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Dropping the Drumsticks

A rock musician swaps his drumsticks for a camera

2 min read

This past June, IEEE Spectrum photo editor Randi Silberman Klett asked photographer Joshua Dalsimer if he’d like to shoot Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy, the creators of Rock Band, the popular video game that lets players perform songs using instrument-shaped controllers. At the time, Randi couldn’t have known how perfect her choice of photographer was. Not only does Dalsimer play the game, he’s in the game.

Before becoming a photographer, Dalsimer was the drummer for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, a ska-core band from Boston. The Bosstones are most famous for their 1997 megahit ”The Impression That I Get” (refrain: ”I’ve neeeever had to knock on wood”—just YouTube it). But it was another hit, ”Where’d You Go?” that made it into Rock Band.

”It’s really fun to be immortalized in Rock Band,” says Dalsimer, who now lives in New York City.

On a July afternoon, Dalsimer stepped into the Middle East, a Cambridge, Mass., indie rock club, to photograph Rigopulos and Egozy. Their company, Harmonix Music Systems, is set to release the much anticipated The Beatles: Rock Band this month [see "The Making of The Beatles: Rock Band" in this issue].

It was a nostalgic homecoming for Dalsimer, who’d performed at the nightclub quite a few times. ”Returning there was like my past and present were colliding,” he says.

Dalsimer started with the Bosstones in the mid-1980s, when he was 16. The band went on to record several successful albums. He split from the group in 1991 and played in a couple of other bands. In the late 1990s, after taking up photography, he decided to swap his drumsticks for a camera. Did his first career help him with the one that followed?

”They’re both in the background, and I like that,” he says. ”There’s also the heavy equipment to carry.”

For the shoot at the Middle East, the idea was to create the feel of a live performance, with the Harmonix guys rocking out on stage. Everything looked good, except for one thing—there was no music.

”They had to totally fake it,” Dalsimer says. ”They did great.”

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