Wednesday night, during GDC week, Harmonix held a special surprise for fans of Rock Band, providing press with a glimpse of Green Day: Rock Band.

Held at the RockIt Room in San Francisco (with an open-bar courtesy of MTV Games and Harmonix), press and friends were invited to check out the new product and interact with studio heads.

I interviewed both John Drake, Rock Band Network Manager for Harmonix (who sings a mean Eric Cartman version of “Poker Face”), and Harmonix CEO, Alex Rigopulus.

From what we were shown of Green Day: Rock Band, the game will retain an on-tour motif, the gameplay backgrounds were set to a series of on-stage performances – decorated with features you might find at an actual Green Day concert.

Harmonies will return for Green Day: Rock Band as well, so your multiple mic-stand setups will not be left wanting. Character models were very striking and well put together, right down to minute details on the instruments.

Previously, we detailed a number of tracks you’ll get to hear in Green Day: Rock Band – however, the songs that were featured at the event were:

  • “Wake Me Up When September Ends”
  • “Hitchin’ A Ride”
  • “Brain Stew/Jaded”
  • “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”
  • “American Idiot”

I spoke with John Drake on a number of subjects:

The look of Green Day: Rock Band:

“I think that the Harmonix style of single-artist games has been to work super closely with the artist and their cadre of people who help manage how the band’s image appear and whenever they’re happy with it, the fans are usually happy with it. So we don’t rush out and throw character models together, we really massage and make sure it’s great and works really well. We’re really happy with the way it looks and It’s looking more polished every day. [Green Day Rock Band has been in development for 18 months].”

Additional content for The Beatles: Rock Band:

“No, we don’t have anything to announce for Beatles Rock Band. With Green Day Rock Band coming out and just having launched the Rock Band Network, cracking 1200-1300 DLC songs total, and we just announced Rock Band 3. We have a lot of projects on the table at the moment, but support for Beatles Rock Band is nothing we will talk about at GDC.”

Rock Band Network:

“[We’re] really excited about it. I’m the program manager for Rock Band Network, so part of my job is finding bands to give the game and getting them involved, getting labels setup with tools or partnering them with studios like The Authority in Boston or Rock Gamer Studios in New York who are like authoring houses. The fact that we launched 105 songs for DLC in one day on 360 is crazy and ****ing insane. Essentially the biggest single day ever for title launch, Rock Band 2 previously had 84 songs + 20 on disc, so we managed to beat Rock Band 2 by one song for a single day DLC increase. My band (The Main Drag) has 11 songs on the queue right now and there’s a ton of great stuff on the website that’s not all the way through the process, so we’re going to keep rolling out DLC every day. We have stuff from The Shins coming up, Flight of the Conchords, metal bands, punk bands. We managed to cover a huge amount of ground already and we’re hoping to just continue that growth.

Rock Band Network puts the control of release schedules and stuff like that in the hands of the artists and their community and our online community and not about Harmonix putting a song on the schedule six months in advance. If someone wants to release a whole album, they don’t have to wait on us to do it anymore. The control is totally in the hands of the artists.”

I also spoke with Alex Rigopulus as well – after he performed on stage as a drummer.

Rock Band Network:

“We’re trying to work very closely with our partners to cultivate the platform, but, I think for us, Rock Band Network is a huge aspect to the future of Rock Band. We’re trying to eliminate Harmonix as a bottleneck to getting content on to the platform. What my hope is over the next year or two is that there’s going to be an explosion of content that’s available on Rock Band. Far more if we were just licensing and producing it all ourselves and we’re already seeing that. In the first month after beta and after we launched the thing, there’s an incredibly rich pallet of content available for the platform and that’s just going to explode over the next few months.”

Rock Band 3:

“Unfortunately I can’t say anything about Rock Band 3 at this point except that it’s coming this fall and it’s a big step forward for Rock Band. This has been a two-year development cycle on this title and it’s a pretty significant level up from where we’ve been. We’re pretty excited about unveiling it at E3 this year. Holiday 2010 release.”

Green Day: Rock Band

“As it always is with a product like this, it’s critical that we’re working very closely with the band. It’s all about the band, their music, and what they’re trying to accomplish with their music and we want the gameplay experience to amplify and enhance it. Yes, they were close collaborators with this project and I think that will show with the final result.”

Rock Band‘s future

“Big plans, of course, for the franchise, but nothing I can say at this point.”

The rivalry between the Guitar Hero franchise and Rock Band

“Honestly, we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the rivalry between the two franchises. We’re really just focused on, not just Rock Band, but the [music game] category as a whole and what we need to do to get there. And for us, that’s just a secondary consideration.”

Under the circumstances of an open-bar and on-stage Rock Band play sessions, I was grateful to have been able to spend time with the Harmonix crew – I’m sure all music fans alike will enjoy what’s to come with the future of Rock Band, I certainly am.

Stay tuned to Game Rant for more details on Green Day: Rock Band and Rock Band 3 as they develop.