This week's Community Interview is with bryanhargrave
, probably one of the
most mobile gamers on this website! Get ready for the pictures... it's gonna be a good one!
____________________________________D: Thanks for your time for this Community Interview. I know you’re a very busy person. You’ve just been away which is why we ran DaveKinetic’s interview last week.
BH: yeah, last week i was out of the country with flaky internet. did a bit of work in england, the netherlands and then germany. thanks for not giving up on me.D: So why were you away? Work or pleasure?
BH: business. always business. i work as a guitar tech.D: So a second interview with a kind of music theme in two weeks! What kind of work does being a guitar tech entail?
BH: i travel around with bands and set up their amps/pedals and make sure their guitars are in tip top shape. im the guy in black you see handing off guitars during a show. it keeps me on my toes. some days its all pretty smooth and everything works fine and then other days you find yourself with the guts of a guitar all over your bench trying to figure out why there is a hum or a buzz. once all of the gear works it pretty cut and dry... just make sure the guitars are in tune for each song.D: And how did you find your way in to the job?
BH: a pal of mine worked for a local cover band as their sound guy. they wanted someone to come in and help out setting up the drum kit before the show. i was 17 and thought that was a pretty cool way to score 50 bucks. somehow, 14 years later i am traveling the world making sure that the show goes on without a hitch.D: How long might you be away from home for at any one time?
BH: anywhere from a couple of days to months on end. the longest i have ever stayed on tour without even a peek of my home.... 4 months.D: I’d bet much of that time is spent waiting around, or am I wrong?
BH: there is a lot of time spent waiting. typically quite a few hours per day between sound check and show.D: Can you give us any examples of some bands you’ve toured with recently?
BH: in the past couple of years it has been Pete Yorn, Hanson, and right now I am at production rehearsals for sara bareilles. we leave tomorrow for the first show of a tour supporting Sugarland.D: Of the different groups you’ve worked with, which ones do you remember the most and for what reasons?
BH: i would have to say hanson. i have been with them for over 4 years now. i only work with other artists when hanson isnt on the road. they are great guys and the work environment is awesome. its a good tight crew and we have all been together for a long time. living on a tour bus is like sharing a 350 square foot apartment with 10 other people. youve got to make sure you get along with them otherwise youll kill someone.D: And what would you class as the most difficult aspect of your job?
BH: as much as i love being at work and touring, you certainly do miss a lot of important things at home. i missed my little sisters wedding. that was hard. i have come to expect many of the day to day difficulties of the actual work so i dont really even consider them difficult anymore. its most certainly just being away from friends and family for such long periods of time.D: Having a job which requires a lot of travelling, how does this impact upon your precious Xbox time then? Can you only play when you’re at home?
BH: no matter where i am in the world, i make sure that i spend at least a small bit of time getting my gamerscore up each and every day.D: Our first interviewee who games on the move. So how on earth does that work? What kit do you lug around with you?
BH:i have an xbox back pack. its loaded to the gills and contains pretty much anything i would need in order to play. whether its on a tourbus, a hotel room, or the wall of an airport gate (that one got a lot of looks).D: That sounds brilliant! Got any pictures of the set up we can share with TA?
The projector mounted to a wall with my tripod. This was the only way to hit a wide open wall.
Backpack contents. XBOX, sheet, thumbtacks, speaker, headset, HDMI cable, headset power cable (also fits the projector) ethernet cable, XBOX power supply and extension cable, controller, tripod, projector.
Mobile rig set up on a hotel room desk. USB powered projector and speaker.
The mobile rig set up on an ironing board beside my bed. Another setup just to be able to project to the largest open space in the room.
View of the screen from my bed.
(A video of the mobile rig in action
On the bus. 2 XBOXs and two 19" monitors.
On the bus. 3 XBOXs. 2 on 19" monitors and 1 on the bus tv.
Projected on the side of a trailer in the parking lot of a venue.D: That is bloody brilliant! Gaming on the side of a trailer! Awesome! So with all that kit, do you have to game offline, or have you managed to sort out a way of connecting to Xbox LIVE too?
BH: i connect as much as i can. i have a few ways of being on xbox live. my first effort is always the easiest (but least likely). i scan for wifi in the area. if that isnt available or there is a browser based login page, i go one of two routes.... either i tether my 3G connection from my android phone or i use internet connection sharing on my laptop and take a cat5 cross cable from the laptop to the eithernet port on the xbox. regardless of the means, i always seem to get online.D: And what kinds of games will you play when you’re on tour with a band? Games with short, succinct segments so you can save and quit at the drop of a hat, or do you go for immersive titles to make the time spent on the tour bus/in the hotel room shorter?
BH: we have multiple gamers on our bus so we spend a lot of time playing co-op or competative multiplayer games. we love Halo 3
, Gears of War
, and Left 4 Dead
. that doesnt stop us from spending time without each other. last year i rolled through Red Dead Redemption
campaign while everyone else was playing another game. D: When you’re not touring and you get some well deserved time at home, what do you do to help you relax?
BH: first things first, i enjoy a proper xbox live connection and the ability to game for multiple hours in the day. i never get much more than a couple of hours at a time while on the road.... so its nice to be able to play for the 6 or 8 hours that every man needs. i brew my own beer. i hang out on the back porch with my guitar. i just try to relax. i spend so much time away and working that when i am home i just want to do nothing.D: You brew beer and tour with bands? You sound like a kind of super hero, to me at least... Do you brew easy to drink pints, or really strong ‘knock you off your feet’ percentage beers?
BH: yeah. i took up the hobby about 2 years ago and love it. i have always been kind of a beer snob and just thought it would be neat to see if i could make something as good as the beers i love. i am really in to hoppy beer with high abv%. if i wanted to drink water, i would. i need something with some kick.D: How long does it take to brew beers from start to finish?
BH: from brew day to the first sip... about a month. boiling takes an evening. two weeks later i bottle and then two weeks later i get drunk.D: And what constitutes the perfect pint for you? Certain ingredients, aftertaste, or does it just have to be wet and non-fatal?
BH: im an ale man. i like a good bite to the beer. lots and lots of hops.D: How many pints do you get from an average ‘batch’? If it’s too many, I can always come visit and help you out.
BH: i get 5 gallons, which typically works its way out to about 36 pints. all for about 30 dollars worth of ingredients.D: In terms of other hobbies, I’d guess as a guitar tech you can also play guitar. Do you noodle around much, or are you often sick of the sight of guitars by the time you get to put your feet up at home?
BH: oddly, i didnt play much at all before i got the job. now i have a couple of acoustics and a ukulele. im not very serious about my playing. at the end of a tour, i dont even look at my guitars for a while. after a couple of weeks i always get the itch to just sit with one in my lap for a bit. its relaxing and slightly productive.D: Did you learn Smoke on the Water first as DaveKinetic did (along with countless others in the comments!)
BH: ha, oddly no. my first was sanitarium by metallica. smoke on the water wasnt long after that.D: Let’s chat about the Xbox exclusively now. Did you follow the recent E3 coverage? What caught your eye the most from the flurry of announcements?
BH: i was in london during e3. on stage doing a sound check. i found it streaming live and watched it on my phone giving updates to the other guys between songs. im so nerdy that i had set an alarm for it. i think that i am most excited about the dashboard update, more functionality for kinect and Gears of War 3
.D: How do you feel about the Xbox 360 as a console? I mean, it is technically aging in terms of it’s internal components. Do you feel that it’s got more to give for a while? Would you be happy with that?
BH:as long as they keep adding to its functionality and streamlining the interface, i think its a great console. i use it as a full service multimedia device. when not gaming, i use netflix and hulu, when not wathing programming i stream my photos and music so that the room has some movement. my tv is never off of the xbox input. someone would be hard pressed to say i dont use it to its max potential.D: I ask as there were rumours circulating in certain corners of the internet that Microsoft are working on a new console for unveiling at E3 2012. Now, personally I think that’s a load of bull cooked up by a bored individual. Microsoft have stated that they will be supporting Xbox and Kinect for a while yet. Are you happy with the more prominent role Kinect is taking in terms of the Xbox experience?
BH:i love kinect. more than the gaming, i love using it to watch movies. i am so excited that its being integrated more in controlling the dash. things like voice search and finger tracking are really exciting to me.D: I’m glad to find someone who supports Kinect as much as I do. Also, I notice from your Gamercard that you have a Windows Phone 7 device. How is that working for you?
BH: its been great. i purchased the phone without a contract. i dont even use it as a phone. it is strictly a gaming device. i use the wireless tether on my android to update my gamerscore or to download new games. most of the games are a pretty easy 200. sadly there are a few that are glitchy. all and all, im still happy i got the thing, sure as crap sold my PSP that same day. now if they can just figure out multiplayer....D: When it comes to picking up new titles, how do you tend to deal with that being on the move so much, and often in different countries. Will you pick up a bunch of PAL titles before you jet off?
BH:i only buy games when im in the US. i almost never pre order becuase i dont know if i am going to be in the city in which i pre ordered. if i want a game on release day, i try best buy. they always seem to have things on day 1. for less time sensitive purchases, game stop.D: Despite your sporadic gaming hours, you have managed to accrue a decent set of stats on your TA page. 76% completion, 1.4+ TA ratio... Are these just by products of ‘getting your game on’, or do you game with TA stats in mind?
BH: i love playing games. i love getting gamerscore. the acheivement pop sound is the text message sound on my phone. i love completion. i try not to buy a game if i know its going to be insanely hard to complete. Then again, if i know a game is going to be great, some times i just suck it up. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas
for example. i dont enjoy the online, but i enjoy the campaign. i played the living crap out of it and moved on. Conversely, if i dont like a game, i will stop playing it despite the low score i will have. i dont want to let the gamerscore effect my happiness. short answer, yeah, i worry about my scores
while still making sure im enjoying great gaming.D: We mentioned briefly the unfounded rumour of a new Xbox console. How would you like to see Microsoft further their Gamerscore/stats tracking?
BH: i am really happy with the tracking. if i could come up with something better, id go work for xbox. there are a few things i would like to change about the dashboard... like being able to subdivide friends... for example, a folder of people i only boost gears with, or a folder of people in different groups that i know. id also like better music management for streaming from my laptop. but gamerscore... its pretty perfect.D: I bet Microsoft never knew what they’d hit on with the invention of Gamerscore. Has it changed the way you play games? Do you maybe dive straight in on the highest difficulty to avoid repetitive play-throughs?
BH: i had an original xbox and was a casual gamer. gamerscore changed my whole life. xbox is a main focus for me. i would have given up on plenty of games early on had they not had gamerscore. i hated BioShock (Xbox 360)
in the first couple of hours. a low percentage drew me back to the game and it has become one of my favorites. as far as difficulty, i start off on legendary if i can.D: Of the achievements you’ve unlocked to date, which one, or ones, are you most proud of?
BH: beating inferno 2 on Trials HD
was one of my proudest moments. i think i may have even jumped in the air when it popped.D: What was the last game you completed to the full Gamerscore?
BH:countless WP7 games. Portal 2
isnt complete yet but all i need are the 2 that i can only get by being online. right now i am counting that as done... because i will get those the second i get home and can organize a boost.D: So do you class a ‘full’ Gamerscore as 1000GS, or do you include DLC achievements too?
BH: dlc. i am a sucker for it. i buy every one for every game i have. of course it counts as the true measure of being complete.D: Looking at your TA stats, you’ve played around 121 games. Which one stands out the most for you so far?
BH: Trials HD
. its also the only game i have reviewed
on ta. i also always go back to gears and tetris.D: Are there any titles you’ve not gotten around to playing yet? I’m amassing a serious backlog. Brink, Crysis 2, LA: Noire... I need to step up my pace!
BH: i own Alan Wake
. havent even touched it. i need to finish the campaign of BioShock 2 (Xbox 360)
and i seriously need to get on Grand Theft Auto IV
and Halo: Reach
. D: Will you get around to playing any of these when you next head out on tour?
BH: more than likely i wont touch any of these titles for a while. I am gonna focus on finishing up the 5 star acheivement for L.A. Noire
.D: So when will that next tour be, and who will it be with? Will you be gone long?
BH: after finishing up this short run with sara bareilles i will be spending all of july at home. in august things start back up for me with hanson and we will roll until the end of 2011. some international.... which makes it hard because the 360 power supply doesnt play well with 240 volts. the proper transformer for it weighs 8lbs and costs about 80 american dollars. not too convenient, but i have purchased one before!D: Drawing out chat to a close now, is there anything you’d like to squeeze in before we sign off?
BH:thanks for the website. i use it daily. the amount of data this place has it mind blowing. gaming on the 360 wouldnt be the same with out it.
My thanks to Bryan for taking the time out of his mad schedule to talk to us and share an insight into gaming on the road!
I'm also sad to say, this is my last Community Interview. Don't worry though, it's not the end of the road for the Community Interview articles! Another Newshound will be taking them over, and details on who you should PM in the future will be available soon. I have to say though, what an interview to go on! Those set up pictures were incredible!
It's been a pleasure speaking to as many of you all as I have, and there's been some really great reads available on a Sunday because of you all.
Unfortunately the time taken to get these interviews written, sent out, tweaked, fine tuned and tweaked again isn't available to me as easily these days. So rather than see backups pushed out or deadlines missed, it's time to pass the baton on to another Newshound so that the interviews keep on going from strength to strength!
I'm not leaving or going anywhere, so I'll still be around posting articles! See you all in another thread!
If you'd like to be feature in a Community Interview, send a PM to DavieMarshall
. I'll be sure to pass it on to your next quiz-master!