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One Man Rock Band

Adrian Hatwell
Adrian Hatwell

It's a thought that inevitably crosses any virtual rocker's mind as the night wanes and other band members begin to lose steam; who needs them, I could probably play all these instruments myself! Of course it's merely an overtired delusion of grandure for most of us; just holding drumsticks and a guitar is tricky enough. One enterprising gamer, however, has devised a way to become a one man Rock Band.

Substituting the official drum kit for a customised dance mat of his own design, Ee Chen is able to play the drum section of a song by stomping his feet while attempting to strum his guitar and sing into a head-set microphone at the same time. How well does it work? Check out this video and see for yourself.

It's an impressive dedication to virtual rock. And I really want a turn.

I put a few questions to the tinkering Electronic Engineering student which he kindly answered with candour.


AH: What inspired the birth of this creation, Rock Band wasn't difficult enough already?

EC: Well, it all started as a bit of a joke really.  There's this loading screen on Rock Band which challenges you to sing and play the guitar at the same time.  So I asked myself, "Well, if you can play two instruments simultaneously... is there a way you can do three?"

Visions of myself dual wielding two guitar controllers like Rambo set aside, this is what I came up with.


The concept is fairly straightforward but MacGyver-ing that together by yourself must have taken some doing, was it a difficult task?

Haha, luckily, the instruments for the PS3 follow the well documented USB standard, so no, not too difficult.


In the video you don't quite get through Oasis' Wonderwall track, have you managed to complete many songs in one man band fashion yet?

Not a one.  It took me about a week of listening to Wonderwall non-stop and trying to memorise the lyrics to get to the point where I didn't have to think about trying to "sing" it (my sense of pitch is terrible).  As a side-effect, it totally ruined the song for me. =P

I might try again later when I have more time.


Does your one man band have a name yet? Registered with the online Rock Band online community?

No, it remains blissfully anonymous.  The shame of having never successfully completed one song weighs heavily on the band.


You mentioned to me earlier that you were planning on improving your drum mat in the future, what are you thinking?

Well, the dance mat I used was an old plastic one which was a bit glitchy and had buttons mapped a bit strangely.  I'm thinking of making an custom one using infrared sensors to get around the glitchiness, and shaped in a 4x1 rectangle like the drums shown on screen in Rock Band (instead of the default 3x3 dance mat).

Preliminary experiments show that splits may be involved if a person tries to hit the red and green notes at the same time, but is unconfirmed at this stage.


Any plans to hack other peripherals into the game? Bongos or Maracas would be awesome.

Depends on how much spare time and spare money I have left - the idea of a keytar was raised...


If your chosen project isn't evidence enough, care to weigh in on the Rock Band vs. Guitar Hero: World Tour issue?

Hahaha, I like bits from both, to be honest.  There are more songs that I like in GHWT than in RB, but I like playing RB more because I feel it has a much cleaner interface.

But then again, I like the clicky sound the strum bar on the GHWT guitar makes, but have been spoiled by the solo buttons on the RB guitar and play entire songs on them now.  I just can't go back to the big fret buttons now.


Finally, what are you playing at the moment?

Spelunky (a little platforming roguelike).  Addictive as all get out.


So there you have it, a very novel way of playing Rock Band from a very novel man. And yes, I am aware that there are other games out there, this is almost certainly my last post on Rock Band for a while, I promise.

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