Carrie Me Home features (from left) Ken McDevitt, Nathan McKnight, Jason Beetstra and Carrie Souchek.
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Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
November 13, 2007
DeKalb — A quartet of Northern Illinois University students will appear Thursday afternoon on MTV’s “Total Request Live” as one of two “rock bands” vying for the national Rock Band crown.
Rock Band is a new video game – units will debut in stores Tuesday, Nov. 20 – that transforms players into gig-worthy musicians as they preen for themselves or their audiences and press the right game-controlling buttons while recordings of the real bands do the rest. Only the singers truly add to the sound pumping through the speakers.
But to the horde of screaming fans who turned out last Friday to Times Square in New York City, there apparently is more than one way to rock.
NIU’s group, called Carrie Me Home, features Jason Beetstra, Ken McDevitt, Nathan McKnight and Carrie Souchek. The foursome auditioned last month in the Martin Luther King Commons on campus, filming a 30-second snippet with little or no knowledge of how the game system worked.
“Those 30 seconds were viewed by the producers in New York at the MTV offices,” Souchek said. “They ended up calling us the day after and said, ‘Hey, we really enjoyed your performance. As of now, you guys are in the top five.’ We just had to wait.”
MTV’s crew continued to tour the United States in search of more video game rockers ready for their shot at pseudo-stardom. Meanwhile, Carrie Me Home traveled to Minneapolis for Rock Band training with, and stage presence tips from, members of Paramore, a real rock band with a female singer.
Last Friday, the wait ended.
After two days of intense rehearsal in New York City, Carrie Me Home, performing Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” went head-to-head with Hellanor Brozevelt, a “band” featuring You Tube sensation and Guitar Hero II world champion Freddie Wong on guitar.
The results are secret until Thursday’s 2:30 p.m. airing on MTV. Both bands received the Rock Band game; the winner also collects a sweet prize package from Fender, including real guitars and professional sound equipment.
Carrie Me Home received true rock star treatment, McDevitt said.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “We were in limos. We walked the red carpet into the Hard Rock with paparazzi. We were signing autographs, taking pictures. It was ridiculous.”
“We had so much fun,” Souchek said. “Most rock bands start out and have to get their name out there. They kind of made it like we were a super-popular rock band.”
Three members of Carrie Me Home hail from McHenry County: McDevitt and Beetstra are longtime friends from Harvard while Souchek is from Woodstock. McKnight, whose hometown is Milan, Ill., lives on the same residence hall floor as Beetstra.
“Jason and Nate play Guitar Hero constantly,” Souchek said. “Even though this was a different guitar, they had the general idea of how to do it at our audition.”
Rock Band is a product of Harmonix (which also makes Guitar Hero) and MTV Games along with distribution partner Electronic Arts.
Featuring the most master recordings of any music game ever by the world’s biggest rock artists, Rock Band includes 58 tracks and spans every genre of rock ranging from alternative and classic rock to heavy metal and punk.
With multiple instruments and an impressive selection of online and offline game modes to choose from – to play as a band or individually – Rock Band offers players an infinite number of ways to play each song and to live out their ultimate rock ’n’ roll fantasies.
For most players, of course, the real goal is to score points. Players are provided an initial list of songs to choose from, Souchek said, and successful rockers will “unlock” other musical opportunities as they go along.
“I’m not a video gamer at all,” McDevitt said. “I’m actually a drummer, and that’s what intrigued me.”
Real drumsticks are provided to tap the electronic pads that represent the snare, tom-toms and cymbals along with the music. It’s arranged like a typical drum kit, including a foot pedal for the bass drum.
The plastic guitar-shaped controllers have five buttons located along the faux fretboard, McDevitt said. Each is a different color; players must press the right buttons when those colors scroll across the screen.
Regardless of the outcome of Carrie Me Home’s MTV debut, Souchek and McDevitt have plans beyond the video game.
“I’ve been singing forever,” Souchek said. “Kenny and I have actually been in a couple bands in the past, and we’re hoping to start a new project.”
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