The lights are on
We recently had a chance to speak to Green Day drummer Tre Cool about the upcoming Green Day: Rock Band. The outspoken stickmaster gave us the inside skinny on the band’s involvement in the production of the game, the exciting unlockable bonus features, and his “sneaky uncle.”How did you get approached to do this project? Was it after you had seen the Beatles game?It was during development of the Beatles game. They had a lot of the bonus material already compiled, some of the unseen Beatles stuff. That’s what really impressed me. I had played Rock Band 1 and 2 before, but the fact that they were doing an entire game devoted to the Beatles really impressed me. The fact that they were offering us the second game after the Beatles was an honor. I didn’t know how much Rock Band had beside the gameplay. There’s so much to it, the special features and old interviews and things. With us, there is all this old stuff we hadn’t seen in years – us getting interviewed high on the Bookmobile, crazy stuff. So many old pictures and great memories. It’s a trip. I thought it would just be the gameplay.
Did you dig into your own personal vaults for some of the bonus material or did MTV help provide that?I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember but MTV used to be a music channel! [Laughs]I am definitely old enough.Back when they were a music channel, we used to do quite a bit of stuff with them, since we play music. [Laughs] So, they have dirt on Green Day for miles. They have all sorts of stuff showing Green Day acting badly. They dug it up and they used it. It’s pretty cool.I know you wanted the game to really reflect what a Green Day show is like. Did you do motion capture for full takes of songs done how you would do them on stage?We actually went back and forth with them on that. They wanted us to go in that little room with the balls on us. The only person putting balls on me is my sneaky uncle, you know what I mean? [Laughs] So we tried to weasel our way out of that, and we figured out a way to do it by cross referencing old video with a special filming we did for them, where they had their cameras in just the right spots. They used that and I think they got some guys that are in a Green Day tribute band to go in the room with the suits with the balls. So, we amalgamated that in a scientific and artistic way. It’s a trip. These video game dudes are super smart, yet they have creativity.Are you happy with how you’re portrayed in the game?Oh man, we look like f---ing superheroes!The game draws tracks mostly from Dookie, American Idiot, and 21st Century Breakdown.Yeah, three albums on one disc, who knew?Are there songs from other records in the game?Yeah, there are select songs from other records. We wanted to get stuff from 39/Smooth and Kerplunk! on there, too, but the tapes are really old. I don’t know if you know about analog tapes, but to transfer them you need to play them. They are kind of stuck together right now. You have to “bake” them, and then you have one chance to run it over the machine to transfer it to make stems. Once it hits the head, it comes off the other side shredded. We’re making sure we have the right dudes to do it. We’re actually booking it; there’s one place in Burbank that still does it. We’re going to bite the bullet and shred our old tapes and put it to digital.Talk about the venues in the game.The Fox Theater is the third venue in the game, and that’s a real venue in our hometown of Oakland, California. They just refurbished it after 35 years; it’s an old 1920s Persian style theater. They did everything from vaudeville to show music in it over the years. It was dilapidated and run-down, and finally the Friends of the Fox Theater repaired it and we were the second show after it reopened. We played 21st Century Breakdown in its entirety. That was a really special moment in our career. Then, going back to the Milton Keynes in England was our first stadium gig. The Warehouse in the game is a mix of Slim’s and some other venues of that sort back in the day. I think they used a lot of video from the Slim’s performance we did back in 1994 – also Bottom of the Hill was another venue they used. We did a live MTV performance there where Mike broke his nose. [Laughs]Did you guys have specific songs from the albums besides the three big ones that you wanted to make sure were in the game?We wanted it all to go on there, but I guess you have to leave something for later. The technology is pretty sweet. You can download more material on all the consoles. Personally, I like PS3. I watch Netflix on my PlayStation 3. So, we’re going to have more stuff going through the pipeline later, like the old records once we get them on digital and get the stems. Hopefully, we’ll come up with some new looks.Is it bizarre to be sitting there playing a game with your own likeness?It’s very, very bizarre. But it kinda gives you a tech boner! [Laughs] It gets my tech weenie hard.What’s your favorite tracks to play?I like when you f--- up. You get rewarded for mistakes. If you screw up enough and they boo you off stage, you get in a band fight onstage. That’s priceless because we never really do that.American Idiot was a big change for Green Day, because you had some of the longer, multi-part epics like “Jesus of Suburbia”. Are you going to be able to play those in their entirety?Yeah, absolutely. It’s a big challenge, a nine-minute song on a video game. You’re trying to hang on through it, and if you screw up you get booed offstage and have to start over. But that’s how it is in real life; you can’t take a break and smoke a bowl onstage. You can’t hit the pause button and pack the bong. [Laughs]If you get some of the older tapes baked and get them to digital –Speaking of bongs! [Laughs][Laughs] But do you hope to have timetable for when you can do that stuff as downloadable content?Whenever’s clever, baby.As a drummer, do you play as yourself or do you like to see what it’s like to be the guitarist or bassist?I like singing it, because I’m just hopeless on the drums.That’s weird, why do you think you’re so bad at drums?Well, I’ve been playing a trap kit since I was 11, and it’s kind of a different thing. I’ll get it; I’ll learn. But right now I’m completely dogs--- at it. I can’t even finish a song on easy. But I can do it on guitar, bass, and vocals. Everything but drums.When the game comes out, maybe you can get practiced up at drums.What’s cool about the game is that you can go to a practice mode. I’m going to have to re-learn drumming. The practice mode will teach you different rhythms and beats. If you scroll down, you can also go to free play and basically just drum like on a real kit. I predict that suburban white kids will use it to make beats and do really crappy rap music. [Laughs] They’ll record it on their iPhones and dump it on YouTube. It’s going to happen.It’s the future of music.Exactly.
[photo by Marina Chavez]