Tuesday, June 3, 2008

William Shakespeare meets Iron Maiden

By MELODY STONE, The Eureka Reporter
Published: May 30 2008, 1:13 AM
Category: Arts

Like ’80s heavy metal? Like the works of William Shakespeare?

Jason Simms likes both. He wanted to play heavy metal, the really operatic kind. Simms said he didn’t think he could take himself seriously just doing that, so he went looking for a gimmick. Someone suggested Shakespeare. Since Simms has some Shakespeare memorized, he popped a dollar in a jukebox and sang a soliloquy over an Iron Maiden song. It didn’t sound that bad, so he formed Metal Shakespeare Company.

“We all have an Elizabethan persona name; mine is Lord Simms.” Simms plays rhythm guitar and sings lead. “We have a lot of songs that just have one speaker, so it might just be me singing a soliloquy,” he said, although the other members of the band often chime in bit parts as backup.

The band’s lineup: Viceroy Matthew (Matt Stikker, 22) — axemanship, battle cries; Sir Meriwether (Nikolai Danilchik, 23) — ivory, growls; Lord Simms (Jason Simms, 24) — versification, axemanship; and William Sly (Randy Bemrose, 28) — war drum, battle cries.

C.J. Stewart, who plays in 33 1/3, an instru-metal band from Arcata, said about MSC, “Their live show is so entertaining. It’s like a play. The music is excellent, but the banter in between songs is their shtick.”

Stewart recommended that everyone see MSC, “even if you don’t like heavy music at all.” 33 1/3 is opening for MSC The Alibi on June 7. The show starts at 11 p.m.

Simms said, “It’s so fun to be in a gimmick band because there’s no ego involved. It’s all sort of an elaborate joke. We do practice and record and stuff.”

Most of the works they do are based on Shakespeare’s tragedies. Simms said he believes that tragedy is more metal than comedy and lends itself better to what they do.

They do the “To be or not to be” soliloquy from “Hamlet,” which Simms considers to be their most popular song.

Although the band has modern instruments, the keyboard player does a lot of synthesized Elizabethan instruments. “It sounds really cheesy, but that’s what we’re going for,” said Simms.

“I don’t think Shakespeare really took himself very seriously. My guess is he would find (MSC) pretty interesting.”

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