We recently spent some time with four members of Viva la Dirt league, the New Zealand-based parody music group and “the closest thing the Internet has to a StarCraft boy band”. The boys from the land of the long white cloud have their own unique style, and have generated over two million video views since the group was formed early 2012.
PJ: Where did the idea form to start a parody boy band?
Rowan (AKA DRTsorak): I remember James started a Facebook group so we could organise games and generally just talk about StarCraft II. I think we had talked about making skits first. At that time I was recording a lot of songs with my friend Byron just for fun. Basically I wrote and recorded Eight Pool and we decided it would be hilarious to make a music video out of it. We organised the locations and choreography, and Alan flew up to Auckland and filmed and edited it. When we saw how successful (relatively speaking) the video was received, I was hooked. I remember bouncing off the walls with excitement when the views started to climb. We never intended to be known as a “StarCraft boy band”, but it kind of stuck!
James (AKA DRTkoopzilla): Initially we talked about making a variety of skit-based content along the lines of StarCraft hidden camera stuff. Rowan recorded the song and we filmed the video as one of our first videos and it caught on. I guess we became a StarCraft boy band because we’re a group of guys and our first song was (based on) a classic boy band song.
Alan (AKA DRTfootman): I remember hearing Eight Pool for the first time and my first thought was “Rowan can sing?!” But there was no decision specifically to become a boy band. I honestly don’t think that we intended to go beyond the one song, as we just didn’t know how well it would be received. For me at least, it was just an excuse to hang out with some friends and have fun and get some exercise.
Stephen (AKA DRTnOOber): What they said -- it started as a Facebook group and then we formed the idea of perhaps making a YouTube channel, and it grew from there.
PJ: How did the name Viva La Dirt League come about?
James: I wanted it to have a revolutionary feeling, like “these guys who are worse than bronze league players needed their own league and were trying to rise from the Dirt.”
Alan: We were initially just planning on calling ourselves “Dirt League”, but there was already a YouTube channel called that already so the name was taken which I’m thankful for now. Viva la Dirt League just has such a nice ring to it.
PJ: What challenges come from being based in New Zealand?
Rowan: It is hard being kind of isolated from the rest of the world. We’re currently partnered with Maker Studio, and they have an amazing studio that we could use if we were in Los Angeles. Different waking hours makes it tricky. We release music videos on Tuesday morning New Zealand time because that’s Monday in America. You really need to time it right!
Alan: I love New Zealand, but it’s definitely not an advantage for Viva. Some of us are still using 56k modems here!
PJ: Did any of the members have a background in music/video?
Rowan: Prior to Viva La Dirt league, I always sang, and singing was a component of being at Drama school. My music production experience was very minimal and I had zero video editing skills. But my editing skills have dramatically improved over the last three videos. I love editing; I could happily make a career out of it.
James: I have a background in acting and a little bit of experience in video production. Nowhere near as much as Alan though.
Alan: I went to the NZ Film and Television School a few years back. Music videos are something I’ve been really trying to get into, and I’ve made several that play on TV quite regularly here in New Zealand. Directing music videos and commercials is definitely what I want to do for the next few years, before hopefully taking the leap into feature films.
Stephen: I studied acting for three years at the same school as Rowan and James, did a little singing, and play guitar.
PJ: What’s your favourite video that the group has made so far?
Rowan: Probably Battle.Net. It was just such a fun video. It’s often the one I first share with people.
James: My favourite is OP Protoss ball I think. I just really like the pep of the Gangnam Style instrumental. It’s just so “happy good times.”
Alan: Care About Bronze. I think lyrically it’s still one of the strongest, and the overall tone of the video just kicks ass.
Stephen: I think it’s a tie between Care About Bronze, which I was part of, and Chasing the Swarm. The guys wrote this while I was away, and it’s very catchy and has some slick lyrics.
PJ: The group also plays team games; what’s the typical Viva 4v4 strategy?
Rowan: My personal favourite strategy is a “proxy hatch”. It even works in Platinum league. I remember back when Xel Naga Caverns was on ladder, I would win with it 90% of the time. It was so beautiful. But as a team strategy, if you ask James he will say that our strat is for everyone to attack somewhere while I do my own thing.
James: Yeah it is! BAM!
Alan: We usually go for early pressure. If the game passes 10 minutes we’re generally in a lot of trouble! I guess my signature move is just destroying the enemy with Reapers. It has about a 50% success rate. When it works, it is the most glorious feeling one can get in a game.
Stephen: I’m not a big fan of early aggression. I like winning in the mid- to late-game just by out-macroing the opponents. I’m only in Silver league and I’m pretty awful, but I have retained my ability to use High Templar, which often decides team games if I can get out enough storms. Moar storms!
PJ: What are the plans for the future for the group?
Rowan: Well we just finished releasing our latest video Trouble When You Warped In. I’m tossing up quitting my day job and focusing on this full time. It would be great to make a new music video every few weeks. This would probably be more realistically one a month. That’s my personal plan. I’ve always had big dreams for the group. I would love to actually be able to one day pay rent from Viva La Dirt League!
Stephen: I’ve actually just come back to the group after half a year away doing other things. I’m looking forward to supporting the guys as best I can and injecting some fresh ideas and enthusiasm.
PJ: Thanks for taking the time out to speak with us. Where can people keep up to date on Viva La Dirt League content?
VLDL: Thanks to all those who have supported us so far. There is plenty more in the pipeline, which you can find on our YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/VivaLaDirtLeague . People can also download our songs via bandcamp or catch us on Facebook or Twitter.