One night, after carrying a friend's amp into a club for and following him to the bar pretending not to care that people were looking at me, my friend told me a joke.
"What do you call the guy who can't play an instrument but hangs out with the band anyway?" he asked.
I felt the color drain from my face. I'd been expecting this moment. The band was getting better, attracting notice and playing bigger clubs. I was sure the answer to this question was "me." I was getting canned from the band I wasn't even in.
"I ... don't know," I said. Stalling. Hoping the beers would come before I had to go sit with the normal folks.
My friend leaned in close enough I could smell his lack of aftershave. "The drummer."
He laughed, patted me on the back, handed me a beer and walked on stage to pick up his guitar and commence being the coolest guy in the room for half an hour. See, even the drummer, my friend the guitar god was telling me, is less cool than the guy who carries the amp. There's a life lesson in that.
Every drummer I've ever known - and I've known many - has been trouble. If it's not drugs, it's the lack of a job or a car. How drummers get by without cars is beyond me, but many do. I've seen dudes carrying guitars and amplifiers on a bicycle before, but drum kits require vehicles with no fewer than four wheels, and if it's got a hatchback or a tailgate, even better.
Here's another joke: What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend? Homeless. It's funny because it's true. What's funnier is I heard this one from a drummer.
So when I heard they were making a game where you could play as the drummer, I nearly spit up my coffee. I was wondering if the game would kick me out of my apartment, hook me on heroin and make me lose my job. No? Then it's not quite the real thing, is it?
Granted, Guitar Hero won't instantly transport you to a magical land where women throw their undergarments at your feet and vocalists will accuse you of stealing their band away, but of all the times I've dreamt of being a rock and roll star, I've never once imagined myself behind the drum kit. Drums are what you play when you can't play the guitar. Everyone knows this. Even the drummer.
The problem may be, when you've made the perfect rock fantasy game, where else can you go with it except to add more songs? I imagine the creative geniuses who made Guitar Hero in the first place had this very conversation with themselves after they caught a vision of their futures in a mirror and decided they didn't want to trot off into old age with a list of credits all the same sans the number following the title.