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Morgantown rocker puts metal to classic music from Nintendo

Courtesy photo
Ryan Postlethwait, aka Mega Beardo, performs reworked, heavy-metal versions of music from Nintendo games on -- what else? -- a guitar made from an old Nintendo console. (Ryan Postlethwait photo)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Anyone eating at Clarksburg's Washington Square Pizzeria on Oct. 12 had a rather unique dining experience. Adding to the restaurant's ambience was music by Mega Beardo, the solo "Nintendo nerd metal" project of Morgantown-based singer, guitarist and hardcore gamer Ryan Postlethwait.

Postlethwait, who shared the bill with "folk wave" singer/songwriter Logan Venderlic, said, "We showed up, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect, to be quite honest. We walked in, and there wasn't a PA set up. There was just a bunch of tables and some people sitting, eating pizza.

"I'm like, 'Man, this isn't what I was expecting. I'm not sure that these people are gonna dig what I do. I don't know if they'll understand it.' Nothing against them, but I just wasn't sure that was the kind of crowd that gets into metal versions of old Nintendo songs from 25 years ago," he said with a laugh.

He made some fans, though.

"I was playing, and people were just going nuts for it," he said with some surprise. "I started playing one of the songs I did from the 'Castlevania' game, and this one guy just went nuts. I ended up selling six CDs, which is a good ratio for the amount of people there."

Mega Beardo isn't something you'll see too often in a pizzeria -- or any other venue. There have only been four Mega Beardo shows since 2010.

"I didn't really fathom going out playing anymore after [2010], until this year," he said. "I really got the itch to go out and play this live. I really want to do it more because it's fun and it's not something people get to see so often."

Postlethwait has deconstructed music from "Mega Man 2" and "Castlevania" and remade it in brutal, melodic metal fashion. At shows, he plays a guitar made from an old Nintendo console with footage of old games projected on a screen behind him.

Heavily influenced in the late-'90s by Swedish metal band Meshuggah and more recently by Canadian metal musician Devin Townsend, Postlethwait is working on turning the music from the golden-sheathed Nintendo epic "The Legend of Zelda" into an EP, styled in the "djent" fashion.

Djent, Postlethwait explained, is "essentially just a new breed of progressive metal that has been emerging in the past couple of years. [It] gets traced back to Meshuggah and is just a silly way to describe how their guitars sounded back in the '90s, more specifically their extremely tight palm-muting technique."

Choosing the genre for his project -- called "The Ledjent of Zelda" -- is a bit of a dig at metal fads. Postlethwait, who plans to have the EP out in early 2013, said that, as metal bands caught up to what Meshuggah was doing, it's gotten slightly derivative and is a source of much derision.

"There's this weird trickle-down effect, this diluted thing where you can just listen to the new up-and-coming djent bands and tell they're part of this fad that's part of the underground metal scene. And it'll die out soon. I read a lot of metal blogs, and they all make fun of these new djent bands.

"That has me worried, in a way," he continued. "Probably about a year ago, people -- me included -- started getting sick of the whole djent thing. And when I came up with the idea of 'Ledjent of Zelda,' I was like, 'Man, people are going to see the name of the album and just laugh at it.'

But that might be a good thing, he said.

"I can take this and do it seriously enough to where it's not a complete parody, but it can be seen as a parody, in that I'm taking music that was made 25 years ago on this little chip that was placed into a plastic cartridge, and modernizing it and showing what it would sound like if some kid in his bedroom wanted to make this stuff as djent music."

Mega Beardo, Postlethwait said, is all about sharing the music from those games but with his unique spin. "To me, it's showing appreciation for the music, and since I'm a metal guy and like to have fun, it's a perfect blend of the two."

"And playing this stuff on a guitar made out of a Nintendo and having the video game footage playing behind me . . . in a weird way, especially for people who don't know much about Nintendo music, I'm trying to say, 'Hey man, back in the day, the games that were made had awesome music.'

"I'm just trying to keep it alive."

Reach Nick Harrah at wvrockscene@gmail.com.


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