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The specs on the sequel indicate it'll be very Rock Band-like, adding the same instruments to the mix. Strum says they plan on incorporating both games (and the related peripherals and song libraries) into their shows.
"We'll change instruments during the middle of a set," he jokes. "Maybe we'll have a guitar tech, or a drum tech."
While mashing buttons in time to the beats of songs like Metallica's "Enter Sandman" won't exactly teach you how to play it on a real instrument, there are some instrument-playing skills that can be cribbed from the game, Hogan says.
"As a musician, it gives me more finger strength and control when I'm playing a real guitar. The only thing it doesn't teach you are specific chords and finger-placements on the neck," he says. "You can also get some fundamentals on the drums, since the controller is sorta like using a five-piece kit."
Since JerkRag's gotten some fundamentals from the game (and its members have some musical background), why not become a bona fide band? Czerniak says that they're already happy with the attention they've gotten thus far. Plus, they'd lose their hook.
"We get to act and live the role of rock stars," he says. "We're taking full advantage of this situation for as long as people give us their attention. I have the utmost respect for [Phoenix] bands like Vayden and Ronin Meyer, [but] what we are doing is something completely different."
And how do they respond to anyone calling them fake?
"Bullshit," Dally says. "To a degree, we're playing the music and propelling the song forward. The actual sound that's coming out from the drums is generated by our actions. When one of us is singing, it's just us."
Shrum explains further.
"Countless people have come up after we've performed and said, 'You guys weren't playing instruments,' and my response is, 'Did you have a good time? Did we rock it or what?'" he says. "Besides, we don't take ourselves too seriously."
Illustrating this, he says, will be the work-in-progress mockumentary, Almost Infamous: The Story of JerkRag, being created by local filmmaker Amy Newman (a former animator at Phoenix's now-defunct Fox Animation Studios). Shrum describes it as a quasi-improvisational, multi-part serial in the vein of This Is Spinal Tap (natch). They'll release the mockumentary on DVD and online. (One bit involves Czerniak trying out real instruments at Guitar Center, only to discover he can't shred as well as in Rock Band.)
"The plot is going to involve us as [our] characters taking ourselves completely too seriously," Shrum says. "There's so much opportunity with the world of music and the nuances of rock bands that we could make [fun of with] segments at shows, sort of like Flight of the Conchords, if you will, about a Rock Band band that's over the top and excessive."
When confronted with the fact that VH1 (sister company of Harmonix) created a similar satire titled Rock Band Cometh: The Rock Band Band Story before the game's release, Czerniak denies ripping it off, saying the network's project was more of a parody of Behind the Music.
"People think everything we're doing is funny — the shows, the mockumentary, everything — so we're going to take JerkRag as far as we can go," Czerniak says.
And how far is that?
"Probably until the novelty wears off," he says.
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