16 BIT SESSIONS #2: Rotary Dial – Tonight

16 BIT SESSIONS is where James tries to figure out all this Mega Drive music business by covering songs and trying out different sounds. This time, it’s a cover of Tonight by Rotary Dial, an indie rock band from Toronto.

Rotary Dial are a relatively new band in Toronto, but you wouldn’t know it – they have 2 very accomplished EPs released and play regularly across the city, making friends wherever they go.

Their sound reminds me at times of early Charlotte Hatherley, which is no terrible thing as Grey Will Fade is one of my all-time favourites. I would recommend checking them out if you get the chance; they’re authentic, fun and write very catchy and musically interesting tunes. Jenna is an excellent frontwoman, I met her when I was playing with Badniks (which I still do; look out for a new EP this year!) and I’ve learned a lot from her positive attitude towards music and working with good people – Rotary Dial work closely with folks like this city live, Rad Dude and new collective Launch Party.

One motivation for picking this track to cover is that I wanted to try programming guitars. Programming guitars using FM sounds is hard, man. Those off-the-cuff vibratos and string bends and atonal brilliance that come from being a live human playing a live guitar are impossible to reproduce – especially if you have as little patience as I do. With that said however, I love the pitch-bendy sound of an FM synth trying to replicate lead guitar. It probably takes me back to the early days of trying to write heavy rock songs in Guitar Pro.

This track turned out sounding like a level from Lemmings, which is great. I could listen to that soundtrack all day. All samples used here are instrument presets, because I wanted it to have that lo-fi feel. It probably does a few things that the console couldn’t, but not too much!

Here’s the original song for comparison:

You can, and should, buy Root Beer Floats on Bandcamp and visit their website to keep up with their live schedule.

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