Six Years Later, Arlington’s Man Factory Finally Finishes Its Street Fighter II Rock Opera.
Six years ago, when Arlington power-pop outfit Man Factory decided to compose a rock opera centering around the 12 main characters from Street Fighter II, it was just supposed to be a joke.
Specific finishing moves and character endings, they figured, could be referenced pretty easily for comedic effect in song. And, as a bonus, it’d give the band, whose previous output mostly consisted of witty, humor-filled garage pop tunes the chance to take on a more dramatic direction without having to get too serious in the process.
Somewhere along the way, however, things did end up getting pretty out of hand. The recording process dragged on. So did the years.
“It definitely did start out as a joke,” says guitarist/vocalist Austin Sevener, “And then it was like, ‘We should actually sit down and do that.’ And that progressed to, ‘God we have to get this done.'”
Now, with the release of Round Three!, the third and final volume of Man Factory’s Street Fighter rock opera, they’ve done just that.
Talk about commitment to a bit.
But whereas six years may seem like an eternity to work on a single project — relieved as he gushed about being not that the SFII monkey is off his back — the fact that his band has, in fact, released three albums in the past six years isn’t really all that far off the pace set by a lot of other acts in town.
“We’ve hobbled together our recordings,” Sevener says. “We’re really not as good at the technical aspect of it. We put the expectation out there that there was going to be three of these, [so we were] sort of forced to deliver and it took a really long time. If we just did three albums in six years — but we hadn’t promised the third one six years ago — it wouldn’t have been as big of a deal.”
On the other hand, if those promises to fans so many years ago hadn’t been made, there’s just as much a chance that this album — or even its predecessor, Round Two! — would have never gotten finished.
Actually, they definitely wouldn’t have.
“There’s no way in hell we would have finished it,” Sevener says. “We just locked ourselves into a huge amount of really specific work.”
With that chip finally off its shoulder, the band’s members, who all started to turn their focus away from playing live shows in recent years in favor of finishing Round Three!, working their days jobs and raising their young families, has now begun rehearsing for an album release party somewhere down the road.
After that, Sevener says, the band doesn’t really intend to play many other live shows in support of their recently completed trilogy.
“Ideally, we would want to maybe play the whole thing — parts one, two and three,” Sevener says. “But I can’t really think of anywhere that would let us do that outside of people’s houses. And then I don’t even know who would let us play at their house.”
Until then, all three rounds are available to stream and/or purchase via Man Factory’s BandCamp page.
Just know this much about the opera’s backstory before heading into the final installment: Though all 12 of the game’s characters at least make cameo appearances at various points, the bulk of the tale is divided into two main stories — one centering around Chun Li and one based on Ken — that loosely tie together, but largely stand alone.
“[In Chun Li’s story] M. Bison is trying to take over the Street Fighter tournament and the world and, in the process, he has Vega kill Chun Li’s dad,” Sevener says. “Chun Li vows revenge and then goes after him. There’s sort of a love story in the air where Vega and Chun Li used to be lovers, but she doesn’t realize that he’s the person that killed her father.
Continues Sevener: “The Ken story is much simpler. Ken finds out that his wife is sleeping with Ryu and just deals with it. The Ken story is much more internal because it’s easier for me and Tyler to get into the headspace of a guy that’s being shit upon than it is to write for Chun Li. We were a lot more external on the Chun Li songs.”