This week’s DLC brings three homegrown bands back for an encore: Bang Camaro, Count Zero and Freezepop all have songs in Rock Band and here they prove not to be one-hit wonders. Yes, all three members have a Harmonix staffer in their lineup; but the Boston audiences who pack all three bands’ shows don’t know or care about that. Count Zero should satisfy cravings for edgy alternative pop; Freezepop gives you a rare chance to play synth-pop on Rock Band (and some of the trickiest bass/drum parts ever). And Bang Camaro come up with a song so anthemic it makes their previous entry, “Pleasure Pleasure,” sound polite.
Since our friends and co-workers got to be in the game twice, we thought it only fair to put them through their paces, telling you why you really need to slot their songs in between those Metallica and Blink-182 tracks. Joining me for this roundtable interview are Bang Camaro guitarist and co-founder Bryn Bennett; Freezepop mastermind Kasson Crooker, and Izzy Maxwell, who does a Rock Band trifecta: He’s the bassist on the Count Zero track; also the frontman of Death of the Cool and the guitarist of Anarchy Club.
(And one last word for those who may be griping that we haven’t had any international superstar DLC in the past two weeks: Fear not, lots more of that is coming).
BM: We know that lots of different people are playing Rock Band. What sort of player should go for your track?
BB: People that still believe in rock’n’roll should play Bang Camaro. I’ll go further and tell you then when we play live, they see us come out with the 20 lead singers and think we’re being ironic. We start playing and half would be terrified, but the other half become fans. That’s who should go to our song.
IM: We play pop music from the future, so I guess the answer would be time travelers. By that I mean travelers from the future, of course. People from the past probably wouldn’t like it at all.
BM: What would be the proper attitude for a lead singer doing your song?
Since our friends and co-workers got to be in the game twice, we thought it only fair to put them through their paces, telling you why you really need to slot their songs in between those Metallica and Blink-182 tracks.
KC: Buoyant enthusiasm. A genuine appreciation of the fact that fans make the band’s success. That’s what the song’s about. Sprode is a word that we saw on a Dutch bag of chips…”Super Sprode” meant extra crunchy. We thought that would be good to use in a song about how much we like our fans.
BB: You need to be really large, so you can take on the parts of 20 lead singers.
IM: Well, the song is about dancing but not really being comfortable with dancing. So just imagine that you’re a seventh grader…from the future.
BM: With all the songs your bands have, why were these three picked for Rock Band?
BB: Besides “Pleasure Pleasure,” it’s the only song on our album with more than five words in the lyric.
IM: We like “Shake” because it has interesting time signature changes but isn’t super difficult to play. It relies on an interesting rhythm instead of (ducking)…flaky guitar patterns or synth solos!
BM: Here’s your chance to warn people: What’s the toughest thing about playing your song on Rock Band?
BB: Ours is deceptive, because it starts out pretty simple and hypnotic, and it repeats a lot. Then you come to the guitar solo and it turns into a minute and a half of finger exercises. So watch out, there’s a long calm before the storm.
KC: Our song is pretty hard to play, it was authored to be very intense, especially the bass part. The problem with electronic music is that it gets really repetitive, so I always try to put some little changes in. This one moves pretty fast and in the game, there are a lot of changes that hit you out of nowhere.
We do “Pleasure Pleasure” and when we got to the guitar solo, I saw 200 kids put their hands in their air like they were going to play along with me.
BM: You’ve all had songs in Rock Band before. Did this make things any different when your bands went on tour?
BB: It’s been very strange. We played a big festival in Milwaukee; we do “Pleasure Pleasure” and when we got to the guitar solo, I saw 200 kids put their hands in their air like they were going to play along with me. These kids knew every note I was gonna play, so if I flubbed one, I wasn’t getting away with it.
IM: People tend to blur the game with reality. One guy on tour was telling me about his band, and I realized he was telling me about Rock Band. I told him I sang in Death of the Cool, played guitar in Anarchy Club and bass in Count Zero and he said, “Oh, you must play on Expert then.”
BM: Now that you’ve done both, how would you compare playing your song on Rock Band to playing it in real life?
IM: I’d have to say that drums and vocals are about as hard to play on Rock band as it is with the band. Guitar and bass are probably easier in the game, you can at least watch the cues and know when the changes are coming.
BB: I’m not a great Rock Band player, so I have trouble—Since I wrote the song, I have a preconception of what I want my fingers to do, and the game wants me to do something else.
KC: When we do “Super Sprode” onstage, I use a keytar, So playing it with a plastic guitar doesn’t seem that big a stretch.
“I Want My, I Want My DLC!”
The songs in Rock Band are only the beginning. Each week we’ll be rolling out more downloadable songs, essential tracks (and sometimes whole albums) from every era of rock history. Check the Rock Band website to find out what’s new.
Tracks will usually sell for $1.99 each; with three-pack specials costing $5.49. (On the Xbox 360, that’s 160 Microsoft Points per track and 440 per three-pack). Occasional special or discounted tracks may cost a dollar more or less.
Downloadable content for the Xbox 360 is available through the XBOX LIVE marketplace. Downloads for the PLAYSTATION 3 version of Rock Band are available through the PLAYSTATION Network Store. In each case, the songs are downloaded onto your hard drive.
If you’re playing solo, you can start rocking right away. For head-to-head or multi-player online, all players will need to download the song.