KILL SCREEN 019: Derek Rydquist and Justin McKinney of THE ZENITH PASSAGE Aren’t Here to Rage Against the Machine

Photos by Tegan Hoffman and Ricky Alvarado

No two letters of the alphabet elicit as much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth in the creative fields lately quite like “A.I.” For better or worse (likely both), humanity has become reliant on processes that implement machine learning and automation for the sake of our comfort and convenience. For today’s player characters, vocalist Derek Rydquist and guitarist Justin McKinney of tech death heroes The Zenith Passage, our mechanical future is less a matter of “if” and more a question of “when.” Datalysium, their sophomore LP and first for new label home Metal Blade Records, presents via a barrage of expertly crafted riffs and hyper-precise musicianship, a fictionalized narrative of rapidly evolving technology and how our organic destiny (or lack thereof) is strictly synthetic. The fleshy duo, however, aren’t necessarily afraid of the impending digital horizon and see it as a potential aide in our evolution even if it ultimately leads to our extinction.

With the seemingly new venture of artificial intelligence in art—a strictly “human” endeavor by some definitions—debates have raged over craft, ownership and morality with many feeling uneasy about what this means for artists in the long run. One space in which man and machine have cooperated towards a common creative goal for years, however, is gaming. Generations of players have gone up against digital opponents that, while ultimately crude and incredibly limited, display a basic level of artificial intelligence that helps make a game feel more, well, natural. And as the games we play become increasingly complex and detailed, algorithms are supporting our imaginative visions as well. Procedural generation allows a computer to craft environments and characters within fixed parameters without requiring human involvement at every level. No Man’s Sky boasts a universe comprising of 18 quintillion worlds (a quintillion is a 1 followed by 18 zeroes) that would require an estimated 585 billion years to explore. Quality is certainly in the eye of the beholder, but the sheer quantity is nothing short of monumental.

Though the bandmates exhibit polar opposite tastes in gaming—McKinney prefers the vast openness of a sandbox while Rydquist seeks satisfaction from tight isometric gameplay loops—human-guided A.I. has positively contributed to both gamers’ preferences, and likely yours as well. Though no one involved in this interview claims any expert subject knowledge, if a bunch of computer scientists can try their hand at art, then a few artists can take the moment to pontificate about the science behind it. So, before Albert gets any ideas and replaces us with a subscription to ChatGPT, let’s dive into our latest nerdy discussion.

What were your first video game experiences?
Rydquist: I remember at my grandma’s house, my aunt had the original NES. I’m unlocking a core memory right now of playing the Gilligan’s Island NES cartridge. I don’t remember much about the game, but it was fucking awesome. I didn’t watch the show. I was born too late to watch Gilligan’s Island, born right in time to enjoy the Gilligan’s Island video game, I suppose. I think they had the decathlon one where you had to run on the pad, too [World Class Track Meet]. I was just like, This is weird. This is not a video game controller. I was probably just a tiny little kid at the time.

McKinney: For me, probably SNES Link to the Past was one of my first memories. And then some classic GameBoy games, [The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening] being one of them on GameBoy. Pokémon was kind of after, but it’s a fond memory. Third one, probably Excitebike on NES.

What have you guys been playing lately?
McKinney: Well, now that the record’s out, I can finally play video games again, which is awesome. [Laughs] So, I’ve been catching up. I beat [Star Wars] Jedi: Survivor. That was really good. And then after that, I played [The Legend of Zelda:] Tears of the Kingdom. I’m still in the middle of that. After this tour we just got back from in July and after the record release, I bought Diablo IV and have been gaming that a lot with [bassist] Brandon [Giffin] and [former The Black Dahlia Murder bassist] Ryan Williams and Chris [Beattie], our other guitar player.

Rydquist: I also have Diablo IV, but I haven’t been playing much. I got it for couch co-op more than anything. I almost have the opposite: Now that we’re back from tour, I have so much work to catch up on, I just don’t have time to play games right now. Hoping I can catch up in the next month and get some more gaming going.

I’m literally physically addicted to this game called Slay the Spire. It’s a card game roguelike. I played it a few years ago and I didn’t really buy the hype on it. Earlier this year, we were doing an overnight drive. It was with Chris, our guitar player—his first time doing an overnight drive. I was like, “Well, you have a Steam Deck. What game could I play while you drive so I can be a better co-pilot?” That was the only one I was familiar with on his Steam Deck. I booted it up. It was actually a really good conversation piece because I was able to say, “I haven’t really done this. What does this card do? Do you like this card?” It kept him engaged and awake. And then I just literally instantly became addicted to it. I even bought it on my phone a couple days later. I had to put a parental control on it so I can’t play more than 30 minutes a day. [Laughs] It’s pretty fucked up. It’s a very simple game when you look at it, but it’s actually super deep and really complex and incredibly difficult.

McKinney: There were times where Derek steps off stage when we have a big, grandiose musical passage. And then I look back and I saw him on his phone playing it. I was like, “Dude!” [Laughs]

Rydquist: I had to get a couple of turns in.

Do you prefer PC, mobile, console, or do you spread across all three?
McKinney: I guess it depends on how tired I am, if I want to sit on the couch and play or sit up and play on PC. I do Switch, PS5 and then right now it’s just mainly PC. I foresee it being PC gaming for the rest of the year considering I gotta beat Diablo IV. I might dabble into Baldur’s Gate 3 and Starfield is coming out in September. That’s the rest of my year, pretty much.

Rydquist: I don’t actually really like mobile gaming at all; just on tour. I don’t have a Switch, I don’t have a Steam Deck and I don’t have a great laptop. I just bought this game on my phone. I was PC gaming for most of the last ten years, but I just didn’t feel like getting a new rig. I was due up, so I just bought a PS5 when Elden Ring came out. I’m pretty happy with the PS5 for now.

Are there any other titles coming up [that you’re excited for]? Between Diablo IV, Baldur’s Gate 3 and Starfield, I’m sure that’s a zillion hours already accounted for.
Rydquist: I’m looking forward to playing more Diablo IV. Diablo II is probably not my favorite game, but the most important game I ever played and spent the most time playing in my life. I have a very fond memory of the Diablo series and I didn’t really care for Diablo III that much. I want to dive a little bit more into Diablo IV and see if they figured out the right balance between II and III.

McKinney: Starfield. I’ve been looking forward to that for a while. I’m a huge Elder Scrolls fan since Morrowind. I even dabbled in The Elder Scrolls Online. It’s got the essence of an Elder Scrolls game, but it’s kind of more its own thing. I’m one of the people who purchased Star Citizen. [Laughs] I turn it on every half a year just to see if I can play it, and then I’m like, Yeah, I’ll just uninstall it. So now Starfield is the AAA title for that kind of game. It might not be as in depth, but I feel like it has the same kind of effect of the space sim.

Rydquist: Well, you and Ryan were playing a lot of No Man’s Sky. Once they made good on their promises, you guys really went deep on that.

McKinney: Yeah, we went hard on No Man’s Sky. It’s still a really good game. They have really cool updates. I jump in here and there. But I’m trying to level my space sim expectation for Starfield now.

Are you mostly interested in more space-related games?
McKinney: I love space sims. I’m more into space sims now just because I feel like we’ve already explored so much of land, sea and air in most video games. Space sims—like, a proper space sim game, besides EVE or something—I don’t think has ever been done 100% yet. [Star Wars:] Rogue Squadron was sick. I think that’s the next endeavor for me in terms of an RPG. A proper space RPG is what I’ve been fiending for for a long time. That’s another thing I’m looking forward to, that Star Wars Outlaws because they have that kind of feel to it as well. That open space exploration kind of game. I like big sandbox games. Red Dead Redemption 2, that’s one of my favorite games. Skyrim, another huge one. The new Zelda series, Tears of the Kingdom and Breath of the Wild, obviously. I just really like that openness.

Rydquist: I feel like we’re opposite gamers almost. I like roguelike games. This should only take half an hour to beat, I have half an hour to play. Hopefully I can get through one run of this. I probably skew more towards the fantasy aesthetic over the sci-fi. I like both, but I haven’t played Cyberpunk, I haven’t played EVE. I bought Elite Dangerous. I played it once, wasn’t really my vibe. I think part of it is so much of my day at work is spent in ambiguity and infinite decision trees of what I should do that it’s refreshing to sit down at a game and be like, I don’t have to make any decisions outside of what it’s calling for in the moment. It’s an easier way for me to turn my brain off. I played a shit ton of Hades. Binding of Issac is a top three game for me. Little shitty games like that… I mean, they’re not shitty games. I think they’re the best games of all time. [Laughs] Things that aren’t very flashy. Just these seemingly simple games that aren’t even 3D seem to capture my attention the best.

McKinney: Yeah, you are into linear gameplay style.

Rydquist: I think a game that I haven’t played yet that came out this year that I’m interested in—my interest grows more and more every day—is Final Fantasy XVI. It’s getting crazy good reviews and my friends who are playing it are like, “Oh my god, this is as good as VII and VIII.”

I was a big Final Fantasy head. I got VII whenever that came out that year for Christmas. And then I played VIII. I really loved VIII and I thought the card game in VIII was amazing. My friends and I, we would go over to each others house and bring the memory card and be like, “Alright, you play for an hour and then you play for an hour and you play…” We figured out what cards we needed and go do all the side quests.

I remember liking IX, but I don’t really have any memory of it. And then X was awesome. I really liked X. I know I played XIII, but I have no memory of it. I think I bought XII but it was in a time where there was either a generation skip or maybe I bought it a year too late and I was moving and it got lost in a box or something. So, I never played XII, but Brandon, our bass player, he really liked XII.

McKinney: Did you ever play the remake of VII?

Rydquist: No. I think I’m gonna wait until all the episodes are out. But it looks cool.

What would you say is the game that you’ve clocked the most hours in?
McKinney: World of Warcraft.

Ooo, no hesitation. How many hours are we talking?
McKinney: An unhealthy amount. [Laughs] Very unhealthy.

Rydquist: The farthest I’ve ever made it into World of Warcraft was the one month free trial.

McKinney: Hell yeah, dude, that’s sick.

Rydquist: One time when I was on tour [in The Faceless] with Cannibal Corpse, I wanted to play Warcraft with Lyle [Cooper], our drummer, and [Cannibal Corpse vocalist] George [“Corpsegrinder” Fischer]. I found a code for a 14-day trial or something. I was like, Eh, that’s enough time to get this. I think I really like watching World of Warcraft, but I never played it all that much.

McKinney: What did George say to you? He, like, called you about playing one day?

Rydquist: I can’t remember what exactly he said. I was on the phone with my girlfriend at the time and he was like [in a whispered tone, pantomiming hanging up a phone receiver] “Hang up the phone! Hang up! Hang up!” He kept inching closer and closer. “Come on, dude! Get off the phone! We gotta grind!” Just, like, really pressured. I was like, “I’m kinda busy here!” And then trying to explain to your girlfriend, “Uh, Corpsegrinder wants me to play World of Warcraft right now. I gotta go.” [Laughs] There’s so much to unpack in that statement.

The game that I put the most hours into, I think Diablo II. I put the most thought into it. I just have so many good memories of Diablo II. It was this great equalizer. There was a moment where the jocks wouldn’t want to be friends with you because you played video games. I remember that moment when it became OK. I became friends with literally the quarterback of the football team and we would do calculations in our classes about, “OK, can I borrow your Stone of Jordan tonight? I’ve got the Oculus with the right rune in it, so I’ll let you borrow that so we can do Pindle runs tonight.” It was really calculated. We didn’t even have calculators or phones back then, so we were doing everything by hand, like, “OK, it turns out you’ll have 3% more magic find, so we should give you all the items tonight.” Not only did I play a shit ton of it, but I thought about it incessantly.

Trying to explain to your girlfriend, “Uh, Corpsegrinder wants me to play World of Warcraft right now. I gotta go.” There’s so much to unpack in that statement.

[Derek,] what was your typical build [in Diablo II] and Justin, what was your typical build in WoW?
McKinney: I had so many. At least twice a year I’ll jump back in. Why not? I still have the same character that I always use and it’s an Orc Hunter named “Doogie Howser.” I don’t know why I named him that. That was, like, 2006, I think. He’s the one that I’ve used constantly. I think the ranged DPS is still one of the top OP DPS in the game still. I always ran the hunter. I got pretty into the Death Knight for a minute there on Wrath [of the Lich King]. I was into a Druid for a minute. What is that Druid build? The Moonkin one. I did that for a little bit, but the constant was definitely the hunter.

Rydquist: I had one of each character and I think I got them all to 99, so I put a lot of time into each character. My probably pride and joy was my sorceress with Lightning Storm and Frozen Orb. You just teleport through the level to get to Mephisto, or Pindleskin was the person who could drop Windforce, which was the bow that everybody wants. But basically, what can do the most damage per second and eventually getting the hardest difficulty down to 20 seconds per game and just cycling that over and over and over and over and over again.

Differences in video game tastes aside, what would you say is the game that you two can relate the most over? Do you do much gaming on the road with anybody else?
Rydquist: I think you and I probably played the most Overwatch together.

McKinney: Yeah. Remember you finally installed that hard drive and we played [Call of Duty:] Modern Warfare, like, twice and then you never touched it again? [Laughs]

Rydquist: Yeah. Modern Warfare has been pretty popular with the guys over the last couple years. I went to download it and I was like, “Why is it, like, 260 GB? This is fucking stupid.” For months, I was like, I’m not gonna do it on principle. No game should be this big. I think I had just downloaded Elden Ring. Elden Ring was, like, 25 GB or something. It’s the best game ever made, so it’s like, Why should I download something ten times bigger that I’m not going to like as much? I finally downloaded it. I found a 256 GB flash drive in my bucket somewhere. I was like, OK, cool, this can be the Modern Warfare thing. I played one round. I suck at it, so it’s not that fun for me. The next day, they released another patch. I think it was another 150 GB that it added and I was just like, I’m not doing this. I formatted the hard drive instantly and then I sold my PC, like, a few days later I think. [Laughs]

McKinney: We definitely game a lot. I don’t game as much as I’d like to just because of [tour managing] and running the rig and all that crap. But when I’m actually able to chill, I was playing Tears of the Kingdom on this last run. In May, I was playing the new Pokémon.

Rydquist: I haven’t been playing that much on the road. The last two runs I’ve been trying to figure out if I can do my job from the road. It’s really difficult. But then I got addicted to Slay the Spire.

Justin, how deep into Tears of the Kingdom are you?
McKinney: I got two temples done and then now I’m on the third temple in the Zora domain. It’s kind of like one of those games where you just get lost in whatever you’re doing. I fucking love that, the whole sandbox aspect of it. You can just get lost, fall in something, and then you do this and that. That’s the most fun part about it, is just exploring.

They’ve done a great job in having a lot of different things for different types of gameplay. There’s lots of little side quests if you want to do side quests and if you want to do a more combat-heavy run, there’s lots of stuff to fight. They’ve done a good job of accommodating so many people.
McKinney: Absolutely. The whole mystery about everything, once you walk on something and you’re intrigued by the mystery behind what it is, so you just keep delving further into what it is. I love shit like that.

Rydquist: How’s the music in it?

McKinney: It’s incredible. Music is so good. It can get a little Looney Tune-y here and there, but I think it kind of fits the aesthetic and the feel for what Japanese RPG games are known for.

Rydquist: This might sound like heresy, but I cannot play Breath of the Wild. I think I’ve tried to start it five times.

Why is that?
McKinney: Because Elden Ring?

Rydquist: Because Elden Ring, I think. I think it’s the best game ever made. To go back to Zelda, it’s like, What the hell is this cartoon? Why is the fighting even more clunky than Elden Ring? My weapon breaks? This is bullshit. I hate that system. I’ve tried on the last two tours to play Breath of the Wild and I just instantly lose it. But I’ve really enjoyed watching people play it. If it’s on the T.V. and somebody has it or they’re in the middle of playing it, I love watching it. And also, because I don’t care about the story that much either, so it’s just like, Yeah, it’s Link, he’s been asleep. He’s probably gonna save Zelda in some way. I don’t know. Just not for me I guess.

I don’t really get along with a lot of these really, really AAA games. I think something that prevented me from finishing GTA V and most of the GTAs—and Zelda has it, too—is how shitty the checkpoint system is. If you die in the middle of something, you’ll get sent back. Maybe I’m bad at saving or maybe I’m not getting it. I’ll lose, like, 20 minutes of progress and then I have to do it again. And I have to do it again. And I have to do it again. That, for me, is a dealbreaker.

Well… but you love Elden Ring.
Rydquist: Eh, maybe that just makes more sense to me. I’ve played all the From Software games and that’s how all those work, so I’m kind of entering that agreement to be like, Don’t die. You better be good.

[Laughs] Wait a minute, wait a minute! I’m [James] trying to get on board with this and I’m somebody who loves Dark Souls as well. You don’t like Zelda and some of these games because they send you back, but you get excited about FromSoft games.
Rydquist: You know… sometimes it’s OK. [Laughs]

I also think that in a game like Elden Ring, when you get back to where you failed, you have made more progress. You get your shit back. I lost interest in these recent Zeldas very fast, so maybe I haven’t gotten to certain game mechanics.

Maybe looks can be deceiving, as well. When I’m playing Zelda, it looks like a game I should be kind of relaxing and enjoying the exploration and the cooking and the crafting and hanging out. And then it’s like, Oh, that wasn’t actually relaxing. I have to do all that over again. I think there’s a contract you sign up for when you’re playing Elden Ring or Dark Souls or whatever where it’s like, This is gonna be really hard and I’m not really supposed to have fun. It’s just gonna be punishment and I’m ready for it.

McKinney: Masochism, dude.

Rydquist: Yeah. I sometimes describe our band as like playing Dark Souls because it’s just like, God dammit, this is so fucking hard to do. Why is this so hard? And then you get through the song and it’s like, Ahhh, that was awesome. [Laughs] Sometimes I’ll explain it to people like that at my job who have no context on what death metal is. They’ll be like, “Oh, what is this? It sounds crazy! What’s going on?” I’m like, “Just think of it as playing a really difficult video game.” Sometimes it’s people like, “How is this enjoyable to play? This sounds really stressful to get through.” And it’s like, “Well, yeah. It’s part of just doing a hard puzzle and being part of completing something that’s a really hard mission.” Sometimes distilling it down to that reminds me of why I enjoy either this type of music or playing those types of games because there’s just something in me that wants that challenge and the release that comes with that challenge.

McKinney: The glory.

Rydquist: The glory.

McKinney: It’s what it’s about, dude.

Your new album, Datalysium, is out now. You had mentioned in a previous interview that it explores the subject of rapidly advancing technology and the role it has on eroding and  replacing the need for humanity. Since games are very much part of the technological world, what part do you think they play in that erosion?
Rydquist: I think a big part of what we’re talking about on the record is accepting that that is what is happening, that you can’t escape it and that no matter what, that is what’s going to happen. You can either understand that and go with it or you can understand it and be against it or you can not understand it and it’s gonna happen without you. We’re talking to you guys over the internet right now on computers. We wouldn’t be able to have friends like you and expand our knowledge as great as we can. I know Chris had people on tour that he never met before come out that he met through WoW and other video games. There’s really powerful and positive things that this rapidly evolving technology brings.

It’s like a deal with the devil, right? In, I don’t know, 500 years, it’s just gonna be gone. That’s kind of what we’re talking about. It’s less about, “Technology’s bad,” and it’s coming maybe more from a misanthropic or a nihilistic place in that it’s happening and we’re doing it to ourselves. Maybe the people who are doing it understand that and understand that it doesn’t matter because it’s going to happen no matter what.

I work at a big tech place. Every day since the pandemic has happened, it’s been like, “We’ve figured out how to make this workflow 500 percent more efficient!” Meaning they can fire five more people. Everyone’s really excited about it, even when you’re in the middle of it. My team does this all the time. It’s like, “Oh man, I figured out how to automate this!” And everyone’s like, “Hell yeah! Applause!” And then you’re like, Oh, wait. Shit. I just erased ten percent of my job and if I do that [nine] more times, I’m gonna be out. But the goal is progress, right? It’s a pretty worthy goal of figuring out how to live better and how to make life work better, but eventually part of that plan is gonna in theory—and even more fictionalized on the record—take us out of the picture. You’re gonna invent yourself out of usefulness.

Roguelikes [typically] implement A.I. to generate levels. Obviously this has to come from humans, who have to program it and make it enjoyable for people. Do you ever see these kinds of A.I. structures—even in something like video games, that are meant to be pure entertainment—as eventually replacing the human element? Do you ever see video gaming without people?
McKinney: Yeah, but it’s probably a little far off. I feel like games, at least for me, is escapism from reality. If whatever human or A.I. develops it and it achieves that goal and we’re playing it, then… is that a bad thing? Obviously there’s going to be a pretty fine line between A.I.-generated art and entertainment and then human. I’m all for A.I.-generated art and music. I think it’s more of a gimmick than it is an actual destination for A.I. But I think it’s what’s gonna come after that, like with video games. Humans taking that idea of A.I.-generated this or that and then expanding on it, so it’s kind of like you’re collabing with an A.I. that you probably wouldn’t have thought of the idea unless it generated it to begin with. So, if anything, it can just make it better.

Rydquist: I think for the near future, it’s less about A.I. replacing things and a person understanding how to ask it the right thing and whether you need that to help with a little bit of inspiration. Right now, it’s doing very menial tasks. You can be like, “Format my resume,” or, “I need this document translated into 50 languages.” It can do that pretty damn good. But it’s a slippery slope when you expand it into creative endeavors. I think a big argument for art is that it’s a human expression. I’m not sure what it’s going to mean when we all get used to A.I. doing this stuff. Like with anything, you get up in arms about it for a while and then you get used to it. I think that’s kind of human nature and you adapt. It’s a big fight for a long time and then it wins the fight and it’s there with you forever. So, “How do you interact with it once it’s part of your reality?” is probably the bigger puzzle to solve rather than, “Is it going to do this or not?” The short version, to answer your question, I think A.I. is going to replace everything. Art, video games, you name it; it’s going to replace it. You have to either know how to harness it and interact with it and partner with it, or not and see where that goes. And I don’t know where that goes.

McKinney: I think also—this is getting way out there in the sci-fi realm, The Matrix kind of touched on it, too—when A.I. gets to a point where it’s identified as its own being and it believes it has rights and it’s this and that, what’s to say that creativity is a human entitlement? Why can’t an artificial intelligence create and why aren’t they entitled to create and why does it have to be a thing to begin with? Why can’t an A.I. create this and why can’t you accept it as being cool?

Rydquist: That’s actually a pretty interesting point. It opens a big discussion path of, “What makes a human human?” Is it consciousness? Then what is actually preventing consciousness from entering an A.I. or a machine, because we don’t control it I don’t think. We might think of evolution as a fleshy thing to a fleshy thing to a fleshy thing. But what if evolution eventually becomes fleshy thing to robot thing and the robot is just as much of a person? Like you said, that’s getting pretty far out probably into the future, but it’s probably what’s going to happen—within the realm of possibility.

McKinney: Sam Harris talks about the moral debate between A.I. and humanity and why does one have to be more entitled than the other?

Rydquist: I think, for now, it’s kind of an affront to our humanity.

McKinney: It’s seen as a threat. We’re scared, that’s why.

Rydquist: It’s also not firing on all cylinders, either. It seems kind of stupid or it seems like a mimic for now. And it is—for now. But probably in, like, ten years, that shit’s gonna be bonkers. Off the wall.

McKinney: Thanks, Ridley Scott, for scaring us, dude.

What’s the one game that you would recommend to people that they spend some time with after this interview comes out?
McKinney: Elden Ring, probably? I feel like that’s just the quintessential game still.

Rydquist: It’s funny wanting to recommend Elden Ring, too. I don’t know how it got so popular. People who had never played Dark Souls or Demon’s Souls or any of those other games found out how good it was and I was shocked. It’s like, Bro, you were playing X, Y and Z game last week. I’ve never heard you talk about this. Not like you have to gatekeep it, but now it’s the biggest game I can imagine and it’s really interesting to hear. I would definitely recommend Elden Ring if [someone hasn’t] played it. But I would find it hard to believe that somebody who’s [reading] a metal-themed video game [column] hasn’t played Elden Ring.

I actually don’t know if I would recommend Slay the Spire. It’s a pretty specific game, I don’t think it’s gonna work for that many people. I think Diablo IV is pretty fun. I like it because I think you can go real deep or you can keep it pretty surface-level and that allows for all types of players to play it. I think that’s the game that I’m gonna be playing the most this year.

McKinney: I still think Skyrim is the best game made, personally. It’s got everything.

Rydquist: I really loved Skyrim. I was getting so into it and I was going through and I cleared a cave that I either wasn’t supposed to have had access to or I shouldn’t have known about yet or something. It prevented me from doing a main story quest because I killed the person that they were going to assign me to kill already and it just broke my game. I was probably 45 hours in. I was like, Well… that’s the end of that game for me.

McKinney: What was the thing you guys used to do when you would take mushrooms and go explore or something?

Rydquist: Brandon and I and another friend we’ve been talking about, Ryan, they were playing a lot of Skyrim when we lived together. Ryan would just find the most beautiful vistas and he’d quick save them and he’d be like, “These are mushroom spots.” [Laughs] If you were feeling like transporting, you’d play on a big ass screen and so it’d be like, “I want to go to the lake.” [Laughs] I don’t know if he actually did that, but that was a pretty good joke we had going.

Datalysium is available now via Metal Blade Records and can be ordered here.
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