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Rock Band Fourth Anniversary - Harmonix Stories, Part II

It’s the fourth anniversary of Rock Band, and Harmonix employees are sharing some of their stories and memories of the game. If you missed Part I, check it out here. Stay tuned throughout the week for more videos and stories from behind the scenes.

What is your favorite Rock Band song of all time?

“Am I allowed to pick the Abbey Road medley? I've only convinced my friends to play the whole thing with me a few times, but in my opinion it's the most satisfying experience in the whole catalog.” – Dan Bruno, Senior QA Tester

“David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.” This is mainly because when it was released very early on in the Rock Band lifecycle (not long after the first game was released), I was shocked that this tune was chosen. It’s a great song, off of one of my favorite Bowie records, but it’s certainly not an obvious choice… it’s a great one. That was that point where I realized that Harmonix was serious about not only supporting Rock Band with music, but with amazing, thoughtful selections.” – Nick Chester, Publicist

“I’m a sucker for the Dead Kennedys songs. They’re just hard enough that they give me trouble on everything but vocals, so I’ll sometimes gravitate towards the easier Ramones tracks so I can focus more energy on jumping around.” – HMXHenry, Manager of Community Development

“Definitely “Round and Round” by Ratt.” – Greg Capolino, Composer/Sound Designer

“I'm split between two tracks – “Still Alive” and [Boston’s] “Foreplay/Longtime.” So lemme give you the skinny on each.

For the first – “Still Alive” – HarmonixSean and I had gotten to know Jonathan Coulton at PAX. We were all huge fans of the Orange Box, Portal and the song JoCo had written. It's a sharp, nerdy, robotic and touching, all at the same time. When it became something of an anthem for gamers everywhere, we reached out to our friends at Valve and managed to develop the song as Rock Band DLC and offer it for free to fans of the game. It was a great way of bringing two music touchstones for gaming that year [together]. We went on to debut the song at GDC at Valve's party and even played it onstage with a crew of nerd celebrities at JoCo's "Best. Concert. Ever." taping. It was great.

As for “Foreplay/Longtime” – I've been a drummer of many genres for a while including rock, pop, classical, and jazz. I had played a LOT of Rock Band before the game was available out in the world, but the drums in the intro to “Foreplay/Longtime” by Boston was the perfect translation of "real world drums" to "4 pad drumming." The first time the sticking clicked in (RRL-RRL-RRL-RRL-RRL-RRL), it felt amazing. I felt the surge of fun pass through me and became entirely engrossed in the music. By the time the full band kicked in with the guitar solo, I was completely lost in the multiplayer experience. I think it's the definitive "solo instruments – unison bonuses – big rock moments" summary of what it means to come together with Rock and Roll.” – John Drake, Director of Communications & Brand Management

“The James Gang – “Funk #49.” – Ben Currier, Financial Planning Manager

“When I started playing, my signature song was "Still Alive." I was very proud of being able to turn my back to the screen and sing it without failing... on Easy. (I wasn't very good at the time.)

These days, it's much harder for me to name a signature song! However, I have serious affection for "Roundabout" by Yes. When RB3 was in testing, vocal author Mike Veloso and I played that song over and over for the sheer fun of it. I sang the lead vocal, and he sang harmonies while simultaneously playing Pro Drums. It was always a whole lot of fun.” – Carolyn VanEseltine, Associate Producer

It has to be "Bohemian Rhapsody." The first time I played it with my playtest band while testing RB3 was just magical. I remember all of us agreeing that this song was what our game was made for. We were playing plastic instruments in a tiny room while staring at a TV screen, but for a few minutes, we all felt like rock stars. - Christine Jandreau, Web Editor


Is there a band or genre of music you’ve gained an appreciation for via Rock Band that you never thought you would previously?

“Nickelback.” – Nick Chester, Publicist

“There are lots, bu the one that comes to mind is Queen. I've always enjoyed Queen, but I don't think I fully realized the level of musicianship until hearing their songs broken apart into stems and trying to sing and play them myself. Freddie Mercury in particular is totally insane - I still can't keep up with the vocal runs on "Somebody to Love," and the harmonies on "Killer Queen" are brutal.” – Dan Bruno, Senior QA Tester

“I'm gonna go with "Modern Metal". As much as I give [Web Editor] Christine crap for it, I've started to really enjoy Avenged Sevenfold and bands of that ilk from playing the great charts in Rock Band. I'm more of an indie/classic rock guy, but I can rock out to those tracks better than before, all cause of Rock Band.” – John Drake, Director of Communications & Brand Management

Lady Gaga. I had never listened to her before we released Lady Gaga Pack 01, but HMXMilo wanted to play through it. So, for the first time, I listened to Lady Gaga's songs while drumming along and they were catchy. I've since bought her CDs and Lady Gaga Packs 01 & 02 in Rock Band, and her tracks in Dance Central are some of my favorites. - Christine Jandreau, Web Editor

“Rush – prior to Rock Band, I only really knew of “Tom Sawyer.” Always heard good things but never had a full appreciation for the greatness that is Rush until RB.” – Ben Currier, Financial Planning Manager

“I’m a punk fan with a short attention span, so I came into RB with little love for classic rock. I got over that pretty quickly and absolutely flipped for Boston. I never really gave The Beatles a fair shake before The Beatles:Rock Band, but spending so much time with the game and immersing myself in the history and the message of the band it was hard not to fall in love with them. I definitely have a more well-rounded taste in music than I did pre-RB.” – HMXHenry, Manager of Community Development

“I have a new appreciation for Country music. I was never a fan, but after remixing a lot of songs and playing some of them in game, I now have a lot of respect for what they are doing down there in Nashville.” – Greg Capolino, Composer/Sound Designer

“I discovered symphonic metal through Rock Band. I didn't even know that such a thing existed! When RockGamer released Amberian Dawn's "River of Tuoni" through the Rock Band Network, it was an eye-opener for me. Their music specifically (and symphonic metal in general) has been growing on me ever since.” – Carolyn VanEseltine, Associate Producer


Be sure to check out our video interview with the top players at Harmonix on what it was like making Rock Band in "The Untold Story of Rock Band". And for a deeper look at what it took to create all those instruments fans play with, check out our video and text interviews with the Harmonix Hardware Team.