It’s Life Jim But Not As We Know It: ‘The Force Remains The Same’ Is New From Protovulcan

Protovulcan are a trio from Chicago whose music is as alien as the name of their band.

Comprising vocalist and keyboardist Will MacLean, drummer Deric Criss, and guitarist Nick Ammerman, their electronica style of music is performed live, as described by MacLean:

“When people see us live, they say things like, “It’s awesome to see electronica actually PLAYED!” I don’t think we are really electronica, but it’s nice to hear. I think it’s because we play synths, but no sequencers or drum machines. Just a live band.”

‘The Force Remains The Same’ is an intensely electronic track, the first from their forthcoming album, ‘Life Is Twigs’, set for release on January 25, and is an excellent example to what we should expect from the remainder of the album. It contains the same hard post-industrial sounds of their previous tracks, such as ‘Waking Up Dinosaurs’, and ‘Busting Out At The Starry Roundhouse’: dark synths combined with vocoder vocals. There’s a lot in ‘The Force Remains The Same’ to make us think they’ve been inspired by Daft Punk, but then again track feels like it’s somewhere between heavy metal, and Kraftwerk as well. It’s probably safer to say they’ve taken inspiration from a wide array of sources – there’s even a vaguely tropical sound there – and melded them together to form their own style.

Speaking in an interview from 2015, Deric Criss said of Protovulcan:

“The project came around because my brother Will asked me if I wanted to play with him. Just him. He was going to play synths and vocoder vocals. And I thought, ‘I will give Will a practice because he’s my friend, and we have a history.’ Then I showed up, and his songs were really great. Honestly, I was kinda taken aback. So I decided to play this thing out. And the tunes came really quick.”

‘Life Is Twigs’ is Protovulcan’s third album, and has been produced by fellow Chicago legend, Steve Albini. The origins of the unusual name is explained by MacLean:

“It got that name in part because both Deric and I had a number of life things happen, and I’d thrown at him the idea of recording with Steve Albini, for fun. He was afraid it’d cost too much, then one day texted me, “F*ck. Let’s do it! Life is twigs.” Which sounded about right.”

The trio use classic prog rock instruments in their music, such as a Wurlitzer electronic piano, and a Korg Vocoder. Keeping to the theme, guitarist Ammerman plays a 1960s era Galanti Grand Prix. Their music doesn’t merely recreate the sounds of that time however, but rather combines and fuses it with sounds that can only be created now due to advances in modern music technology.

Watch the video for ‘The Force Remains The Same’:

‘Life Is Twigs’ will be released January 25. You can find out more about Protovulcan online on Facebook, and Bandcamp.

About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email

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