Brian Gibson: Lightning Bolt Bassist By Night, Video Game Designer By Day

To brew his distinctive earth-crunching, head-banging bass sounds for the monumental noise band Lightning Bolt, Brian Gibson constructs some of the most complex playing techniques and pedal arrangements known to rock.

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Apr 28 2010, 1:46pm

Above: Brian Gibson: A Total Change in Lifestyle

To brew his distinctive earth-crunching, head-banging bass sounds for the monumental noise band Lightning Bolt, Brian Gibson constructs some of the most complex playing techniques and pedal arrangements known to rock. With a high level of distortion, intense playing style, and high register tuning (his bass guitar is set to standard cello tuning and includes a banjo string) Brian is often mistaken for a guitarist.

He’s not, but he still gets to play one on TV. As one of the lead artists for Harmonix, the video game dynamo behind the million-selling games Guitar Hero and Rock Band, Brian’s spent the past few years using his ears, eyes and thumbs to help make anyone an ax shredder. His unlikely video game saga began as a teenager, with the advent of 16-bit video game art. After training as a painter in art school, Brian turned his attention to animation and eventually gaming.

Nearly a decade after leaving the zany Providence art warehouse Fort Thunder, the artist, musician and gaming designer invites Motherboard over to his new home, where he shares his work (which includes the animated series Barkley’s Barnyard Critters) and his philosophy on gaming. He also shows us “Thumper,” a crazy experimental gaming design concept he’s been working on in his spare time. Brian’s still got a healthy schedule of aggressive rock shows and rowdy art projects, but he’s also in awe of his transition into the clean and controlled world of digital gaming.

See also our music series, Electric Independence and Oral History of Gaming series, featuring Eric Zimmerman and Ralph Baer, and Sid Meier.

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