Nerd Talk with TOM DE WIT of TDW

Netherlands solo artist Tom de Wit chimes in for this in-depth Nerd Talk, discussing his favorite movie, book, and video game. De Wit is the mastermind behind the aptly titled project TDW, offering progressive metal with an avant garde flair.

TDW will release the album The Days The Clock Stopped on December 4th, 2020. Check out the video for the just-released single “Pulse” below, then read on to get inside Tom’s nerdy proclivities!

Favorite Movie: Akira (1988 / Katsuhiro Otomo)

Some people have art-related experiences that stay with them for the rest of their lives. The kind of experience that shapes your sense of aesthetics and sense of taste. The kind that makes you feel like “Wow, this is what I have been looking for all these years.”

Watching the movie Akira when I was 8 years old was that experience for me.

The complex storyline, the exquisite hand-drawn animation combines with beautiful still frames (each frame is a painting here basically!), the downright haunting soundtrack that almost fully relies on percussion and voice work and just the overall pace of the film left a profound impact. As a kid, I was obviously raised on cartoons for children.

I was a huge fan of stuff like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Biker Mice From Mars, and all the stuff that would get pushed to kids in the 90s. But when an older friend of mine told me about this “adult animation” style called manga entertainment and this film that came with it, and I was instantly intrigued.

I remember renting a crummy VHS copy of the film and watching it 4 times in one day and just being dumbfounded by how intense this film was. I felt connected to it in a mental way. Like the film was trying to tell me something, but I had to watch it multiple times to “get it.”

Even now that I am 33 years old and have seen this movie at least 100 times (And I am probably not exaggerating when I say that) I still discover new layers within the story.

There’s a coming of age story of a young man who is considered to be a loser who can’t do anything right who suddenly gets supernatural powers and becomes drunk with those. There’s a story about brotherhood, friendship and surviving the post-apocalyptic wasteland of neo-Tokyo, there is political intrigue on a very high level and it ends with one of the most iconic body-horror transformation scenes that has ever been committed to film.

For me personally though, this film works because of the humanity of the story. The main characters Tetsuo and Kaneda are recognizable for young and old people alike in that they start out as teenagers that joyride for fun with their gang, but have to grow way faster and then they can handle when they realize what they have gotten into.

The emotions here are real, vicious and unfiltered. That is also exactly why this film doesn’t click with everyone.  I do think this movie makes the best case showing that animation is not “just for kids” but an incredibly valid art form that can even outdo what real life film can do (even with all special effects options these days).

There have been talks of making a live action adaptation of this film by Warner Bros for years on end now, but honestly I think no live action version could do this film and story justice. This is art on a high level and I think it’s one of those rare instances where everything just works.

Favorite Book: Picknick op het ijs (Andrej Kurkov / Feb 2000)

A weird book to pick I guess, but this one left quite an impression on me. The fact that it deals with Ukrainian reality which is at the same time hyper-realistic and surreal, makes it (to me at least) a gripping read.

I read the Dutch version which actually had a really decent translation that showed the dry wit and rough edges of the society the story takes place into really well. The story is about a man who lives in a state of destitution in the beginning, but gets a new job as a eulogy writer for a national newspaper.

This man’s life is strange to say the least. For example, due to a financial crisis, the local zoo has no funds to keep their animals safe and healthy. So many of the wild animals are now held by individuals in their flats in completely weird conditions.

The main character lives together with a king penguin who he just treats as his housemate pretending it’s the most normal thing in the world. That in itself should indicate that this is not an average story about average things.

I don’t want to spoil what it leads to, but it gets pretty damn dark and the ending is quite intense — yet it’s told with a light narrative tone, which works remarkably well. The attention to detail in the writing is very well done, as it does create an immersive world, but it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. For me, that is an art in itself, as I do like reading and learning, but I often struggle reading books especially when every detail is written out too long. I tend to get distracted the and lose the thread, ending up having to reread the same page over and over which doesn’t heighten the enjoyment so to speak. Pacing is key so to speak and this book does it well.

A great read for those who are interested in the human condition, personal adaptability, and how nothing ever is how it seems to be.

Favorite Game: Terranigma (SNES RPG / 1995 / Quintet & Enix)

I was born in 1987, so I was raised on videogames and our home was a Nintendo home. We had the NES and I loved games like Mario, Zelda etc. It was however when we got a Super Nintendo in 1994, that I really found “my jam” so to speak.

As I was a kid with extreme hay fevers, distorted eye-hand coordination due to how I am wired mentally (playing outside wasn’t much fun if you can’t do anything “normally”), I ended up becoming an indoor kid that played lots of videogames.

So my SNES was really my most prized possession for the longest time. I always loved good stories as well, so when I discovered the genre of RPG’s, I found the thing I loved most.

Terranigma is a so called action RPG that straddles the line between Zelda in that it is active gameplay (you even have a whole moveset combo and special moves to perform!) and Final Fantasy (Levelling up skills etc) while also giving it it’s completely unique twist.

It’s the final part in the “creator trilogy” made by Quintet in the 90s which consisted of Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia and this one.

For me, this RPG has the perfect balance between a great sweeping story, genuine emotion (some of the characters go through heart-wrenching arcs) and buttery smooth gameplay. This is one of those games that made me sad that it was over, because I was so invested in it when playing it. The storyline revolves around the young boy Ark, who is summoned to fulfill a special quest by the elder of his village. This quest originally sounds like standard RPG fare, with Ark visiting 5 towers, defeating bosses, etc…

But the kicker is that this is only the beginning of the game, as the 5 towers represent the worlds’ 5 continents that have been resurrected from their slumber. What follows is an insane journey in which Ark resurrects plants, animals, people and almost become a god in the process.

The game is told in a lighthearted vein as Ark is very much a young man when he starts out, but as the game progresses, more serious topics like the meaning of life, the consequences of death, and the toll of our scientific growth are discussed in great detail.

In a way, this game plays like a mini world history lesson with a lot of dramatic storyline elements included and for those who like sweeping stories, this game is a no brainer. Also, the soundtrack for this game is downright AMAZING for its time.

This deserves a special mention, as not all videogames in that era were able to use the Super Nintendo Soundchip properly, but this game has soundtracks that legitimately sound like orchestra parts that can still be appreciated to this day.

For me, this game is the pinnacle of 16-bit game design and I think it deserves a place among the top ranking games of all times. At least in the top 10.

Preorder The Days the Clock Stopped here:

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