Sins of Drumming: Rock Band?

Aside from (maybe) a rough sense of rhythm, there isn’t one goddamned thing you can learn about guitar from Rock Band. Hitting a plastic bar while mashing plastic keys obviously does exactly shit for your skills. The same can be said for Rock Band bass, and if you’re the “singer” in your Rock Band band, you’re a sad attention whore. But what about drums?

Well, let’s look at this dude. Over a million people have watched him play “Enter Sandman,” and he’s used this fame to say the game teaches some limited fundamentals on drumming. He then goes on to say that everyone has a “musical mind” and that this game releases it. Maybe I’m missing something, but when I think about what separates a musician from a Microsoft employee, it’s more than a passable electronic rendition of “Man in the Box.”

Here is a video of Mitch Mitchell, a revolutionary drummer by anyone’s estimation, demonstrating his impressive drum skills with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. A little over 120,000 people have watched this. Now here’s a video of some choad playing “Chop Suey” by System of a Down on Rock Band drums. Nearly 400,000 views. Of some random dude. Playing “Chop Suey.” On Rock Band drums.

Now I know in the world of YouTube, even more so than in other places, people love to watch total garbage. And I know that a lot of kids these days are much more into seeing Travis Barker play a Soulja Boy song than looking up Terry Bozzio, but this doesn’t make me any more optimistic about the attitude cultivated by Rock Band when it comes to musicianship.

Am I jealous that this didn’t exist when I was a teenager? Fuck no. If it did, I probably would’ve been happy enough to play fake drums over some Green Day song instead of actually learning an instrument and creating my own music. You know, the cool thing musicians do. And it’s not like you can play any song you want on Rock Band. I know they keep expanding the game to include even more Nickelback tunes, but an entire swath of amazing musicianship is being ignored so Gene Simmons can go cash another check.

The main problem, though, is that the visceral enjoyment most drummers get out of their instrument is completely neutered. Some of these YouTube stars talk about how they also play real drums and gaming is just as fun. These people are either bad drummers or their parents won’t allow them to keep living for free in the basement unless they stop being loud.

I’m not saying that the game is easy. I watched this, and it didn’t seem easy. But there’s a lot of shit that’s hard to do that doesn’t make you a better musician, and being a good musician is still harder than anything you do on this dumb game.

Now of course I’m willing to accept that I’m blowing this out of proportion and that there are still plenty of kids out there (my two-year old nephew included) who are picking up real live drums instead of this nerdy, shameful alternative. But when people start feeling as though they’re almost as good as Lars Ulrich because they can play “Master of Puppets” on the “Grand Master With Extra Jerkoff Stars” level, it’s like the fat kid who thinks a high score on Dance Dance Revolution makes him Baryshnikov.

Please rate your opinion on Rock Band drumming:

  1. I would rather shit blood bi-weekly than play Rock Band.
  2. I would rather shit blood bi-monthly than play Rock Band.
  3. At least I’m somewhat competent at it unlike the game with that little dopey plumber.
  4. I think Rock Band has great potential to turn people into real drummers…just like Duckhunt turned people into excellent hunters.
  5. You’re just jealous of my pointless talent in a game for children.

5 responses to “Sins of Drumming: Rock Band?”

  1. I completly agree. On the Rock Band box must be written: ‘rock band seriously harms drumming’.
    6. if rock band is ‘drumming’ shit is chocolate

  2. @gianluca:


  3. I think these games will influence a lot of kids to pick up real instruments that they might not have otherwise. With the rise of crap like hip hop and Limp Bizkit, it’s good to see kids getting back in to good old real rock n roll. Sales of entry level gear is on the rise all over the country. With the addition of new bands like Rush, kids are exposed to music in a way we were not, they get inside YYZ by learning the intricacies of it. Plus they may have never been exposed to Neil Peart otherwise.

  4. The rise of hip hop and Limp Bizkit? Did I accidentally blog this in 1997?

  5. I don’t think you did, but I didn’t say it was last week all this happened. after grunge wore thin that was the next….. why am I even bothering, you know what I was saying.

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