The New York Times Magazine's cover feature on Harmonix's new The Beatles: Rock Band isn't even on newsstands yet and already there are 50 commenters arguing about whether or not video games are good for rock and roll, bad for rock and roll, or making people completely indifferent to rock and roll. You know: the standard argument that erupts anytime someone starts mouthing off about Rock Band.
Author Daniel Radosh spends a lot of time with George Martin's son Giles, who recorded some new sound effects for the game at Abbey Road, but there's plenty of local color, including this little condescending section-opener, which will make it just that much more pleasurable the next time the Sox shitkick the Yankees:
Avenue in Cambridge is not, even among gamers, a cultural landmark like
Abbey Road. Fans of Rock Band do not scrawl messages of peace and love
on its wall or photograph one another walking barefoot across the
street out front. One of the hippest game developers in the country is
headquartered in a characterless brick building above a Walgreens.
That's Central Square to you, fuckface.
On the upside, there's plenty to enjoy about the profile, including the news that on a recent visit to the Harmonix offices, Yoko Ono was still trying to break up the Beatles: "John needs to own the performance, he needs to own the room," she reportedly told the developers, critically.
While most of the Harmonix talking gets done by honcho/co-founder Alex Rigopulos, we're glad to see cameos by audio director Eric Brosius and creative director Josh Randall.
We do wonder whether Rigopulos lives to reget this one: "Ringo is going to earn a lot more admirers," he tells the Times, "when [The Beatles: Rock Band] gets out into the world and people see how sophisticated and challenging some of his drumbeats actually are." You can almost see his employee drummers rolling their eyes. And what we really want to hear out of Harmonix HQ -- Twitter us, boys -- is an ID on the unnamed Harmonix "sound designer and trained drummer" who then, asked whether "he had a new appreciationfor the Beatles' drummer," replies, "I was always, like, more a Stones guy."
That sounds like the Harmonix we know and love.
If you enjoy that piece, you'll get an even bigger kick out of the inside-the-hive Behind the Music piece on Harmonix we'll be publishing next week. Stay tuned. And don't forget that Harmonix bands take over the Middle East -- that'd be down the street from the Walgreens -- on August 20.