Portland-based Millennial Falcon is a band and a comic book series. They are also currently being pursued for their nearly finalized trademark application by Lucasfilm and its parent company Disney. Band leader Captain Contingency—part artistic savant, part prankster—trademarked the name to see how far it would get. Low and behold, when their application was in the final stages, some lawyers at Disney saw it and sent them a cease-and-desist letter. The dispute has now been going for a year.
The craziest part of this story isn’t that Disney is a ruthless hawk about anything that remotely resembles their own tightly held trademark, but that Millennial Falcon have been savagely parodying the very concept of large corporate takeover in their music and comic books since before this whole lawsuit started.
“This parody has become not only real life, the corporations have played into this parody and created this new reality in our world,” says Captain Contingency. “The fact that they’re playing right into the parody that we created from the start, it’s mind-blowing.”
That’s only a taste of how delightfully strange Millennial Falcon is. What does it even mean for a project to be both a band and a comic book? Well, it literally means that it’s a band that tours and plays high-energy, offbeat indie rock songs, but also a comic book series. The comic book features exaggerated versions of the band, and the band plays songs that roughly relate to the content in the comic books. It all meshes nicely.
In the world of comic books, corporations are the largest powers in the galaxy. Captain Contingency imagines a real-world version of Star Wars’ trade federation, and imagines that in reality it would probably be corporations running the galaxy.
The band’s spaceship in the comics, the intentionally terribly-named Millennial Falcon, is powered by music, which is illegal. This terrible name helps hide this ship. Captain Contingency and other galaxy washups who have been exiled from music by its governing Musical Space Empire, illegally travel the galaxy in search of freedom of self-expression. It’s kind of a crazy storyline, but it’s a lot of fun.
“It parallels what’s going on in this very real world,” says Captain Contingency. “We live in this post-ironic world right now where the sense of humor is lost, and everybody is up in arms all the time. It’s something that’s necessary to do, create something that makes you happy and makes people laugh—throw the monkey wrench into whatever. It sounds like small potatoes, but it’s not.”
The project began in 2016. Contingency and aspiring novelist Chris Castro started Fake Publishing Millionaires in 2014 to sidestep the industry. They released novellas and comics, mostly digitally. As of 2015, Captain Contingency started publishing his short stories and novellas with comic books and musical accompaniment. A year later, Millennial Falcon was created. The band Gorillaz was an inspiration for the format-breaking approach to music. “I always read comic books while listening to music myself. I think a lot of people do. There’s a lot of stuff that music can be involved in,” Contingency says. “We decided we would use it as a way to parody these giant corporations, which control art and all these other facets of our lives.”
One thing he didn’t want to do when creating this project was to create over-the-top characters. When Millennial Falcon performs, the show has crazy DIY performance art elements and handmade props and costumes, but the band members are themselves.
“We try to bring realism to everything—as opposed to being Gwar or the Aquabats. You can’t really have a tender moment with one of the Aquabats,” Contingency says. “They’re putting you on half the time. Not that I don’t love both of those bands. You become your character and then you have to stay that character.”
So far the band has released Millennial Falcon Comics Issue #0, a demo tape featuring an array of different artists and mediums. Issue #0 coincides directly with 2017 EP Hikikomori. The group’s newest album, Sativa Chemtrails, will be connected to the upcoming Issue #1. Millennial Falcon will be on tour promoting the presale of this Millennial Falcon Comics #1/Sativa Chemtrails bundle, expected out later this summer.
It sounds like a lot to take in, but live, it’s basically a great rock band that connect
with people through their music.
“We get up there and say, ‘We’re a spaceship powered by music, let’s just go,” Contingency says. “Sometimes people connect to the stage and they’re like, ‘Oh, you got a comic book?’ and they’re into that. If I try to talk to about comics and people aren’t into it, if they don’t like it, we’re probably not going to win them anyways. We just keep moving.”
Millennial Falcon performs at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29, at the Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.