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A Special Gift for Rock Band 10: 10 Free Songs!

Hi everyone,

If you are paying attention, you might be expecting a blog post from me right around now. I don’t post often, but when I do, it’s generally to celebrate BIG announcements. I think 10 years of Rock Band certainly qualifies.

For those that don’t know me, my name is Daniel Sussman. I started at Harmonix as a tester way back in 2001 when the company was under 40 people and working on a game called Frequency. Between then and now, I’ve had the pleasure of working on a ton of different games, some of which have been popular, others less so. But Rock Band has been the game that has really defined my time here. I’m a music person – I’ve played in bands since high school. I graduated from Berklee College of Music. It has meant the world to me to find a career that has revolved around a culture that I love. In the halls of Harmonix, I am not unique. The musical talent that has walked our halls, consistently over the years, is amazing. In fact, many of those folks contributed music to our games – of course the folks on the audio team, but also QA testers, producers, artists, designers, office managers, you name it.

It’s our great pleasure to celebrate this history with a release of 10 songs that highlight the diverse talents of the Harmonix network. Many of you will recognize these songs from the Rock Band Network, which, in many ways, was the defining moment in the story of our commitment to support local and indie bands. Through RBN, we built a library of over 2500 songs, contributed by individual musicians and independent bands, generating significant royalties to these artists. In celebration of 10 years of Rock Band, we’ll be releasing these 10 songs as a free pack on Monday, November 20th – the actual 10th year anniversary of the North American release of the very first Rock Band. To those who have been around since the beginning, THANK YOU! To those who’ve joined us more recently, THANK YOU TOO!

These 10 songs are awesome, and each one deserves its own story:

The Acro-Brats – "Hair Trigger"

This is my band. The very first show we played, our singer, who also played guitar, leaned forward to adjust his mic, his strap came off the strap peg and his guitar crashed, headstock first, splintering the neck. That was the moment I figured I might need to rethink my career as a musician.

Anarchy Club – "Collide"

Anarchy Club was fronted by Keith Smith, whose rock roots run deep. He cut his teeth in Boston legends C60, played the Rat as well as all the other long-closed Boston venues, toured the country multiple times, and is a great dude. It was amazing having him on the test team as he could not only find bugs in the code, but he was also one of the folks that could gut-check our narratives against his own experience.

Bang Camaro – "Blood Red Rock"

Bang Camaro was the brainchild of Harmonix programmer Bryn Bennett and guitarist Alejandro Necochea. A tour manager’s worst nightmare, Bang Camaro featured a 20+ person chorus of lead singers. Bryn also programmed RB3’s Pro Guitar feature. He rules.

Bang on a Can All-Stars – "Shadowbang (Head)"

We know Bang on a Can All-Stars through Alex Rigopulos. Alex has great, and eclectic, taste. One of my favorite elements of RBN was that it supported music that we would likely have never released as DLC, either for thematic or instrumentation reasons. Bang on a Can All-Stars is an avant-garde music organization that transcends genre (Alex described them as “Totalism” – look it up, it’s neat). “Shadowbang (Head)” is, in fact, a rock song with really odd time signatures. It’s our great pleasure to pull this song into the Rock Band 4 library.

Dance for the Dying – "Thug Love"

Dance for the Dying comes to us courtesy of Andy Sage, a long time Rock Band fan turned Harmonix programmer. Andy saw them perform in Washington DC, talked to them about RBN, and now they are friends. Andy is working on network features for Rock Band, including the upcoming Online Quickplay features.

Freezepop – "Doppelgänger"

In a world where creative organizations have a house band, a case could be made for claiming Freezepop as the Harmonix house band. You’ll find Freezepop songs on more Harmonix games than any other artist. Kasson Crooker (see also: Symbion Project, further down in the blog) is a founding member of Freezepop. He also happened to be our Audio Director for years. He’s a musical genius and is doing amazing things in music. Freezepop released Phantoms last year and continues to be a heavy hitter on the Synth-pop circuit.

Graveyard BBQ – "Cheat on the Church"

Graveyard BBQ’s relationship to Harmonix is a fantastic story, that culminates with their guitarist showing up at our office on a Segway. Graveyard BBQ won a contest we held during the development of Guitar Hero I, called 'Who wants to be a guitar hero?' whereby bands submitted MP3s to Harmonix, we listened to them all, selected a winner and including them on the game. In a lot of ways, this moment laid the groundwork for the very idea of RBN. BLESSED IS HE, WHO BBQ!

Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives – "Soy Bomb"

Honest Bob features ex-Harmonix coder Dan Schmidt (who has perfect pitch!) as well as current Harmonix COO, Chris Rigopulos. Dan was one of the principle coders behind our “beat match” engine which determines hits and misses. Kinda important. The band Newfane, which we’ve featured as RB4 DLC, has its roots in Honest Bob, with Chris and also Honest Bob bassist Greg Huang, joining forces to continue a tradition of clever lyrics, well cut harmonies and neatly composed songs.

The Main Drag – "How We’d Look on Paper"

At one point, most of the The Main Drag worked at Harmonix. Jon Carter, Matt Boch, John Drake and Adam Arrigo have contributed their talents to a wide array of Harmonix games. My favorite story about The Main Drag involves John Drake, who racked up millions of frequent flyer miles as our former Communications Director, sitting in airports all over the world, with headphones on and his laptop out, authoring The Main Drag songs for RBN.

Symbion Project – "Exploited & Exposed"

Symbion Project is Kasson’s solo project, and, to my eyes, represents his true self. Polished, nuanced, and featuring incredible attention to detail, Kasson’s work as Symbion Project is a stark reminder of the talent we’ve featured at Harmonix during our journey as a games developer.

We hand-picked these songs for maximum fun, and I, along with the rest of us here at Harmonix, hope you get tons of enjoyment out of this Pack. And stay tuned for a fun twist on our normal DLC preview video. Thank you for ten great years, and here's to more!