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Guitar heroes


"Eureka! I Found Love!"

Harmonix art director (ex-Laurels) Ryan Lesser projecting the metal vibes.

Sometimes we really love our jobs. Like when we waste away an entire weekend romancing the brand-new videogame Guitar Hero in front of the idiot box, slapping the Fisher-Price-style fret buttons of a plastic guitar, recreating “Iron Man” and “Take Me Out” and “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Symphony of Destruction” – and somehow this is considered work. (Actually, we never successfully managed to match Mustaine’s solo on without failing miserably, even on the medium level. Yes, we suck at being a pretend metalhead.)

Think we've got it good? This is what the folks at Cambridge-based company Harmonix Music Systems Inc. do all day, everyday. What's even cooler about the hot-shit videogame stars behind Karaoke Revolution, Amplitude, and Frequency is that they've finagled a way to preach the local-rock gospel to kids from Portland to Portland by handpicking a slew of local bands to contribute singles Guitar Hero. And so they're bonus songs that're unlocked as players get better, making certain that there'll be zitty 12-year-old boys in Kansas jamming out to New England bands like Upper Crust, Made in Mexico, Freezepop, Acro-brats, Artillery, Count Zero. And so tonight at Guitar Hero’s release party at Harpers Ferry, a few of those aforementioned bands (Graveyard BBQ, the Acro-brats, Freezepop, Count Zero) will play their tracks from the game.

We don’t have the inside line on the “special guest,” but Harmonix does have quite a bit of local-rock cred. Harmonix vice-president of product development Greg LoPiccolo and Guitar Hero audio lead Eric Brosius played together in the Boston alt-rock band Tribe. Creative director Josh "Robotkid" Randall once fronted automaton-punk band the Institute of Technology. Audio director Kasson Crooker is one-third of the synth-pop trio Freezepop. Art director Ryan Lesser played guitar in the Laurels, runs the Providence noise site LotsofNoise.com, and appears on Guitar Hero as part of the Harmonix supergroup Monkey Steals the Peach, along with GH producer Daniel Sussman, from pop-punk trio the Acro-brats. Sound designer Izzy Maxwell, son of Noise publisher T-Max, plays bass in Count Zero. Also involved in the project were members of Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives, Lightning Bolt, the Amazing Crowns and the Model Sons. Even associate producer and de facto marketing liaison Helen McWilliams likes to rock a Slayer T-shirt and a Miller Lite wristband on the job. Plus, they've been known to run around the office in devil masks -- which doesn't have much to do with a special guest, but still seems like something we should tell you.

Tonight: Graveyard BBQ + the Acro-brats + Count Zero + Freezepop + more at Harpers Ferry, 156 Brighton Ave, Allston, 617.254.9743.

LISTEN: Graveyard BBQ, "Cheat on the Church" (track featured on Guitar Hero)
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