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World of WarCrafts: Filking tells musical tales of WoW


World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players, including fan art, cooking, comics, cosplay, music and fan fiction. Show us how you express yourself; contact our tips line (attention: World of WarCrafts) with your not-for-profit, WoW-inspired creations.

"Filking" is a funny word. Sounds faintly obscene (or at least embarrassingly personal), doesn't it? "We caught you, you nasty little filker!" We're frankly surprised that more readers aren't familiar with the term, since filk is music with a science fiction or fantasy theme (or more broadly, a musical culture, genre and community tied to sci-fi/fantasy fandom). Most filk falls into the acoustic folk music genre, but some filkers prefer rock, a cappella or other styles. Parody is popular among filkers -- and it's how this week's featured WoWCrafter, Kevin of Rad Bear Music, got his start making music about WoW.

Kevin and Andrew, his partner in crime, didn't start out seeking to filk. They first began fiddling with a few silly songs about WoW for their geek-centric podcast, Super Number One. The idea picked up steam, and they've ended up with the beginnings of a catalog of WoW filk. World of WarCrafts has been in touch with Kevin (Fourtree on US Thunderlord) for several months now to keep tabs on this burgeoning musical project.

World of WarCrafts: This all started with a podcast, didn't it?

Kevin: Super Number One originally started as a web site in 2001. At the time, it wasn't much more than a place for Andrew and myself to post skate/snowboarding pictures of ourselves and our friends. It was also the home of many rants, writings and the ever-popular pastime of internet youth, ICQ pranks. After a year or two, we took a hiatus to live RL.

The hiatus ended up being more than a of couple years, and then we had the bright idea in 2009 to reform Super Number One as a podcast. We are both avid podcast listeners, so it seemed like a logical extension for us. Super Number One is a geek-centered podcast, but we don't focus too heavily on any one genre of geek life. We believe that people like to geek out about all sorts of things, from video games to food to beer to D&D ... and on and on. Every week, we talk about some new topic and geek out on it.

But wait -- how does the music come in?

Rad Bear came about because of the podcast. Our podcast has a WoW night every Wednesday on Thunderlord, and our listeners are invited to come join us for an evening of fun and chat. During one of these sessions, one of our listeners, who was playing a druid at the time, commented on how her younger brother wanted to grow up to be a bear. She said something to the effect of, "Wouldn't it be rad to be a bear?" And I immediately said, "Rad Bear! That would make an awesome band name!" And thus, Rad Bear was born.

I started to write WoW songs when The Instance had a contest for the best voice mail comment for their show. I wrote the song "T-R-A-D-E" and sent it in. After that, more and more ideas kept coming to me, so I just kept writing songs.

Where's all this music coming from? You have a musical background?

I have been singing for most of my life in one form or another. I taught myself to play guitar when I was 12 or 13ish and would just sit in front of my stereo and learn all my albums by ear (which turned out to be a very useful songwriting skill in the future). I played guitar and sang for a few punk bands throughout high school. I also played trombone in the school band and jazz band and sang tenor in the school choir. I earned a degree in music technology and studied music theory and composition. I also enjoy writing classical scores and such, and "Super Number One, The Musical" is in the works.

So music's obviously in your blood. How did Rad Bear evolve from that, then?

I quickly noticed that the Rad Bear songs were moving further away from funny parody type stuff towards real emotional songs about the lore of Warcraft. I decided that the best focus for Rad Bear was to write more songs that take place entirely inside the World of Warcraft. The majority of songs are written from the perspective of a character in the game and what it must be like to be that character. When I post a song, I sort of roleplay Rad Bear as a "balladin" who wanders Azeroth sharing these songs as stories with whoever wants to listen.

That's turning into YouTube videos now, as well.

We have a video for the song "The Wrathgate" that was edited by Andrew (Mistahtea), and it's amazing how well it turned out! We also just made the songs "Goblin Airship" and "Wrathgate Redemption," available to hear on YouTube.

It looks like a nice start! What's ahead for Rad Bear?

I am going to be scheduling some shows in small local areas soon. My ultimate goal is to play at BlizzCon, which would be a such a fun and exciting place to play. We are planning on compiling all the Rad Bear songs into an album to be released later this year. And, as always, there will be new songs released on the podcast feed. It seems like the average is one song every two weeks or so. The Super Number One podcast will also continue to release new episodes about once a week on average.

We'll be keeping an eye on your progress. Best of luck growing Rad Bear!

World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players, including fan art, cooking, comics, cosplay, music and fan fiction. Show us how you express yourself by e-mailing lisa (at) wow (dot) com with your not-for-profit WoW-inspired creations.

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