Hatfield-produced band web series is YouTube hit

X-RL7 in their penthouse.

X-RL7 in their penthouse. - Credit: X-RL7

A Hatfield trio are the creative force behind an animated YouTube web-series taking an irreverent look at the trials and tribulations of a fictional band trying to make its name in the music industry.

Mike Evans working on animation for X-RL7.

Mike Evans working on animation for X-RL7. - Credit: X-RL7

X-RL7 features a mix of comedy, social commentary and original music, with guest appearances from various artists in the alternative rock, metal and electronic scene including Blue Stahli, Aesthetic Perfection, Psychostick, Lauren Babic, Mindless Self Indulgence, Nyxx, Andrew Baena, Craig Owens and many more.

X-RL7 creator Mike Evans.

X-RL7 creator Mike Evans. - Credit: Mike Evans

It is animated in pixelart by Hatfield's Mike Evans, who said: "I write and animate the series, write the songs and voice the two lead characters, Omega and PJ, whilst another Hatfield resident Alan Rogers voices the flamboyant band manager Alfie Krakowksi.

X-RL7 at a fans' Q&A.

X-RL7 at a fans' Q&A. - Credit: X-RL7

"Meanwhile Lee Towson, also from the town, has lent his voice to a few characters including Smith - the henchman of series antagonist The Duke - a charismatic Bowie-esque industry mogul voiced by Mikey AlterRed of the band AlterRed."

A promo pic for X-RL7.

A promo pic for X-RL7. - Credit: X-RL7

Mike has a rich background in music - his dad used to play in 1970s band Albert Monk alongside The Who, Genesis, Fleetwood Mac and Status Quo, before composing film and TV scores in the 1990s: "So music has always been around me growing up."

X-RL7 backstage.

X-RL7 backstage. - Credit: X-RL7

He explained how he came to devise the series: "I've been in an electronic rock band called MiXE1 since 2010 and wanted to express myself in another medium whilst still corporating my love of music. An infatuation with Blade Runner and '90s sci-fi anime was resonating for the cyberpunk atmosphere and the comedy came from a number of British and American sources."

X-RL7 in the studio.

X-RL7 in the studio. - Credit: X-RL7

X-RL7 backstage.

X-RL7 backstage. - Credit: X-RL7

After initially attempting to present the concept as a point-and-click computer game, he revised it as an animated series using many of his original concepts plus the addition of new characters like vocalist Omega and guitarist PJ.

Lee Towson recording his vocals.

Lee Towson recording his vocals. - Credit: X-RL7

Most Read

"Naturally it came to be an amalgamation of all my passions - music, pixel art, cyberpunk, comedy, social commentary, relationships and more, and other media with fictional bands were also an inspiration - Scott Pilgrim, Metalocalypse, anime such as Nana and Beck - when it came to creating the project.

Alan Rogers recording Alfie's vocals in X-RL7.

Alan Rogers recording Alfie's vocals in X-RL7. - Credit: X-RL7

"The animated series was in development for a year and half until going live on July 2020, and we now have a great community of viewers, a Discord server where viewers regularly interact with each other and various cast members, and support on [subscription service] Patreon. We're at Episode 18, and have also released a full length album, three EPs and four singles.

"As the series has grown, many very talented musicians from the alternative music scene have lent their voices to the characters and to songs, and as it turns out, at least in my experience, vocalists seem to be very good at voice acting!

Alan Rogers recording Alfie's vocals in X-RL7.

Alan Rogers recording Alfie's vocals in X-RL7. - Credit: X-RL7

"For me, working with such amazing musicians from around the world, touching people's lives with the show and the fact that somehow we've got this far already is very humbling. One cherished highlight among many is working with electronic rock musician Bret Autrey aka Blue Stahli on Episode 18 as he has been one of my all-time favourite artists for many years and a huge influence on my music. It was an absolute humbling moment hearing him voice act and sing the lines I'd written. 

Mike Evans recording the guitars for X-RL7.

Mike Evans recording the guitars for X-RL7. - Credit: X-RL7

"Many viewers tell me they have discovered new artists from their appearances in the show and vice versa which is a great knock-on effect of the series. Animation in particular takes time and discipline but it's all been worth it for this journey."

The project currently has over 2,300 YouTube subscribers and on Spotify a total of 848,000 streams from 235,000 unique listeners.

Check it out on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/c/XRL7official - or see the website at https://www.x-rl7.com/