Simple. I freaking love music.
In high school, I toured Italy and France with my school's select choir.
I've sung in St. Peter's Basilica and Notre Dame Cathedral.
And now, I like to wind down in my home studio with microphones, guitars, and a large suite of virtual instruments that fill in the gaps
I do prefer making noise most of the time.
Every now and then though, I hook up with a band or release something of my own.
Here's the scoop, if that sounds at all interesting to you.
Session Zero Demo! - Bad Castle
The Sessions Zero Demo! is the debut album of the chiptune-punk band Bad Castle. Based in New Jersey, it features Rik Lloyd on the microphone, Nicolas Hornyak on lead guitar, and Ashton Bailey on rhythm guitar, although each of them switched off as desired.
Their signature sound rocked a couple of gigs and the halls of Magfest 2020 right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world.
"Bad Castle was this really fun, really unique band I got to found with some old LARP friends of mine. I think the funny part was that when Rik put the call out, he said he wanted to be part of a band where he wasn't on vocals by default. I probably could've done it, but at the time, I just wanted to get better at guitar, and he helped a lot along the way.
"As much as I wish I could say that I played guitar on 'Cyclone,' Rik and I traded instruments for that song. He was always the better guitarist.
"'Overworld' is probably the one song all three of us really hammered out as a whole. Rik pulled 'Wine Shakes' and 'Unplug' from his old material. I threw together Cyclone based on one of our jams. And Ashton, legend he is, wrote the best lyrics for 'The Fool' and 'Hero Moments.' The latter is definitely the standout song on the EP, in my opinion.
"Go Atari Go" - Paladin Rogue
"Go Atari Go" is the debut single by Paladin Rogue, a project by Nicolas Hornyak that pulls together the sounds of synthwave, grunge, and punk to build unique, story-driven concept songs.
"I got the chance to finish this song in 2020. It was a love letter to both Transformers and the Commandroids playtest I was in at the time. Atari was the name of my robot, with the callsign Dragonfly, but I changed some other details in the lyrics.
"In the song, he's a car of some sort. In the game, he was this old toy called a Big Trak. But otherwise, the song does pay tribute to other elements of both the game and the lore. My best moment here is rhyming 'hope incarnate' with 'polycarbonate.' I think about it every time I hear that word."
"Warlocks" - Bad Castle, Yusef Kellibrew
"Warlocks" is the follow-up single to Bad Castle's first album, released for the first Halloween of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yusef Kellibrew joins the adventuring party on drums.
"Yeah, at this point, we were six months into the pandemic, steadily going stir-crazy without friends. Ashton worked the whole way through. I went back to my job after six months. Imagine being told that you can't see any of your friends in case you would spread the virus to them, but then you have to go back to work with the public as if that's how you'll decompress from the stress. Gross.
"This song's not exactly about that. We'd been working on it a bit before we stopped band practices. Rik finished it in his own studio. Conceptually, it's about a warlock descending into darkness to bring his dead friend back from the dead, but it sure felt like a metaphor for society at the time.
"I wrote the bridge from that dark place in me, where I constantly question if there was any purpose to surviving childhood cancer. Later on, Yusef laid down drums for us, and Rik said we should just use our webcams to make a mosaic music video. That was a ton of fun.
"If you're wondering why I'm upside down in one of the feeds, it's because I accidentally conducted the whole song swinging up on the first beat instead of swinging down. It bugged Rik so much that he flipped the video to fix it."
"History, Huh?" - Paladin Rogue
"History, Huh?" is the second single from Paladin Rogue, and is a tribute to the romance novel Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. It abandons synthwave undertones for an upbeat, pop-punk track about finding queer love when the world has nothing but eyes on you.
"This song is the music equivalent of fan fiction to be, and I don't regret it one bit. My mom is actually the one who recommended the book to me, but she didn't know that reading They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera had completely turned me off reading stories about gay romance.
"I gave it a shot though and fell in love. It was exactly the sort of hope-punk story I needed at the time. I bought a History, Huh shirt, and from there, kind of started humming the main hook of the song in day-to-day life.
"The song came together insanely fast once I had the hook. I pulled a lot of inspiration directly from the book and really nailed it on the lyrics. Sadly, I don't think it reached Casey McQuiston's ears. I would literally melt if they told me they liked it."