Krist Novaselic stinks at Rock Band


Nirvana bassist Krist Novaselic is easily the most endearing former grunge rocker around.

Not just because he scoots around Seattle in an old minivan.

He writes great posts for the DAILY WEEKLY blog, telling tales from Nirvana’s heyday, ruminating on current events, or just talking about what he’s been up to.

Recently, Krist blogged about his experience playing Rock Band with a charming and amusing anecdote.

I had my first experience with a video game when I was around 10 years old. It was called Pong. The contest was between two rectangular “paddles” that could only slide up and down the edges of a TV screen. Between them we bounced a small square dot—the ping pong ball—back and forth.

In high school, I jumped into the arcade game craze of the early 1980s. The game that I really enjoyed was Asteroids (and its successor, Asteroids Deluxe). I got pretty good at piloting the little ship and blasting the random asteroids, tiny flying saucers, and pods that threatened my existence in outer space. (Well, the virtual space I could afford for each 25 cents I dropped in the coin slot.)

More recently, while walking through a one-stop shopping center, I encountered the Rock Band 2 video game. It was set up on display for customers to try.

I know about Rock Band, because Nirvana has some songs on it. I had never tried the game before, so I gave it a go. I worked through the menu and found the song “In Bloom.” I picked up the little guitar-shaped controller and hit the stage.

I knew the bass line to the song, of course, but I couldn’t quite master this new, different way of playing it.

The game reminded me of Space Invaders. I tried to hit the notes cascading down the screen, but could barely keep up.

Meanwhile, this kid was watching me fumble with the game. I became self-conscious and took the controller off.

I handed it to him, and he proceeded to jam on the song—and was really good! He had no idea that I was the musician he was emulating on the game, and I didn’t tell him.

in bloom
Not Krist’s score.

Life goes on: I walked away to buy some paint supplies, groceries, and other items from the store.

Regardless of my first experience with the game as a player, I’m loving Rock Band. Instead of file sharing, people are actually buying music again! HA!!!

Putting that issue aside, I like how the game makes the player focus on certain components of the music. When I listen to songs, I’ll usually tune my ear to the bass line. With Rock Band, you can do that, but also see the procession of notes.

Novaselic often blogs on the future of the music industry, and he’s clearly embracing new media as a way forward for the troubled rock biz.

In related news, Dave Grohl also noticed the appeal of Rock Band, but only because a hot chick was playing it.

Novaselic has an infectiously optimistic outlook for the future of music in the video-game/digital era:

Rock and roll has been proclaimed dead countless times. After a slump, rock usually bounces back in a wave of new bands and sounds. Things are different today: Rock has found new life with video games, and the phenomenon is leading to a revival of bands that have been around for a long time.


Music is a living thing. It’s fun to revisit songs in different forms. For instance, hearing the Beatles’ 2006 album Love, a mash-up of their classic tunes, is like listening to this seminal group for the first time! Love takes the sounds and instruments that were buried in the original mix and puts them up front.

Electronica remixes can also result in a complete reinvention of a song. (By the way—can we have more electronica on the radio?)

Good music, film, paintings, books, and other forms of expression draw you into them. The excitement and power of rock fits well with the dynamic new world created by video games. The virtual universe is interactive, providing sensations that are real. Keep on rocking in the free world!!!!!!!

For more from Krist, including musings on arcologies, futuristic mass transit, and drunken Pomeranians, check out his DAILY WEEKLY posts.

About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

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