John Drake (aka HMXjohnd) is the Harmonix Communications Manager and Rock Band Network Program Manager. He is currently on the road with 185 pounds of Rock Band gear for the next 3 weeks to staff events in 4 different states. He is also the drummer in The Main Drag, who were responsible for 10% of the content available at the launch of the RBN store yesterday. He is never not firing on all cylinders, but he took the time to start an email interview with us while he was on his way to the airport. Photo credit: HMXLushLife.
HMXHenry: Hey, I’m interviewing John Drake via email. You’re kind of a big deal. Want to tell people why?
HMXJohn Drake: S’okay if this starts when I get on my cross country flight? I'm sort of busy...
(or has it already begun, but I'm just so cool?)
HMXH: Oh, it’s already started. I’m just copying and pasting everything that happens and we’ll publish that as the interview.
HMXJD: That seems reasonable. Hey I just got upgraded to a better seat! Exit row on the aisle. This is gonna be a fun 6 hours! Power, wifi and rock band network authoring on the way from Boston to LA!
HMXH: Way to go! I think that’s a good example of your commitment to RBN, authoring from 30,000 feet. I guess that kind answers my first question about why you’re a big deal. Do you have a sense of how much time you’ve put into authoring The Main Drag stuff for RBN?
***Two hours later***
HMXJD: (Sorry about that, had to power down for takeoff...)
It’s hard to say exactly how much time I’ve put into The Main Drag authoring. We set out to release our two previous albums of content into RBN, which comes out to 17 songs. Including mixing, authoring, QA and revisions and promotional time, it’s probably been about 40 hours per track, top to bottom. So, what’s that? About 700 hours of my time since we started in August?
I’ve been lucky enough to have help from band mates and fellow Harmonixers on the way (Jon C, our guitarist and a producer at HMX, did first passes on a lot of the guitar stuff).
I dunno, when you total it up like that I sound like a total lunatic. We just love Rock Band and believe in Rock Band Network. Given the chance to put up every song we can, why wouldn’t we put in the elbow grease and do it? After a while, it stopped feeling like a grind and started feeling like the creative ebb and flow you have when you’re recording or mixing a record: it’s a lot of work, but it’s really rewarding when it pays off.
HMXH: Jesus, that does make you sound like a madman. I'm sure even more so to the people that aren't aware of the insane hours that you're already devoting to a million other things.
Do you think that RBN is something you'd be involved with even if you weren't at HMX? I'm going to assume yes, since you're already a relentless promotions juggernaut. So is this just one more spoke in the wheel of How To Promote Your Band?
HMXJD: I think, with the way most bands of our ilk/size record music (ie on their own, digitally, with control of their own sessions), it makes sense to get your music into the format that the most passionate music fans want. We’ve put songs in videos, thrown them up for free on the internet, been on iTunes, streamed on myspace...all of it is good and important, but with Rock Band, we’ve seen fans really get to know the music in a deeper way. As gamers, musicians, and fans of rocking out with our friends, regardless of their instrumentality (just made up a new meaning for that word? AWESOME), it’s a no brainer to participate in RBN. More bands should be doing it. C’maaaaaan!
To your point though, we probably wouldn’t be so blindly ambitious to do 17 songs if we weren’t this immersed in the culture. Probably 2-3 is a good place for a band that’s excited about it to start. But any band of any genre should kick around with 1 track. If nothing else, it’s another skill to add to your repertoire as a musician, engineer or producer.
These email interviews make me talk in paragraphs. Am I being too verbose? I can go into press quote mode if you like “PUT YOUR MUSIC IN GAME. GAME IS GOOD AND FANS LIKE GAME. MUSIC IS FUN, GAME IS FUN. FUN IS FUN. ROBOTS!”
***At this point communication stops, with no response for over 8 hours. Whether this is due to sheer exhaustion, the 3 hour time difference or HMXjohnd being restrained by surly TSA agents is currently unknown. If we’re able to contact him again we’ll continue this interview about promoting your band at the earliest possible opportunity. Stay tuned!***