringe dates with Ali and his dorky mum always tagging along. And even though Cobra Kai had those rad skeleton-suits, I was sooo stoked when Daniel smashes Billy in that final scene. Boy oh boy that got me so fired up. FUCK COBRA KAI.

Huge! A very good friend of mine would be willing to debate you both to the death on these responses, but personally I like it a lot. So, thanks for talking with us. Say, have either of you ever been into a Blockbuster Video? And what was that experience like? 

Lord: Many times! You’d spend at least an hour in there trying to decide what to watch. Ironically, there was actually more choice back then than these days with the 10,000 streaming services out there. The guys working there were also way more knowledgeable than any suggestion algorithm too. Those were the days, man!

Sinn: Yeah. I used to live near a Video Ezy. Every weekend my sister and I would ride our BMXs over and spend ages picking what we were gonna watch that weekend. Having a budget of like $15-$20, trying to sneak some lollies in there as well. Spending hours trawling through the cases of VHS tapes was so exciting. Plus the overwhelming fear of picking something crap.

Were you a "run straight over to the new release area" kind of kid, a "slowly walk past the R rated adult section peeping Tom", or more a "bulk buy full week rental binge watcher"?

Sinn: Was definitely drawn to the overnighters. The weekly-section had your good classic stuff, but seeing something from the new section meant that you could talk about it the next week at school. Get those cool-points. Plus you had to commit to watching it that night, ironically there wasn't much else to do. And obviously I’d sloooowly walk past the R Rated section, just wandering (laughs). I was never brave enough to actually pick one up, but you could kinda stand a few rows over and get some side-eye perving in. I remember one summer I’d broken a bone and wasn’t allowed to do anything, so my dad took me to the video store with a suitcase and we filled it up. Literally the best summer ever. 

Lord: A bit of both (smiles).

Did you ever rent any video games as well? If so what’s you’re console of choice?

Sinn: A couple, but not heaps. Every now and again my sister and I would rent Streets Of Rage 3, which we’d play on the Sega Mega Drive. I’d pick the main cool-guy Axel Stone and my sister would choose the stupid rollerblading girl-character. Goal of the game was to keep moving right bashing up bad guys. Only having it for the weekend meant we’d have to play it non-stop, leaving the Mega Drive hoping mum wouldn’t bump it. The worst was coming back to a ‘paused game’ to find it had frozen. Times were simpler back then. Blow in the cartridge and start again.

Lord: A few, I have this weird memory of renting ToeJam & Earl on Sega Genesis and playing it through the night a couple times. Also might have done a few too many runs of Earthworm Jim on Mega Drive too. That said, back then, nothing came close to Nintendo consoles/games for me. Jump kick, crouch kick, jump kick into the corner all day...

I can confidently say all three members of MCP’s confectionery purchase of choice at the movie store would be a delicious packet of Maltesers. So what’s you’re go to movie snack? 

Sinn: Man I’m still so into Maltesers. I don’t care about popcorn, which some people find weird. I recently heard people put Maltesers into their hot popcorn and it melts and gets delicious. I’m gonna try that. But I could eat lollies all day. I reckon some Maltesers and a pack of snakes would have me pretty sorted for movie night. My family was also a big corn chips and dip family. We also always had some No Frills (Franklins?) chocolate chip ice-cream in the freezer. We also usually had a fridge covered in pizza-coupons for movie night. We kept things simple, we ran a tight ship.

Lord: Coke bottles and Haribo crocodiles all the way. Crunching in movies immediately makes you the worst kind of evil boss in my book - the kind Jean-Claude Van Damme or Chuck Norris would have to deal with.

Clearly, I miss going to the movies, and thanks to this virus, definitely playing to many video games. Where was I? Ah yes, the artwork... Sindy you were kind enough to design MCP an artwork for one of our songs (thanks for that by the way!). I handed you the song VantaBlack on USB - a “six-minute Synthwave Odyssey". Not my words but we’ll take it! Can I ask, what was your approach to the artwork for VantaBlack? Specifically, your colour selection in the design? 

Sinn: So we had a couple beers together and you mentioned VantaBlack and the MCP project. I was so curious to listen to it. I remember coming home and plugging it all in and cranking it. I really enjoyed it. Really, really enjoyed it. There’s not a lot of music out there like it, unless you rabbithole into the soundtrack-category. To paint such a vivid story and picture without spelling it out. There’s a really great subliminal line that get repeated in VantaBlack which is “the loneliest journey had begun”, which to me screamed of being in a space-suit, looking out into a massive empty void. In the buildup of the song I could imagine the scene. The spaceman silently getting ready. Clipping up the suit, plugging everything in and fiddling with knobs. Then leaving the ship but something going wrong. Something unplugs. Or he notices something. Or the air unplugs. He drops a tool. That tight-chest feeling of "OHHH NOOOO". For the cover I wanted to pause that moment. To capture the anxious float. But leaving enough mystery around it that it opens up the imagination, which I think suits the vibe of VantaBlack perfectly.

The artwork you made has an astronaut that looks like it’s almost falling. On the astronaut’s atomic area, it looks like some sort of portal or device that’s spinning. What the fuck is that and what does it do!?

Sinn: Oh! Yeah he’s got some waaaaaay advanced technology, that’d blow your mind to hear about. Developed in a lab across several montages a few scenes ago. And here, this paused frame of panic… it’s shitting itself. Is he being pulled? Is he malfunctioning? I don’t want to ruin the movie, but let’s just say he makes it back in time to kiss the girl.

So, after that conversation we had about movies and music the other day, as I was struggling to finish that third lunchtime beer, I remember leaving thinking, “Sindy’s a bit of a horror freak” and “Oh Jeremy’s loves his '80s pop culture” - Why do you like horror movies so much? And were you horrified I made you do this interview? 

Sinn: Dude I love horror movies. Growing up, my dad and I would watch every classic horror movie we could get our hands on. The Omen, Nightmare On Elm Street, The Exorcist, Psycho, Friday The 13th - all of it. My dad worked in the film industry, and we’d watch movies knowing they were “just movies” and that “monsters aren’t real”. Sometimes we’d pause them and try and figure out how they’d done it. Horror movies back then were simpler - and as such, way scarier. My little sister was also told that monsters only lived under my bed (laughs). But I think getting desensitised to horror movies while young has allowed me to appreciate them more. It’s a bit like eating chilli. It takes time and if you spend your whole life avoiding it you’re a huge pussy. That said - Hereditary gave me nightmares for weeks. Psycho ruined washing my face in the shower. And Paranormal Activity has ruined slight breezes in the night. I’ve always said, the best way to measure how scary a movie is, is by how you feel when you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. 

Jeremy what is it about comedies and teen comedy dramas such as Coming To America or Teen Wolf you like so much? And would you consider this interview a comedy or a tragedy? 

Lord: Not sure really, I went to an American high school from grades 5 to 12 (this was in Paris the late '80s, early '90s). We had all the characters from The Breakfast Club in my school so those kind of themes of jocks, nerds, summer breaks, popularity and break ups really resonated with my experience of what high school life was like. 

Let’s pretend I don’t anything about scary movies - recommend three must watch movies you loved and watched on VHS that some kids might never have heard of? 

Sinn: Oh yeah. If I had to recommend some, I reckon The Omen is a good one. The original. It’s all grainy and shit. But it gets creepier and creepier. Jump scares are stupid, to experience true fear you need good writing and filmmaking. The Omen does all of this. I also reckon Jaws is a great one. Don’t let “oh it's just a shark” ruin it for you. You never really see the shark, which makes it truly terrifying. But I reckon if you wanna go some more modern stuff, I’d recommend The Collector. I reckon real stuff and evil people is ten times scarier than ghosts and zombies. And yeah Hereditary with Toni Collette. I’m afraid to watch it again! Must be watched in the dark. No popcorn.

Lord: 1. King Solomon’s Mines - 1985 Allan Quartermain movie with Sharon Stone when she was about 25. 2. Black Rain - Yakuza themed classic with Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia. 3. The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen - Terry Gilliam total bedlam... nuff said. Also, lookout for a little cameo from a super young Tarantino favourite.

Sindy, be honest, have you ever slept with the lights on because you watched to many horror movies? 

Sinn: Ok, so full disclosure. Yes, I have. Recently too. But I can explain. My now wife Beth is a huge scaredy-cat and hates horror movies. Actually, more than anything the soundtrack messes with her. And I felt like I was missing out on my fix. So when she's outta town, I watch horror movies on my own, in the dark. And it’s so much scarier. Sometimes I’d watch two or three in a night and then lie in bed shit-scared someone in a mask was about to jump outta nowhere and grab me. But that’s what I like about horror, it makes you feel something. There’s so much adrenaline and tension. It’s the same reason people like rollercoasters. Gore kinda makes me laugh, but the psychological stuff is what changes your pant-colour.

Jeremy, don’t lie, have you ever put purposely got detention so you could hang out with the bad kids like in The Breakfast Club? Or held a boombox over your head to make a girl fall in love with you like John Cusack in Say Anything

Jeremy: Didn’t have to try and get detentions, they usually found their way to me. But yeah, I 100% did the ghetto blaster thing.

I remember as a kid, my parents had Steven King's/Tim Curry’s straight to TV movie mega hit It on VHS. The movie premiered on TV only over a couple nights and the movie was so fucking long, it took up two entire VHS tapes. Did your family ever own any double VHS tapes? A movie so epic and so long, it took two entire VHS tapes to finish?

Lord: Nah, though I was just saying the other day how nice it was when movies only went for like 80-90 minutes and didn’t have 37 endings. Nothing against Lord Of The Rings or Endgame... just a nostalgia for simpler times. And also, how many zombie apocalypse movies can exist at the same time?! 

Sinn: Nah, I reckon I had about a 120-minute attention span. Still do. Point Break is probably the longest movie I’ve ever sat through, and even then, it could have ended a hundred years earlier. Next thing they’re jumping out of planes and WHAT IS HAPPENING? But, growing up, like I said dad was in the film industry. So, we had a second VHS player/recorder. So, we’d often duplicate tapes. Whilst entirely illegal, it was also victimless. So, if we really liked a movie, we’d smash out a quick copy before giving it back. Would I steal a car? If it was that easy, probably.

That’s a double ‘no’ on the double VHS, hectic. I guess my parents were proper movie nerds. I think from memory they also had It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and the movie Gettysburg (1993) which is over four hours long. All of these movies came in double VHS. I have a distant memory of my Grandma dragged me to the theatres to watch Gettysburg, and I went kicking and screaming. The movie was so goddamn long It had an intermission in the middle of the movie, but G-ma topped me up with some popcorn and milk duds so it was all G. (Sad fact, if you google Civil War, the only thing that comes up in the search listing is the Captain America marvel movies, good to see the internet shows everyone’s passion for super hero feuds vs real life history?). When I was a kid, one of my fave shoes where these transformer snow boots my grandma got me. They would change from autobot to transformer on the front tag, when you were in cold snow like condition. Which leads me to ask, did you guys ever own anything hypercolored? A hypercolor T-shirt perhaps? And what colour?

Lord: I think I had a Hot Tuna hypercolor tee once upon a time. I remember getting rid of it without giving a shit. Probably worth a few $$$$ nowadays. Pretty sure I also had a hypecolor binder and plastic ruler too. I was super rad back then.

Sinn: Yeah I knew a few pals who had Hypercolor shirts and stuff. They were cool. But sometimes they just ended up with a green shirt and red armpits at the end of the day. Growing up, I think I was more influenced by Lost Boys, Back To The Future and Ferris Bueller with my fashion. Big sneakers, ripped jeans, baggy shirts, badges, coloured shoelaces and bandanas. All get the tick of approval from me. 

One of MCP’s fave '80s movie soundtrack is from the movie The Shining and The Thing. What’s one of yours? 

Lord: Gotta go with Vangelis’ Blade Runner on this one. Him, Jean-Michel Jarre and Eric Serra were visionaries back then, and their music is still way more original than the vast majority of soundtracks that come out today. Check out the soundtrack for Subway, Nikita, Leon, or The Fifth Element.

Sinn: So I have a crazy disorder I need to confess to. For some reason I don’t really notice soundtracks. Which I think is kind of the point. Obviously, I feel it. Whether it’s tension, or a montage or a romantic scene, but I couldn’t hum any real film-score moments. But I do love how certain films give you a particular style and genre throughout. Tron is a great example. Really electronic, bubbling and glitching. Lots of digital beep-boops and pulsing drones. As opposed to The Shining which has mostly classical, moody dark swelling-strings. I also really liked the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) soundtrack. Heaps of crap '80s synths and 808 drums. Ninja Turtles were rad… “COWABUNGA”.

Love that Fifth Element shout out Jeremy. For MCP,  our music was heavily influenced by all kinds of movies, especially ones from the '80s and early '90s. Movies like The Last StarfighterWillowFlight Of The NavigatorRoboCopFortressThe Fly and Masters Of The Universe to say just a few. Has your passion for movies as a kid influenced you’re art and how you approach designs as an adult?

Sinn: Yeah man! The movies, music and art of the '80s and '90s has massively affected me and my art. Back in the day when you’d buy an album and spend hours trawling through the booklet reading all the liner-notes and lyrics, each page with artwork and photography and telling the story. The same was with movies, there was such a massive focus on the poster. I remember asking the guy at the video store for one of the posters and he said they got baggsed pretty much the second they went up. Movies used to put so much effort into cases and trailers, it was a whole thing. I feel like the internet and Netflix has fucked that physical interaction with movies and music. Growing up I was really into heavy metal where all the covers and merch were pretty similar to horror movie artwork. KISS or Alice Cooper could have been rad horror movie characters. 

Lord: 100% - I’m usually listening to '80s movie soundtracks when I’m illustrating. Gets me right in the mood.

Jeremy, the second MCP got their songs back from mastering at 301, you were the first person we contacted. We sent you a jam, we talked movies and then you came back to us with a digital canvas that we felt set the tone of our sound perfectly. Can you walk us though your approach to this art and how the music influenced the design? Specifically, the colours and shapes you selected. 

Lord: Yeah, so colour is always a big part of my work and, whether I’m working with '80s synth or Cyberpunk themes, you can’t wrong with pink and blue. From there it’s just about seeing the future from a past point of view. The early days of tech were all about polygons, grids and very basic shapes. Then light the hole thing with neon glows and you’re set. I think I was going for a Lawnmower Man/ OG Tron vibe for this one.

Can we get into the psyche of Sindy and Jeremy of an artist with a deeper question: is it possible to make something look horrifying and beautiful at the same time? 

Sinn: Absolutely. I love injecting an artwork or an illustration with as much story as possible. Some of the best artwork is something you look at and you feel like you want to understand what’s going to happen next. And same with Jaws, sometimes less is more. With scary artwork of skulls, monsters and reapers you can make it as graphic as you want, but it’s gotta have that story. And the story is more important than how scary it is. And there’s a beauty in bringing opposites together, Beetlejuice is a good example of something that’s both scary and fun. 

Lord: I’m not sure. I’d say it more a question of visuals versus themes maybe? Like a scene can be visually horrifying to look at, but its theme can be beautiful. Something like that Kill Bill duel with O-Ren Ishii in the snow. It works the other way too, I think.

Okay shit's getting pretty intense wouldn’t you say? So, we better wrap this up, one last question, a question I’ve been excited to ask you - Sindy what do you think our song VantaBlack is actually about? 

Sinn: That’s a good one. Because it’s such a moody, brooding and pulsing track, that it’s impossible to be right or wrong. It’s up to whoever is listening! But I personally imagine someone getting ready for a hectic journey. We’re 45 minutes into the movie and it’s fucking GO TIME. He’s putting his gloves on, the talking is done and we’re driving to the final battle, a montage working its way up the mountain, opening the spaceship doors as the light floods the cabin. But when I close my eyes, I see something between Tron, Blade Runner, Alien and Mad Max 2. I love the song, I’ve loved being a part of this project and I can’t wait to hear what people think of it.

And Jeremy what do you think DWAM is actually about?

Lord: I’m picturing a journey to the end of space and time where all matter ceases to exist.

Thanks dudes, appreciate the chat.