Mythic Thunderlute, the first fantasy podcast musical based on Dungeons and Dragons, will premiere July 26 on all podcasting platforms.
Philadelphia-based actors and musicians created Mythic Thunderlute during the COVID-19 lockdown when live theaters and music venues were shut down putting many artists out of work.
Suddenly finding themselves with no creative outlet, but endless free time, the creators of Mythic Thunderlute developed a podcast that features fully produced and original musical numbers, gameplay, and improvised dialogue.
“We edit it down so the dialogue sounds rehearsed, but that’s all us off the cuff. The five of us, and the chaos the dice introduces, drive the plot together,” said Jake Blouch, producer and songwriter on the project. “Some of the most exciting storytelling I’ve been involved in is around the D&D table when critical moments are determined by chance.”
Each episode of Mythic Thunderlute follows an eponymous rock band in a D&D based adventure.
“The four players will improvise their way through a fantasy-style role playing game that I create,” said Michael Doherty, who serves as the Dungeon Master (or Game Maker) of Mythic Thunderlute. “After we record the game, we add sound effects, underscoring, full-fledged musical numbers, and special guest voices. It becomes a fully-produced, partially-improvised, fantasy rock musical.”
The cast of players includes:
- Blouch – Edgar Hawke, and producer, songwriter and guitarist
- Lillian Castillo – Jocasta Stormwood
- Steve Gudelunas – Roscoe Chubb and drums
- Leigha Kato – Pugface Doodleop
Behind the scenes, Philly-based actor and director Alex Keiper serves as an associate producer and episode coordinator. Composer, Orchestrator and Music Director Dan Kazemi has also joined the project.
For more information, visit the Mythic Thunderlute website at mythicthunderlute.com, or listen on all podcast platforms.
PW recently caught up with Blouch and Doherty to chat about the podcast.
Who came up with the idea for a podcast based on a rock band in a Dungeons and Dragons adventure? Who came up with the name, Mythic Thunderlute, and what does it mean?
Blouch: We had been trying to create a live D&D musical that would change night to night based on the decisions the players made. A musical that also functioned like a game you could play that would center around a fantasy rock band. Steve Gudelunas, who’s one of the creators, our resident drummer and also plays Roscoe Chubb on the pod, suggested we re-conceptualize it as a podcast. Steve must have had a crystal ball because a few weeks later the pandemic hit but didn’t slow us down because we already had something we could do remotely. Mythic Thunderlute is the name of the band, and we sort of came up with it together over the course of several discussions. My character, Edgar Hawke, has a magic lute in the series called the Thunderlute, and that’s what the band is named after. We almost went with “Mystic” instead of “Mythic,” but we figured it’s a myth after all.
Doherty: Jake Blouch and Steve Gudelunas approached me over a year ago with an idea for a podcast that was a scripted fantasy musical. I mentioned that my favorite part of podcasts was the interaction between the hosts and wondered if we could use actual D&D gameplay as our starting off point, and then turn it into a musical in post-production. They said, “Great! You wanna Dungeon Master it?” (The Dungeon Master or DM is the game organizer and participant in charge of creating the details and challenges of a given adventure.) I had literally DM’d only one time in my life (and Steve and Jake were the ones who taught me). But considering we were a couple months into the pandemic, and I was no longer leaving the house, I had a surplus of time on my hands to build an intricate fantasy world based on the desires and suggested backstories of the players.
The original name for the podcast was ElfMother (still centered around a medieval rock band), but by the time we’d made a few demos and assembled the team that would be making the product, we felt it was time to find a new name that everyone had a hand in choosing. We knew we wanted it to be a podcast title evocative of fantasy that was also the name of the rock band our story is centered around, and there were many different suggestions we voted on (many of which you’ll hear as other bands in the world of the podcast – including ElfMother). Why we landed where we did: Jake’s character has a magical lute called the Thunderlute, and the story is a myth, so there you go.
Do you have to be a Dungeons and Dragons fan to enjoy Mythic Thunderlute or is it something anyone can follow?
Blouch: Anyone can follow this! This is a D&D podcast for people who don’t understand or like D&D, or D&D podcasts, but also a nice respite for your hardcore gamers. If someone doesn’t like musicals, well, we can’t help. It’s very light on the rules, plot-first storytelling, but the dice rolls of the game still add an element of chaos that can make the storyline go in any number of directions.
Doherty: Nope! This is a podcast that focuses on story and the audience’s experience above all. But also lovers of fantasy and D&D will appreciate the richness of the world, and the chaos added by dice rolls and player’s decisions. In fact, even people who don’t normally listen to podcasts or audiobooks can get on board: The pace we’ve set is way faster than your average podcast, the story we’re telling is epic in scale, and the musical element makes each episode such a carefully crafted listener experience.
When someone tunes in to the podcast, what are they going to encounter?
Blouch: When you tune into Mythic Thunderlute, you’re going to hear a tightly edited, 40-minute radio play (musical) created from the audio of the crew playing a stripped-down D&D game together. We take the audio and add sound effects, underscoring, and full-fledged musical numbers. The musical numbers replace key plot points, so they advance the story the way song does in any musical you’d go see on Broadway. All of the tunes are written by me and Dan Kazemi. So you’re getting a new, three-song, 40- minute musical every two weeks.
Doherty: They are going to hear five professional musical theatre performers and musicians having a blast playing D&D together, but it’ll be so tightly edited with sound effects, underscoring, and songs, you’ll have a chance to get whisked away into a rich fantasy world and just go on a wild ride. Also, the songs are such jams, my wife (Alex Keiper, who’s also a producer on it) and I CANNOT stop singing them!
It looks like you launched with a Kickstarter campaign. Is it still active? Are you still accepting donations?
The Kickstarter was a big success, but it’s over. We just raised the start-up money we needed. But if you want to support Mythic Thunderlute, the best way to do that is to become a patron on Patreon. For just a few bucks a month, you can help us out and help fuel what has become our insanely involved post-production process. You’ll also get access to all kinds of exclusive content and other goodies. We’re going to have a bi-weekly recap show called Shoot the Lute, Zoom hang out with the cast, song downloads and plenty more. Visit patreon.com/mythicthunderlute for details.
Give our readers your best sales pitch: Why should someone tune in to Mythic Thunderlute?
If you’ve ever wanted to hear what it would sound like if you mixed Lord of the Rings, Spinal Tap, and Cheech and Chong together, now’s your chance. Each episode you’re going to be whisked away on a fantasy adventure, and how it will turn out none of us know. There’s a healthy serving of laughs, but also a ton of heart, and three new rockin’ tunes to tell the story. It’s fun as hell. There’s something for everyone in Mythic Thunderlute. For fantasy nerds, the richness of the world is modeled after lands created by Tolkien and Martin. But it’s also subversive as hell, and at times feels like the players are traversing their way through political cartoons and literary allegories. And at its core, it’s a piece of rock musical theatre, where story comes first… and the songs frigging SLAP.