Hey, Lost fans. How many times have you caught yourself humming Drive Shaft's undeniably catchy "You All Everybody" between episodes? Sure, Lost is now is over, but Dharma rock lives on in Rock Band, with both "You All Everybody" and Geronimo Jackson's "Dharma Lady" becoming purchasable tracks on Rock Band Network. But how'd they end up there? A donkey wheel? Here's the story.
Drive Shaft is the rock group of the one and only Charlie Pace, while Geronimo Jackson is a bit of a Lost in-joke. References to the 1970s band are littered throughout the series, including a poster inside John Locke's high school locker. "Dharma Lady" is actually available on iTunes right now. Both songs were added to Rock Band via Rock Band Network days after the Lost finale.
Fans have Harmonix manager of communications and donkey wheel turner, John Drake, to thank for Lost invading Rock Band.
"As long as I’ve been an employee at Harmonix, there have been internal requests for You All Everybody [to appear on Rock Band]," explained Drake over e-mail this week. "As we neared the finale (and started worrying about what we’d talk about at lunch without constant LOST debates), we reached out to some friends at LOST. They were psyched about You All Everybody and also pointed us to Dharma Lady, which is a great song for Rock Band. ABC/Disney and everyone who works on LOST were really supportive and awesome to work with."
Drake actually has a connection to Lost overseer Carlton Cuse, one half of the writing and producing duo who have been the Island watchdogs since J.J. Abrams left the show. Both Drake and Cuse attended Harvard in Massachusetts and the developer interviewed Cuse on campus once to discuss Lost for an audience. The two remained in touch.
"You All Everybody" isn't actually a full song, though. Various bits of the song have been prepared for Lost's six season run, which meant Drake had to create a musical monster for Rock Band. The version that ended up appearing on Rock Band Network is just a little over two minutes long.
"I think there are a few different snippets of You All Everybody out there in the world," he said. "In this case, I got stems from the folks at ABC/Disney and composited a few parts together for gameplay’s sake. In the end, it’s a custom Rock Band mix of the song, which is pretty cool."
There are few people with more experience preparing songs for Rock Band Network than Drake, who has been converting his own band, The Main Drag, to the service since it went live. He's authored around 17 tracks, but despite vast experience, the Lost tracks weren't a copy and paste job.
"I had a quiet fanboy moment about the song that we had a chance to take from their world and put into ours"
"The authoring of these tracks wasn’t too bad, but the mixing/editing process was sort of involved," said Drake. "All told, I got the stems while we were in Sweden and crunched two all nighters and two red-eye 7 hour flights to get them done. So probably about 40 hours between the two tracks, over the course of 3-4 days. I don’t know how our audio guys do it every day!"
That, Lost devotees, is how Drive Shaft and Geronimo Jackson came to Rock Band. Drake wouldn't comment on the possibility of Lost-themed equipment in Rock Band 3 (don't count on it), but said anyone who wants to find out should visit "our version of The Swan station, where you’ll see us press buttons every 108 minutes in an attempt to prevent the destruction of the world by the power of rock."
And no interview with a diehard Lost fan would be complete without thoughts on the Lost finale.
"I think when you’ve spent 6 years dissecting and scrutinizing the details of a crazy and unique universe," he told me, "there’s no way to deliver perfect closure to every member of your audience. For me, personally, I thought the finale was masterfully handled and I really enjoyed it. Plus, when I saw Drive Shaft take the stage, I had a quiet fanboy moment about the song that we had the chance to take from their world and put into ours."
Until the final DVDs arrive, Rock Band'ing to Driveshaft is a good way to pass the time. Both tracks are available now on Xbox 360 for 80 Microsoft Points ($1). As for PlayStation 3 and Wii, though?
"There’s a long lead time to get to those consoles," he said, "but never say never."