By Thomas Quillfeldt
Off-beat first-person shooter Shadow Warrior 2 is out on PC on October 13 2016 and on consoles in early 2017. At one point during development, the team at Flying Wild Hog and publisher Devolver Digital decided that the game was lacking in something—namely, sufficient quantities of Bush.
Naturally, they called the man with The Touch, 80’s legend Stan Bush of Transformers: The Movie fame.
The result is the ear-tickling, eye-popping, retro-infused The Warrior EP, featuring a brand new Bush cut—Warrior—as well as classics The Touch, Never Surrender and the bonkers The Touch (Lo Wang Hijack), mastered for 180 gram vinyl with artwork by celebrated Polish comic book artist Michał "Śledziu" Śledziński.
To mark the release, we caught up with paragon of retro-awesomeness, the man, the legend—Mr Stan Bush.
Laced: What drew you to a video game project like Shadow Warrior 2? You’ve worked in and around movies a lot over your career—are video games as attractive as movies to music artists?
Bush: It's been cool to be involved in video games as well as films and TV, and it seems like games have become an important part of the culture. The level of sophistication of games these days is amazing! People like to be entertained, but with games being interactive, it makes it even cooler—the player becomes part of the story. I think more and more artists like the concept of video games as a way to get their music out there.
Laced: The last 15 years seem to be characterised by the idea of retro-chic—iconic songs, movies, clothes, styles from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's becoming cool again, even if they were once deeply uncool. You seem happy to embrace that alongside contemporaries like Vince DiCola. What’s it like to ride that wave?
Bush: I've always been a 70’s and 80's guy in terms of music. Films from that era featured music in a way that made the songs integral to the story. When 80's rock kind of imploded in the early 90's, I was fortunate enough to have grown a following in Europe and Japan and was able to carry on doing the music I love.
These last few years have been awesome, since a rejuvenated geek culture has helped 80's rock reemerge as cool again. The Internet has been a huge factor in making that happen. People can find the music they love, and have the ability to share it with their friends.
Laced: If retro music, movies or art styles ‘come back’ in such a way that they become dominant again (e.g. JJ Abrams has to make the new Star Wars just like the old one), does that lead to a bit of an identity crisis for creators who are just beginning to find their own style or sound in 2016?
Bush: When something becomes too famous, too mainstream, it loses its cool factor. People like to share whatever the rarest, most obscure songs, films, wine etc. with others—part of the mystique is that it's not mainstream. Success is often a double-edged sword.
Laced: As an artist who has been rocking hard since the late 70’s, what has changed the most for you in terms of technology in music?
Bush: The Internet has of course changed the music industry drastically. I had major-label record deals during the 80's and 90's and while it was nice having large recording budgets and promotion, it was also easy to get lost in the shuffle. Since the Internet levelled the playing field, it's easier to reach out to fans directly. It's great for artists who are somewhat known, although the sheer volume of stuff out there makes it hard for up and coming artists to break through.
If a band can generate a following performing live, it's probably the best way to get started, although sometimes a band can come up with a music video that's totally unique and goes viral.
Laced: Do you have a favourite movie training montage?
Bush: The first Rocky film was awesome!
The label I was signed to when I recorded The Touch was the same label [Scotti Brothers/EMI] that released Eye of the Tiger [which soundtracked the famous Rocky III montage]. One of the heads of the label talked to me about having the "eye of the tiger". I think there's an inner voice, or fire or whatever, that makes us want to ‘go for it’. I've always believed we make our own reality.
Laced: Your music is irrepressibly uplifting, with album and song titles like Call To Action, Capture the Dream and Hold Your Head Up High—do you feel like you're part of a wider trend in American popular music to encourage self-improvement and self-belief?
Bush: For me, it all started with The Touch and I just kept the inspiration thing going. I've always had this sense of optimism even when I was a kid growing up in Florida. I lived in a trailer when I was little, but we were a close family and we were happy. I always had this feeling inside that things were gonna work out. When you believe in yourself, the sky's the limit! It's cheesy but it's true.
Laced: What's your favourite song to get you pumped up?
Bush: From the Top Gun soundtrack—Dreams by Van Halen is really cool.
Laced: What will it take for crazy, shredding guitar solos and really big hair to become the pinnacle of cool again?
Bush: For me they never stopped being cool! I prefer a melodic guitar solo, but it's awesome when you shred the last bit.
Laced: What’s it like being way more awesome than the Hoff, but not quite as awesome as Chuck Norris?
Bush: Hah! I'm not as cool as either one of those guys. I was never super tough or had the heartthrob thing going on, but I can sing. And occasionally write a good song!
Shadow Warrior 2: The Warrior EP by Stan Bush is out now on vinyl, available at the Laced Records web store.