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Rock Band 4's Setlist: Explore Harmonix Bands

The on-disc soundtrack is the backbone of Rock Band 4, so the music selection is super serious business. Whether they’re rock classics people love, party bangers that’ll get the room moving, or musical discoveries that will become new favorites, we’re always looking to build that “perfect mix tape.”

It’s also an opportunity for us to expose some of the amazing musical talent we have lurking around Harmonix. The Rock Band 4 soundtrack is sprinkled with music from some of Harmonix’s most talented musicians, and while you might not be familiar with their sound just yet, we think you’re going to love what you hear. Here’s a little background on some of these bands, along with a preview of what to expect when you’re rocking to their tunes.

Dark Wheels – “V-Bomb”

The Dark Wheels are made up of three Harmonix employees, a former employee, and Greg’s brother Bart. Eric (RB4 Audio Lead, guitar) and Greg (RB4 Creative Lead, bass) used to play together in Tribe, which had its heyday in Boston in the early '90s (and had a song in the original Rock Band!). Dave (RB4 Audio QA Lead, Vocals) also fronts legendary New England wedding band The Ward Eights. Paul (Drums) is a Harmonix alumnus from the early Rock Band days, and also plays in Old Jack. Bart (guitar) has never worked at Harmonix, but has been playing off and on with Greg, Eric and Paul for a long time. Also, Bart and Eric play together in 2014 Boston Rumble winners Eddie Japan, who also have a song in RB4, “Albert” (Read on for more about that song!). Pay attention; there will be a quiz! The Dark Wheels debut EP The Mighty Sky will be out this November and features the Itrack “V-Bomb.”

Duck & Cover – “Knock ‘Em Down”

Duck & Cover started when Damien Pianka (drums) and Chris Wissmuller (guitar, vocals) - who had been in The Throwaways and Wild Zero together - started making a racket, joined by Daniel Sussman (lead guitar) - who played with Chris in the original Rock Band alums, The Acro-brats - in the summer of 2012. In the spring of the following year, Rich Hoss (ex-Bang Camaro) joined in on bass and in late 2014 the foursome released their self-titled debut album (on Coke-bottle green vinyl as well as iTunes), which features the RB4 cut, "Knock 'Em Down." In spring of 2015 the band progressed to the semifinals of the Boston Rock 'n' Roll Rumble and in August of that year, Duck & Cover tracked a handful of songs at Q Division Studios in Somerville, Massachusetts - two of which will be appearing on a split-7" with Mark Lind's (Ducky Boys) new project, The Warning Shots.

Eddie Japan – “Albert”

Boston’s Eddie Japan combines ‘60s baroque pop and mod influences with the less restrained tendencies of ‘80s alternative guitar bands to create a soaring sound that stands apart from the beats and banjos of today’s indie scene. The band has been described by The Boston Herald as “...a circus of jazzy horn lines and girl group cooing, of swinging ‘60s cool and odd ‘80s new wave.” Despite being a bit of an odd duck in the Boston musical pond, the band won the city's 2013 prestigious Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble, and also picked up a 2013 Boston Music Award for "Live Artist of the Year." Their most recent single, "Albert," an orchestral ode to absurdist philosopher Albert Camus, appears on Rock Band 4. RB4 Audio Lead, Eric Brosius, is the band's guitarist.

Johnny Blazes and the Pretty Boys - "Cold Clear Light"

Johnny Blazes and the Pretty Boys is a soulful, funky, glitter machine that's been touring the East Coast since 2011. Known for their flamboyance, verve, and horn-heavy sound, the Pretties are about to release their first album, Soul Vernacular. The band is co-run by Johnny and their dad, affectionately known in Boston music circles as Darth Blazes, or simply, Pops, and the band's new tunes are co-written by the flaming duo, with input and authorship from other members of the band as well. Johnny and Pops may be related to someone who works at Harmonix...

Soul Remnants -- “Dead Black (Heart of Ice)”

"Dead Black (Heart of Ice)" was released on the second Soul Remnants full length album, Black and Blood. A combination of American death metal and Scandinavian black metal, the song’s epic and dystopian guitar tracks unravel the story of a fallen member of a Viking war party, who is bound to purgatory by the cold grip of winter. The band’s vocalist, Mitch Fletcher, has worked at Harmonix for almost 8 years, creating 3d and 2d artwork for characters since the last half of Rock Band 2 development. Soul Remnants began to form in 2003 with Thomas Preziosi on guitar (from Year of Our Lord, and Armory) and Mitch Fletcher on vocals. After the release of their first album, Plague of the Universe, Ryan Murphy joined on bass (from Forced Asphyxiation, and Deconformity) Chad Fisher on second guitar (Armory) and Colin Conway on drums (from Frozen, Cannae, All that Remains, and Death Ray Vision). Last year Soul Remnants went on tour to Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, and Netherlands, where they got to play shows to the hordes of crust punks and metal heads in the catacombs and dungeons of the European underground. Over the years they have played shows in Boston with some of their favorite bands, including Suffocation, Obituary, Lock Up, Deceased, Master, and Rotten Sound.

Tijuana Sweetheart – “Pistol Whipped”

Tijuana Sweetheart (previously known as “VAGIANT”) was an all-female punk rock outfit in Boston from 2005-2012. The band was fronted by Helen “The Hellion” McWilliams (Senior Writer at HMX). The gals competed in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble and were nominated (twice) for “Best Punk Band” at the Boston Music Awards, but lost to the Dropkick Murphys, ‘cause yeah, those guys should win that. Tijuana Sweetheart also had the great honor of playing the 2008 Hometown Throwdown with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. “Pistol Whipped” (Rock Band 4) was released on their final album Under the Gun, most of which was inspired by the game Fallout 3 (and which is available on iTunes.)