The Arkadian (Jon O'Neal)
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The Arkadian (Jon O'Neal)

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Established on Jan, 2016
Solo Rock Hard Rock

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"Rainbow Road: The Review"

Boston-based group The Arkadian is ready to raise the bar for the entire (albeit niche) genre of video game rock with their debut single “Rainbow Road.” The track, which will appear on the EP coming out in early April, is an intricate masterpiece that combines creative lyrics with tightly delivered hard rock- and metal-inspired instrumentation for a delightfully unique – if slightly nerdy – listening experience. I’m no gamer but I sure am a sucker for a solid tune, and I can only imagine the glee this song would bring to someone who is a die-hard video game fan like The Arkadian’s creator Jon O’Neal.


Starting off with a simple but energetic drum intro, the song quickly gains energy as more instrumentals and vocals kick in, catapulting the track into the sonic territory of Motley Crue, Van Halen, and the likes. It’s hair metal meets hard rock meets alternative – meets video game rock, upon closer inspection. The song is four minutes of headbang-worthy piercing-yet-clear, strong, sneering vocals paired with hard, aggressive instrumentation and screaming guitar licks, all the while spitting catchy video game references. A killer guitar solo midway through the song adds complexity to the track, highlighting frontman Jon O’Neal’s musical ability – he plays every instrument on the studio recording – and reminding us that The Arkadian are no beginners.

O’Neal cites video game metal and synth pop groups such as Powerglove and Starbomb, respectively, as major sources for conceptual and lyrical inspiration with The Arkadian. This is absolutely tangible throughout the track, which pays homage to the classic Nintendo game “Mario Kart.” With references to the game in the title itself and throughout the song, the lyrics are neither overtly obvious nor aggressively nerdy. Rather, there is a perfect balance of game references cleverly disguised as rhythmic, flowing lines to those who are not as educated on Mario Kart lingo.

The Arkadian can thank O’Neal’s love for hard rock and heavy metal bands such as KISS and Judas Priest for its unique twist on what is already a rather unique genre. Unlike Powerglove and Starbomb, The Arkadian incorporates virtuosic instrumentation as a prominent feature in the track, rather than relying on game-related titles, lyrics, and content to attract listeners despite more simplistic musical approach. This is an admirable feature in a yet-to-debut project; not only does Rainbow Road easily meet the standards set by existing video game rock music, it surpasses them. It is clear with this track that The Arkadian is musician first and game lover second, giving them the ability to reach far wider audiences than anything else of its kind.

The Arkadian’s upcoming single Rainbow Road is a tasteful approach to video game rock; a beautifully crafted cocktail of fiery vocals, tight, snarky instrumentation, and Mario Kart metaphors with an impressive lyrical flow. The track is creative, entertaining, and downright jam-worthy, even without an investment in the lyrical content. It is not easy to create a Mario Kart-themed song that bangs, but The Arkadian has done just that.

Stay tuned for the Arkadian’s full EP, set to be released on April 5, 2018. According to O’Neal, “the EP will contain songs written about games such as Zelda and Castlevania as well as a song written about the video game crash of 1983.” The group has several gigs lined up around that time including an appearance at Boston’s PAX East, where they’re sure to deliver a stellar show. In the meantime, check out The Arkadian’s Bandcamp page and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! - Tyler Harris


"POST-PAX-PAX-PACKED-POST-2018"

THE ARKADIAN is based on the tried and true idea of “what it would sound like if someone took their favorite video games and wrote rock songs about them.” The band made its first appearance this year with their unique style of 70’s rock and roll with nerd and gaming themes. From Pac-Man to Hasslehoff they had us covered – a memorable first appearance in Jamspace to say the least. This kid wails on guitar and wasn’t afraid to show off a bit along the way. If you were lucky enough to be there you might own a custom pick he threw into the audience! If you weren’t, go follow them on social media now and then check out the show they coming up at Salem, MA’s Bit Bar with Dos Cecchini Jr. on May 31st. - The ChipWIN-tern


"Playing at Elvis Week"

This past August Berklee student Jonathan O’Neal and other Berklee students played at Elvis week at Graceland in Memphis, TN. Each August, Elvis fans from around the world gather for Elvis Week to celebrate the legacy of the King himself, Elvis Presley. Jonathan and his band reflect on the surreal experience they had performing at such a memorable and sentimental event:


“Performing in Memphis was a great experience. Graceland is a very unique place in that it is filled with fans of a singer who passed away 40 years ago, a testament to the impact he had during his short 42 years of life. While it is impossible to perform with the amount of power and grace that Elvis did, our goal in performing at Graceland was to recognize Elvis’ early career and the immediate impact he had on the development of rock’n’roll. It was fun to perform for an audience who knew every word to every song we played by heart. Our later performance at the Hard Rock Cafe on Memphis’ world-famous Beale Street was a bit less daunting, the venue was packed, and we even got a triple encore. What made Elvis extraordinary was his unique performance style, and it was made clear to us that this performance style still captures audiences today.”

– T.J. Pluhacek, Guitarist


“Graceland is a legendary place. I could never imagine that one day I would be playing there during Elvis week, which makes the experience even more special. Elvis was a phenomenon that influenced many and many generations in the music scenario. It’s amazing that even after 40 years of his passing, we can still celebrate the importance of his music and of his persona in the best way possible. I am more than honoured for being a part of this incredible week filled with great music and great people! Thank you Memphis for the hospitality and the opportunity!”

– Sarah Messias, Harmonica

“I knew that I would visit Graceland sometime in my life, but performing there was a totally different experience! The whole trip was completely surreal and I was having a difficult time convincing myself I was actually there performing. I had a great time the entire trip and I was able to make a few stops along the way to visit family and pay my respects to Carl Perkins, a legend in his own right, and take a tour of Graceland before the performances. My favorite part was going into Elvis’ trophy room and seeing the High school yearbook he owned from 1952 which my great grandfather is in. It’s really cool knowing that my family’s history is a part of his and that’s something I will always cherish. I’m grateful for this opportunity given to myself and the rest of the band, and I will never forget this experience.”

– Jonathan O’Neal, Guitarist and Vocalist


BerkleeICE has partnered with American Crew, a Revlon brand, and Elvis Presley Enterprises for the celebration of Elvis Presley through a unique showcase and educational experience honoring one of the most influential artists of all time.
For more information, be sure to check out the BerkleeICE site. - Berklee Blogs


"American Crew Styles Emerging Artist on Journey to Graceland"

For the past year, American Crew has been celebrating the style of original icon Elvis Presley, sharing his legacy with younger generations through cutting-edge grooming products. In continuing their tribute to Elvis, the brand is offering one young performer the chance of a lifetime: sponsoring and styling Berklee student Jonathan O’Neal as he performs at the legendary home of The King of Rock and Roll, Graceland. O’Neal will be showcased during Elvis Week, which celebrates Elvis’ life through music, movies and special guests. This year, Jonathan is one of those special guests.

As the culmination of American’s Crew’s Style Makes an Icon program, in partnership with the Berklee College of Music, American Crew will be traveling with O’Neal to Memphis, Tennessee where he will have two separate performances on August 15th. The performances are scheduled to happen prior to a candle light vigil, to mark the 40th year since Elvis’ passing.

O’Neal’s journey began last April, during a weeklong workshop at Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) in Boston, Massachusetts. American Crew, who last year released a line of special edition Elvis Presley grooming products, sponsored the Style Makes an Icon workshops at BerkleeICE, set up to teach the next generation of artists how to cultivate their own personal style. O’Neal was selected by American Crew Founder, David Raccuglia, to bring his style and talent to the crowds at Memphis.

Now O’Neal, a 21 year-old Oklahoma native, continues his journey with American Crew in Elvis’ hometown: He will perform twice in Memphis with his four-person band, The Rumors, on August 15th, including a show at Graceland, as part of Elvis Week 2017, and a show at the iconic Hard Rock Café to close out the trip.

“It’s been an exciting road to Memphis and I’m thrilled to work with American Crew to elevate my look for the event,’ said O’Neal. “I grew up listening to 50’s rock artists and am heavily influenced by that sound—and of course, that clean, classic American style. Young musicians owe a huge debt to Elvis, and I’m humbled to have the opportunity to be ‘The King of Rock and Roll’ for a day.”

Mike Sharkey, American Crew’s Senior Global Education Manager will be joining O’Neal on that journey as he styles him to take the stage. “I first had the pleasure of styling Jonathan during the Berklee competition and was struck by his exuberance, energy and passion for what he does,” said Sharkey. “The key inspiration for his Memphis look is clearly going to be Elvis’ pompadour, which is a very classic look for American Crew, and one that suits Jonathan extremely well. We are looking forward to honoring Elvis’ iconic style in a way that is also true to Jonathan’s personality.”

“Jonathan embodies the enduring impact Elvis has had on today’s young artists, and the lessons in confidence and classic style that we still draw from his legacy,” American Crew founder David Raccuglia said. “We are excited to support Jonathan on the next step of this journey and to see him shine as he takes the stage in Memphis.” - Beauty Launchpad


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Bio

Jon O'Neal is a professional guitarist, vocalist, drummer, bassist and recording artist from Oklahoma City. An alumni of Berklee College of Music, Jon's talents range from performing and writing to producing and teaching music. He describes his brand of rock as “A tribute to rockabilly, rock and roll, classic rock, country and blues”. He’s also a respected studio musician, doing session work for a variety of national and local artists.

Jon has played a diverse array of venues across the US, including bars, clubs, restaurants, festivals, State Fairs, radio, television, and competitions. His notable endeavors include partnering with International Blues Harpist, Sarah Messias. Together they formed the band Messias O'Neal and The Hellcat Five. The band competed with and won the honor of representing the Boston Blues Society in the 34th annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. Jon was also selected to perform at Graceland and Hard Rock Cafe for Elvis Week 2017, where he was endorsed by both Berklee College of Music and American Crew.

Jon's current project, The Arkadian, is a solo/group act based out of Oklahoma City that writes songs about video games in the style of 80s heavy metal. The band was founded in 2016 by front man Jon O’Neal. Since the project's debut at PAX East 2018, Jon has taken the music and gaming community by storm with the release of multiple albums and EPs including “Playing With Power”, "Rage Quit Vol. I and II" and "I've Not Seen Such Bravery."

Jon's original discography has been praised by prolific members of the music industry and various media outlets. His diverse musical background of blues, rock, rockabilly and metal has resulted in The Arkadian's 80's inspired sound "that combines creative lyrics with tightly delivered hard rock and metal-inspired instrumentation for a delightfully unique listening experience," (Soundwave Parade, 2018). His talents have provided opportunities to work with companies like Devolver Digital, an independent game company, performing closing songs for their E3 gaming presentations since 2020. He has also been nominated for Best Vocal Performance in 2022 through the Game Remix Music Awards and was the 2019 winner of Boston's Got Talent.


Band Members