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"This is the greatest catalog in modern music, and we’re just happy to offer it in this way to a new audience as well as the fanatics."
—-Van Toffler, MTV
VAN TOFFLER TALKS THE BEATLES: ROCK BAND
MTV Exec Tells How a Chance Meeting With Dhani Harrison Led to Game
MTV and Harmonix’ The Beatles: Rock Band comes out 9/9/09. Our old buddy Van Toffler tells the story of how it came about to HITS’ own fool on the hill, Roy “All You Need Is Shmaltz” Trakin.

What the heck were you and Dhani Harrison doing in the same place?
I was on vacation in the Caribbean with my family and met this guy I’d known for a long time, who invited me to lunch, and Dhani turned out to be there. I’m a big George Harrison fan, and you can’t believe how much he looks like his father. So we started talking and he revealed he’d been up all night playing Guitar Hero. Now, MTV had just bought Harmonix, the company that first developed the game. He mentioned how great it would be if you could include the whole band, which was funny, because we were just about to put out Rock Band. We then discussed how incredible it would be to do this with the Beatles’ music. So I put Dhani together with the Harmonix folks, and they championed it to Apple Corps, their shareholders, his mom Olivia, Yoko, Paul and Ringo. It was a two-year audition, but Olivia told me that was the quickest the four of them have ever had anything like this done. The input from all of those folks has been diverse and wonderful—it made the game great. Clearly, the Beatles’ music and history merits this kind of involvement. But it wouldn’t have happened without Apple Corps’ Jeff Jones and Jonathan Clyde, as well as Giles Martin.

What did each of them contribute to the process?
Coming at it from an artist’s perspective, Yoko gave us great visual advice. Olivia is more of a look-and-feel person; she opened up her vaults for photos, instruments that George played, which influenced the way we did the avatars. For Paul, it was all about the music, the stories behind the songs that led to the different dreamscapes. And Ringo, obviously the drummer, a rhythmic guy, gave us input into the feel of the game. You have to create these stems for the game by taking each instrument and reconstructing it. In each case, we used the original masters, and it just sounds unbelievable. This is the first time we’ve had three-part harmonies in the game, too.

The game will turn future generations on to the Beatles’ music and history.
Absolutely, but it will also enable 50- and 60-year-olds to get into gaming for the first time.

The graphics look fantastic.
We want to lift several of the songs and dreamscapes whole and run them as videos on MTV, VH1 and VH1 Classic. I truly believe there would’ve been no MTV without the Beatles.

This is as close to interacting with the Beatles as technology allows.
And the only way right now you can get the Beatles’ music digitally. This is the greatest catalog in modern music, and we’re just happy to offer it in this way to a new audience as well as the fanatics.

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