Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Pat Larocque, who is displayed on card number 3335, from the Superstars of 2020 Collection. Patrick is an accomplished musician who has used his talent to do music for top video game and media companies. He also is a superior video game player with multiple records on such games as Spider Fighter, Dolphin and Laser Blast for the Atari 2600. Pat was the first person to hit a million on Asteroids for the Emulator and original Atari 2600 hardware. You can see even more of his world record on the Twin Galaxies website by clicking here.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
First time I met Walter Day was in the early 2000's at an event at Funspot in NH. I wasn't participating in the event, I was just a spectator and from what I remember it was just a quick introduction and handshake. It wasn't until a few years ago when I started submitting for a couple of WR's that we started communicating and quickly became friends.
What song have you created that means the most to you and how did it come about?
Being a Session Musician I don't get to 'create' songs often as opposed to collaborate on them but I would have to say probably some of the DLC songs that I have worked on for the Rocksmith games by Ubisoft probably mean the most to me. Of course, there's the whole video game aspect to it, but also because I got to essentially re-create some songs, and work with a lot of artists that really had a huge influence on me and my playing growing up. It came about around 2008-2009 when I got an offer to work with the Ubisoft office out of Montreal and do some consulting on their upcoming Rocksmith release. It was probably the best, but also the most challenging times that I can remember as far as any 'job' I've had up until that point simply because of the amount of detail, depth and precision that they've managed to achieve and put in to those titles.
What does it take to be a successful musician today?
Learn, learn and learn!! The music industry landscape has changed so dramatically in recent years and continues to do so at an increasing pace, that the best advice I can give anyone who wants a successful career in the industry is to learn every aspect of it. Not just your instrument, but learn the recording process of it, learn the business aspect of it, learn the promotion side of it, learn as much as you can no matter how 'irrelevant' it seems!
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
I remember we had a Coleco Gemini system when I was about 4-5 years old. It was an Atari 2600 clone that came with the Donkey Kong and Mouse Trap carts, although I don't remember spending much time playing it probably because of the age I was. I do however remember very vividly getting a NES a few years later for Christmas and that really changed my whole outlook on video games at the time, again probably because of the age I was when it came out.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
I think they're some great new titles out there and it has been pretty fascinating watching the evolution of video games over the years but for me personally, I 've always gravitated back to the classics. There's always going to be that 'childhood nostalgic' connection for me with the classics but overall, it just comes down to more of the 'time' factor for me. I'm a big fan of hitting the power and getting right into the process as opposed to spending huge amounts of time on storylines or load screens, again, just because of the limited amount of time I have to play.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
I spent some of my childhood collecting Hockey cards etc. and have recently started collecting again with my Son a few years ago, but I never thought I would ever be on any kind of trading card!
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the trading card? If so, where?
Not that I'm aware of, pretty sure this is the first.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
If I could describe Walter Day in one word it would have to be 'Passionate'! No matter what Walter is doing or what he's involved with, he always does it with a level of passion that you see in very few people. The amount of energy he has is simply amazing, he always gives 110% to everything.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
I've actually just got a 2DS XL a few weeks ago and have been really enjoying it so far. It's my favorite because it's honestly the first portable gaming device I've ever owned surprisingly!
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
Last few years I've been re-discovering the Atari 2600 and spending a fair amount of time on Dragster, Centipede, Spider-Fighter, Pitfall! and most recently Donkey Kong on the arcade. I don't really think I have a favorite genre of game, much like music I tend to enjoy and try games across all genres.
When did you begin your podcast and what inspired you to do so?
I currently don't have a podcast.
Which console company is your favorite and why? Nintendo, Sony, Sega, or Microsoft?
I would have to say Nintendo because in my opinion, there's no other console company that has created as many memorable characters and games over the years than Nintendo has. Doesn't matter if you're 80 years old or 8 years old, everyone knows who Mario and Donkey Kong are!
How does video game music influence games past and present?
I think it has a huge influence on games but in different ways. I find more emphasis was put on the music in older games to make it as 'part of the game' as opposed to just 'background' on a lot of the newer games. A lot of the older games the music was just as memorable than the game itself.... you can play the Super Mario Bros. or Zelda music and most people instantly recognize what game it's from and you just don't see much of that anymore. There's the odd time where I would be listening to the radio and a song comes on and my son says "That song is on this or that game" which is really cool but overall it doesn't nearly have the same personal effect on me that the music had in older games. To this day I still feel anxiety when playing Space Invaders and the music starts getting more intense as the rows go down lol, that says a lot when the game and music connected together can have that effect on you! Maybe I'm also being a little cynical because I've seen firsthand and have been directly involved in the music process of how it works these days, but because there's been such a drastic change in the overall 'look' of the games it seems that the music now is more of an afterthought or fill-in to compliment the graphics or gameplay,as opposed to being 'part of' the game iself.....anytime that I've ever done any kind of work with any video game companies, except for the Rocksmith DLC I worked on, 9 times out of 10 the whole game is mostly completed before I'm even contacted for any kind of music for it.
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
I think some video games are a little too over the top but I just choose not to play them, end of story, to each their own! I think when people say it "leads to violence" it's a short-cut to actually thinking and using common sense because for the most part, violence is a personal choice....playing a video game or listening to certain types of music or even watching certain television shows or movies will not make you violent unless you choose to be violent. I realize that some people are naturally more prone to be violent than others, but that's more based on mental health or chemical imbalance or whatever the case may be. It's simply easier to say "he did this, or that, because of that video game or music" than to actually use common sense and deal with reality of whatever the situation is at the time. Video games are just the new 'scape-goats' just like the music was a few decades ago, and the comic books were a few decades before that.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
Depends what I'm playing but I would probably have to say against friends because some of the fondest memories I've had over the years is sitting on the tour bus for hours, doing EA NHL and NFL tournaments with bandmates. It became a huge bonding experience for us and probably one of the few things that all kept us sane sometimes on the longer tours.
What music did you listen to growing up?
I listened to a lot of Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin and basically anything that was heavily 'guitar based' but I was also very influenced by a lot of the older Punk like Bad Brains, Cro-Mags, Black Flag etc. Eventually as I got older, I started listening to more Metal bands like Slayer, Exodus and Testament....it had the 'attitude' that I liked from the Punk music along with the 'guitar riff' based stuff like Sabbath so it was kind of the best of both worlds to me.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
Definitely would have to say without a doubt that I've learned how to focus better because of video games. Music is such a huge part of my life and who I am, even when I'm not working, I'm thinking of music or work in one way or another. With video games, it's one of the few things that can absolutely shut my mind off from thinking about work or anything music related.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
For me personally they are great at relieving stress, I actually have an Atari 2600 and original NES setup in my work studio for precisely that purpose. It's been wonderful having something to divert my attention for anywhere from 5-20 minutes at a time if I'm feeling a little overwhelmed or need to take a break from whatever I'm working on. It's just as relaxing for me as fishing or watching a movie with my Son but on a smaller time frame.
What other music genres are you interested in and why?
I listen to a lot of old Delta Blues also and I really got interested in quite a lot of Classical music as well when I first stopped touring full-time and decided to pursue my studies at Berklee College of Music. I was especially fascinated by how connected and intertwined it is with all styles of music, you can't listen to any kind of modern music without hearing the roots of it in Classical music and this became especially apparent to me being from a classic rock/metal backround. Any kind of heavy metal or 'rock' song you can immediately see the correlation between a lot of the low tunings and beats to what Wagner was doing in his time period, or when listening to a blazing guitar solo by Yngwie or Page, or anyone, again you immediately see a direct connection to Paganini's Caprices in a subtle way....it's where it all began,and to me that's always been one of the most interesting aspects of that style of music in particular.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
My favorite video game character would have to be Mario because that is the character that started my love of video games when I was a child. I remember countless hours spent playing the first 3 Super Mario Bros. games growing up and have also spent quite a bit of time bonding with my Son over the same games as he's growing up. I think it's physically impossible to be in a bad mood when playing any of those early Mario titles, no matter how young or old you are!
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘video game music’?
Instantly brings me back to my childhood with all those great NES classics like Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, Dr. Mario, Contra....the list just goes on! To me, some of those early game soundtracks were just as memorable as the games themselves.
What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?
That's really a tough one! I don't think I would be able to choose a single one but the ones I've been spending the most time for single player would have to be Spider-Fighter and Dragster for the Atari 2600, and also Donkey Kong on the arcade. As far as multiplayer games go, my favorite would have to be Mario Kart 7 against my Son!
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
I think Ubisoft really nailed it with the Rocksmith games so my idea is already taken lol! The idea of playing actual instruments in a video game really appeals to me.... the only thing I would change is maybe adding an 'online' feature that allows you to play and learn with other people as you progress through the game.
If you were not a musician, what do you see yourself doing?
If I wasn't a full-time musician, I would have to say that I would probably be working on the road crew or recording engineer or something of that sort.... anything closely related to the music aspect of it more than likely. If I couldn't be playing, I would definitely still have to be around it in one way or another.
Are you still involved in the music industry today, and what role do you play?
Yes, I'm still very much involved in the music industry today, I don't tour full-time anymore but I still do quite a bit of session work and contract work with various records companies, video game companies and media companies doing a wide range of work for tv and radio commercials, recording engineering and consulting. I've also gone back to filling-in on the odd tour and travelling a little more often now that my Son is older.
Where do you see video gaming in the next 20 years?
I can see video gaming and esports becoming an even bigger industry than it is today because much like music industry, you're always going to have the next generation to push it even further than previously, especially with the leaps and bounds in technology these last couple of decades. I can definitely see it rival if not surpass most other forms of media entertainment just for the simple fact that it's so engrained in our culture and everyday life in one form or another whether it be on consoles, pc's or your smart phone, video games are everywhere and continue to grow more and more every year. There's always going to be the next generation coming in with new ideas and innovations, but at the same time they will also have access to a huge catalogue of past 'classics' to always go back to.