Boom, Clack…Boom, Clack?

It was a Wii X-Mas in these parts, and I decided to go above and beyond and get the kids (yes, it was for the kids) Rock Band 1&2.

(No really. The kids wanted it. Honest.)

Of course, one of the selling points for me was the inclusion of the Replacements’ Alex Chilton. But the Rock Band series also seemed less Heavy Metal loaded, and includes everything from Dinosaur Jr to Elvis Costello to The Talking Heads. So, like most guitar players out there, I really wanted to play drums. Without the whole divorce-trap, space-taking, loud-as-hell deal that a real drum kit would present.

So we started our family band, with me on drums, and my daughters on vox and guitar. They picked out the name Pickles (I wanted something with more majesty. Oh well.) and we started our tour. Pickles is doing well so far, we have branched to clubs outside of Boston now, and we stick to mainly playing on medium just to reduce the failure rate.

So I have spent a lot of free time practicing. (Please don’t tell my real band. They think I’m learning our new songs, I’ll just have to fake it in a Paul Stanley sorta way next gig.) I managed to get pretty good at most of the songs on medium. Including Alex Chilton.

So I thought, ‘I know this song inside and out, no reason I can’t master it.’ and tried it on Hard. The best I can say is that I didn’t fail. But the incessant hi-hat and bass drum about killed me. It was much harder than I could imagine. At least much harder than the ‘boom, click’ Westerberg described as he chuckled in his interview for Rock Band.

Then I saw this video on YouTube of some kid nailing 100% on Expert.

After my jealousy died down a bit, I thought about how cool that is. And the dozens of other videos showing kids trying to master that song. I know it’s just a silly video game, and pushing buttons doesn’t equate making music, but the idea of childrens by the millions beating out Alex Chilton in their living rooms makes me smile. I feel that’s the saving grace of a game like this. Exposing people to music they might otherwise never hear. I can’t tell you how tickled I am when my ten year-old daughter starts singing Elvis Costello’s Pump It Up to herself while doing homework.

If it’s on daddy’s iPod, it’s old and smelly. But if it’s in Rock Band, it’s cool. I’ll take it any way I can.

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11 Comments

  1. Placemat 09.Jan.09 at 12:08 pm

    No game machines in my house. My kiddo ain’t old enough to ask yet, & I know too well what time suckers they are, but that is pretty fucking cool.

  2. Jake 09.Jan.09 at 12:18 pm

    Thats awesome. I got my 15 year old brother into the mats.He wears his tim shirt all the time. But his favorite song is skyway. It is truly great to pass on amazing music.

  3. Placemat 09.Jan.09 at 3:02 pm

    Oops, I do have an Atari 2600, does that still count?

  4. jay 10.Jan.09 at 11:19 am

    Kid’s tighter than Mars on his soberest night hehe

  5. Neil 11.Jan.09 at 3:31 pm

    There should be a fake beer that you have to pick up and swig, too, because it’s the ‘Mats.

  6. Some Guy 12.Jan.09 at 9:57 am

    Looks like we’ve found the drummer for the Mats reunion tour.

  7. Wolfdog 12.Jan.09 at 10:22 am

    I don’t know how true all the stories are about the PTMM sessions, but I think I remember Dickinson talking once about how he had to piece together Chris’ drum parts to get a good complete take. I think he also said the same about PW’s guitar.

  8. jay 12.Jan.09 at 2:56 pm

    Ha. Sounds about right

  9. Some Guy 12.Jan.09 at 6:29 pm

    I do remember seeing Paul say that they took a single kick drum sample from Chris and used it throughout the whole album.

  10. richard 25.Sep.09 at 11:09 pm

    Sorry for this late reply but I just found this site (thank you!!!). I’ve got 2 teenage daughters (13 and 15) and I have to agree that guitar hero has really opened their eyes to music they, otherwise, wouldn’t have heard. If I had suggested they listen to the song, they would have gone in with an attidude of “here dad goes again” (I must admit that I had them listening to MY music since elementary school – even had them watching the ‘Mats early shows on youtube!), but when they find it on their own, it’s a whole different story. Yes, it is a time sucker and doesn’t teach them to play a REAL instrument (my house was filled with 5 guitars, a mandolin, a piano and a mic and they only occasionally messed around on the piano and used the mike for it’s novelty. Which was fun, I must admit) but it does open their minds to music they otherwise would have blown off. Not a bad trade off, I think.

  11. Wolfdog 26.Sep.09 at 4:41 am

    Rock Band update: I’ve improved on the drums to the point of getting around 92% playing Alex Chilton on expert. I also made the Rockband.com leaderboard at #6 with 100% on expert playing REM’s Losing My Religion.

    But the new thing is buying Kids Don’t Follow, a surprise addition to the Rock Band downloadable content. It’s complete mad on the drums and a ton of fun to play. And listening to the kids singing it is entertaining beyond imagination.