Freezepop: Synth-Pop Revelry For The Xbox You probably haven't heard the band Freezepop on the radio. But if you've played the games Guitar HeroM or Rock Band, you've probably played along to its music. The Boston band spoke about playing for crowds and playing for Playstation.
NPR logo

Freezepop: Synth-Pop Revelry For The Xbox

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Freezepop: Synth-Pop Revelry For The Xbox

Freezepop: Synth-Pop Revelry For The Xbox

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

(Soundbite of music)


If this doesn't sound quite like a live rock concert, it's because I am playing the song "Less Talk More Rokk" by the band Freezepop in Guitar Hero 2. And I must admit, not actually playing it very well. Freezepop has developed a following among people who play their songs and dance to their songs in video games like this one. Freezepop band members Jussi Gamache and Kasson Crooker joined us from WGBH in Boston. Oh, now I'm on a roll.

(Soundbite of music) ..TEXT: ROBERTS: Before we get started, I should mentioned that you guys actually don't use those names on stage. Your alter egos are Liz Enthusiasm and the Duke of Pannenkoeken.

Mr. KASSON CROOKER (The Duke of Pannenkoeken, Freezepop): That's correct. That's me.

ROBERTS: Do you mind if I use those names because I prefer them?

Ms. JUSSI GAMACHE (Liz Enthusiasm, Freezepop): Oh, please do. Yeah.

Mr. CROOKER: You could probably not.

ROBERTS: How often do I get a chance to call someone...

Ms. GAMACHE: We prefer them as well.

ROBERTS: Good. Oh, I'm so glad to hear it. So, Duke, you work for Harmonics. That's the company that created Rock Band and Guitar Hero. How did you get your songs in the games?

Mr. CROOKER: Years ago, I was actually hired to write songs for some of the very first games that Harmonics made, and they knew that I was in kind of a fun, quirky synth-pop band. And they're like, well, why don't you include one of your songs in there, as well? And it kind of took off from there. And we've had a song in almost every single music game that Harmonics has made since then.

ROBERTS: The song "Less Talk More Rokk" which - you created it just for Guitar Hero 2, is that right?

Mr. CROOKER: I had already started that song, and it was kind of in its infancy. And then when I knew that we had a possibility of having it be in the game, it kind of like took a little bit of a left turn. And I think that's where the main synth part was kind of custom-tailored for the game because I knew it would be really fun to play.

(Soundbite of song "Less Talk More Rokk")

ROBERTS: What changed after your song started being in video games? Did you notice it in your crowds at live shows?

Ms. GAMACHE: Oh, yeah, definitely. Before, when we would play shows locally, there'll be a lot of people there. But you know, nobody outside of Boston had heard of us. And then suddenly, people from outside of Boston had this way of hearing about us and these people would come to our shows and have us sign their video game cases. And it was pretty crazy. We were like, oh, wow. This is actually kind of working.

Mr. CROOKER: Yeah.

(Soundbite of song "Science Genius Girl")

FREEZEPOP: (Singing) When I clone a human being, It will be a member of my band. It will be a member of my band.

ROBERTS: The releasing songs through video games model, is it becoming more common? I know that Guns N' Roses released one of the cuts from "Chinese Democracy" through Rock Band 2. Do you think it's sort of the next great music platform?

Mr. CROOKER: I truly think that this is actually kind of a paradigm shift for music, because this experience and engaging with these songs in these music games is an interactive experience. And I think people are just used to the traditional passive experience. And in the case of these games, you're interacting directly with it. And I think it gives you a kind of insight into what it's like to make music. I think for a brief moment in time you actually get to feel like a rock star.

ROBERTS: Can you actually make money by distributing music through video games?

Mr. CROOKER: Actually, surprisingly, you can. You know, there's been a lot of press about how, you know, bands that are in these music games and how it impacts their sales. And it's pretty much true. And it's happened to us, you know. It's been very helpful. I mean, we're not earning millions of dollars from it.

Ms. GAMACHE: Well, you're not.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CROOKER: Yeah.

Ms. GAMACHE: I flew here in my private jet this morning.

Mr. CROOKER: From Allston? From right down the street?

Ms. GAMACHE: Yeah.

Mr. CROOKER: But yeah, I mean, it's definitely a new avenue for bands to help get their music out there.

(Soundbite of song "Stakeout")

FREEZEPOP: (Singing) I know you work across the street, In the Indie record store. I'm thinking someday that we'll meet, I'm thinking we'll do something more. I hide behind my magazine, Then I see you walk on by. I'm not ready to be seen, I'll just sit right here and spy.

ROBERTS: Now, when you're performing that live, there are so many samples and things in there. How much are you actually playing? How much are you pressing buttons?

Mr. CROOKER: Oh, it's all pressing buttons.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CROOKER: Well, you know, we're an electronic band. And a fair amount of our music is on some sort of like backing track, reel to reel, or iPod. So it's kind of a mixture of live and, you know, there is some canned stuff.

Ms. GAMACHE: Yeah, we definitely want the shows to feel exciting. I mean, everybody kind of has that image of an electronic band just kind of standing there behind their laptop and not doing anything. And we, you know, we want our shows to be high energy. The boys have guitars, so they can actually run around, that they're not, you know, stuck behind big keyboard stands.

Mr. CROOKER: Yeah, that's key.

Ms. GAMACHE: Yeah. So, yeah, we want things to be fun.

(Soundbite of song "Chess King"

FREEZEPOP: (Singing) I'm at the mall, I'm cutting school, And it's the middle of the day. I'm in the Spencers, But I'm scoping on the girls over at Rave.

ROBERTS: I was listening to one of your songs, "Chess King," and I was a teenager in the '80s and all those references about hanging out at the mall and wearing Esprit and - it's just, you know, I'm just having some bad high school flashbacks. I was wondering if you all were part of that generation as well.

Mr. CROOKER: Oh, yeah.

Ms. GAMACHE: It's entirely possible.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. CROOKER: Yeah, I was definitely channeling some of my teenage youth and, you know, trying to meet girls in malls.

(Soundbite of song "Chess King")

FREEZEPOP: (Singing) I'll be your Chess King. (He'll do anything) I'll be your Chess King. (He'll wear anything) I'll be your Chess King. (He'll do anything) I'll be your Chess King. (He'll wear anything)

Mr. CROOKER: You know, we all grew up listening to Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, Human League, all those kind of bands. So I consider us to be timeless now.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. GAMACHE: We're 18 years old.

Mr. CROOKER: Beyond a time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ROBERTS: Well, I've been playing your music all week, often with my office door open. And reactions have been mixed. Have you experienced some of that?

Mr. CROOKER: So, some people are like amazed by it and some people are just astounded by it kind of mix?

ROBERTS: Right. That's the mix, exactly. All A adjectives.

Mr. CROOKER: That's a good mix. I've known all along that the music we make could have a kind of a love it or hate it kind of appeal for people. And which actually I'm not super-bothered by, because I think what we found is that the people who love it really, really love it. And then the other people just kind of move on and, you know, listen to Norah Jones or somebody else.

(Soundbite of song "Pop Music Is Not A Crime")

FREEZEPOP: (Singing) Pop music, pop music is not a crime. Pop music, pop music, we write it all the time.

ROBERTS: "Pop Music Is Not A Crime" is kind of a mission statement for Freezepop. Where did this song come from?

Ms. GAMACHE: It guess it kind of is. Actually, oddly enough, I wrote it while I was stuck in jury duty.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. GAMACHE: They make you - you know, when you're waiting to be selected, and they make you sit in that room and there is nothing to do. And I was like, huh, maybe I will use this time to write some lyrics. And there you go. And yeah, I mean it is kind of a mission statement, I guess. It's - you know, we're sort of unapologetic about being kind of goofy pop, light-hearted, fluffy.

Mr. CROOKER: It sets us apart.

(Soundbite of song "Pop Music Is Not A Crime")

FREEZEPOP: (Singing) Listen to me, Give me a minute of your time. Listen to me, And sing along with what you know. Listen to me. Pop music is not a crime. Listen to me. Now I'm on the radio. Listen to me.

ROBERTS: That's the Duke of Pannenkoeken, also known as Kasson Crooker, and Liz Enthusiasm, also known as Jussi Gamache. They joined me from WGBH in Boston. Thank you both so much.

Mr. CROOKER: Oh, thank you.

Ms. GAMACHE: Thank you for having us.

ROBERTS: You can hear more of Freezepop at

(Soundbite of song "Pop Music Is Not A Crime")

FREEZEPOP: (Singing) Now I'm on the radio. Now I'm on the radio. Come dance with me. We've got a beat you can't deny. Come dance with me. And you just can't tell me no. Come dance with me. Pop music is not a crime. Come dance with me. Now I'm on the radio.

In the angsters(ph) overrated spirit of Freezepop, our parting words tonight come from a book put together by Sarah Bynoe. Her publisher describes her as an actress and recovering teen angst poet.

ROBERTS: (Reading) As my teen angst is over, my life has moved on. A quarter life crisis is now my song. It's like teen angst except with bills. I now know we feel the same and climb the same hills. It helps to know I'm not alone, that others wrote those poetic groans.

(Soundbite of song "Pop Music Is Not A Crime")

FREEZEPOP: (Singing) Pop music is not a crime. Come dance with me. Now I'm on the radio. Listen to me. Come dance with me. Now I'm on the radio.

ROBERTS: That's all Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Rebecca Roberts.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.