Feature: Music & Gaming: Chris Spicuzza, Chimaira
Written Thursday, May 07, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
There was a time back in the 90's when music and gaming wouldn't be seen dead together. My, how times have changed. Now they practically share a room together on the Upper West Side and are as inseparable as Alvin & the Chipmunks.
On the day that Activision announces a whole load of new musical titles, we start our new feature, Music & Gaming, where we speak to the people that are currently sat with a finger in each of the pies.
In the first of what we hope are many behind-the-scenes looks, we turn our attention to Chimaira's keyboard and FX wizard, Chris Spicuzza, where we discuss the band's Guitar Hero debut, his awesome Xbox 360 rig and even delve into the world of achievements. An entertaining interview if I do say so myself, and who'd have thought that a thrash metal band member would be so charismatic?
Hi Chris, thanks for taking time to answer a few questions. Can you tell us a little about Chimaira and give us a little background insight for all those non metal fans out there?
Chimaira is a group of six from the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio who were fortunate enough to make a career in heavy metal. You can lump us in with bands like Pantera, Slayer, Slipknot, Lamb of God. We played locally for a few years and worked up enough recognition to ink a record deal. We’ve been touring and releasing for over ten years now.
The band made its debut on Guitar Hero World Tour today with “On Broken Glass” ... how did this opportunity come about? Did you have to approach Activision or did they seek you out?
We’ve been trying to get something on Guitar Hero for about three years now and had zero luck. Personally I gave up and figured it was never going to happen. Then out of nowhere our record label, Ferret Music, sent us an email saying one of our new songs was going to be featured as a free dlc download. I was stooooooooked!
It’s not very often that free tracks are thrown out into the Guitar Hero marketplace, did you see the track as a perfect way to promote your new album and raise the profile of the band with a new audience?
This is huge for us. We haven’t done much with video games in the past. I’m so glad we are finally breaking into this audience. I’m a huge Guitar Hero fan and have seen what this game has done for bands like Dragonforce and All That Remains.
I’ve got to ask ... free content; your idea or Activision’s?
I’m not really sure who is responsible for the choice. I’m so glad it’s free. Not many are willing to give up MS points for a song they’ve never heard. At least with the free dlc you’ve got nothing to lose. I’m not worried about royalties. I just want people jamming to our songs and posting videos!
Chimaira's "On Broken Glass" is a free download for Guitar Hero World Tour today.
Have you had chance to give the song a go yet?
I haven’t seen how the song is charted. I’m waking up early on Thursday to download it. I’m going straight for expert. I’m one of those guys who can 5 star a hard song no problem. Depending on the song, expert usually isn’t too bad for me. If you throw in intricate solos, I usually fumble my way through and end up with 4 stars.
Do you actually get any sort of input in terms of the note chart for the song or as soon as you make the deal, it’s out of your hands? I mean, do you get chance to say, “we don’t like this bit, can we try this?”
We didn’t get any say. I prefer it that way. I love the element of surprise. I can’t wait to see the drums on the middle section. It should be brutal!
Are there plans for any more of the band’s content to be seen on Guitar Hero in the near future? Or maybe even Rock Band?
We haven’t made any plans for future collaborations. I certainly hope this goes well and both games want to work with us. Hopefully EA comes knocking on our door as well.
Now we understand you’re a bit of a serious gamer as well, and because you’re on the road a lot, you’ve had a custom rig created for your gaming needs. Can you tell us a little about it? Was it expensive? Is it as heavy as it looks?
For a while gaming pretty much consumed my spare time. I always wanted to game but the guys in my band don’t want to sit there and watch me play. My solution was building my own rig so I can game wherever and whenever. I didn’t want to spend much so I used a 15” HDTV from home and mounted it on a metal arm that swivelled vertically. Mike Pierce from Scorpion Case built the rig. It’s quite heavy and takes up a good portion of the back lounge couch. I’m still very happy with the result. I’m debating making a more practical Xbox travel rig. If only I was best friends with Ben Heck who built that pelican case Xbox ...
Seeing as you are touring a lot, do actually get much free time to game? Are you alone or are there other band members, not necessarily of Chimaira that you game with whilst touring?
Many think being in a band is full of raging, girls, and drugs. The reality is you sit around and wait 90% of the time. There’s always a few free hours in the day to do whatever. I find myself gaming the most after a show while the bus is driving. Most of the band is asleep and I can play unbothered. Most of the games I play on tour are one player. If we game together it will be on Guitar Hero or sports games. Rob and Jim have been going at it on NBA 2K9 all tour.
What about favourite titles? Got any titles that you simply must play every day to get your fix? What are you looking forward to most?
At first I didn’t understand it. My buddy Wookubus turned me onto gamerscore playing Gears of War. For two years it sprung out of control. Instead of spending time with my beautiful girlfriend I was wasting hours of the night boosting garbage achievements in games like Splinter Cell. I’ve worked my gamerscore up to 40,000. Recently it hit me that I wasn’t even having fun doing some of these achievements. The whole point is to enjoy yourself. I am no longer an achievement whore. Unfortunately, Wookubus is still playing games like Yaris and Quantum of Solace.
We are seeing bands like Metallica make a video game. I doubt those guys have even turned on an Xbox 360. They realized the growth of gaming and the potential for revenue. Either that, or they say their kids playing it.
Thanks for your time Chris, any closing words you want to throw out there?
We want to see videos of people playing “On Broken Glass”! If you enjoy the song please pick up our new album, The Infection. You can find it at Best Buy or on iTunes. If you’re bold enough to leave your Xbox, we’ll be on tour till next summer, come check us out. You might not get an achievement for it, but you'll at least get your face melted. Thanks for reading this, time to game!
Check back next week for out continuation of the Music & Gaming feature, but in the meantime, check out Chimaira's Guitar Hero World Tour debut, available for free on the Xbox Live Marketplace now. Yes, I said free.