Confronted with the task of thinking up a low-budget video concept for the first single off their new album, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania guitar-pop band the Jellybricks found inspiration in a hobby they shared with tens of millions of music-loving Americans: Rock Band 2. After countless hours of playing, editing and meticulously sculpting their polygonal doppelgangers into the game, the end result for the Jellybricks' "Ruin Us" is the first truly clever viral music video of 2009.
"As a band, after rehearsals, we sometimes get together and play Rock Band, and I was just noticing the camera angles and the shots that are used, that we can make characters that kind of look like us. There's these great sets in the game, it just looked really cool," bassist-singer Garrick Chow tells Rock Daily. "Instead of taking cameras out into the Pennsylvania winter trying to figure out a video, we basically spent a week playing the game, capturing it in my computer and trying to edit it all together to make it look like we're actually playing the song."
The final product is edited so well, you'd never even notice that the band's song is really just playing over Rock Band 2 tracks by Oasis and the Smashing Pumpkins. "It was time-consuming, I spent four of five hours a night for a week combing through about six hours of game play, trying to find vocals that match up. I'd go through the list of songs in the game and try to find tracks that are similar in tempo or have lyrics that kind of match up with ours, especially the long-held-out syllables," Chow says. "It was difficult, but when it matched up it was like 'That's so cool, he's singing it!' " For instance, the snare roll in the Smashing Pumpkins' "Today" matched up similarly to "Ruin Us," but as the Jellybricks' song has a faster tempo, Chow increased the speed of the "Today" clip during editing.
"The response has been overwhelmingly great," Chow says, but adds, "Of course, hard-core gamers who are really into the game criticize that the score keeps going up and down."
Despite the band's "special agreement with the creators of Rock Band 2" — "We agreed to pay money in return for a copy of the game" — the 'Bricks didn't exactly get permission to make the video, but Chow says, "If you do a search for Rock Band or Guitar Hero on YouTube, you're going to find tens of thousands of people who are uploading content from the game. It's just that we have done something different." If the video hits it big, is there a possibility we could be seeing "Ruin Us" on a future RB2 expansion pack? "Almost more than getting a record contract, I'd love to have a song in Rock Band, officially," Chow says. The Jellybricks' new album Goodnight to Everyone is out on digital music services now.