"Speedruns" are a weirdly enthralling piece of video game culture, wherein a gamer takes on titles, often older ones like Super Metroid or Sonic The Hedgehog, using every trick in the book to beat their chosen game as fast as possible.
Brad "Darbian" Myers currently holds the Super Mario Bros. speedrun world record, completing the classic in four minutes, 56 seconds. Tera Melos guitarist and singer Nick Reinhart recalls one of Darbian's recent live streams as "the closest thing I've ever felt to being a real sports fan," he tells NPR. "My heart was racing and I was yelling at my phone screen."
When Darbian mentioned having to skip worlds three and six ("the coolest looking levels that we never see because we're all too busy trying to beat the game as fast as possible") in order to beat Super Mario Bros. in record time, "that really resonated with me," Reinhart says. "So we wrote a song about it — and we got [Pinback guitarist and vocalist] Rob Crow to be a part of it!"
"Warpless Run" comes from Tera Melos' first new album in four years, Trash Generator. This frenetic prog-punk wallop contains a guitar solo that twitches like a Tron lightcycle careening off a cliff, and switchback time signatures crammed into a weirdly poppy song.
For the song's video, Reinhart and Tera Melos doubled down on the geek worship.
"We had this wacky idea to try and recreate one of Darbian's speedruns with a made-up Tera Melos-style video game," Reinhart says. "Then I wondered: 'It would be pretty cool if we could actually get Darbian in the video.' I figured there's no harm in asking, so I sent him a message. He was into it! Next thing you know [Tera Melos' longtime visual collaborator] Behn Fannin sends us this video game he had made from scratch, plus a duplication of Darbian's live Twitch stream layout. It blew our minds. And finally, we got to have the legendary Darbian speedrun our own video game, in which the soundtrack is one of the weirdest songs we've ever written."
So here it is: the world-record holder for fastest Super Mario Bros. speedrun plays Mr. Slug 2: Slimed! — possibly the slowest video game — real or fake — ever made, with a coda sung by Pinback's Rob Crow.
Trash Generator is out now via Sargent House (physical, digital). Tera Melos is currently on tour with Speedy Ortiz.