You're Never Too Old To Rock

rock-band.gifAs much as I hate to admit it, my husband Dave was right. It hasn’t happened often in our over ten years together – married seven with nary an itch – but it has been occurring more frequently, much to my dismay. However, I guess even he has to be right some of the time and in the instance of his “insane” (my words) purchase of the video game ROCK BAND last November (2007) I would actually say he was a genius. If you haven’t heard of it you must not have teenagers or been living under a rock. We, like all of our friends’ kids, are completely addicted. In fact, the upcoming release of ROCK BAND 2 has us almost as excited as we were about the iPhone.

What’s crazy about our behavior is we are not video game people. Actually, we both were in the arcade heyday of the 80s, but now most of the games have too many buttons to push and too much violence to lure me into wasting my time. Though Dave’s the King of Technology, except for the Wii, he’s rarely tempted into the gaming world. That fateful day in November changed everything. He suckered me into going to the Best Buy on a Saturday by promising to let me purchase a new game for our Wii console. I don’t know if he was already planning on buying Rock Band, but once he saw they had a few kits in stock, he just had to have one. It was rumored to be the “must have game” of the holiday season and Dave is never one to be behind the technology curve.

bnbrockband.jpgI couldn’t understand his need to buy this game, which was not only expensive, but I deemed useless since neither of us were musically inclined. Using actual instruments (modified for the game), you “play” classic rock songs to score points for you and/or your band. Sure, he had a few guitar lessons, but that’s a far cry from actually performing. I had always yearned to play the piano, but my seemingly utter lack of co-ordination left that dream in the dust a long time ago. Personally, I thought it was stupid. Mostly because I knew I couldn’t play the drums or guitar and singing isn’t exactly my forté either.  I don’t even sing out loud when I’m alone in my car.

So…I convinced him not to get it. Surely, he could find it cheaper online? Well, upon returning home, he did some quick research and saw that it was currently unavailable anywhere on the Internet. Disgruntled, but undaunted, he trekked back to the store, returned the crap we had just bought and purchased the game, which was to be - in merely a week’s time - impossible to get anywhere. (Dave strikes again. First the Wii, now this. When it comes to the best toys, he appears to be psychic, making us the coolest house on the block two Christmas’s in a row. I can't wait to see what he pulls out of his hat this year.)

dins.jpgAs he set up the drum kit, hooked up the system to the stereo and adjusted the television, I tried to choke down my fear of failure and generate some enthusiasm for the experience. I did not have any hope in my abilities. However, it was just a game after all and life is about trying new things. Right? Maybe I wouldn’t be as bad as I thought. Well, it didn’t take long for me to change my tune. While I couldn’t play the guitar – moving the fingers of my left hand separately is almost impossible for me – I quickly discovered I have independence of my hands and feet which means I CAN play the drums.

Quite well in fact.

loulu.jpgIn ten months I have gone from zero musical training to playing Rock Band drums at the Hard/Expert level. This is something that amazes all the Rockers in our life and makes me very popular at parties since good drummers are a rarity. Unless you’re a child with a lot of video game experience and no preconceived notions of what you can and can’t do. They do fine. Dave, a Hard/Expert level guitarist, can’t complete any song on the drums even at Easy, so he gets a real kick out of my newfound “talent.” Mostly because he knows it’s all because of him.

savior.jpgWe realize we’re not actually musicians and that our expertise at this game means little in the real world, but that doesn’t make it any less fun or intense.  The audience is there for a show and if you don’t perform well, you get booed off the stage. Clearly not as unpleasant as failing before a live crowd, but they still get ornery and it’s something to avoid. Though when our characters stomp off stage in disgust and embarrassment it makes us giggle. In the end, the band that saves each other gets the big points, masses of fans and oodles of cash. In the Rock Band world anyway. Plus I get to sleep with the lead guitarist.

theband.jpgWith the release of ROCK BAND 2, we have to say good-bye to our old band, Halter on Acid (characters don’t transfer over), but we’re more than ready to test our skills on some new tunes and to try to kick some ass online. Bring it on, people! Though I’m thrilled about my drumming skills and am even considering learning to play for real, the best part about the game is that it’s something we enjoy doing together. Sure, it’s silly and ultimately accomplishes nothing, but it allows us to live out our musical fantasies – face paint, leather pants, tattoos and all – without ever leaving our living room...or winding up in rehab. How cool is that?

So, jump on the bandwagon. You may even discover your own hidden talents or a new band to love and you’ll have a blast doing it. Who doesn’t want to be a Rock Star? I’m about to turn 40 and my musical journey is only just beginning. The fact that the game is turning young kids onto the joys of rock music is only icing on the cake. Goodbye, Hannah Montana. Hello Nirvana.

Lisa Dinsmore is a writer and web programmer. She has her own wine blog called Daily Wine Dispatch. She lives with her husband Dave in Los Angeles.