Galactic Empire are the finest band from outside of our galaxy. In February, when they blessed the UK with their presence, I was unsure of the reception they’d get. But when they played London, the show sold out and they were greeted with a hero’s welcome. The band themselves are a well-oiled machine and incredibly enjoyable live. Easily one of the most amusing bands I had seen live. After their tour, I caught up with one of the Dark Lords of Galactic Empire, Boba Sett himself, Grant MacFarland to talk about their debut album, the tour, meeting fans and what comes next.
Jack: Hey, thanks for taking the time to speak to me again. How are you doing?
Grant McFarland (Boba Sett/Drums): Hey Jack! This is Grant (Boba Sett). I’m doing great, thanks for hitting us up!
Jack: In February you released your debut album which has since wide praise from your fans, Star Wars fans and critics? How overwhelmed were you with the response?
Grant: We couldn’t be more excited! We didn’t expect nearly the amount of positive response we’ve gathered so far. The release was a large success, and is continuing to do very well.
Jack: The album even topped the metal charts on iTunes and heatseeker charts. How surprised were you by this achievement?
Grant: We definitely were taken back by the numbers. It’s awesome to see so many people enjoy this. We put so much creative thought and effort into the project, and it’s rewarding to see the effort not go unnoticed.
Jack: When we last spoke you said that when writing it was a real challenge because “John Williams’ writing style is so complex with abrupt key / tempo / meter changes and almost no repeating parts.” What was the hardest song to rework into metal?
Grant: ‘The Asteroid Field’ was definitely the most complex song on the album. That song just is crazy on so many levels, and goes further than any song we’ve done….yet!
Jack: Given the wealth of iconic Star Wars songs out there, was it hard to select which ones to choose for the album?
Grant: It was actually fairly easy to select the songs that seemed to have the most impact. Most of them are associated with a specific character as their “motif”. I thought we should try to cover all the big ones first with this album.
Jack: My favourite thing about the album is the genuine emotion in tracks like The Force Theme and Across the Stars. Was this one of the toughest parts of the album to recreate?
Grant: Those songs interestingly enough lend themselves very well to this genre. There is a lot of room to expressively emote what is happening from the original score on a guitar. Large bends and vibrato can really take a section over the top when its spaced out.
Jack: How did you achieve the choir vocals on Duel of the Fates and Battle of the Heroes? Were they recreated voice by voice or did you achieve them through some other means?
Grant: I recorded a “full choir” of a dozen or so people. The trick is that each person was recorded individually over the course of several months. Whenever I found someone with a great voice I added their part into the mix. It was a gradual building block process, but the result turned out amazing.
Jack: How long did you spend creating the costumes? Did they have to go through many drafts before reaching the final product?
Grant: Carson just about lost his mind spending months in his basement trashing and re working his progress again and again. It was a labour of love to say the least. The end result is quite satisfying. I think the characters still pay homage enough to their original counterparts that they are easily identifiable, while having their own new unique identity to create our own creative twist.
Jack: Two months ago you played a UK tour where many of the shows were sold out. How do you feel the tour went? Were you surprised that some of the shows sold out?
Grant: We honestly were very nervous for the turnouts. It’s one thing to have a surprisingly successful viral internet video. It’s another to actually get people to come out to a live show. Especially when some of our first shows ever are half way across the globe! It was really cool to see so many people come out and have a great time with us.
Jack: I saw you at the London show (where you were excellent) and I loved how you had jokes on stage and stage banter but it never got in the way of the music. How long did you spend working on the stage show?
Grant: I feel like the live performance will always be a revolving door of material. We want to create a unique experience for each tour, so that the audience always has something new to see. It’s kind of like a stand up comic. You need to see a new routine when he comes back or else it would get old quick. I imagine we will constantly be putting in days of work leading up to each tour to make it a new experience. It’s all worth it in the end.
Jack: At the gig many fans (including myself) got photos with you and got stuff signed. Was this a strange experience for you?
Grant: [Laughs] Actually it’s not that bad at all! I love that I don’t have to worry about showing my face all the time. Being in costume makes that process a lot easier of a pill to swallow, and its kinda fun honestly.
Jack: Were there any mosh pits at any of the shows?
Grant: [Laughs] We had some push moshing at times. Nothing that crazy though, just people genuinely having fun. I always joke about how we need to start a “sarlacc pit”. In Southampton we threw out light sabers into the pit and had a large lightsaber battle during ‘Duel of the Fates,’ that was awesome.
Jack: When I was watching your tour video I loved it when you went to the McDonalds in Islington and Dark Vader said “I ordered a 20 piece McNugget meal and here it is called a share box. Where we are form 20 McNuggets feeds a person.” Where there any other major culture shocks?
Grant: Inevitably I think there’s always going to be slight changes wherever you go. It’s really interesting to be in another English speaking country and see the slight differences versus the larger changes in a country speaking another language. The flavors at restaurants and the names things are called are always fascinating to me.
Jack: Supporting you on the tour was Sithu Aye, did you know about his work before the tour? What do you like about this music?
Grant: Our booking agent works with Sithu and he suggested him for the tour. We checked out his music and thought he was amazing. There’s so much genuine musicianship and honesty in his music, and its refreshing to tour with an amazingly talented musician and band like Sithu Aye, when there is an overly saturated world of bands who can hardly pick up a guitar and make it sound decent these days.
Jack: Are there plans for a follow up album at all?
Grant: We have plenty of material already planned and in the works for future records…There will be no one to stop us this time!
Jack: You said you’d return to the UK at some point in the future, if so would you consider playing a festival like Download or Bloodstock Festival?
Grant: We would love to play Download and other festivals! That may not be out of the question, and could happen soon!
Jack: Has Disney or Lucasfilm ever contacted you at all since we last spoke?
Grant: We haven’t spoken directly to them. However, we all are huge fans of the saga, and this band is always in favour of paying homage to an amazing series that we all grew up with. We couldn’t be larger fans of what they do!
Jack: Finally, as The Last Jedi trailer dropped today. What do you want to see in the film?
Grant: I can’t wait to see where the First Order/Kylo Ren and Snoke are headed. Starkiller Base was just the beginning, and we have two more films to take this thing to a whole other level. I have a feeling the trailer didn’t reveal much of anything, and there’s a lot of dark days ahead for the Resistance.
Jack: Thank you once again for talking to me, until we next speak may the force be with you!
Grant: Thanks for interviewing us again!