posted by admin on July 18th, 2011

I was never a rock musician, I played tuba. Not much call for tuba players in grunge bands. But like every guy, I practiced air guitar and duck walks in the bedroom, while screaming at the top of my lungs and fantasizing about leading a band on stage to a mob of screaming fans. Well, I just went through the gamut of rock and roll experiences in one night of video games. While hanging out with my sister’s family, my teenage nephews offered to show me Guitar Hero. Little did I know, how hard it was to be in a Guitar Hero band. Not the actual game play, but the band dynamics, full of in-fighting over style, content and ability.

The first thing we do is create our avatars. Lots of debates about what we look like in real life, what we’d like to look like, what our style was and how that style fit in with the rest of the band. Being an anarchist at heart and secretly knowing I wasn’t in the band long term, I picked what I liked and told the boys to leave me and my Mohawk alone.

Then we had to pick the type of songs we were going to play. Even the Beatles had this problem: John wanted more rock; Paul wanted more pop. We finally compromise on a song none of us hate. The oldest nephew takes lead vocals, I play guitar and the younger nephew plays drums.

Well frankly, our drummer was awful. To my amusement, we are booed from the stage. “That’s really funny,” I say. We try the song again. And are booed again. The oldest yells at the youngest to get off the drums and play rhythm guitar. He pleads, “I get it now, let’s go again.” “What’s to get? Hit the drum when the light comes on,” his big brother spews. Wanting to protect my nephew’s ego, I suggest we try a slower song, one that he says he knows really well. Again, we’re booed off the stage. My competitive juices begin to flow.

“Let’s trade instruments,” I suggest. The younger now takes the mic. To our horror, he’s actually worse at singing than he was at drums. We move him to guitar, but now we argue over the younger wanting to up the difficulty on his guitar level. I had been playing on the Easy setting. He assures us he’s better at guitar than drums or singing. Feeling the sting of failing so much, I warn, “Fine, but I want to finish a song.” As we are being booed yet again, I and the big brother hurl throw-pillows as well as insults at my nephew. Like an umpire breaking up a bench-clearing brawl, my twenty-something niece bounds into the basement to see what’s the hubbub. She sees the screen and effuses her love for Guitar Hero. And like that, she’s in the band. We kick out the younger nephew against his protests, “But you can have four players.” His brother and I stand firm, “We don’t care. She’s in; you’re out.” And just like that, Pete Best was gone, Ringo was in, and the rest was history.

File Under Mr. Cool