Monday, May 05, 2008

Rock Band #109, In Which Tommy DeCarlo Owns The World

Brad Delp, Boston's lead singer (and, by all accounts, a tremendously nice guy), passed away last year.

From USA Today:
One day you're trying to get Home Depot shoppers to apply for in-store credit. The next you're rehearsing with Boston and getting ready for a national summer tour.

"I never could have dreamed this," says Tommy DeCarlo, 43, Boston's new Brad Delp-channeling frontman, who is taking leave from his credit manager job at a Charlotte Home Depot to perform with the band. "That first gig is going to be something."

...In tribute to Delp, DeCarlo posted MP3 files of himself singing Boston over a karaoke soundtrack on his MySpace page. (He had hocked his prized keyboard in 2006 to buy his kids' Christmas gifts.) An impressed visitor to his page urged him to contact Boston management and offered up an old e-mail address. Doubtful but with nothing to lose, DeCarlo sent off a note with a link. Destiny intervened.

"My wife was at her computer playing our tunes, and I asked her whether it was us playing live," Scholz says. "She said, 'It's some guy in North Carolina singing your songs.' I said, 'I know Brad's voice, and that's Brad.' She turned it up, and only when I heard the backing track did I know it wasn't us."

Scholz flew DeCarlo and his family up for an audition, which led to a Delp tribute show and the tour invite. DeCarlo and the band's other new member, Stryper frontman Michael Sweet, will appear on Boston's next album in early 2009.

Here's DeCarlo's MySpace page, and if you want have your mind completely blown, listen to "Rock And Roll Band."

In other news, I won't be playing drums on tour with Black Sabbath or R.E.M. anytime soon, because "Paranoid" and "Orange Crush" (fifth set) are both kicking my ass on Expert.

Paranoid has an absolutely crushing bass drum chart. How crushing? Try FIVE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SIX notes with the kick pedal (note chart here). Holy crap.

Orange Crush has an absolute onslaught of sixteenth notes (note chart here) that I just can't deal with for long (I got to 75% today and flamed out).

My good friend and bad influence John Harwood came over two Fridays ago and, in typical "us" fashion, we spent as much time calibrating the drum kit as we did playing. However, I've learned a few useful things about calibration because of that, and I'll share them with you.

First, the easy way to check out your drum kit is to go into practice mode, select "Won't Get Fooled Again," choose the "organ intro" section, and set the speed to 50%. This will give you quite a bit of time to play anything you want and see if the drum kit is accurate. In particular, watch for extra hits as much as missed hits, because in some cases, fast rolls will generate a TON of extra hits--a fast roll on the yellow pad generating extra hits on the blue pad, for example.

That was the problem we were having, and I realized that it was being caused by a mat I was using to stop the kit from "crawling" forwards while we were playing. Using that mat, instead of having the kit on bare floor, was causing the problem.

Also, if you're still having trouble, try double-wrapping a big rubber band around the drum pad that's registering the extra hits. What that will do is reduce the distance from the drum head to the sensor. I know--that sounds like exactly the wrong thing to do--but the rubber band reduces the susceptability of the pad to vibration. You need to inspect the gap around the rim (make sure there still is one, and that it's uniform), and then you should be fine.

This also brings up the issue of the drum kit itself, and as I've mentioned before, I think plenty of us would be willing to purchase a compatible third-party kit, given how much time we're spending on the game. I've actually gotten to the point where I'm fairly close to pulling the trigger on the mod that will enable you to use an electronic kit, but that mod is pretty complicated, and I'd much rather wait a few months for a turnkey solution, if one is coming.

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