Namco Bandai went all out marketing Dark Souls, even enlisting indie rockers The Silent Comedy for two stunning trailers. We got the scoop from vocalist Joshua Zimmerman.
THE SILENT COMEDY
Indie folk rock from San Diego, California.
Chad Lee: Percussion
Jeremiah Zimmerman: Piano, Guitar, Vocals
Joshua Zimmerman: Bass guitar, Vocals
Justin Buchanan: Banjo, Guitar, Mandolin
Self-titled EP 2008
Common Faults LP 2010
“Oh my god, please help me,” the opening lyrics of The Silent Comedy’s Bartholomew moan over a slow, thumping bass drum.
Things don’t exactly take a turn for the cheerful beyond that, culminating in an energetic group roar of “You best believe boy, there’s hell to pay” and a pointed, escalating guitar line.
It’s a perfect fit for Dark Souls, From Software’s magnificent exercise in masochism. The despair of the supplicant and the wrath he faces is a close echo to the player’s experience in navigating a universe deliberately engineered to be harsh, hostile and often genuinely unfair.
Interestingly, although this was the first of the trailers to be released, it wasn’t marketing’s first choice.
“We were approached by the ad agency that was putting together the trailers. They were familiar with our music, and thought that it would work well with Dark Souls,” vocalist and bassist Joshua Zimmerman, one half of the pair of brothers at the group’s heart, told us.
“Originally they wanted the track ‘All Saints Day’. Eventually they ended up cutting a trailer to the track ‘Bartholomew’ as well for a different feel.”
You can see why the fierce energy of Bartholomew, which almost channels a spirit of determination, was released first, but All Saints Day made for an equally effective piece. The simple, mournful chorus – “One day, will this be over? Will this be over?” – is the other end of the Dark Souls emotional spectrum.
The Silent Comedy wasn’t involved in the videos’ production – although it did see the Bartholomew trailer before it released – and the band doesn’t have much time to play games, but Zimmerman seems pretty chuffed to be a part of it all.
“It’s an honor to be involved with the release of Dark Souls. It means a lot to us that they wanted to use our music in the release of a game that was so highly anticipated,” he said.
“Namco Bandai also really took a risk putting indie/rock music to a trailer for a dark medieval game such as Dark Souls. We think the music fits the spirit of the game, so it makes perfect sense to us.”
The publisher’s gamble seems to have paid off; Bartholomew has managed over 1.4 million views on official channels alone, with All Saints Day not far behind. Dark Souls, the sequel to an obscure cult exclusive with a staggered, unpublicised release, went on to top sales charts.
Namco Bandai wasn’t the only beneficiary, though:
“There was an immediate increase in internet traffic and online sales following the release of the first trailer. In fact, traffic increased so dramatically that our sales reports are only catching up to the increase now, months later,” Zimmerman revealed.
“Fans have definitely let us know when they discovered us through the Dark Souls trailers. On our last tour of the United States, there were fans at every show who said they had first heard of us through the trailers.
“We appreciate all the responses and feedback we have received. The gaming community is great at finding more information about something that they are interested in, so people have tracked us down even if they didn’t know what the song was when they first heard it.”
Dark Souls is available now on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.