As one of the play testers involved with the Rock Band Network, I’ve tested a few songs in the past several months. Most have been very good and a few have been… not so good. But this is the first time I’ve ever seen such meticulous venue charting. Jaek over at RockYourOwnBand.com has been working with @TheGufs on their hit single “Smile.” The guys from the band wanted to use their performance from their live DVD, which is arguably their best recorded performance of the track. Instead of just charting the instruments and venue work for the near seven minute song, but he also matched the lighting, camera, and stage cues to the live DVD performance! It’s hard enough authoring in the RBN, but to match it up is amazing! Below is a video of the song in Rock Band, with a video overlay of the live DVD performance to compare. This is pretty damn impressive.
Oh, and as long as I got you here, the song still needs a few more peer reviews to go live. Why don’t you be a peach and help them out? You can check out the song on Creators.RockBand.com here.
If you’ve been playing Rock Band for awhile and are even modestly involved in the community over at the RockBand.com forums, I’m sure you’re aware of @HarmonixSean. And if you are aware of him, you’re also probably aware that he is an unbelievably kick-ass fella. Sean was literally the first person I ever met at Harmonix, and hands down one of the coolest.
A friend and I went to check out the Beatles: Rock Band demo in Chicago a month prior to release, and we grabbed drinks with the Harmonix crew later that night (see pic below). My apologies to @HMXThrasher and Drew, because I’m pretty sure I was man-crushing on Sean and ignored them the entire night! I was completely enthralled by Sean’s stories, but the most amazing part about him is after everything that he’s seen and experienced, he is still so unexpectedly down to earth and normal, in a grown-up music nerd kinda way! While I have no problem embracing it, most of my close friends wouldn’t really fit into the “nerd” category, so it was a mostly new experience for me to chat with someone who understood my obscure “Big Trouble in Little China,” “Fallout 3,” and “Planet of the Apes” references.
Anyway, enough about that… Check out my chat with Sean at PAX East below!
Harmonix was nominated this year in the category of Games-Related Website for The Beatles: Rock Band website. For those not familiar, the Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. Established in 1996 during the Web’s infancy, the Webbys are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which includes an Executive 750-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities, and Associate Members who are former Webby Award Winners and Nominees and other Internet professionals.
The Academy is an intellectually diverse organization that includes members such as musicians Beck and David Bowie, Internet inventor Vint Cerf, political columnist Arianna Huffington, Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser, “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening, R/GA Founder and Chairman Robert Greenberg, Virgin Atlantic Chairman and Founder Richard Branson, and The Weinstein Company Co-Founder Harvey Weinstein. Members also include writers and editors from publications such as The New York Times, Wired, Details, Fast Company, Elle, and The Los Angeles Times.
The Webby Awards presents two honors in every category — The Webby Award and The People’s Voice Award — in each of its four entry types: Websites, Interactive Advertising, Online Film & Video and Mobile Web. Members of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences select the nominees for both awards in each category, as well as the winners of the Webby Awards. While the Harmonix web team didn’t capture the People’s Voice Award, they did capture the much more prized Webby Award, which is voted on my the luminaries mentioned above.
Congratulations to everyone on the Harmonix web team!
I have to admit that for someone that runs a website dedicated to primarily Rock Band, and rhythm gaming in general, I’m probably not as good as I should be. Sure, I play on Expert, but my FCs are few and far between. I used to think that some of the better players out there had an extra finger! And in some cases, it actually is the truth… I’ll let Wes, their drummer introduce everyone in the interview below, but make sure to pay attention to their bassist Donald’s, um, “extra” ability.
Enter: Ultra Saturday. A trio of young gentlemen and scholars with a passion for both playing music and Rock Band! With a sound drawing from modern pop, punk, and alternative rock, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see the young group make it big. While the band has only been around for a short time, the members have been playing for most of their lives.
I recently had a chance to catch up with Wes and ask him a few questions about the band, their passion for Rock Band, and what it’s like for a fan of the game to be featured on the RBN. Check it out!
RockBandAide: Tell us about Ultra Saturday and the members of the band.
Wes Jett: Donald Gehres, the bassist, main vocalist, and co-founder has six fingers and originally started on piano. He was forced to play bass because the guitarist made him (true story). Donald has been playing bass nonstop for 4 or 5 years now and it shows. Jason Sharrett, the guitarist and vocalist, has been playing guitar since 7th grade. He does not have an extra pinky like Donald, but he has the most tattoos. Jason is a pretty swell gentleman. You can always find him on XBL shooting something. Then there is myself … Wes Jett, drummer and co-founder. I have been playing drums since I was 8 years old when I got my first set for Christmas. I have no cool tattoos or extra fingers like the other two. I spend most of my free time authoring songs with Rock Gamer Studios and on the weekends, running a recording studio with a friend.
RBA: How did you end up deciding on the name “Ultra Saturday” for your band?
WJ: It was the first name to pop up on the Rock Band 1 band name generator! It just struck us as our kind of craptastic band name so we stuck with it.
RBA: How would you describe your music to people who have never heard it?
WJ: Take a little Green Day, a little Blink-182 and a little Jimmy Eat World … throw in some Dave Grohl obsessed fan drumming, killer basslines and modern punk style guitar and that is Ultra Saturday.
Harrah’s Entertainment and MTV Games are partnering again to host the 2nd Annual Total Rock, Total Rewards Rock Band Competition! Rock Band groups will battle it out for the chance to meet Ringo Starr and receive a check for $10,000!
The national competition will feature 3 phases – local qualifiers, regionals, and the finals in Atlantic City. This year will give even more fans the chance to compete by adding new qualifying locations across the country, including a bar near you! MTV Games will have many more qualifying venues than last year which comprise the first round of the competition.
To win, your Rock Band bands will need to attend a qualifying event (list of locations) and perform from a list of pre-selected songs (list of songs) to earn a qualifying score for the competition. The top 8 bands from each region will be flown to their designated regional competition to battle it out for a spot in the finals in Atlantic City. Here are the official rules, if you are into that sort of thing!
If you want a taste of what it’s like to compete, and ultimately win, the Total Rock Total Rewards competition, check out this video of last year’s winners, The Gurnkillers! I know them all pretty well now, and they are some of the coolest guys I’ve met in the Rock Band community!
Microsoft may have slipped and accidentally posted some a DLC pack that hasn’t been announced yet. On their Export Zone page, they have just a short blurb about “Rock Band Soundgarden Pack 1″ under the “What’s Coming Up On Live” section of ”Game Add-Ons.” No details yet on what may be in the track pack, or how many tracks are included, but either way, as a big fan of Soundgarden from back in the day, I’m super pumped for this!
And I have a feeling this is probably true, especially if it was posted on Microsoft’s site. Plus, Soundgarden is back together (for now) and making the rounds, so this would be excellent cross-promotion for tour dates and/or any new material they may be working on.
I need some “Rusty Cage” in Rock Band!