Game Boy Rock Stars: An Interview With D&D Sluggers' Soultron Tim White

D&D Sluggers are a Wilmington, NC duo that plays chip rock music on Game Boys and the Nintendo DS. While it would be easy from some to dismiss the band as a novelty act, even a casual listen to the Sluggers' music reveals awesome hooks, fun lyrics, and some great melodies.

Guitarist Soultron Tim White was nice enough to sit down with me and answer a few questions about D&D Sluggers, how one plays music on a Game Boy, their live show, and Afroman.

Tim, I'd like to thank you for taking time to speak with us today. How's it going?
No problem! I was just trying to find my cat.

D&D Sluggers: C. Dustin Overcash (L) and Soultron Tim White (R)
CREDIT: Kimberly Baker

Along with C. Dustin Overcash, you're 1/2 of D&D Sluggers. How'd you come up with that name?
It's actually kind of a funny story. Well, it's actually kind of a boring story. It's funny now.

Like most bands, we were really struggling with finding a name. We both had kind of interesting band names prior. His last project was called Little Miss Sabotage And The Cornflowers. They did kind of a folky, Avett Brothers thing, but it was a duo. I had been going by Soultron for years, whether I accepted it or not. I would put Timothy David White on the flier and people probably thought it was just some sort of douchebag with a guitar. Which it kind of was. But then I started to put Soultron on at the advice of a friend in Cleveland. It kind of got more response and people started calling me that. There are tons of people I know who don't even know my name-name. They know me by Soultron. We had both of those things going, so we wanted something just as interesting.

My friend Anne, who I've lived with forever, had an old, beat-up softball t-shirt. I actually just passed it in the hallway. I should probably pick it up. It says D&D Sluggers on it. It's a softball team she was on when she was eleven. I would wear it from time to time. One day, I wore it over to Dustin's when we were jamming and I said, "How's this for a band name?", just kind of being dumb, but he said, "that sounds cool."

How exactly do you play music on a Game Boy or a DS? For Game Boy, there's this homebrew software that's been out for about ten years called Little Sound DJ. You flash it onto a Game Boy card and you just program it like you would a sequencer. It's pretty widely used by the chiptune community. It's semi-complicated for me. I can never get my head around them, so Dustin does a lot of the programming on that, whereas the DS has a program put out by Korg to emulate one of their old synthesizers. It's got a drum machine, sequencer, and synths that you can manipulate. We featured "Receipts" as our Song Of The Day a few weeks back. Yes! Thank you very much. That was very awesome. What made you decide to shoot a video for that song as opposed to any of the others? Whether I like to admit it or not, I've been told by a lot of people that "Receipts" is one of their favorite songs of ours. You can count me as one of those people actually. Thank you! Lyrically, people tell me that it pulls them in and gives them something they can relate to. We met some people that wanted to do a video for us. They listened to the six-song EP and just went crazy for that song. One crazy afternoon a couple of weeks later, we went to the Wilmington campus and went into one of the office rooms at the business school and just had at it. We found out later that they never registered the room or got permission to use it. We just used it because it was empty. It worked out because we were in there for three or four hours and no one ever questioned it. Are you currently working on another video or have plans to do another one? I'd really like to do another one sometime soon. There's a local filmmaker named Rocco Taldin. He actually filmed a couple of short live clips. He makes a lot of crazy vampire films and he wanted us to do some stuff with him. At some point, I'd really like to do a video for this newly-record song, "She's Got A Job." Right. That's on your SoundCloud page, right? Yes. He was very interested in helping out with some things like that. Hopefully in the future, he'll run with us on that. She's got a Job by DDSluggers Speaking of the SoundCloud tracks, there's three tracks and a remix that you posted last month. Will they be able to be purchased or downloaded anytime soon? We're actually going to get together and talk about this today. What's likely going to happen is we're going to do a little tweaking on the songs from the EP because those were recorded the month we started the band. We're going to do a little tweaking on them, make them more like what we do now, update them a bit, finish off the songs from the SoundCloud, and maybe add one or two more songs to make a full length that we might try to do a release for here in Wilmington. I'd like to ask a few questions about your live show. I've never seen you live and I was wondering if it was just you and Dustin and... a sequencer? A drum machine? How does that work? The same way an electronic artist would have a table with their laptops or whatever they're running, I have multiple DSes and the Game Boys running into a mixer. Dustin has a two-tier key setup. We're trying to get our setup as small as possible. My guitar setup is really just a DI box and a few pedals that I run into my mixer or the club's mixer. There's really no need for us to have mics except for singing. Do you do any covers at your shows? We only have two or three real covers that we'll bring out from time to time. Normally, we'll play covers if we're somewhere we haven't been before just to engage the audience. The interesting thing for us is that anytime we play somewhere new, it only takes a few minutes to see which people are going to completely "get it" and which people are going to be like, "I have no idea what's going on." So what are those cover songs? We play "Creep" by Radiohead, "Tired Of Sex" by Weezer, and probably the weirdest version of The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" that's possible. Sounds like an interesting mix. You did a show with Afroman, right? What was that like? Very strange. It was probably the biggest show I've ever played. Opening for Afroman just sounded ridiculous and it was proposed to us in such a weird way that it never seemed like it was really going to happen. Mark at Soapbox one day said, "You guys would do really good in front of Afroman. I'm gonna see what I can do about that." Then one day he calls me. "I'm sorry for the short notice. If you guys could play next week, I'd really like you to open. I'll try to get you some decent cash for it." And as I'm writing it down, he goes, "It's you, Team Cloud Surfer, and Afroman" and I was like, "you're kidding!" The day of, we're setting everything up and figuring out how we're supposed to do things and the first band is a stoner pot-oriented rap group. They're Team Cloud Surfer. And then we played and I think I got my first heckler in years. We stuck out like a sore thumb. At the time, I was wondering how do we even factor into all of this. But heckler be damned, people actually enjoyed it to the point that someone told the heckler to shut up for me. Then Afroman goes on and halfway through his set he starts playing guitar and that's when it all came together. That was a really strange way to make that all work. And he, in his own way, said he liked what we were doing. It was kind of hard to understand. But I guess that's Afroman. You know I've got to ask this: did he get high? I know he did, I know the guys before us did, and it's likely that Dustin and I got contact highs because we were like little kids sitting in the room wondering what was going on. That's funny! Finally, I'd like to ask you The CB3, three pop culture questions we ask every guest. Thriller or Purple Rain? Purple Rain. My sister raised me inadvertently on Prince. She used to dress up as Prince for Halloween at school and she did a really good job of it. That probably has a lot to do with why I ended up playing guitar. Debbie Gibson or Tiffany? Ooh. That one's actually hard because I feel like I like more of Tiffany's songs but I remember more of Debbie Gibson's career because of my sister. Debbie Gibson. OK. And finally, Pretty In Pink or Sixteen Candles? Pretty In Pink but that Duckie thing is still really crappy. I agree. Well thanks for taking the time to speak with me and I wish you luck in finding your cat. She keeps running up and tapping the window. By the time I get to the door, she's gone. Don't be a jerk! Come over here. For more information on D&D Sluggers, you can visit their website, friend them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. You can also download their most excellent album, Fun Is The Funnest, for the low price of three bucks at Bandcamp.

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