It isn’t everyday that you can say that you had the opportunity to have a one on one conversation with the co-founder and CEO of Harmonix, yet I had the honor. It was an enjoyable conversation and Alex proved to be very laid back while provding a great interview.
Here it goes:
Al Zamora: We just came from seeing you on the panel of Game ON! Just some quick thoughts on how it went overall for yourself?
Alex: I had a great time, I think it was interesting and unusual mix of people, which contributed to an unusual and enjoyable conversation. Also, it was pretty fun to be on stage with people like GrandMaster Flash who invented playing with the turntable, people like that is always a lot of fun to hang around with.
Al Zamora: Well thanks for being modest as you are the founder of Harmonix and started Rock Band which is huge. As you mentioned you were with a huge wealth of people on stage, and you got to show-off expert on stage while playing Rock Band Beatles, how was that for you?
Alex: Well now I can tell my mom I performed at Carnegie Hall, I don’t have to tell her the rest of the story but– Haha.
Al Zamora: We had the chance to try the new DLC that came out for Rock Band such as Abbey Road and Queen. Was that a labor of love for you guys? I know it must have been a lot of work to bring that about.
Alex: The Beatles project was a project for a lifetime, it was really a dream project, not just for me, but also for a lot of the senior members of the Harmonix creative team. The music is so incredible and so important. To be able to collaborate with band members and the lives of the other two band members. It was just incredible, we had a blast. It was a hard project, but it was the most rewarding project we ever worked on.
Al Zamora: I read a few articles about how Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison were involved, how was it working with them?
Alex: It was amazing actually, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison both made significant creative contributions to the project, of course so did Paul and Ringo. All four of them were intimately involved. From the early stages when we were coming up with the basic creative framework for the project down until the end when we were fine tuning minute details. All four of them were really positive minded every step of the way during the project and helped us make a better game than we ever could if they weren’t involved.
Al Zamora: Was there anything cut out of the game out of fear?
Alex: Everything we were putting into the game was presented and discussed with Apple corp. and all four of the share holders. Of course, when showing your creative work to people of that caliber, it is always a bit nerve-racking. But at the same time it was very productive and had a lot of two-way collaboration. I think through the process the two parties were able to develop a mutual respect and trust for each other that allowed us to work together.
Al Zamora: During the panel there was talk of Led Zeppelin, you said that you never thought of. Any elaboration on that?
Alex: Well no, I didn’t mean that in the specific sense, there are obviously 4-5 other huge artists out there we would love to work with to some capacity. We’re always talking to all of them all the time, so there’s nothing really specific about that. I love Zeppelin’s music and there’s a bunch of other huge artists who’s music I love, who’s music have not appearance on our games and I hope someday they do.
Al Zamora: I know a lot of gamers are waiting for a little Stairway to Heaven– Haha. Any future projects you can share with us?
Alex: A couple of things, first of all we already announced Rock Band network, which the actual launch of that service is coming up really soon. I’m incredibly excited about that, I think we’re going to see some really interesting material finding its way on that platform. That’s one huge thing. The other of course is Lego Rock Band is coming up in November. The game is great, I think it will give families and younger kids a way to have the experience in a way that works for them, and the game came out beautifully.
Al Zamora: I got to say I’m a huge Lego fan just from my childhood, so seeing them put into Rock Band I said to myself “I have to have this, there’s no way I can not have this.”
Alex: Well the game has a sense of humor in it, which is kind of a fresh take on the experience that I really enjoy.
Al Zamora: Yeah, I have to say it‘s phenomenal. One final question, what are you waiting for outside of the music genre?
Alex: Dragon Age, those guys do incredible work, and expect them to do the same for this. I was a huge Baldur’s Gate fan back in the day. I think it’s a reinvention of that and I hope they do a good job with it.