Reed Richards – a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic, frontman for the Marvel Comics supergroup the Fantastic Four – was the son of a wealthy physicist and grew up to become an aeronautical engineer, the captain of a starship and, um, elastic, thanks to cosmic rays.
Things were a little different for Taking Back Sunday frontman Adam Lazzara. He grew up in North Carolina.
But when Activision, the makers of the upcoming “Fantastic Four” video game (based on the surefire summer blockbuster of the same name), came calling with an offer to feature a new TBS song in the game, there was no way the band could say no. The only problem was that Activision wanted Lazzara to write the tune from Richards’ perspective.
“We were not so sure about doing that,” Lazzara said. “My biggest thing was that, if you’re familiar with Reed Richards, he’s this extremely rich, extremely smart guy. And that’s his biggest issue – dealing with that.
“And I’m not very smart, and I’m not rich at all, so I couldn’t really relate. I do have really long arms and legs, but that’s about the closest thing.”
But a new song Lazzara and co-vocalist Fred Mascherino were working on turned out to be perfect for Richards’ angsty internal struggle: a tune called “Error Operator.” After getting the thumbs-up from Activision reps, TBS hit the studio to record the track – and get their hands on lots of free “Fantastic Four” swag.
“Being a video-game dork, I was way into doing it,” bassist Matt Rubano said. “And there were all these fringe benefits, like we got to play the game months before it came out.”
“When we were in the studio, the guys from Activision, they let us play the game,” Lazarra said. “”And every time we’d walk by, Matt would be totally hogging it.”
“Error Operator” serves as Mr. Fantastic’s theme in the game, and it’s just one of four original songs composed by bands for each of the Fantastic Four’s heroes. Jurassic 5 contributed “Clobberin’ Time” for the Thing, Boston punkers the Explosion recorded “I’m on Fire” for the Human Torch, and all-girl rockers Go Betty Go ripped through “Everywhere” for the Invisible Woman. There are plans to release all four songs on an EP, which would be free with the purchase of the game.
“For the EP, we’re going to dress up as the Fantastic Four, even though there’s five of us,” Lazarra joked. “Two of us will have to be stuck together in the Thing costume.”
The game is due June 28, while the Fantastic Four movie – which stars Ioan Gruffudd as Mr. Fantastic; Michael Chiklis as the Commish, oops, the Thing; Chris Evans as the Human Torch; and Jessica Alba as the Invisible Woman – blasts into theaters on July 8. And to Taking Back Sunday, all the swag and all the geek-out factors pale in comparison to getting a chance to meet Ms. Alba. They kind of already have, in a way.
“I mean, it’s pretty much like we’re friends with Jessica Alba now. I mean, we haven’t met her, but for all intents and purposes, it’s like one degree of separation,” Rubano laughed. “Now I can be like, ‘Hey, Jess. Glad you liked the song. I got your message.’ “