Image / Venom,
Rage For Order,
Warriors of the Wasteland,
Added on April 2nd, 2008 (8462 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Billy Pamier, I'm 33 years old and I was born and raised in California. I've been lucky enough to work in the video gaming industry with various development studios all around the world and I'm currently the Head of Games and Applications at a studio in Montreal. My other interests are in fast motorcycles and cool dogs!
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
I went by the handle of Image, as I liked the sound of it and I always felt that handles were online images of ourselves. I've also done some work under the name of Source. There was no particular reason for this – I guess I was just looking for something new. There have been couple of other handles, prior to my active years.
What group(s) were you in?
I started Venom with The Hobbit and Morrissey several years ago. I never really left Venom, as I have always regarded those guys as good friends and I'm always interested in contributing to their productions. Following that, I was in an importing group called Rage For Order, where I was mainly responsible for coding intros. I then spent some time as a musician in Havok, Dynamix, and Warriors of the Wasteland. I had attempted to form a music group at one point called SoundTech, but there weren't too many Americans making music at that time, so it was somewhat of a one man group. I also founded a group called Phase3 with Eclipse and Morrissey, which eventually morphed in Lords.
What roles have you fulfilled?
I've done a lot of different work through my scene years. This ranged from intro coding, logo graphing and music making. I had also done some very light mail trading with various cool European guys like JCH/Vibrants, The Syndicate/Beastie Boys and Hazor/Beyond Force.
How long were you active for?
I started calling BBS's with my 300 baud modem in 1987, but was most productive on the 64 between 1988 and 1991. I had a 64 far before that point, but only traded games with local kids in the neighborhood.
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
These were wonderful years full of discovery and learning. My very first scene contacts were The Hobbit and Eclipse. Both of those guys taught me quite a bit about coding and introduced me to the local elite guys. From there, my contacts broadened through teleconferences and various elite BBS's. After I learned the basics of machine language, I then felt that I could contribute something positive and spent several nights coding, drawing, writing music, and of course, talking on the phone with friends. The attraction to me was the ability to create something original and spread it all over the world. There was some charm in gaining fame, but I was mostly interested in learning of new ideas and cultures. When you're 14 years old, at a time when the public Internet did not exist, being global is quite an amazing thing.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
A typical summer day usually started with making my rounds on the BBS's. I'd download all of the latest releases, mainly to check out the intros and hear new music. Following that, I'd receive a predictable call from one of the locals, and spend some time on the phone exchanging ideas. To this day, I cannot believe that I was on the phone so much – I never even want to pick it up now! After a bit of time outside in the sun, I would return at nightfall to join a teleconference and code/draw/compose all night!
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
Unfortunately, I was never really all that innovative with code specifically. I believe that the work that I did was the best that I could do at the time, but I never considered myself competent when compared to real coders. I always just figured that I'd sit back and watch the cool shows, as my interests were mainly in music. When considering the NTSC scene at the time, I felt that I was one of the better composers out there – my main competition being Sequencer. But I was nowhere near the abilities of guys like Drax, JCH, Laxity or JT.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
I think the thing that I am most proud of is the fact that I really committed myself to the scene and found a way to actually form an adult career from my experience. A guy once wrote in his blog about me saying that I "score points for knowing what I really wanted to do at such a young age". I figure I'm a pretty lucky guy!
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
I think my heroes were the legendary music guys. Rob Hubbard and Charles Deenen were huge inspirations to me. Charles Deenen was able to make a very special career out of his work, which was something that I had always hoped to do. I now have some mutual friends that have worked with both of those guys – I remember asking an Electronic Arts executive if he had ever worked with Rob Hubbard. He told me that he had indeed, and I thought that was just the coolest thing ever.
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
Quite simply, music routines in general. When I first started computing, music was very underdeveloped. Upon hearing the stuff that Rob and Charles were doing with their players, I was very impressed. The drum sounds and filters were so cool and things just sounded far more impressive then what I was doing with silly programs like Master Composer. I still vividly remember the day I downloaded Future Composer by FCS/TMC. That really started everything for me.
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Sure – we had our copy-parties in the States as well. There was a local BBS called The Duck Pond, which would host "Duck Meets" at a local high school. It was there that I met guys like Morrissey, Raster Blaster, Blackhawk, TGG, Alchemist, The Hobbit, Eclipse, etc. I organized a Venom/Havok/Impulse meeting once where we met at a conference room at a local park in Hollywood. All of the dudes were there and we had a lot of fun.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
Friendship and information. I will always regard those guys as having a huge influence on my life and I learned an incredible amount in regard to logic, accountability, deadlines and social awareness.
What were the particular highlights for you?
I remember one of my first downloads – Ripping Yarns by Section 8. It contained several Hubbard tunes that I absolutely loved. It was that moment when I thought to myself, "This is exactly what I want to do." Another nice moment was the day that I downloaded an NTSC demo called Aftershock, organized by The Changeling of Abyss. The fact that Americans were also creating cool demo pages deeply impressed me. I felt that I could definitely jump into something like this and knowing that these guys were local made the scene all the more accessible.
Any cool stories to share with us?
I had to buy a new 64 at one of the local computer shops once. This was after the 64C came out, but I wanted the brown model, specifically with the 6581R2 SID chip. I obviously couldn't open the keyboard up at the shop and didn't want to rely on the white-haired salesman's information, so I brought in a floppy with That's the Way it Is by Scoop Designs for a sound test. When the main screen came on, the salesman got extremely offended seeing the girl in the bathing suit (old people..so silly), but literally everyone in the store rushed over to see what was going on (the power of JT's music!). I thought to myself, "If Charles Deenen and Jeroen Tel were here to see this, they would most certainly laugh!"
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Sure – I talk to lots of the old guys. I spend a bit of time on CSDb and receive lots of cool PMs and emails from people from my past. It's truly a pleasure to know that these guys are still around, and even more of a pleasure to find that they are still into computers in some sort of way.
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I first got a 64 and tape drive in 1983 as a Christmas present from my parents. Looking back, this was a huge turning point for me. A disk drive and color monitor followed in the years after, which really broadened my interest in computers.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
Absolutely. It was quite a system that really opened up options for all of us. It was affordable, capable, and I still cannot believe the things that people have been able to do with it. Glenz vectors and plasmas on a 64... amazing. Of course a lot of this is nostalgia, but that's okay – it's good to remember where you came from!
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
It's up in the air at this point. I'm married now and have a very busy career. However, I have received some requests from old friends and am planning to at least try to create something cool at some point this year (2008). It will all depend on time and family responsibilities.
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Thank You! I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to know you all and wish you the very best of luck in everything you do!
back to the list of available interviews