Playing sold-out shows around the world in front of crowds of screaming people is nothing compared to having your music punctuate rescuing the universe from utter annihilation. This more cosmic level of success is a brand new feeling for Edmonton band Faunts, whose song “M4 Part II” appeared during the ending credits of last fall’s Xbox 360 hit, and X-Play RPG of the Year, Mass Effect.
Developed by the heralded RPG giant BioWare, also located in Edmonton, Mass Effect sold 1.6 million copies in its first five weeks on the market. Within several days of the game’s release, Faunts’ MySpace page began to receive a huge increase in hits. By January 7, the band’s profile views had increased to over 100,000; in the previous two years on the site they managed a third of that. It was clear that a sizeable new audience was being exposed to Faunts’ moody, subdued melodies.
Pretty good for a band that hardly ever ventured outside of northern Alberta.
“It’s been great,” says Faunts bassist Scott Gallant. “To be honest a lot of us aren’t really into video games a ton; we didn’t really know how big Mass Effect was going to become. Since [Bioware is] from Edmonton we didn’t realize how large it was, and when we realized what was going on, it was shocking it was great and we were super happy about it.”
Rob Batke, keyboard player and guitarist, echoes the sentiment.
“We get tons of people saying ‘we love your songs, we love your music’ and it’s just really awesome that BioWare could have picked anybody,” he says. “We feel really, really lucky that they chose us.”
Thanks to some social connections Batke had with several game designers at the studio, BioWare got a chance to listen to the local musical stylings of the band and felt that adding them to Mass Effect was a no-brainer.
“[Rob] just kind of passed our CD on to somebody, to whoever was doing the music, the music director whoever,” Gallant says, “and they listened to it and were like ‘yeah this would be awesome’. They were really grateful in wanting to help out a local band like us and because we had somewhat of a relationship they were excited about giving us that boost.”
Faunts is Tim Batke, Rob Batke, Paul Arnusch, Steve Batke, and Scott Gallant
While the runaway success of Mass Effect is giving the group a huge surge in popularity, they’re only just getting started. Video Games Live, a touring musical show featuring nothing but music from video games, will be making a stop in Edmonton on February 17 and Faunts will be playing M4 Part II to a sold out Jubilee Auditorium as part of the festivities.
But it almost didn’t happen.
Originally the band couldn’t be fit into the schedule on stage, and so they decided to play an after party show at a separate venue in Edmonton. But that’s when they received some help from famed video game composer Jack Wall (who’s worked on games like Myst III, IV, V, Jade Empire, and of course, Mass Effect).
“…I got an email from Jack Wall saying ‘I love your song it would be great if you guys could actually play the Video Games Live show’,” Gallant says. “I emailed him back and he was on holiday so I didn’t hear from him so I was thinking ‘we’re not going to play it, no big deal.’ And then all of a sudden one day he called me on my cell phone and he basically said ‘what can we do to make this work’. He basically said why don’t you play the show and we’ll figure out the details after.”
The band feels like a lot of new doors have opened for them, and are eager to press forward and build on the recent exposure they’ve enjoyed by releasing a new album this summer.
“Even the success of M4 has been really great for us,” Batke says, “but just getting out new material is really exciting, and you know that we’re not really just trying to live off of Mass Effect, which has been a huge blessing, but to take advantage of it and keep putting out material that we’re really happy with to give the band some longevity.”
“We’re going to be trying to play a lot more as of recently,” says Gallant. “In the past it wasn’t necessarily a huge focus to play outside of Edmonton. Obviously with all this Mass Effect hype we want to try to make the best of all this and really be able to play.”
Fitting, then, that the band’s quote on their MySpace page says “We Would Like to Tour The Galaxy” after they played a part in helping gamers everywhere experience saving it.