Songhammer Grills Chris Metzen on the Cultural Impact of 'Warcraft'

The mighty Songhammer!
The mighty Songhammer!
Brian Erzen

By: Ben Stewart and Dustin Miller [Editor's Note: By now, we're sure many of you are familiar with our affection for Songhammer, a World of Warcraft-inspired metal band fronted by the Doom Hammer duo of Ben Stewart (aka ShredHammer) and Dustin Miller (CroonHammer). Shred and Croon found themselves at BlizzCon this year, playing their first live show ever in front of millions on Pay-Per-View at the Anaheim Convention Center as finalists in the newly reinvented BlizzCon Talent Contest. While at BlizzCon, Songhammer had the chance to meet and interview Chris Metzen--the Senior Vice President of Story and Franchise Development for Blizzard--about Wow's impact on game culture, the philosophy behind BlizzCon and his first favorite fantasy characters.]

See also: The Best and Worst of BlizzCon 2013

OC Weekly (CroonHammer and ShredHammer): Our first and most important question, how many Songhammer tracks will be in the upcoming World of Warcraft film? Chris Metzen: I think your agent is still negotiating that.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in putting on BlizzCon? Fitting everything in and structuring the show with all of the tournaments and the panels, keeping the fan base informed and saying everything we want to say throughout the year, representing the games as best we can and trying to make sure there's enough for everyone to do. There's so many things people want to see and so many things we put out that they're engaged with. It's really about trying to serve all those needs and wants.

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This year's BlizzCon contest on the first night was a "Talent Competition" as opposed to years past where it's been a separate dance competition or a song competition, etc. What was the impetus for you guys to want to combine various competitions together this year?

It's just about raising the bar. We've done BlizzCon for seven years, not consecutively, but it's our seventh event. And the dance competition has always been awesome but this year we just wanted to ratchet it up and see what the community could really do, between the bands and the hip-hop act we had last night, it was just awesome to see. The cosplay is always amazing, but allowing groups of people and individuals to just come and show what they can do just brings the energy through the roof. Friday night was one of the most fun I've had in a long time at one of these things.

See also: The Time Songhammer Kicked My Ass on the Set of Their World of Warcraft Music Video   What's your dream for World of Warcraft and what would you like to see it become? Universe of Warcraft. [Laughs]. That sounds almost official, but it's not. No, my dream for World of Warcraft is that we're still sitting here 10 years from now.

How has Warcraft impacted gaming culture itself? When we first put this game out about 9 or 10 years ago, it had a really good following and we thought we had it dialed in. Our community was loyal and then we dropped this world of Warcraft thing and it just went crazy. It's started to grow and grow and grow. And the community that was around it is just way beyond anything we could've imagined. Walking around the convention, I still come in here ever year and am just like 'holy cow, how did this happen?' And I go up to talk to people and ask them if it's their first BlizzCon and people either tell me it's their first or it's like their fifth. It's just something that gets into your blood.

People are so geeked out and free to express themselves and have that common vernacular and language that brings them together. People just rally around this thing that they dig and they get to play together. The community aspect of Wow has transformed our business...the job has become a very different thing. When I was a kid, I just wanted to make product and tell stories and show the world what I could do. But these days, it's so much about serving this vibe that we share. I tend to think about the community and gamers and what they dig and what they don't and what they want more of. Just putting product on a shelf, those days are done.

Who was your first fantasy hero as a kid? My first love in the fantasy world was in fifth grade when a friend of mine moved to my neighborhood from out of town and he showed me Dungeons and Dragons. At the time it was Dragon Lance was the new thing in '85 and '86 and all those characters back in the day, it was so ironically D&D back in the day. I still know those characters. It was really the TSR games that made me really fall in love with fantasy.

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