In What Are You Playing This Weekend? we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.
Rob Crow’s discography reads like a genre dictionary. From the funny introspective rock of his solo work, to the slick, weirdly rhythmic melancholy of Pinback, and on to the metal posturing of Goblincock, Crow’s done it all. He took some time to talk with The Gameological Society after putting some final touches on Pinback’s upcoming LP.
The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?
Rob Crow: Last weekend I was at Comic-Con, so I didn’t have time to play anything. Plus, I had three deadlines that I barely made for different things. So I didn’t have time to do anything, other than dumb stuff on my phone while waiting for stuff. [Laughs.]
Gameological: Now that you’re freed up, what are you going to play next weekend?
Crow: My plan was to get to level 30 on Star Wars: The Old Republic and start Diablo III. It seems like I’ll have some time. My Xbox just went down. I was on the last level of Max Payne 3 that I’d really like to finish. I want to do the DLC for Skyrim—I did the main thing, but I want to get whatever the DLC is. I want to play a bunch of Lego Batman 2 with the kids. They’re very enthusiastic about that.
Gameological: What was the first video game you ever played?
Crow: Pong, in all honestly. And then the original Magnavox Odyssey for the television, where you had to throw a mat on the screen and follow the ball around like it was a haunted house. I had Odyssey II when that came out. I had a bunch of weird handhelds—it was like a big stick. I forget what that was called. The first computer I had was the Timex Sinclair 1000. I had the 16K RAM extension. It was one of the things where you could buy books or get magazines, and type in all the games, and that’s how you made them. You could play them that way and then save them on cassette tapes.
Gameological: What are you working on that’s kept you so crushingly busy?
Crow: A Pinback record, but I’m not allowed to talk about how close it is to being done. Keep in mind that I just said I could relax. Maybe that’ll throw you something. I just had a bunch of shows in different bands. I just had an Optiganally Yours band where we had to train new dancers and show them the blocking, and a Pinback show, and a Devits show which is my Evil Misfits audio-visual band.
Gameological: What was the deal with November Fireflight, the flash game on Pinback’s website when Autumn Of The Seraphs came out?
Crow: I didn’t know too much about it, except like, “Oh hey, this guy wants to make a game,” and, “Oh great, I’ve always wanted to have a video game of something I did!” And then you get to level two, and it stinks! It doesn’t work, and you can’t finish it, and I get so bummed, and no one ever fixed it. You play for two levels, and then you can’t do anything. It drives me nuts. It figures, I finally get a video game, and I can’t play it! Without saying too much, the last two Pinback limited edition 7-inches have something video game-centric about them, but that’s all I can say. People need to find out the secrets for themselves.
Gameological: Will these secrets be revealed upon the release of the next album?
Crow: People have figured out how to make them work so far. One guy made a short video of what it was, and how to do it. He even fixed it up a little more. But that was only for the first seven-inch. The second seven-inch, I think only one guy has figured it out?
Gameological: How has having children affected the way you write music?
Crow: Obviously, there’s not as much time to seriously work and concentrate on things. But it’s fine. I made a few records, almost the whole entire time I was recording them, there was a baby with me or a kid on my knee. It’s exciting in a way, hanging and playing the instruments with a kid just sitting on my lap. They like it, and I like it. I think it’s a cool family experience, if you could pull it off and concentrate that hard.
Gameological: As your kids start to grow up, do you find them being drawn how to learn music? Do they want to follow Dad?
Crow: Kind of. I don’t want to push them into things they don’t want to do. They seem to like everything I do at this point, but I don’t really know. They have to hear it all the time. They have music that they make too, that I help them with. They like to play all the instruments in the house. They really, really like it when I walk in, and one of them will just be bashing away on something. It’s like, “Yahhh!!”
Gameological: How has having kids changed the way you play video games?
Crow: They always want to play video games, and even if they don’t want to, they want to watch me play video games. And when I don’t have time to do that: “Daddy, can I watch you play World Of Warcraft? Daddy, can I watch you play Old Republic?” And I’m like, “Okay. I guess so. It’s an excuse to hang out together, okay. I’ll play some video games with you.”
Gameological: That’s amazing to me. Has playing games with your kids become like reading to them? Is it like “Dad, tell me a story?”
Crow: Not at all, because we do that more than we play video games. I read to them every night, at least once a day. My six-year-old has turned into a vigilant reader, so that’s one of the things where, “Someday when you’re older you can play Warcraft, but you really need to know how to read first.” [Laughs.]
Gameological: So games are ultimately an educational lure?
Crow: Like a carrot on a stick.
Gameological: So last time around when you had a Pinback video game, it didn’t turn out exactly how you wanted it to, since you couldn’t play past the second level. So what’s your fantasy version of a Pinback video game?
Crow: Probably just a pinball table.
Gameological: What would be the graphic on a Pinback pinball table?
Crow: I don’t know if it’s possible, but a style in which you can rotate the graphics at some point. Or things change. If you’ve got a good pinball game, you can play it until the end of time. There’s a physical element with an occasional bleeps and blurbs, and a cool thing that makes you laugh, which is kind of like how the band can be. If we’re doing good. A good pinball machine, you’re going to play it more because there’s no beginning or end to it.
Gameological: What’s the best alcoholic beverage and video game combination?
Crow: Gee whiz, I don’t know. I don’t usually like to drink at home. [Laughs.] And if I’m playing video games, I’m at home. I might have a couple of Newcastles or something. But it’s really fun to drink at a bar and play video games. I guess it would have to be a beer, because it’s so portable. You can put it down, pick it back up at any point. It’s more of a tool. [Laughs.] It’s like a hammer of alcohol. You can pick it up, swing it at something, use it, put it back, whereas if you’re having a cocktail, you don’t really have time to play foosball.
And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.