They say to write what you know. Well, the members of Fight Dice know Dungeons & Dragons. Before the Milwaukee music and arts collective got its start, its members had spent a few years playing the game together. As the characters and quests developed through the years and the onstage opportunities for members (some of whom have current and past connections to accomplished bands like The Promise Ring, Braid, Devils Teeth, Maritime, Dramatic Lovers, and Tigernite) dwindled on account of the COVID-19 crisis, the group decided to set their adventures to music and animation.
Last month, Fight Dice released “The Magic Pact.” The debut single also had an accompanying video teaser that features visuals from the project’s art director Tim Demeter. Both will be followed by the release of an EP later this month. With music and animation now out in the world and more on the way soon, Milwaukee Record reached out to Fight Dice vocalist (and Mondo Lucha! co-founder) Jay Gilkay to tell us more about this unconventional creative collective.
Milwaukee Record: How did this project come together? What prompted you to start writing songs together?
Jay Gilkay: We’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons together for about four years. With so many musicians and performers in our group of players with no real outlet to perform, it just seemed like a fun thing to do. We’re having all this fun with these wild adventures but we had no way to convey it to friends. So why not sing about it? It makes the songwriting process easier; at least lyrically speaking. It’s from the heart and based in our own weird alternate universe. There’s no fear of saying something silly or uncool because we’re just telling our story and what we know from our adventures. And what we know is fighting monsters.
MR: Are you all big D&D players?
JG: We all started playing at the same time about four years ago and currently play twice a week over google Meet. It’s quite the commitment, but truthfully, what else are we going to do? It’s been a fun bonding experience and we see each other more now than we did before COVID hit.
MR: When is the Fight Dice EP coming out?
JG: The full EP will be out by the end of February, with more stuff coming sooner than later. We’re really working on making the band a multimedia-type experience. Besides the songs, Tim Demeter is handling all the creative content, like our characters and a narrative that will play out through music videos. Knowing that it may be a while before live music returns, we can focus on world-building around the music and have the characters be our avatars.
MR: What have the first few songs been about?
JG: All things D&D. It’s hype music for anyone about to play. Our first release, “The Magic Pact” is basically a tutorial on spells that can be used when engaged in a battle. Songs seem to be through the eyes of either the player like “The Magic Pact,” or through the actual character like the song “Go Time,” which is about a wizard who has been bitten by a werewolf and is turning chaotic evil—one of Dan Didier’s characters, by the way. All our songs are about things we’ve done or experienced while playing.
MR: Is there anything else you’d like to say about the project?
JG: While the band consists of so many great musicians, Tim Demeter is a huge part of the group. His drawings and designs will essentially be what is recognized as the band. We’re trying to take a page out of the Gorillaz handbook in that respect. Since a handful of the band’s members are in other bands, using Tim’s characters takes the pressure off who the band really is. It gives us a freedom to cycle in other performers if need be.