Rock Band owes its distinctive look to the cadre of talented artists who define not only the clothing, instruments, venues and shell of the game itself but also the artwork that represents the game in newspapers and magazines, on T-shirts and hats, and in many other contexts that are difficult for us to keep track of (although we’re pretty sure there hasn’t yet been an officially sanctioned Rock Band chip clip).
Kurt Davis was among a handful of punk rockers who propped up the Indiana punk scene in the early Eighties. He befriended the influential Midwest hardcore/punk outfit Zero Boys and in 1982 they chose one of his drawings for the cover of their debut album, Vicious Circle. Although he never made a cent from it, the album was hugely popular in its day and the original vinyl now commands a hefty bid on eBay. “Most people don’t know about this part of my life,” Davis says in the lobby of Harmonix’s Central Square headquarters in Cambridge
“One thing we really wanted to focus on in Rock Band 2 was the finale,” Venue Artist David Boghdan says as he looks over the many concepts and sketches that went into the creation of Shanghai Arena, the last venue in the game. “We wanted to give people a real sense of accomplishment, and so we decided to structure it around the venue itself. We wanted it to feel…huger than the other venues.”
In addition to the many true-to-life instruments available in Rock Band 2 from legendary brands such as Fender, Gretsch, Sennheiser and Zildjian, there are a handful of guitars, drum kits, and mics that you’re not likely to see on any store shelves, unless you are reading this in the distant future when everything can be made instantly from corn. These bizarre and magnificent instruments, created by Harmonix artists, are the rarest and most expensive items in the game.
Of all the fashion genres covered in Rock Band, the hardest to pin down is also the most obvious: Rock. “It’s not a really clearly defined genre,” says artist Shawn Witt, who was in charge of creating the Ultimate Male Rock Outfit for Rock Band 2.
When a player wins the Impossible Vocal Challenge in Rock Band 2, a special outfit - known as the Beast of Burden - is unlocked. Harmonix Artist Steven Kimura wanted this garment to represent what many consider to be the deepest, purest strain in the genre: Norwegian Black Metal.