"ArcAttack" will present a quite literally electrifying musical and visual performance at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St.
The group uses two custom engineered hand-built Tesla coils to produce electrical arcs, which provide a tremendous visual effect of what looks almost like bursts of lighting that reach up to 12 feet long. These arcs not only are amazing to view, but also to hear - as each one acts as an instrument of sound, similar to that of a synthesizer, an instrument that was popular in 1980s-era music.
"It started off as a small thing," said Joe DiPrima, guitarist and founding member of ArcAttack. "Just some nerds building coils. I had the idea to make the Tesla coils play music. It isn't a process that happened over night."
“ArcAttack”?will come to the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St., at 7 p.m. Nov. 1.
A robotic drum set is included in the performance, which displays high power LED lights that flash bright colors, contributing to the visual effects of the show.
DiPrima said he first encountered a Tesla coil in 2003, which was made by Steve Ward, a Tesla coiler from Illinois, who now plays bass in the group.
The coil had two nobs on it and if they were turned, would play sounds in varying pitches. This gave him the idea that if he could develop a more elaborate control system, he could create melodies through the coils.
From 2005 to 2006, "ArcAttack" built their first prototype of a musical Tesla coil. They began doing small shows and through their own curiosity, they continued to build bigger and better versions of the coils and the group began receiving requests to play more shows.
"The coil does what it does and we can direct it to a target, but we let it do what it wants to do and provide the necessary space around it," DiPrima said. "The different sounds you produce through the arc will produce different visual effects ... It's not something you see every day, that's for sure."
"ArcAttack" is brothers Joe and John DiPrima, Ward, Patrick "Parsec" Brown and Sam Mcfadden.
John DiPrima plays drums and has composed the majority of their music, Brown is a community project leader, who helps the band in a variety of tasks and Mcfadden is the electronic technician, who will be taking on Joe DiPrima's role during his absence for the show at the CAC.
The band has been on tour all over the country and overseas from the Netherlands to Qatar and Abu Dhabi. DiPrima said their favorite places to play are probably conventions and fairs with large groups of people who share their interests and have roots in engineering and science.
DiPrima said touring for them is like a vacation because the work they have to do before the shows is time consuming.
"I enjoy the work we put into the equipment back in the lab," he said. "The real work is back home. I like to sit in front of my workbench and come out with crazy ideas and the fact that people come out to see us is great."
The band tries to provide broad musical offerings to satisfy any audience members' taste, but said Tesla, of course, is their biggest musical influence, according to DiPrima.
"We do a lot of different things and it depends on our setup," he said. "Rock to straight up electronic. We try to hit a large array of sound ... our composition is unique and we don't use vocals."
DiPrima said the craziest thing the crew has done was construct a Tesla coil system for David Blaine for his "Electrified" event that took place on Pier 54 in New York City earlier this month.
Blaine contacted the group and requested a system to be built in which he could be electrified with one million volts of electricity, non-stop for three days straight.
To see videos of the stunt, visit youtube.com and search David Blaine Electrified.
During musical performances, "ArcAttack" also likes to educate their audiences about electricity and hope to spark their interests in science and the arts.
For more information about "ArcAttack," visit arcattack.com.