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My Two Cents: An Interview with Creblestar

What follows is my interview with Creblestar, a YouTuber whose channel has reinvented Metallica songs in the past, but also includes other musical content. Check out his channel, here

Note: This interview is part of a series, which includes YouTubers Ahdy KhairatBryce Barilla, and State of Mercury. If you like our work, you can find us on State of Mercury's Discord server! More information is available in my Two Cents compendium, which has all of my interviews, write-ups and links about Metallica remixes, but also metal more generally.


Nick: 
Hi, I'm Nick van der Waard, aka "the two cents guy" on YouTube. On YouTube, I comment on heavy metal remixes/remasters. This interview is for my blog, where I write about metal, but also horror, videogames, and sex in media

I play guitar for fun, but have interviewed several Metallica remixers. However, I'm actually a Gothic ludologist and wrote about speedrunning Metroidvania for my thesis. So I've interviewed a lot of speedrunners (mostly for Doom, curiously enough). This interview with Creblestar covers two topics: speedrunning and Metallica remixes. 

Creblestar, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? You have a YouTube channel, but you're also a speedrunner?

Creblestar: Yes, I'm Creblestar—real name, Sebastien Chiasson—from New-Brunswick, Canada. I have a semi-active YouTube channel since 2010 and also a speedrunner on Twitch since 2017. My YT channel have been focused on guitar covers, "tone" videos and videogame covers.

[editor's note: Creblestar also is in several bands: Fear the Leader, Self Infected Nation, and Obscure Illusions.]

Nick: Oh, nice! Canada is home to some truly awesome bands!

Creblestar: Indeed—Voivod, Annihilator, Archspire and many more.

Nick: Incidentally, State of Mercury—another interviewee in this series—is also from Canada. Must be something in the water.

Creblestar: Haha, true! A lot of [metal] comes from Canada.


Nick: One more question before we delve into speedrunning. Where does your username "Creblestar" come from?

Creblestar: Haha, it's a stupid story! I used to play music with a older guy in bars when I was 17-ish. We were playing mostly country and old rock music with backing tracks. Mainly [did it] for the money. One of my friends said, "Hey, you are playing with Creble Star, we are gonna call you Creblestar Jr, now." I never knew what it meant or why she gave him that nickname; just thought it sounded funny. I kept [the name, but] dropped the "Jr" part. 

Speedrunning


Nick: I love Mega Man, and used to play the classic games and X series growing up. Later, I enjoyed the Zero series as well. 

What about the classic games appeal to you? Do you like the MMX games or the Zero series?

Creblestar: I absolutely love MMX 1-4 (and maybe will run these in the future). MMX1 is definitely in my top 3 games of all time. I played a bit of the Zero series but not enough to form a solid opinion, even though it still has that distinct Mega Man feel. As for the classic series, Mega Man 1 is the game that got me into speedrunning by watching Coolkid do his speedruns on GDQ. I just feel in love with zips and glitches. Then I started learning Mega Man 2, then Mega Man 3... Now I want to learn the whole classic series!


Nick: Despite its flaws, I always enjoyed Mega Man Legends. The dungeon exploring elements really appealed to me. 

How do you feel about Legends as a Mega Man game? Flawed masterpiece, or dumpster fire?

Creblestar: I personally  think it was a good game for it's time. But when you play classic Mega Man or MMX then play Legends, you see right away why it can appeal to a different crowd. I heard Legends 2 is a better game, but I never played it myself.


Nick: Favorite classic Mega Man game? Least favorite?

Creblestar: Favorite is probably Mega Man 1 (I know some people will grin at that, haha). Least favorite is Mega Man 8—I think mainly because of the music, haha!


Nick: Favorite classic Mega Man level music and/or boss? Least favorite? Incidentally my go-tos were Air Man and Bubble Man, back when I was a HL2 deathmatch junkie.

Creblestar: Favorite level music... Oh boy, that is a hard one! I would say "Wily 2" from Mega Man 3. Least favorite is probably "Wily 4" in Mega Man 2 cause it ramps up the stress level, haha.
But if we are talkin about a Robot Master stage, [the my] favorite is "Galaxy Man" from Mega Man 9.


Nick: Are you familiar with indie Mega Man games like Rock 'N Roll or MMX Corrupted? If so, how do you feel about them compared to canon games? Are you excited for MMX Corrupted?

Creblestar: I've been seeing footage from MMX Corrupted for such a long time, I'm happy that it is finally coming to fruition! Rock 'N Roll is a superbly done homebrew game; the details in that game is astonishing but dayum it is hard! Proud to say I beat that one 100%

I also provided music for a Mega Man flash game: Mega Man Royale.


Nick: Speedrunning generally takes a lot of time and patience, and it's a good idea to play games you enjoy (especially for their good music). I see you primarily speedrun classic Mega Man. Did you choose this franchise because you grew up with its games, and loved their classic gameplay and music? 

Creblestar: Yes, I grew up as an NES kid, so the classic Mega Mans were already games I was very familiar with; and of course, Capcom had the best 8- and 16-bit music in that era. [When] you speedrun, you want [a game] that you can beat many times and not be tired of. So for me, Mega Man was the perfect choice.


Nick: Did you have any other games from that period that were strong contenders—maybe Contra or Mario?

Creblestar: Mario is still on my mind—just to put some times on the leaderboard. But aiming for WR is outta the question, haha. Those games, especially SMB1, are super optimized. Contra on the other hand—I'm not good a those, haha. I'm starting to peek interest in Zelda: Link to the Past randomizers and speedruns. Zelda is one of my favorite franchise of all time.

Nick: For sure. Mario 1 is insanely optimized, and takes some much time to practice just to get up to the top level. You'd constantly be playing catch-up. I've seen Zelda and Super Metroid randomizer combos before. Always scared the hell out of me.

Creblestar: Actually, Super Metroid is not a game I run, but also got me into speedrunning—by watching my good IRL buddy Volwrath speedrunning it.


Nick: I was just about to ask.... You'd mentioned Coolkid already, and now Volwrath. Were you inspired to speedrun by other members of the Mega Man speedrunning community specifically? Perhaps Caleb Hart?

Creblestar: Yeah, Caleb of course is another one I enjoy watching, but I think it was mainly for his WR pop-offs [on] YouTube. When I got on Twitch, I started discovering more and more runners I did not know about and now have a friendship with a lot of those streamers.

Nick: Same. Caleb's YT vids are always good for a laugh. Weird to see his shift over to FF7 even though his channel is still decorated with MMX paraphernalia.

Creblestar: True. But hats off to his dedication of running FF7. At this point, I don't call it a "speed" run. FF7 is such a long run (the world record is barely under 7 hours).

Nick: Not to mention the 100% category is ~21 hours? That's absolutely insane to me. [editor's note: Apparently the category no longer exists on Speedrun.com, but Caleb Hart sometimes livestreams "hundo" attempts for content.]

Creblestar: Haha, true!


Nick: Speedrunners hate RNG (random number generation). Some games, like Minecraft or JRPGs (re: FF7), have tons of RNG. How much RNG does Mega Man have and how do you deal with it during runs?

Creblestar: Some Mega Man games has a bit of RNG involved in most games, but nothing too drastic. But there are exceptions like Mega Man 9 where the final boss fight is a total ass. Just look up "SlurpeeNinja vs HJA at GDQ" (around 34:25). Words cannot explain how bad [that boss] can mess you up.


Nick: You have a WR (world record) in Mega Man (1987), and have had for 3 years. That's a pretty long time for a speedrun WR to stay up. Did that take a lot of grinding to get the luck you needed for that entry?

Creblestar: That WR is actually on Mega Man Anniversary Collection, which is separate from the NES leaderboard. I'm 25th on the original game (NES) leaderboard.

The Anniversary Collection category is not ran a lot because of the emulation inaccuracies and most zips and glitches can't be achieved. That is until I went on a glitch hunt and figured how to do 2 tricks that save a lot of time. [These are] only doable on the Gamecube version, which most runners avoid because [the jump and shoot buttons] are inverted (ugh). Plus the GC D-Pad is sooo tiny!

Nick: Still, it's cool that you're exploring the different edition and the Gamecube hardware. Definitely a huge place for that in speedrunning.


Nick: In a recent video, Zoasty discusses "important WRs," and being known for a particular game. Whereas Zoasty is known primarily for Super Metroid, he cites his inspiration, Hotarubi, as being known for many different legendary accomplishments within the speedrunning community. Hotarubi's online presence is quite small. His YouTube and Twitch channels barely top 2k followers combined! This being said, he commands the respect of the community, whereas a blow-up phenom like Dream has 3.1 million subscribers on Twitch, but was recently embroiled by a cheating scandal that bleed into the mainstream.

In your opinion, how important is fame in speedrunning? Is respect more important?

Creblestar: In most aspects of what I do, I value respect more than fame. Some of the people that inspire me to run [these] games are not mostly "big" streamers. [They're] more people to actually exchange [ideas] with and either help, be helped by or simply have nice conversations with—sometimes not even related to the game being played.

And I am always in favor of giving raids to small streamers to give a chance to everyone, instead of sending [viewers] to someone everybody knows of.


Nick: Speedrunning is still a relatively new activity—at least in the public mainstream. In my interview with Frosty Xen, the younger player said got introduced to speedrunning through Summoning Salt. How important do you think documentarian channels like Summoning Salt and Karl Jobst are to getting people interested in the activity? 

Creblestar: I personally think that those kind of videos definitely helped to the recent popularity. Summoning Salt has some incredibly detailed history of the games he presents; I absolutely love his content. A lot of others I remember watching when I got into speedrunning: EZEscape, Ryan Goose, Apollo Legend (RIP) and of course, Glad Jonas.

Nick: Wait, what happened to Apollo Legend?

Creblestar: He committed suicide earlier this month. He had many issues going on in his life. He [actually] blamed EZEscape and DarkViperAU in a video just before he committed suicide.


[editor's note: Suicide is a very serious matter. I've provided several suicide hotlines here for anyone to refer to if they or someone they know is feeling suicidal: Crisis Text Line, Suicide Prevention Life Line, and for those in the LGBTQ community, The Trevor Project.]


Nick: Speedrunner documentarians tend to be speedrunners themselves (re: Summoning Salt and Karl Jobst). I never became a runner, but considered when I was younger speedrunning Super Metroid and Metroid: Zero Mission (this was before YouTube or Twitch, in the early 2000s when speedrunning was in its infancy). Now I'm an independent researcher who studies speedrunning. I love watching the runs, but also learning their history and how they work. 

Have you ever considered being a speedrunner documentarian?

Creblestar: It sure would be a nice project! But for that, I think I would need 32 hours day cycles, haha! But I do love to learn about history of speedruns. Shows you how much a game can be pushed to its limit.


Nick: There are multiple leaderboards. Some, like Doom Honorific Titles and Compet-n, are quite old. Others are relatively new (Speedrun.com). 

Was megamanleaderboards.net the first leaderboards you joined?

Creblestar: Yes. I still barely have times on Speedrun.com.


Nick: These different leaderboards demonstrate how fractally recursive the speedrunning community is. There are different boards. Each board managed by members of the community. There are general rules for site conduct and submitting rules, but also categories and specialized rules for individual games. 

Do you prefer this approach, versus a more corporate framework like Twin Galaxies (whose integrity has been repeatedly challenged through association with Billy Mitchell and Guinness World Records)?

Creblestar: I never had a problem with the way the Mega Man leaderboard is handled. I know admins from some boards [can have friction] with Speedrun.com, but [it was never] a problem for me. As for Twin Galaxies, I think their name was badly tarnished with the Billy Mitchell story. Maybe they still have activities on the arcade side, but most speedrunners just ignore them.


Nick: Both Coolkid and yourself are both on the Mega Man leaderboards. How close are you to him and other runners in the community there?

Creblestar: Well first of all, Coolkid is a master speedrunner. He has the WR in Mega Man 1 (18:14), Mega Man 2 (26:37), 4th place on Mega Man 3... Oh, and also WR in Super Mario 2! So I'm still a bit far behind his achievements. But like I said, the closest I am is in Mega Man 1, which is 25th place (19:44)—still 1-and-a-half minutes away (which is a lot in a speedrun)!

Nick: I'm sorry. I meant "close" as in socially! Like, in terms of friendship and interacting with these people as you all collectively work on runs.

Creblestar: Oh, haha. My French Canadian brain did not process [it like] that, haha.

I met a lot of Mega Man runners along the way, and there is always a competition between runners that drives us to push ourselves more. Healthy competition between other runners is what drives the community in my opinion

Nick: Rivalries make for the best WR grabs.

Creblestar: Exactly.

Music



Nick: 
You do Metallica remixes and other musical content for your YT channel. How long do these videos take to produce on average?

Creblestar: It really depends on what type of video I do. If the video has still images in the background, count maybe 4 hours of recording and mixing, then 1 hour of video editing. That would be an easy session. But a project like my Mega Man 3 cover [took more than a] month: 9 camera shots, green screens, game footage, [and background footage] on a 17-minute medley. 

I think that one drained me a bit to be honest!

Nick: I could tell you put a lot of work into it, but it's an awesome effort all around!

Creblestar: Yes, I am still very happy with the final result.


Nick: You play guitar and bass, correct? How long have you been playing?

Creblestar: I started playing around when i was 12-13 years old (I'm 34 now). My first main instrument was actually drums until my best friend also learned the drums, so I switched to guitar and learned bass along the way.

Nick: Like Alex and Eddie van Halen! Also, I'm 34 too. 34 club, represent!

Creblestar: Yes, or Vinnie and Dimebag.  '86 was the golden year, the year of Master of Puppets

Nick: And Reign in Blood, and Peace Sells... (and Aliens, Metroid, etc).



Nick: Why does metal appeal to you as a musician? 

Creblestar:  As far as when I was a kid, heavy music always appealed to me. I remember hearing Anthrax' Persistence of Time [on] cassette and going crazy, jumping around. Later I discovered Nirvana which is the first band that drew me into playing music (I wanted to be Dave Grohl, haha). Later, I started to listen to heavier stuff—Metallica, Fear Factory—but it's when Slipknot released their first album that really send me [down that] trail. I was hooked!


Nick: Your remixes are mostly of more famous bands. Are there some less-successful-but-equally-good metal bands you enjoy outside of the so-called "Big Four" (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax)? Maybe, Sodom, Overkill or Death Angel? 

Creblestar: Oh, of course! My favorite active band is probably Revocation. I just looove their work. A couple I also listen to are Havok, Decapitated, Slaughter to Prevail. For some older stuff, Strapping Young Lad, Dying Fetus, and Annihilator are definitely on my "still listen to" list.


Nick: Any obscure bands like Obliveon or Manilla Road?

Creblestar: There is a band called Xerath I used to love. I wonder what they are up to lately, haha.


Nick: Like the title says, your video "Mega Man 3 Metal Medley" is very metal. Why do you think metal and videogame music—though especially Mega Man—go so well together?

Creblestar:  I always heard Mega Man music with real drums in my head, and it's basically what I do with my game covers. I stay faithful to the original melodies, but add those drums, heavy palm muting rhythm guitars. Bingo. Perfect recipe!

I also think that many 8-bit songs were written when metal was at its peak, which I'm sure had some influence.

Nick: Oh, for sure. Elec Man's theme is basically "Faithfully" by Journey.

Creblestar: Right on point there.


Nick: I know Doom was more on-the-nose with Bobby Prince's metal "covers." But it's not coincidence that Mega Man gets remixed so much into metal (I explore this phenomena more in this article). Did old school videogame cover bands like The Minibosses and NESkimos, and websites like Dwelling of Duels, help nurture your love for metal and for producing your own music?

Creblestar:  Yeah, the Minibosses may be the first videogame covers I ever heard, back around the early 2000s. I was introduced to Dwelling of Duels by one of my friends. [Was never] a regular there, but I always imagined [hearing] videogame songs in metal form.

Nick: Yeah, that was really before the days of video covers. Honestly I think the music was better back then; video editing just takes a lot of work, and eats into composition time. But advertising is key, I suppose!

Creblestar: Video editing is a lot of work. But that was before YouTube even existed, and download speeds were questionable.


Nick: Your YouTube channel is largely focused on metal. I learned about your content before grad school, around the same time I saw Ahdy Khairat's early content: in 2016, when Hardwired... to Self-Destruct came out. The single "Hardwired" debuted on August 18th, three months before the album. Ten days later, you released your video "Metallica's ''Hardwired'' with their classic tones."

What made you decide to make that video? Do you feel like Metallica's old tone is better?

Creblestar:  Yeah, I always loved the overall tone of their old albums and always chased those guitar tones. Just before I released the Hardwired video, I was already trying to take new songs and re-record them to sound like the old albums. When the song "Hardwired" came out, I thought it would be cool to test that. 

I was not really sure what to do with it. At first, it was just to show to my buddies and did not put much thought into it. The mix was not on point, but videos like these, to my knowledge, did not exist at the time. So I said "F it, I'm going to post this on YouTube just for fun." I did so thinking I'm going to get maybe 1,000 views in a month. Then this one just exploded and went viral. If I had known, I would have done a better mix!

And I'm going to give credit where credit is due, even though those kind of videos did not exist, i could not have made that without the awesome IRs from fellow French-Canadian BGelais.

Nick: IRs?

Creblestar: Impulse Response. Basically it's a small wav file that acts as a speaker simulator in a guitar signal chain. It makes guitar tones easy to mimic. BGelais has provided a lot of those for Metallica, Pantera and more, making it easier to achieve those [signature] guitar tones.


Nick: Speaking of guitar tones, are you a fan of Lambchopper678

Creblestar: Yes, he is an awesome player who's been chasing tones for a long time.

Nick: Shame Metallica didn't document it more closely! But I suppose that'd ruin the fun of figuring this stuff out.

Creblestar: Right! But getting Metallica's tone with the exact rig is an expensive hobby!

Nick: Oh, right. Vintage equipment 'n all.

Creblestar: Yes, digital recording makes everything easier now.


Nick: Many people covered "Moth into Flame" after it debuted on Howard Stern on September 26th, 2016. However, GuitarRazze decided to try something a bit different: a "what if...?" remix. His second remix video, "If Moth Into Flame was on ...And Justice For All?" came out on October 8th, and totally blew my mind.

Did GR inspire you to create "What if... "Spit Out The Bone" was on Kill 'Em All" on November 26th?

Creblestar:  I already had more ideas on "what if...?" videos, but when I heard GR release his AJfA-style video, I was blown away by the tone and the feel; I felt like my AJfA setup had to be refined. But I knew my Kill 'Em All and Ride The Lightning tones were pretty good, so I released both versions the same day.


Nick: Did you go with "Spit Out the Bone" because of its closeness to thrash/prog Metallica?

Creblestar: I thought at that time that Spit Out The Bone was probably the best of the new songs and had that old school vibe. It was the perfect song for the treatment.


Nick: From their classic period (Kill 'Em All to the Black Album), what's your favorite Metallica album/song? Least favorite?

Creblestar: Favorite album is AJfA, but my favorite song is probably "Ride The Lightning." Least favorite album is probably the Black Album just because it's been overplayed, but bad songs in that era? Can't remember one. I even love "Escape."

Nick: I like Escape, too! I really don't get the hate it receives. The only weak part is the fading outro; if they'd had a cadence at the end, it would have been just like "Call of Ktulu," honestly.

Creblestar:  The fading outro is [for] when you can't find an end to the song! 


Nick: How do you feel about their latter day work? 

Creblestar:  I did not listen to Load and Reload much back then, even though I appreciate them now. But I personally think they should have done them under another name. 

[When I first heard "St. Anger,"] it was on the radio and I did not know what was playing. From the first notes to the first vocal line, I was sure that it was a new System of a Down song. Then I heard the voice and when "Whaa-?" Then I heard the album. I like some [of the] songs but that snare drove me nuts. They should have released their practice DVD that came with the album as the album, haha.


Nick: Is Death Magnetic their worst-produced album, or does that "honor" go to St. Anger?

Creblestar: I would say it's their worst at the mastering level. Play Guitar Hero Metallica and the annoying compression of the album is gone! It's just a shame that a game is the best version [of that album.] But St. Anger is ok if you remove the trashcan snare.


Nick: Is/was Lars Ulrich a good drummer?

Creblestar: It always depends what is viewed as a "great drummer," but I think he [stopped wanting to be good at] his instrument. He was always a solid player till early-mid 2000s. Then, it's like he stopped caring. Some people say it's age, but guys like Dave Lombardo are still going very strong.

Nick: I thought Tom Hunting sounded great on Atrocity Exhibition A and B.

Creblestar: Exodus! What a strong band. Heavy AF.

Nick: Yeah, and very in-your-face. Latest album was a little goofy—with nods to the original, campy vocals. But even that album delivers the goods on the instrumental front.

Creblestar: It might have to do with Souza coming back on vocals

Nick: I think Lars (or Kirk) had a cameo on that one? Kirk, I remember now. Lars was on Mercyful Fate's "Return of the Vampire."

Creblestar: Yes, Kirk was their first guitar player before joining Metallica.

Nick: That's right! I think "Creeping Death" was borrowed from his Exodus days.

Creblestar:  "Die by My Hand" is the original Exodus song.


Nick: Do you think Metallica's monumental popularity accounts for why so many remixers cover them, including Ahdy, Bryce and State of Mercury?

Creblestar:  I think it's two factors: One, Metallica's classic tones are easily distinguishable from other metal bands. Two, putting "Metallica" in your YouTube video title is almost guaranteed to haul in more views than any other band cover/content. It also results in some amazing [remixes]!


Nick: Has the resurgence in Metallica remixes inspired you to return to the format?

Creblestar: I was recently very surprised to see how [popular] "tone chasing" has been lately, and I still have many ideas in store. I drifted away from YouTube content because of the [work] each video [takes]. I was, and still am, attracted more to [live streaming] since 2017—[another] reason why I haven't put out much content lately. I still do music stuff on my Twitch channel, but visiting State Of Mercury's Discord lately—and seeing how much interest [there is] in these kind of songs/videos—has given me a kick in the butt. I might have a couple of uploads coming up soon!


Nick: That's great!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Creblestar. Where can we find you these days?

Creblestar:  I am streaming regularly on Twitch (username Creblestar) around 9-10 pm EST. I mainly speedrun on week days and play music on weekends, although I will do a "Casual" Games February. And I will also do my best to continue my work on YouTube.

***

My name is Nick van der Waard and I'm a Gothic ludologist. I have my MA in English Studies: The Gothic from Manchester Metropolitan University. My blog is about horror, but also sex, metal and videogames.

Check out my interview series: Hell-blazers: Speedrunning Doom Eternal, "Giving My Two Cents: A Metal Compendium," and the Alien: Ore" Interview Project.

My favorite posts: Dragon Ball Super: Broly - Is It Gothic?Mandy (2018): ReviewGothic Themes in Perfect Blue. Also check out my guest work on Video Hook-Ups.

Follow me on Twitter! Watch my Gothic podcast! Purchase a commission through my art website! Or support me on Patreon or Ko-Fi!

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