OMP / The Mega Team,
Added on February 28th, 2023 (588 views)
Hello and welcome to the interview OMP! It's a pleasure to be able to talk to you. Please tell us something about yourself.
Thank you, Sir Wallström, always a pleasure! My full name is Ole Marius Pettersen. I was born in Bærum, just south of Oslo in Norway, on 23 October 1972. That makes me about 50 years old.
I now live in Asker, not too far from where I was born, with my girlfriend, our two kids, and a cat. I am a Graphic Designer, currently working for Telia. The Swedes bought the TV company I worked at, where we developed a linear/streaming TV platform. I am currently the Design Lead and Manager of Telia Play Norway's UX and Design team.
My interests are many and tend to go in incontrollable cycles of focus, such that I never seem to get to do enough of any of them...
As a designer, my work is happily a major interest of mine. Apart from the highly lucrative C64 business, I enjoy going to the gym, skiing, planning design/art projects I will never get to do, riding my bike, especially in the forest, jumping off heights, preferably into saltwater, also cooking, eating at restaurants, wine (mostly red), playing video games a bit, and going to the theatre and concerts.
I guess my interest in music is above average and takes in several different kinds, although my heart always brings me back to Elvis Presley and various strains of hard rock, classic progressive rock and metal. I like a touch of jazz, too, and used to play bass in a band in what seems like an age ago. Nowadays, SID and a bit of meddling in Logic Pro are my only creative outlets in music.
This all makes me sound like an extremely active and interesting person, but a typical day for me consists of gym, work, home, dinner, running out of energy and calling it a day. Sprinkle a bit of the aforementioned interests on top, and voilà, another week has passed! :)
When did you get your C64 and from whom?
My brother got a C64 in 1984, after my uncle got one when it first came out. He had a tape with games, and I remember our amazement at those old games, like Forbidden Forest, Blue Max, Hover Bovver and Pooyan. Not to mention the excitement in Aztec Challenge when we realised the pyramid was actually getting closer, or filling up carefully to advance in Fort Apocalypse.
How did you get into the scene in the first place?
There was a guy in my class who had a 1541 drive and lots of new games. At some point, I got my hands on a 1541 as well, and we went over to the guy who was supplying these games. That was Lars Hoff. He did some coding and swapping and stuff, and we got to know each other after a while. I'd been checking out Koala Painter, and he saw some graphics I'd done. I joined a group called The Mega Team that Lars had just put together with this "really clever guy" he knew. That was Stein Pedersen.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
My first and only other handle than OMP was Devil. I think I started using it right after getting a disk drive: as a name to smack into scrolltexts and intros, as soon as I got an Epyx Fast Load. :) Later on, I hated it, but it was too late to do a rebranding.
What group(s) were/are you in?
That's quite some time ago, but I think the correct order would be: The Mega Team, The Troopers, The Stars, Twilight Music, Prosonix, Panoramic Designs and Offence.
What role(s) have you fulfilled? What attracted you to the role(s) and/or did you gravitate naturally towards the role(s)?
I started out doing graphics. I've always liked drawing, so the first thing I did when discovering Koala Painter was to draw some images and later some logos, fonts, animated sprites, etc. I also did a bit of swapping. I liked getting hot stuff and being part of the swapper scene. I think I kind of sucked at it, even though it brought in fairly new stuff for a while.
I started fiddling with Soundmonitor and Rockmonitor at some point. Lars played the piano and had done some music before. Stein played the guitar, and when he made his own sound routine with an editor, I slowly drifted into making music and at some point started fiddling with guitar-playing as well.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about in the 1980s and 1990s?
Part of it for me was the mystery, the competitive aspect, but first and foremost, it was the community: getting to know people with the same interests, getting known for what you were good at, and showing it to people who actually cared and knew the amount of work involved. It was also about pushing the boundaries, being the first to achieve a particular thing, and then disseminating it to as many people as possible. It was different back then, as there was no email or Internet like we have now. Looking back, I was part of the Norwegian/Scandinavian scene, but "that other scene" including 1001 crew, The Judges, Stoat and Tim, all these big names, was juuust out of reach.
Do you have any fun stories to share with us from those days? We were after all teenagers and they do all kinds of fun/stupid/crazy stuff. :)
You know, I can't really recall any mind-blowing stories from that time. A few episodes stand out and sometimes pop into my mind when I'm thinking about those days, such as when Suicide (of War Deal Lamers) was driving to a party, I think it was the Horizon Easter party of 1990. There was a police car by the side of the road, so he yells "Quick, take the wheel!", drops his pants, sticks his bare buttocks out of the driver's window and pretends to stick a Coke bottle up his arse as we passed them by.
There was another instance, though it might have been at the same party, where this skinhead scener in a bomber jacket (Editor's note: Dr. Cool of Censor Design) who none of us Norwegians knew was trying to pick a fight. He ended up on the ground in a headlock, then got thrown across the room, banging his head against the wall. He was yelling that he was going to kill us all, and somebody called the police. Somebody wanted to press charges for assault and intimidation or something. Alas, that didn't happen, because some doofus told the police that someone threatened to "kill his face" if he didn't get his ass out of there on the double... It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer (in the 1980s/1990s).
In the beginning, it was all about the games: getting home from school and hurrying downstairs to use my brother's C64 without permission until I heard him opening the front door, then quickly putting the designated protective cloth back over the computer before he noticed.
Later, it was more about checking the letterbox for disks after school, looking through the disks for new stuff, and checking the greetings in other people's new demos, then sitting down to do some random graphics or music or something for a demo we had going on at the time. I also remember writing a lot of swapletters in our very own BSLCS (Bullshit Letter Construction Set) with a moving parallax star field in the background and a bunch of tunes we could slap on there.
I also spent a lot of time at Stein's place, which was where we mainly did our demos. I remember once sitting next to him, while he was coding some clever routine, and complaining about how he SHOULD be doing it and how much cooler that would look (even if impossible to code). I think I had finished my own graphics or music and had nothing better to do. After that, there was this one particular scroll in one of those demos which read: "All coding and graphics done by me, Stone. Nothing done by Devil. He just sat there complaining all the time." Good times! XD
What were your go-to programs (for programming, drawing graphics, composing music, etc.)?
I did most of my graphics in Koala Painter. Stein made his own sprite editor, as well as a charset editor which I also used. After messing around with Soundmonitor and Rockmonitor for a while, I did and still do all my music in Steintronic™ (a humorous working title for Stein's music routine which stuck, and now it seems ludicrous to call it anything else, ever).
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings and/or trade shows? Tell us about any internal meetings your group(s) had too!
I only got to go to a couple of parties back then. At first, my mum wouldn't let me. Then, I mostly didn't have the money to go, and by the time I did, I had rather lost interest anyway. Apart from some meet-ups with The Shadows, Rawhead and Killers, I think the only two big parties I attended were the Rawhead, Bros and Suppliers Party in 1989 and the Horizon Easter Party in 1990.
We had lots of internal meetings, though, either at Stein's, Lars' or my place. We would put together parts, music and graphics, mostly stuff like that. I remember pulling some all-nighters, going to the shop to get sweets and fizzy drinks, listening to each other's tunes, showing off graphics, new routines, etc.
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
For me, it was all those old-school big names who first inspired me to get creative on the C64. I can remember being filled with awe looking at intros and demos from The Judges, 1001 Crew, Stoat and Tim, Loser and Gem, also the graphics by Bob, STU, all the Ocean loader images, all those old classics, but the thing I always loved most was the music.
I have loved SID music since I first got my hands on a C64. I had some cassette tapes that I listened to on my Walkman. I had my C64 connected to a hi-fi with two large speakers. When playing games, I would hide in a corner or behind a cover, just to listen to the in-game music. Later, I would fire up demos and intros over and over again, just to listen to the music. There are many, many musicians I should probably mention here, but I can't remember or don't even know all their names. The ones who really made me fall in love with the C64 right from the start were definitely the old-school pioneers like Martin Galway and Rob Hubbard. I also listened to a lot of tunes by David Whittaker, Fred Gray, Demon, Ben Daglish, Antony Crowther, Jeroen Kimmel, Yip and Chris Hülsbeck. The last, but definitely not least, musician to blow my mind before I left the scene in 1991 was Jeroen Tel.
What, for you, was the coolest routine ever invented on the C64 (e.g. sideborder sprites, FLI, sampled sounds and effects)?
Oh, that's easy. For me, the single coolest routine anyone ever did (though it may not have been "invented" as such) is Stein's sound routine and its Steintronic editor. Without that, I highly doubt I'd be doing anything on the C64 today.
I remember in particular when he presented the PC/Mac-compatible version of it, on an MMM (Magic Mountain Meltdown, the Offence geek-out get-together up in the mountains). It's been the source of my main musical creative output for years and years. So many hours of fun and enjoyment and suffering and pain. :) It also comes with unlimited free support, including functional requests. I love it. I wish it was my full-time job.
What were the best demos and games released in the 1980s/1990s?
Oh my, that's a really hard question. I was away from the scene in the 1990s, and the 1980s is a long time ago. When 1001 Crew opened up the sideborder, I didn't really understand the wonder of it. I'm not a coder, and my cool-o-meter scores were rarely based on anything other than sound, look and feel.
I can remember the first demos I saw, like The Muzikz from Bump, Set, Spike by Loser and Gem, and some Tutankhamun image with an oak on it. I liked the Think Twice demos by The Judges with their fully opened border images and the first FLI routines I saw. They had great music as well. Also, the demo Circlesque by Stoat and Tim made awesome use of Galway's Green Beret loader music.
Pure "code-porn" is and never was, however, my cup of tea. I remember The Unicorn by Abnormal, and some of the Pimplesqueezer demos by Rawhead and The Shadows. I also think we did some great demos in The Troopers, for that time, but I tend to be a bit forgetful.
As for games, I already mentioned the coolest ones at the beginning: Aztec, Fort Apocalypse, Blue Max, Forbidden Forest. I also played Beach Head II, Pitfall II, Exploding Fist, Who Dares Wins, Zaxxon, IK and IK+, Rambo and Commando. As the games got better, though, I lost interest in playing and it became more about demos and music. I remember getting very excited about The Last Ninja, although going back to it now, I think the playability is really poor. The one game I enjoyed the most would probably have to be Fort Apocalypse.
When you look back at your time on the scene and what you created, what are you most proud of?
As for my own work, I'm definitely most proud of my music. The first SID that Stein and I did together, Mystery, is still very cool. However, I'd have to pick one of my newer SIDs, made in a sort of meditative/obsessive state and with more time spent on them than my old tunes, as my proudest moments. Specifically, I'd say that the long Trick'n'Treat tune, the RGB soundtrack and the music for Lifecycle are among my personal favourites. They were all released through Offence, although I do have longer original versions lying around somewhere that I've never got around to putting out.
How long were you active for and what caused you to leave the scene?
The C64 was my main hobby from 1984 or 1985 onwards, but it started to decline through until about the end of 1990. Basically, life happened. The Amiga came along, which I hated, just as much as I hated it when grunge came along and ruined everything that was cool about rock and metal. :D
As I got older, my priorities changed, and I just lost interest. After finishing school, I joined a band and didn't even have a computer until I started studying again in 1996. By then, I was completely out of touch with anything that could have drawn me back into the C64 scene.
You returned to the scene many years later and are now active again doing music for demos. How did that come about, and what was it that drew you back into the scene after all?
While studying design in San Francisco, I guess around 2001 or 2002, I happened to Google my own name in order to find an old website so I could retrieve some information I couldn't remember. I didn't find what I was looking for, but my name did return several hits and an almost complete list of all the SIDs I'd made over 10 years ago. I even found some of them remixed on KWED (remix.kwed.org). I was blown away: I had no idea the C64 scene was still so alive.
I think I largely forgot about it until I joined Stein at some old-school get-together hosted by Olav Mørkrid (Omega Supreme) years later, where I met Pal who ran his own design company. He later hired me as a freelance designer for a while. We looked at some new demos in his office and listened to some new SIDs, and then one late night after a few beers and a ton of smokes, it was decided by everyone that we needed to come back from the dead, make a demo and go to X-2010.
In terms of "wild stories from parties", no experience from any C64 party can ever come close to arriving at my first X-party in 2010. People were looking at my name tag, telling me they'd been listening to my music for years. This one young guy, half my age, came up to me wanting to shake my hand, telling me he'd grown up listening to my music. The whole thing was just so insanely unexpected. It caught me completely off-guard, and I'll never forget it for as long as I live.
In terms of tools, developing for the C64 is much easier these days. What tools are you using now?
These days, my one and only tool is Stein's PC/Mac-compatible Steintronic™. Sometimes, I think it might be fun to try doing some graphics again, but I haven't got around to that, except for a few smaller things.
In your opinion, what is the scene all about today and how is it different from the 1980s/1990s?
I think the biggest difference for me is that the scene is smaller and less of a mystery. In the 1980s, the strange entity that was Compunet, the scrolltexts from the "big guys" and the upcoming games and releases were all things I looked forward to but couldn't quite wrap my head around.
Today, the scene is more about competition, creativity and craftsmanship. There are a lot of really good coders, and the graphics are being pushed to the limit. Some of the music being made sounds amazing and not like SID at all, even though I prefer the old-school stuff myself. The companionship, getting together to create stuff, competing and looking at each other's latest productions, is all still a lot of fun and binds us together.
What are your favourite C64 demos and games from, say, the last 10 to 15 years?
Hmm, there are so many great demos out there now, and many more that I like certain parts of. As much as I hate to admit it: before I got back into the scene, somewhere around 2010, Pal showed me Edge of Disgrace by Booze Design after a beer or two (or five). Having been away since 1991, I was really surprised by it. I think the music in that one is really great and fits really well. I also really like some of the Censor demos. No offence (pun very much intended) to the other demos on the CSDb Top 50. Of course, I like our own Offence demos as well, and I might change my mind about some demos if I revisit them.
Do you still have your old machine and is it in working order? Did you, like many of us, start collecting all things C64? I suppose, what I'm really asking is: are you a hoarder? ;)
I do have a C64, but it's a newer model I borrowed from Pal. My original breadbox died, but I think it may have ended up with one of the other members of Offence.
Who are you still in touch with from the original scene? Is there anyone you still like to talk to? And have you made any new scene friends? Feel free to drop as many names as you like!
Obviously, I'm still in touch with the rest of Offence. Stein is still a close friend from when I first started out. As for the rest from way back then, it's been a while. As for new friends, I've been off-grid for a while, but I'm hoping to catch up with them at the next X. Name-dropping is scary, as my memory is sure to leave a lot of people out, but it's always nice to meet Flex, Zardax, Linus, Yip, the guys from Fairlight, Censor, Stinsen, Shape, Booze, everybody who said "Hi!". It would also be cool to catch up with a couple of people I mainly communicated with online, like Jeff and Drax. I'm sure there are more, but I'm getting old, so I'm going to leave it at that for now.
Thank you so much for answering all these questions my friend! Before we end, do you have a message for your group pals, old contacts and/or anyone else reading this?
I want to say thank you to everybody who's contributed to keeping the scene alive, through productions of any kind, as well as non-sceners who are spreading the gospel by uploading demos and music anywhere.
A special thank you to you too, Mr Wallström, for your contributions to this and also for inviting me to this interview, so anybody who's interested can read my ramblings.
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