It was January 11, 2005, a cold and windy Wednesday when the game was first released in North America. On a whim it was picked up and brought unopened to a cramped office-turned-apartment in Annapolis, MD. For three days straight, playing in shifts never stopping, the three founding members of the band that would later be known as Entertainment System played and beat Resident Evil 4 in one sitting. Living off of Boston Market and pure will, the time spent toppling giant monsters and blasting zombies in the head in a strange sleep depraved daze galvinized an already long running friendship into a brotherhood that sticks to this day. The late night gaming and Megaman 2, Wily Stage 1 jamming sessions that followed quickly lead them to take a trip to Philadelphia where they would see the forefathers of the Video Game Music (VGM) scene, the Advantage. After this seminal video game rock pilgrimage they were set in their hearts and minds to realize their own vision for video game rock and Entertainment System (ES) was born.
By the time ES was a young 7 months old they had learned enough material to release their first full length album, "The Computer Always Cheats". Recorded in a friends basement over the course of a few months, and with a few selections being arranged and learned as the recording process was underway, The Computer Always Cheats was a bit rough to say to least. Nevertheless, Entertainment System's particular blend of fresh arrangements, original patch sections, wailing solos, and fan friendly song choices was evident in even the first incarnation of their now impressive discography.
While pushing hard to break into the VGM scene ES began playing more shows with other VGM tribute bands like This Place Is Haunted, Year 200X, and Powerglove. After playing a VGM event hosted by This Place Is Haunted in State College PA entitled "Video Game Armageddon", ES was inspired to put on a VGM showcase of their own. Thus, in 2006, 8 Bit Genocide hit Baltimore, MD like an atom bomb. It was such a success that ES committed to making the video game art and music show an annual event.
In the early days of ES the roster went through many changes, the bass position spent years either being un-manned or attempted by dudes who didn't quite workout. The harmony guitar position also had its ups and downs as the original harmony guitarist quit and came back and quit and came back, then quit for good and...you get the idea. This ebb and flow of members even birthed a power trio version of ES that played out for a short time. Eventually the community of talented musicians in Baltimore were able to provide ES a gifted harmony guitarist named Rex Anderson and a hammer of a bass player named Jeff Hammer. With the two new members locked in ES was ready to release their sophomore offering, "SUPER Entertainment System". This album was much more ambitious and boasted a larger track listing as well as a bevy of complex arrangements and a slightly heavier sound. "Super" was met with many hurdles during the recording process, going through 2 separate studios and loads of holds ups. Finally, however, ES found a studio that would be their home away from home in the years to come, Nice Package Studios in Towson, MD.
Armed with a new line up and song selection that was sure to wow and in some cases baffle the VGM scene "SUPER Entertainment System" was released to a more than accepting fan-base at 16 Bit Genocide in 2007. It was around this time that ES as a whole had begun migrating to the city of Baltimore where they could secure higher profile shows and really dig deep into the local music scene.
In the winter doldrums at the beginning of 2008 ES went through yet another lineup change as founding member and dear friend Matt "the Dong" Pie and bassist Jeff Hammer left the band. Faced with the task of releasing their 3rd full length release set to drop at 32 Bit Genocide that upcoming summer the boys in ES had little time to recruit a new drummer and bassist. Once again Baltimore's bottomless talent pool provided ES with two new members who would lend their talents to Entertainment System's third release "Entertainment System 64". ES now had the thumping power of Tyler Merchant on bass and the quick drum styling of Andrew Porter on drums.
Entertainment System 64 proved to be the most work intensive and complex collection of songs yet to be tackled by the boys in ES. The months leading to 32 Bit Gen and the release of ES64 was jam packed with a hectic schedule of shows, rehearsals, convention dates, and studio sessions but in the end resulted in Entertainment Systems strongest album to date. Once again ES pulled through and offered a solid album with more fan favorites as well as a few obscure rarities.
Following the Release of ES64 and 32 Bit Gen, ES set out on their first U.S. tour along with VGM brothers in arms The Megas. The Megtainment tour spanned 9 cites in 10 days. 10 days of drunkenness, long nights, old friends, great shows, bad shows and everything in between. While sharing the dates with The Megas many a video game debate came about, one in particular about the merits of the soundtrack to Megaman 1 ended up sparking the idea of a collaborative effort between the Los Angeles based Megas and Baltimore boys of ES. The proposition was that ES would supply the instrumentation and the Megas would put forth their Megaman inspired original lyrics. So, on August 24, 2008 at 64 Bit Gen Gamer Fest, the Megatainment EP was released. Musically, Megatainment was on par with ES64 but the Megas epic lyrics telling the story of robot rebellion and the endless battles between Dr. Light and Dr.Wily had given the Megatainment EP a new fresh sound that had yet to be heard from ES as they had never included lyrics.
Shortly after the Megatainment EP was released there had been some talk from the fans about expanding the track listing to include three more songs that featured music inspired by Cutman, Gutsman and a mish mash medley of various screen select and mini boss battle music. But with news that two of Entertainment System's newer members Rex and Andy would be leaving the band soon it didn't seem practical to put in further work on an EP that had already taken a little under 2 years to get done. So, Rex and Andy went their seperate ways to pursue new ventures. ES then set their sights on their new full length album, Rock N' Roll Cereal.
Over the years pretty much every video game tribute/remix act has taken a swing at covering selections from 2 of the most well known and loved video game franchises ever, The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. Entertainment System wanted to take a differant approach, all or most acts to cover music from these games typically covered the main themes from each game and including them as almost an obligitory slection on their albums. ES wanted to to give these games and the incredible music that lie within the tribute it deserved so instead of doing one or two selections from the games decided to do an entire album featuring the music of both games to be titled after the Nintendo cereal that featured two cereals in one box, the fruity Legend of Zelda cereal, and the berry flavored Mario Bros. cereal, and so Rock N' Roll Cereal was born. One half Legend of Zelda and the other half Mario Bros. 10 songs in all the new album would be the fifth full length recording put forth by ES, but first they would need to recruit yet another drummer and harmony guitarist.
The harmony guitarist position had never been an easy one to fill in the past but for some reason the rock gods aligned the planets and gave ES the talents of Jon Smeltzer. A born metal head and former Game Stop employee, he more than seemed right for the job. The position of drummer was filled by an old friend of Entertainment Systems by the incredible Brandon Wildman. wielding a monstrous drum kit with miles of skills to boot his tech heavy and versatile style was a perfect fit.
Shortly after releasing Rock N' Roll Cereal, an album that underwent a gruling editing and mixing process consuming almost 3 ywars of post production, to minimal fanfare and Brandon making a move from the state of Maryland - Entertainment System ended. Their still present members , John de Campos, Chris Baines, Johnathon Smeltzer and Tyler Merchant thought it best they try their hand at creating totally original music and fromed [explosion sound]. [es] released one album titled "The Killer Shapes" with drummer Steve Rickman. Not long after releasing the Killer Shapes [es] also folded. All the members of ES and [es], past and present remain friends.
Chris Baines - Lead Guitar
John DeCampos - Rhythm Guitar
Jon Smeltzer - Harmony Guitar
Tyler Merchant - Bass
Brandon Wildman - Drums
- The Computer Always Cheats, 2006
- Super Entertainment System, 2008
- Entertainment System 64, 2008
- Megatainment (feat. The Megas), 2009
- Rock n' Roll Cereal, 2011