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How the Protomen kidnapped and forced me to ride around Murfreesboro blindfolded for 20 minutes just for a one-on-one interview

Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Updated: Thursday, August 27, 2009 23:08

They practically kidnapped me. Two guys came out of the house at 303 Apollo Dr., where the Protomen, a local band, practiced. I was supposed to meet them there after practice to do the interview.

"We're going to take you to the [interview] location," one of the guys said. "We cannot allow you to take any cameras with you."

These two individuals were dressed in mostly black. They must have had ski masks on or something, because I couldn't see their faces. They put a blindfold on me and stuck me in a car. I decided to play along because I wanted their story. Luckily, I also had a sense of humor.

"Security checkpoint B is secure. Rendezvous in 5 minutes," one of the guys said.

After driving around for 15 minutes, they took me up to a room in a house and took the blindfold off. In the room was a chair with a microphone right in front of it. Across from the chair was a television with a blurry video. The video was a live feed of the band members sitting in another room. I could hear them from the television, but I couldn't see them on the screen.

The members of the Protomen apologized for the tight security, but insisted that it was necessary because they had many enemies. The members introduced themselves by giving only their aliases in the band. They are as follows: Scarto, who plays guitar; Heath Ledger, a second guitarist; Murphy, who plays a square wave synthesizer; Commander, who also plays synthesizer; Demonbarber, who plays drums and Panther, who is the vocalist. All members, but one, are MTSU graduates with degrees in the recording industry.

"The songs we play were a project we did for one of our recording industry classes," Commander said. "We built up an epic tale around the story of Megaman, and it became one crazy, mystical beast."

Megaman was originally a game for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, which was released by Capcom in 1987. As the story goes, Protoman, the brother of Megaman, was the original thinking machine developed by the scientist, Dr. Light. Light was assisted by Dr. Wily. An accident in the Light's lab created an explosion of light energy. Protoman (also known as Break Man) shielded and protected Light, but Light lost his vision temporarily. When Light regained it, Protoman was gone. Light then constructed a new robot called Rock Man, who would later be called Megaman.

The band describes its sound as "Nintendo, synth-rock, guitarme opera." Guitarme is short for "guitar army." They site influences such as Journey, Styx, Genesis of the non-Peter Gabriel era, Phil Collins and Laura Brannigan.

"We covered one of Brannigan's songs called 'Self-control' at our last show," Commander said. "She died two days after of an aneurysm. It was a weird experience. We felt melancholy."

On April 21, The Protomen will play at The Boro, located at the corner of Greenland Drive and Tennessee Boulevard. Carnivorous Space Cow and Make-up and Vanity Set will be joining them on this date. This will be the band's third show, though they have been together since early 2004.

"The best thing about playing in Murfreesboro is its unfettered resolve to stand behind the forces of good," Heath Ledger said.

The Protomen are known for their live performance attire. They wear Southwestern clothes, like cowboys, combined with robot faces. This fact certainly adds flare to the live performance.

"We try to make the costumes better each time we play a show," Commander said.

After the interview, I left the house in the same fashion I entered it, with a blindfold on. The "security guards" escorted me back to my car. "Make sure you tell the story accurately," one of the "guards" said. I couldn't help but laugh after I left the house. It was interesting how the Protomen were so adamant about their secrecy. Maybe they just have a really good sense of humor.

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