This week on Discovery Friday we take a look at the band Powernerd. Powernerd is a powerhouse that cranks out some of the most awesome music out there right now. The robots consist of Powernerd Paddy (bass/synths/engineering), M.T.O. (guitars), Powernerd SchurDel (drums), and Astro Pete (vocals). All four of the members of Powernerd started in music at a young age, and if you are familiar with Powernerd -yes you read that right, there are four members now. This week I learned about the history of Powernerd by talking to the robots themselves, and I explore their catalog of music and videos.
Let’s start with the history of Powernerd. Powernerd started with Powernerd Paddy. Powernerd Paddy started playing guitar at age 14, at 16 he toured Europe and Canada in a punk band, in his 20s he played in a 60s garage band and started to study jazz guitar in Vienna. In his 20s Paddy became a self employed musician, and had a vision to bring as much live performance to electronic music as possible, what would later become Powernerd. Luckily for us he met the other members of Powernerd, and this vision became a reality.
M.T.O. (guitar) began to play guitar at the age of 13, he and his brothers were all influenced by rock music from the likes of Queen, Kiss, Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, and Nuno Bettencourt. At age 16 he began playing in bands, first cover bands, then hard rock bands. When M.T.O. met Powernerd Paddy he had quit his career as a musician, and moved to Vienna to start his studies in architecture. M.T.O. recalls, “By chance I was introduced to Paddy some years ago and I joined a powerful project. we played some shows but then a bandmember had to leave us. we decided to look for a live drummer and found Georg. This was the time of birth of POWERNERD.”
Powernerd SchurDel started playing when his dad bought him a drum kit to stop him from rocking (destroying) his mom’s kitchen pots. He went to a local music school, and after 10 years of practicing he joined a punk band and began his pro musician career. After a year he joined a percussion ensemble and played stadium shows and concerts over the next 8 years. In 2014 he met Paddy. He says of his first encounter with Paddy, “He had all this synthesizer stuff, boxes, microphones… A very tiny room fully packed with stuff! We started a jam. How to say… it was true love at first sight.”
Astro Pete is the newest member of the band. He had his first stage experience at age 12, then at 17 he joined a stoner rock group. A few years later he began to produce synth pop tracks with a friend, and that’s when he started to listen to bands like Powernerd. “When I heard that they were looking for a singer I immediately reached out to them. It clicked, I got in – now we’re rocking together. What I like most about the guys is the fact, that they did trust me from the beginning.” says Astro Pete.
Powernerd’s approach to the studio employs a myriad of hardware and software. Their go to DAW is Reason. A favorite synth for bass is the Mopho from Dave Smith. Powernerd also uses the Moog Minitaur, Tetra, Volca, and more. “It’s always changing”, says Paddy,”I am always on the search for the perfect synth.” Drums are done on a Yamaha DTXpress III, Sonics Tsunami Sampler, Roland KD-10, 10 channel. Multi-DI. Powernerd SchurDel notes, “The special thing, E-Drums have Stereo Outputs regular. My setup provides single outputs, for maximum 80s-synthwave aesthetic and of course better control for the sound engineer. Most of the shows we get special credits for this.”
Powernerd’s studio work flow typically starts with a riff, then guitar and drums are added, and lastly the vocals. Up to this point the vocals have either been done on vocoder, or as a collaboration with someone they liked from the synthwave scene, but now Powernerd has added a full time singer. “lucky bastards that we are, we found our singer, who exceeded our expectations by far; so our next single, which we will release soon December 16, will be the first to feature him.” says Powernerd Paddy about new singer Astro Pete.
Powernerd’s pro level musical abilities shine through in their music. They produce everything from happy, dreamy, nostalgic sounds, to music so retro chill you might think you’ve slipped into another universe. From music that makes you want get up and get motivated, to the darkest, hard driving, beats.
For example, on the synth pop rockin’ side of things Powernerd has songs like “White Cars”, which there is also a video for on YouTube. “White Cars” has hook that grabs you right away, then pulls you in for an electric blast of 80s synth right up in your face. The vocals are retro pop perfection by the great Anakathie Koi, with a brilliant talk box (‘robot voice’ often confused as vocoder) interlude by Johann Martinus Bass, in this collaboration. The video is directed by Powernerd friend KEKE.
On the other end of their range Powernerd rocks some darker harder tracks, like their recent release “I am the Danger”. The track mounts a barrage attack of sound that builds into a ferocious grinding growling track that still manages to stay in the realm of the 80s without becoming, with sizzling guitar solos, and FM bass that bounces along on an undulating roller coaster bassline.
But then as if to prove they can do everything, these robots will go and release a track like their brand new, just released “Go for the Win”. This is music that will make you want be in part of a training montage in your preparation for fight a professional kick boxer. Or maybe if you are more of a Wall Street shark, it’ll make you want to close that deal before noon. It’s got a tight groove, and just the right amount of 80s cheese factor, the good kind.
Powernerd has a new single coming out next week (December 16, 2018) titled “Dead End Ahead”. It will be the first track to include singer Astro Pete. They are also working on a new album for 2018 that they say is going to be different, in that it will incorporate more “modern elements, and stadium rock”. I am definitely looking forward to hearing it!
The robots that are Powernerd are some kick ass robo-musicians who have paid their dues, and it shows in their outstanding work. If you haven’t checked them out yet, where have you been?! You can find Powernerd on Spotify, YouTube, Bandcamp, and Soundcloud. If you like what they do, show some love, show some support, buy it, so the robots can get some more upgrades!