I’m a web junkie, as I’m sure a many people who visit this site are. While I don’t consciously seek it out, the XKCD comics usually hit close to home with me, and there was one in particular that I found especially funny. An old comic jokes about a music artist self-aware about his song appearing in Guitar Hero, and after reading it, I wondered if/when a musician would write a song about the game itself. We’ve had a song that makes a brief reference to the Guitar Hero franchise, but never one that specifically references in-game mechanics and gameplay. Well, not up until now, anyway.
Enter LeetStreet Boys, a webcomic about an otaku band who write songs about anime, video games and Japanese culture. And while the characters in the webcomic are fictional, the real life band have crafted a one-of-a-kind self-referential song for the Rock Band Network called Expert Mode.
I recently had a chance to catch up with Geoffrey Golden, the writer of the LeetStreet Boys webcomic, and Matt Myers, the lead singer of the real life band, to ask them a few questions about themselves and their unique RBN debut. Check it out!
RockBandAide: Tell us about LeetStreet Boys, both the webcomic and the members of the band.
Matt Myers: LeetStreet Boys is an anime otaku band well known for our catchy music and lyrics, animated music videos and webcomic. I started the band with my friend Ryan “Frogs” McCormack in 2007. It’s kind of this half real half anime concept with fictitious characters and live concerts. The animated characters are Matt (an over-the-top otaku and hopeless romantic lead singer,) Justin (a muscular, handsome and cocky lead guitarist), Rose (a smart, mature lesbian bassist) and D-Dos (a gruff, fire-breathing dragon drummer.)
Geoffrey Golden: Several years ago, Matt saw a student film I made at Emerson College and really liked it. A mutual friend arranged for us to meet. Coincidentally, I’d always wanted to start a webcomic and Matt had a group of awesome, already popular characters. Badda-bing, badda-boom. The premise of the webcomic is that the Leetstreet Boys tour around the world and end up in some strange places.
RBA: Is there any comparison between the characters from the LeetStreet Boys webcomic and the real life members of the band?
GG: Though there are some similarities between webcomic Matt and IRL Matt, there are many differences too. It’s a very cartoony version of him. As for the rest of the characters, Justin and Rose are completely fictional, and I don’t believe there are any dragons in the real life band… yet.
RBA: How would you describe your music to people who have never heard it?
MM: We’ll, we’re a band so our music is driven by guitars, drum and bass. We also have a ton of vocal harmony, and we bring in chiptunes, synths and orchestral samples for good measure. Our fans say our music is really catchy, and the lyrics are often funny and/or romantic. Our audience is made up of anime fans, or “otaku.” We do for otaku what Death Row Records did for gangsters, or what Christian pop does for religious people. I like to believe that there is something in our music for every anime fan.
RBA: Who were your early musical influences? What album(s) do you remember listening to growing up that had the biggest impact on you?
MM: In high school and college I was really into pop punk bands like Green Day (Dookie) and Sugarcult (Start Static), which is definitely evident in our music. I also listened to a lot of video game music, including the 4 disc Final Fantasy VII OST.
RBA: What is the most recent artist that you’ve added to your iPod?
MM: The guys in our band are all really into Winger right now! We secretly want to be an 80′s glam metal band, and we love ridiculous guitar shredding.
RBA: How many songs do you have in your catalog? Is there any one that stands out for any reason?
MM: We have two full albums, and a few digital singles. “Yuri The Only One” is the song we’re most famous for. The music video has over a million views, and has been seen by anime and video game fans all around the world. When we play live, our fans know all the words and sing along. We’ve even had fans get married to that song!
RBA: Have you ever performed live?
MM: Yes, we often perform live at anime conventions all over North America.
RBA: How did the opportunity present itself for putting your music in the Rock Band Network?
MM: I had first worked on “Yuri The Only One” for Rock Band Network myself, but Harmonix / MTV had issues with it. I still wanted to have a song in Rock Band, so I wrote Expert Mode on our second album specifically with the intention of putting it into Rock Band. By this time I was frustrated with Rock Band authoring myself, so a mutual friend put me in touch with Chart Toppers Authoring. I sent them the song and they liked it.
RBA: Your song recently released on the Rock Band Network, “Expert Mode,” clearly references both the game and specific mechanics within the game. As far as I know, this is the first song that is inspired BY Rock Band (the game). What was it like finally playing your song ABOUT Rock Band IN Rock Band?
MM: Totally awesome! Chart Toppers did an excellent job tracking and mixing. The song is rated as one of the game’s top most difficult songs for guitar. If you’re looking for a challenge, give it a try!
RBA: As a group with a clear interest in games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, do you think others’ interest in playing a real instrument at some point is positively or negatively impacted by the games?
MM: Positively impacted. It’s a great way to introduce non-musicians to the fun of musical performance.
RBA: With Rock Band 3 now available, gamers finally have a chance to play REAL guitar in the game, not just a plastic version. What advice do you have for those who wish to make the ultimate transition and learn to play the real thing?
MM: It’s nothing like the plastic controller with buttons. A lot of musicians find the peripherals really confusing. Otherwise, just keep practicing and playing music you enjoy.
RBA: Is there anything that you would like the Rock Band community to know about you that we haven’t touched on yet?
MM: We’re just about to release a new music video for our song “She’s So Kawaii” (end of July) and we’re super excited about it! Check out our YouTube videos and our website! www.leetstreetboys.com
RBA: Thanks, guys! For more info on LeetStreetBoys, you can find them on their site LeetStreetBoys.com, or their YouTube channel. Be sure to check out their debut song on the Rock Band Network, Expert Mode. Below is a preview of the song.