Music Meets Gaming – Road Rash: Jailbreak

I’m the kind of guy that never really knows what to watch. I’ll spend far too long flipping around Netflix, Tubi, or whatever streaming service I happen to be using, and it gets frustrating when you have to settle on a mediocre title. I don’t recall the same level of irritation when shopping at Blockbuster Video. Watching documentaries like Adjust Your Tracking make me realize how much I miss the experience of going to a video rental store. The movies is one thing, but there was so much more than that such as the snacks, cardboard cut-out displays, and many of them even rented and sold video games.

Much of my early game collection came from a variety of rental stores, but many of these games I no longer have for various reasons. However, one particular purchase made around 22 years ago at a local Rogers Video store still gets me pumped up to play to this day – Road Rash: Jailbreak!

What’s not to like about the Road Rash series of video games? They contain the thrill of speed, the competition of a sports game, and satisfy your blood-lust with the ability to take out opponents with a punch, kick, or bludgeoning with weapons. With Road Rash: Jailbreak, they took advantage of the next-generation of gaming technology to raise not just the graphics to a higher level, but the sound and music as well. In total, there were eighteen different songs included in the game by various artists.

The cool thing about the featured songs is that they didn’t pick from established major label acts at all. All of these bands were independent or lesser-known that were mostly in the early phase of their music careers. The soundtrack as a whole doesn’t get enough of a spotlight since for the most part, none of these bands really broke out. Electronic Arts could have made it easy on themselves and brought in some bigger bands to potentially draw more eyes on the game. In fact, they did do this on the 3DO version of Road Rash with the likes of Soundgarden, Therapy?, and Monster Magnet. The follow-up Road Rash 3D also included notable major-label talents such as The Tea Party, Sugar Ray, and Kid Rock.

This shift to independent and lesser-known artists was smart on several factors. The first of these surely must have been cost. We have here a stable of bands that provide a similar energy or possibly higher energy considering their hunger to expand their respective fan bases at what was likely a fraction of the price tag. To grant exposure for lower-tier bands to a potentially massive worldwide audience seemed like such a forward-thinking idea to me, and they weighed the risk correctly that big names wouldn’t make or break the game. Second, which goes in hand with cost, is volume. Some may argue quality over quantity is the way to go, and I’m usually inclined to agree. But in this case I’d argue the exception breaks the rule. As long as the music is hard-hitting, it was going to work, and this soundtrack manages to pack not only eighteen songs, but they are eighteen songs that contribute wonderfully in their own way to provide a great atmosphere. To license some of those bigger label names, how many songs could they have realistically put on the game for equal money? Half as many?

Business Affairs for Music and Video for Jailbreak was credited to Jim Kennedy, who (assuming I have the right man based on his resume) has since gone on to a Senior Vice President role with Pixar, so he’s to be given at least a portion of the credit for the compilation of talent as far as I can tell. The original press release lists as a selling point that “Music has always played an important part of Road Rash history. For Road Rash Jailbreak, Electronic Arts again pushed the envelope by holding a first-ever, nationwide music search for unsigned and independent label bands to supply the game’s raw, in-your-face soundtrack. The chosen bands and songs were selected from hundreds of submissions throughout North America.” I’m not sure if that responsibility fell to Kennedy, or who else in the development of this game deserves any further, possibly bigger cut of the credit, but the artist featured here are ultimately the ones that are worthy of the recognition, which is the main target of my focus.

As much as I love the game play of Jailbreak, you don’t even need to play the game to peruse the soundtrack. Say you owned the game and learned you couldn’t play it to save your life, you could always use the Jukebox mode of the game to switch between all the tracks to listen to them in their entirety without the game sound effects getting in the way. If you didn’t own the game or a PlayStation, a soundtrack album was released on CD. Unfortunately, not every band on the soundtrack made it to the compilation album. This was likely due to licensing issues between labels or potentially out of a desire to keep the album down to a single CD. Skipping forward to 2022, and you’ve got YouTube and other music streaming services hosting these song, far from the age of collecting AOL internet trial discs and heading to Napster if you couldn’t find the CD.

I seem to learn something new about this franchise and this particular game all the time, such as the fact Michael J. Anderson of Twin Peaks fame played Punt in the cut-scenes. To keep the learning process going, I aimed to dig a bit deeper to learn more about this fairly eclectic group of musicians in the game. It was a tough dig, but here’s what I have located thus far about the musical accompaniment to Road Rash: Jailbreak. In alphabetical over, let’s go through the musical participants in the game, their featured song, and in some cases, hear from the musicians about their contribution to video game history.

The Blacklight Posterboys

Featured Track: “If The Animals Could Talk”

Game Bio:

The Blacklight Posterboys, a 4-piece rock band based in Atlanta, Georgia, live communally in the basement of a vacant furniture warehouse, and insist they like the same things you do. E-mail at: madhannah@mindspring.com

Additional Info:

Though I haven’t painstakingly checked for accuracy in the various biographies available on the internet, their Last.fm and Discogs pages in addition to some archived sources detail much of their lineup history. Of perhaps most interest in terms of the band’s career highlights, they earned a Southern Regional Emmy award in 2000 for contributing a song titled “Have A Nice May” to Atlanta’s Fox 5’s Sweeps Week. The band’s roughly five-year span resulted in two studio albums, a self-titled 1998 release (on which “Animals” was featured) and 2000’s Psychotic Love Songs.

Personal Thoughts:

I’m usually drawn to a song by the music first, but this song was one of those exceptions. The lyrics are highly amusing, pointing out the poor ways in which humans treat animals from the point of view of a guy who couldn’t care less about the animal kingdom’s well being. That’s not to say anything negative about the musical aspects of the song. It’s a bit heavier in parts when compared to the other songs I’ve heard of theirs, which goes well with the rough-and-tumble nature of the game play. There’s great lead guitar work in this song with a memorable solo, and the peaks and valleys in terms of the overall arrangement keeps this song away from conventional structure while being simultaneously quite accessible.

Words from the Creators:

Do you have any memories of how you were afforded a slot on the Road Rash soundtrack?

Curtis Clark (vocalist/guitarist): I’m pretty sure our old manager entered us into some kind of contest.

Mark Dannells (guitarist): I don’t actually remember how we got offered the spot in RR. We were a relatively popular original local band in Atlanta, but we really didn’t tour very much outside the metro area. It was probably one of our music industry contacts that hooked it up.

How did the song “If The Animals Could Talk” come to life? I love the lyrics in the chorus! I know that Curtis is the credited writer, but do you (Mark) recall when the song was first presented to the band?

CC: The song was written as a jab at one of my kids. He had decided to be a vegetarian in a house full of meat eaters. I was playing guitar one night at the dinner table teasing him a little bit.

I don’t really remember presenting it to the band. I just remember out of all the songs I wrote and we wrote as a band, that one always got the biggest reaction.

MD:I joined the Blacklight Posterboys in ’98, maybe? They had already released an EP with the original recording of “Animals” and were getting airplay on the Locals Show on the then very popular 99x radio station.

After I joined, I thought the song could use a sonic update for our upcoming full length CD “Psychotic Love Songs”. I wanted it to have a more modern radio-ish production. That being said, the original version (without me on it), is actually sonically superior to mine, and definitely has its own charm. I was just figuring out how to do digital recording on my computer, so while I really dig some of the arrangement things/parts I came up with, my limited engineering skills are pretty evident when I listen back to that stuff. Although, when I hear my version of “Animals” it’s not too cringy! Curtis wrote the song, but the production vision on “Psychotic Love Songs” was pretty much mine. God, I remember locking myself in our rehearsal room into the wee hours working on that CD.

I believe the song was a reaction to his teenage son declaring he was now a vegetarian! Curtis is self admittedly pretty much the exact opposite of a vegetarian. He likes his hamburger “cheese, meat, and bread”. Oh, and no pickles within 15 miles of his plate.

What was your son’s reaction to the song when you put it all together? Also, did the vegetarian lifestyle take to him?

CC: My son didn’t stay a vegetarian for long once he moved out of the house.

What was the general reaction as to getting your name out there through the game, from the band or from other you knew? Do you feel that the exposure that Road Rash: Jailbreak gave your group (or yourself) any additional opportunities in the music business?

CC: Road Rash definitely looked great on our resume and got us a lot of attention back in those days. I feel like quite a bit of our continuing presence on the internet is due to the Road Rash thing.

MD: Probably the most memorable thing about that whole experience was the kind of brutal music biz lesson learned. We were being managed by a fairly well known Atlanta based musical artist…Maybe he was the liaison to the RR inclusion? Anyway, I can’t remember the exact details, but we were advised by said manager to forfeit any compensation in order to keep our 100% ownership of the song. Now, this would make a bit of sense if this was an exclusive license in perpetuity, but I don’t think that was the case. I have since done TONS of song licensing for various things, and almost none of them are exclusive. Yes, I forfeit 50% of the publishing to certain organizations that use the clips, but I retain 100% of the writers credit. With the popularity of both the game and the song, we figured we lost out on thousands – maybe tens of thousands of dollars by making that decision. Who knows? Curtis would be the one who lost out the most since he was really the sole writer of the song. This type of licensing was relatively new, so I guess we just didn’t understand how that really could have been a great financial decision.

I don’t really remember things changing much after the game was released. It was 2000, and the internet was still kind of new. I don’t even remember if we even had a website or not! We continued to draw pretty well in Atlanta, but I don’t think it had much to do with the game. About a year after RR, and our CD “Psychotic Love Songs” were released I left the band anyway. I was really trying to get a national touring gig, and in January of 2001 I got a call from Trent Reznor’s camp to audition for Nine Inch Nails. To call me a NIN fan, especially in that era, would be a complete understatement. I had literally been sending them bios/press kits since the mid 90s, and when their guitarist Robin Finck left to join GnR, they finally contacted me. The audition went really well, but Trent was in a bit of a bad place due to substance abuse issues, and they wouldn’t tour again until 2005.

Since that didn’t work out, about the same time I got the NIN call I also got a call from a local Atlanta musician named David Ryan Harris (now a solo artist/John Mayer band member). He had a band called Brand New Immortals with bassist Johnny Colt (Black Crowes, Train, Lynyrd Skynyrd), and they just got a deal with Lars Ulrich of Metallica’s now defunct label The Music Company. They were looking for a touring guitarist, and my name came up. Once I realized the NIN wasn’t happening, I auditioned for BNI and got the gig. I spent the next year touring with them playing all over the US opening for bands like Tantric, Better Than Ezra, and Stain’d. Although they had a great record (Tragic Show), and it was an amazing first “major label” tour for me – We just didn’t take off. Everything was Nu Metal on alternative radio, and we were more of 70-ish Soul influenced rock, and we had a really hard time getting airplay. It did lead to several other opportunities like touring with a guy named Butch Walker in 2002.

Anyway, I digress! That was the reason for me leaving the Posterboys in 2001. Curtis and I have worked/played together on several occasions since then, but his main focus is his live band Karaoke thing he runs at a club called the 10 HIgh that has been active since 2003, I think.

Mark mentioned he left the band in 2001, and based on what I’ve seen, Blacklight Posterboys lasted around five years total. What direction did your career (music or otherwise) take following the band?

CC: Once Mark left the Posterboys, I formed another band and played original music until 2003. It was then that I formed a cover band called Metalsome. We’ve been doing live rock band karaoke for over 18 yrs. Metalsome is a juggernaut that just won’t quit. Still has lines around the club every week.

Through the success of Metalsome, my wife and I now own 3 successful clubs in Atlanta.

Did you ever play any of Road Rash games, or Road Rash: Jailbreak in particular?

CC: I played Jailbreak a few times but I was way more of a Tomb Raider type of player back then.

MD: I’m not much of a gamer, so I actually never played Road Rash:Jailbreak!

If you play video games (or used to play them), do you have any favourites?

CC: My favorite game will always be Turok Dinosaur Hunter on N64. Tomb Raider 2 after that one.

MD: If I did play games back then, I played things like Myst and Riven. Now, I mostly play stuff on my phone when I am touring. I love nerdy word games like Scrabble and Crossword Puzzles. I also like things like the Rusty Lake series, Playdead games (Limbo, Inside), and this really cool D&D type game called Moonshades. Oh, and Amanita Designs has some really interesting, quirky puzzle games like Samorost, and Botanicula. Ok, maybe I am more of a gamer than I realize!

Celldweller

Featured Track: “Symbiont”

Game Bio:

Celldweller’s Klayton, the songwriter, producer, performer, programmer and re-mixer has had live performances and apperances on: Howard Stern, MTV, FOX, & NBC. Contact at: cellmates@celldweller.com

Additional Info:

In a music career that has spanned across five decades, Klayton has managed to grow a significant following out there, going rather strong in the YouTube age with over 234,000 subscribers on his Celldweller channel. His Celldweller moniker was derived from the fact it all began by recording music in his parents’ basement. Over the years, he has invested time and energy to musical projects such as Circle of Dust, Scandriod, FreqGen, and Angeldust, which is a collaboration with Criss Angel (yes, the Mindfreak).

I’ve certainly missed more than a few projects from his fruitful career, so check out Klayton’s web site to find out what else he has cooked up.

Personal Thoughts:

Industrial rock with a tinge of hip-hop-infused metal fit the timing of this game perfectly. While not a genre I would typically associate with bikers, “Symbiont” manages to mesh well with the game’s atmosphere. It’s a pretty lively affair with twists and turns, jumping between energetic break-beats, heavy riffing, turntable scratches, and ambient passages.

The song has been re-mixed more than once (see the Machine Corpse and LVL re-mixes), so there may even be a better version out there if this one doesn’t get you revved up. I think the extended version from the 2003 album actually improved on it. It’s not as “metal” as the one on Road Rash, but I think the overall production of the track is superior. An instrumental mix is available if the vocals aren’t you’re cup of tea, or you’re like me and want to use it sing that “we’re dancing on a thin line” part karaoke-style.

Chevelle

Featured Track: “Mia”

Game Bio:

Chevelle has spent most of the year on the road, playing with bands such as Sevendust, Staind and Local H. The animated video for Mia is nominated for multiple music video awards. Contact at: chevelle@chevelleinc.com

Additional Info:

Without question, Chevelle is the most popular artist that appears in the Jailbreak game. They broke pretty big when I was in high school with their album Wonder What’s Next. They had enough sustained success to lead to other songs appearing in further video games I’ve played, such as their hit “Send The Pain Below” making the track list on NHL 2004. Much of the first decade of their existence saw the trio feature nothing but Loeffler brothers, Pete (lead vocals and guitar), Joe (bass and backing vocals), and Sam (drums/percussion). The band continues to this day, with brother-in-law Dean Bernardini having replaced Joe in 2005 for a good fourteen years before (as of this writing) their official lineup was reduced to just Pete and Sam.

I could detail more about their recording and touring career, but there’s plenty of information out there already. That should be of no surprise considering that each album after and including the double-platinum Wonder What’s Next has peaked in the top 20 of the Billboard 200 charts. Their most recent album, Niratias, was released in 2021.

Personal Thoughts:

It’s difficult to find a blend of aggression mixed with accessibility, and Chevelle had always been able to manage it and maintain a consistent sound. I sense somewhat of an early Tool influence, though perhaps the fact they did stop-motion animation in that “Mia” video is more strongly enforcing that connection than is justified (see “Sober”). Pete’s shouted and softly-sung combinations show his comfort in either vocal method, keeping the direction of the song surprisingly centered in spite of that variance. The song itself is rather basic when broken down, with essentially two riffs as its foundation, and that’s all you need if you’ve got the right riffs. I remember the song feeling at least a minute longer than the listed running time, but I was naturally more concerned with dodging oncoming traffic over blind hills or getting run over by a fellow racer than I was counting the seconds of a song.

Corn Doggy Dog & the ½ lb.

Featured Track: “Flyboys Theme”

Game Bio:

With Trey and Mudd from early 80’s LB punk band, the Falling Idols, the diabolical Z-Man conceived Corn Doggy Dog breathing new life into songs from the past and new music into the future. E-mail at: mcgoods@aol.com

Additional Info:

The band was often abbreviated to Corn Doggy Dog, but I have seen plenty of tag-ons following the “and the” portion of the name, such as the “Doctor Shoppers”, The “Radical Left”, and the “Whappies”. I’m not sure how many of these names they recorded or performed shows under, or how many more have been used, but the tongue-in-cheek spins on their moniker lend amusement to an antiquated way of naming a rock band.

Corn Doggy Dog have three albums credited to them, Reach For The Gutter, Good Clean Filth, and a self-titled recording that may be a compilation as it seems to have significant song overlap with Good Clean Filth (including several Falling Idols covers among the cuts). The lineup’s individual recording histories span further than the Falling Idols. If just to skim the surface of a few band members, guitarist Trey Pangborn played with Long Beach Shortbus and One Hit Wonder, bassist Blair Walker played with The Pivot Foots, and drummer Greg “Mudd” Lowther with Busface and Glue Factory. Many of these projects had intertwining rosters, and further band affiliations and collaborations are revealed in the Q&A below.

Vocalist Todd “Z-Man” Zalkins currently works as a public speaker, interventionist, and recovery advocate. He’s also the subject of a documentary film titled The Long Way Back.

Personal Thoughts:

One of the rare instrumental tracks in the game, it’s very much a contemporary take on surf music like The Ventures or The Shadows, which I suppose was the forefather to punk rock. The drum sound jumps out as particularly good, and the lead guitar has a rather distinct tone as well that always cuts through the mix whilst in the middle of even the tightest of races. A well-paced, punchy track that is a natural fit for this type of game.

Words from the Creators:

First off, Corn Doggy Dog & the 1/2 lb was such an unusual name that I’ve got to ask if you know of how the name came about.

Todd “Z-Man” Zalkins (vocals): It was around 1997 or 1998- I was at my apartment in Long Beach with Trey Pangborn (Falling Idols/Long Beach Dub All Stars/Shortbus) and Eric Wilson (Sublime). We were tripping on mushrooms, a ton of alcohol and cocaine…I remember this as if it were yesterday: We were on the deck of my place, and we started kicking around names that would be fun as a joke for bands…At the time Snoop Dogg was being played constantly on the radio, I just said, “Wouldn’t it be key if we had a band and called it Corn Doggy Dog and the Half Pound?” Eric laughed so hard he was spitting and coughing up his beer, and the laughter continued for a good half hour- he has an infectious laugh, so for whatever reason the name stuck as I later formed the band with longtime musician and friend Mudd Lowther (Falling Idols/Perro Bravo/Corn Dog/ and a million other bands he’s been a part of).

Do you have any memories of how you were afforded a slot on the Road Rash soundtrack?

Z-Man:I recall Mudd calling me letting me know he was contacted to have the track added to a video game, and I thought, “Man, we have arrived!”…which was perfect because it’s an instrumental song, and I am a terrible singer so I thought it was fabulous.

How did the song “Flyboys Theme” come to life? Billy Paul was the credited writer, so can you recall when the song was presented to the band?

Z-Man: (I will defer to Mudd on this one)

Mudd Lowther (drums): It is actually a song by the Flyboys (The Flyboys were an American pioneering Californian punk rock band, founded in 1975 before the first wave of American punk. The act was prominent in the Los Angeles punk rock scene around 1976 and 1977. Their second release was the debut output for Frontier Records. The band broke up in 1980.) I don’t know if Billy Paul was the real name of one of the members. One of the guys from Cornerstone RAS got all of this put together. Our version of the song was on a compilation/sampler album. The track list was mislabeled. The company picked our song thinking it was a Slightly Stoopid track. Once it was done, there was some confusion. But in the end they credited us correctly.

What was the general reaction as to getting your name out there through the game? Do you feel that the exposure that Road Rash: Jailbreak gave you any additional opportunities in the music business?

Z-Man: I don’t recall the video game having any impact or allowing us any opportunities for growth, or exposure to my recollection. Mudd may have a different take on this.

Mudd: None what-so-ever. But it a nice memory all the same.

Did you ever play any of Road Rash games, or Road Rash: Jailbreak in particular?

Z-Man: I can barely play Pac Man or Asteroids (my generation of games)- so I would probably break my TV in frustration trying to play road rash as I would completely suck at it.

Mudd: No. I talked to a few younger guys who played it. They said it was a lot of fun.

If you play video games, do you have any favourites?

Z-Man: Back in the day, I was obsessed with Pong and later, Asteroids…I was awful at both of them…and I am pretty sure Mudd maybe played 50 cents worth of games back in the day- he was too busy jamming in bands and reading books and causing trouble in Long Beach.

Mudd: I was never a gamer. Richie Fletcher and Randy got into it for a while. I went to the skate shop and played pinball, but wasn’t even into that. Some girls hung around there, and the guy that ran the one in Belmont Shore occasionally gave us a few small lines of coke. Pinball – later PacMan.

Home Cookin’

Featured Track: “Soul Space Express”

Game Bio:

Home Cookin’, a talented, massive 10 player band, including a 5 man horn section, has been voted Best Local Band & Best Local CD in their home town Las Vegas. E-mail at: info@flyrecords.com

Additional Info:

With such a giant roster of musicians, their legacy extends to a wide span of artists and recordings, though a significant portion of Home Cookin’ alumni share a common history through the UNLV Jazz Ensemble and Clint Holmes. Despite just having two albums (1997’s Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, and 2000’s Pink In The Middle), the group dates back to 1988 through jams and performances in an early incarnation centered around vocalist Jordan Robins and guitarist Dave Baker that fizzled out at one stage so members could pursue their respective educations and careers outside of music. They reunited shortly before their debut album was recorded in 1997, and split following their sophomore effort. Yet another reunion occurred in 2011, and from that point until at least 2015 (the date of this Las Vegas Weekly interview) would play gigs every so often.

Personal Thoughts:

The verse reminds me a bit of The Real Thingera Faith No More or something by Canadian rock band I Mother Earth. I’m not sure why that really is, but I suppose it’s due to some of the common genre-meshing that the three of these artists utilize. The wah-drenched rhythms lend well to the hypnotic pulse of the track, and it stands apart from much of the Jailbreak pack in that it’s not clocking in at high BPM. A song that calls out to “everybody all aboard now!” makes perfect sense to use in a vehicle-centric video game. To further tie the lyrics to the visuals, there’s nothing like “everybody get in line” to send the message that you’ve left the opponents in the dust in a battle for second place.

It turns out I was drastically pulling the words out of their intended context, as I learned from word-writer Jordan Robins.

Words from the Creators:

Do you have any memories of how you were afforded a slot on the Road Rash soundtrack?

Jordan Robins (vocalist): I just remember a call for music I saw in a gamer magazine in a teaser ad or something… and Frank and I got his wife to send it out. She’s good at business.

How did the song “Soul Space Express” come to life?

JR: The song came about with Frank, David and I playing around with a groove we made out of goofing around in my ex-girlfriend Maureen’s house. I put a little turnaround on the baseline and we had a nice groove. The lyrics were applied from a poem/piece I wrote about this cult in Southern California that was in the news and pretty messed up.

What was the general reaction as to getting your name out there through the game? Do you feel that the exposure that Road Rash: Jailbreak gave you any additional opportunities in the music business?

JR: Being associated with RRJB was a great opportunity for us, and really impressed my cousin Erik when he was able to play the game on the PS2 and play to Soul Space Express.

Did you ever play any of Road Rash games, or Road Rash: Jailbreak in particular?

JR: I always thought the concept of a RR games were awesome and felt that fun-factor. Jailbreak was next level fun back then!

If you play video games (or used to play them), do you have any favourites?

JR: These days I play casually, and still love the depth and charm of Plants vs Zombies. I also like the art fidelity and depth of the RAID games lately. Pretty fun!

Lead Pipe Cinch

Featured Track: “Is It Just Me?”

Game Bio:

Seattle based, heavy alternative rock band has successfully released 2 CD’s on Hapinskratch Records. LPC is currently recording material for their 3rd release. E-mail at: LPC@speakeasy.org

Additional Info:

Released two EPs in their career, a self-titled in 1995 and Serious Machine in 1998, both on Hapi Skratch Records. From a quick look, the label is most notable for the manufacturing of Puddle of Mudd’s mini-album Stuck. I can’t find much about the group’s whereabouts after 1998. Other bands with the name show up, but I’m mostly led astray on searches to to literal lead pip cinches. I can’t verify if that third release ever came out.

Personal Thoughts:

A crazy song, for sure! Hard as hell to make out the words in parts. For years, I thought he sang “wipe my butt, enjoy it” during the verse. The YouTube video comment section has a bit of debate as to what he is really saying given that certain passages are delivered in that mumbling Jonathan Davis of Korn style. I don’t know how I would best describe them as I hear elements of a few ‘90s bands in their sound. A bit of the heavy groove of Helmet, a slice of Alice In Chains, and god knows what else. That pre-chorus riff with the squealing pinch harmonics is pretty dang groovy and bad-ass!

The Lenny Rocillo Project

Featured Track: “Thumbtack”

Game Bio:

New York solo artist, Lenny Rocillo’s bass playing has been featured on TV & radio commercials. He has toured with Josie Sang (Stuttering John) and guitarist Larry Mitchell’s Band. Contact at: lennyroc@webtv.net

Additional Info:

“Thumbtack” originally appeared on his 1995 album If You Want Bass, which is detailed nicely in this Guitar Nine column. Lenny’s website mentions a slew of other musicians he has played with, ranging from Bonnie Tyler to Rob Halford. Lenny still appears to be quite active in the business, having recently been a member of cover bands Bobby Rondinelli’s All Zepped Up and An Ultimate Rush Tribute. A second solo album titled Frosted Bass Loops was released in 2018.

Personal Thoughts:

That distinct “twang” sounds like he’s either playing piccolo bass or doing it on another extended range bass of some sort, which I can dig immensely as much of my early bass playing experience drew me to guys like Stanley Clarke and (as I’ve previously detailed) John Patitucci that often melodically meddled in the upper register of their instruments. The layering of multiple bass tracks, while it can be overly flashy in certain compositions, doesn’t feel that way here as they both serve the song rather than deviate too far from the structure.

“Thumbtack” comes totally out of left-field, standing in great contrast to what can all loosely be labelled as rock music that dominates this soundtrack. Jazz-fusion can work very well in video games, and I wonder why I don’t hear it very often. The main example I can think that makes effective use of the style is in Sonic Adventure, but I’m always a willing listener if anyone can direct me to other games that make use of it.

Words from the Creators:

Do you have any memories of how you were afforded a slot on the Road Rash soundtrack?

Lenny Rocillo (bassist and bandleader): I have a cousin who is an avid comic book collector so at the time I believe it was 1998 he told me there was an ad in the back of one of his collector magazines that EA Sports was having a contest looking for unsigned artist that would like to have a song on an upcoming video game, so at the time I was in the process of finishing my first recorded album “IF YOU WANT BASS”, it was at its final mastering stages and I was on the verge of getting CD’S pressed ( which were popular at the time) … I think I made about three thousand of them then.

So when I got my copies he gave me the info where to submit the music and it was up to them if they wanted to use it or not… I felt a bunch of my tunes had video capability so I sent my entire disc to them and took the gamble even though I think it stated one song entry. Not sure but I forgot how long it took but I was then notified that I was one of the lucky winners, they picked my song “THUMBTACK” which was one of the strong tracks on my record. So I was elated.

There was a legal contract to sign just to cover all basis on how the song was being used and how I would benefit from it, which was fine with me, So I went for it, signed the contract and went from there.

How did the song “Thumbtack” come to life? Having a jazzy number make the cut of the soundtrack worked surprisingly well in the mix alongside mostly hard rock and metal songs.

LR: The Song THUMBTACK came from me sitting at a friends house and jamming with the main riff, he was a drummer , we started to build the groove, and once we had a solid foundation I had asked him to come to the studio with me to record the idea, another friend Mike Sapone owned a recording studio, he use to hire me to do jingles( radio commercials) and record on other artists recording sessions, so once the drummer and I got down there, Mike became my producer and added in some of his knowledge to make THUMBTACK come to life of what it had become back then..it was the first track I recorded for the record and it has become a live staple tune for me to play to this day. Most of the songs on the record have a funky , jazzy r& b feel. How it got picked for the video game to go along with the rest of the featured tracks, I guess we can say it was different and maybe it stuck out with someone over at EA Sports….I’ll take it… I kind of like some of that video game soundtrack there’s a lot of cool stuff on it… and I give ever artist credit for just being creative always….

What was the general reaction as to getting your name out there through the game, be it from friends, family, band mates, etc.? Do you feel that the exposure that Road Rash: Jailbreak gave you any additional opportunities in the music business?

LR: Locally in NY I always had a descent amount of friends, family and fans that loved who I was and where I was going musically. Back then I was still growing as a musician even though I still am after all these years. But the video game ROAD RASH JAILBREAK definitely took my name to a pretty good level of success, number one I sold all the cd’s I had made, all because of the game itself including my contact info in the liner notes, I had people all over the world contacting me and they wanted to buy my music, so it definitely benefitted me in that way, there was a German Magazine called the Bass professor that did a write up on my music and I had a fan send it to me with an English translation… really cool stuff. Nice write up.

Did you ever play any of Road Rash games, or Road Rash: Jailbreak in particular?

LR: I did get to play the game, as a winner EA SPORTS sent me copies of both the game and the whole entire cd of the music that was on the game… I enjoyed both …I no longer have a video game console . But every once in a while I enjoy listening to that cd…

If you play video games (or used to play them), do you have any favourites?

LR: I haven’t played video games in a long time… last console I had was a play station 3.. I do like playing if an opportunity arose for a great one on one ALL MADDEN FOOTBALL , those were my favorites, but I just don’t have the time… been busy writing music, hoping I could get more involved in making music for the video game world….

Poet Jester

Featured Track: “Cyclops”

Game Bio:

Poet Jester, an AMAZING one man band, came to life by way of twisted humor and catchy punk-metal riffs. Ride on all you Roadrash fans. E-mail at: poetjester@hotmail.com

Additional Info:

The man behind the Poet Jester name is Frank Klepacki. Frank happens to appear on two tracks on the soundtrack, with the other being “Soul Space Express” as drummer with Home Cookin’.

As Poet Jester, it appears only one self-titled album from 2000 was released. The album featured not only “Cyclops”, but also a song titled “Bring On The Barf Man”, which made the soundtrack of PC game Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2. This shouldn’t be all that surprising when you look further into Frank’s recording history. He has provided scores to games going as far back as Dungeon & Dragons: Dragonstrike for the NES and continues to this day with scoring and voice-over work in the likes of Forged Battalion and Cursed Sanctum. His TV music work can be heard in UFC broadcasts and programming on channels such as Discovery, A&E, and History.

Personal Thoughts:

Don’t think of this as me picking a favourite, but I’ll give this my prize (for whatever it’s worth) as the best-fitting instrumental track of the lot. It may be the most straight-ahead of all of them, but if I were to re-imagine this soundtrack as a score rather than a collection of other artist’s work, building one up with themes along the lines of “Cyclops” makes the most sense to me. It strikes a good balance in that it is both aggressive enough for the most hardened of bikers, and accessible enough for it to stick in the head of the gamer that controls them.

Words from the Creators:

Do you have any memories of how you were afforded a slot on the Road Rash soundtrack? Based on what I’ve seen, you got on the soundtrack with two separate artists. How did you pull that off?

Frank Klepacki: Sheer luck. It was an indie band submission process EA had decided to do for that game. On the one hand I had this funk band Home Cookin, but we had some success already with the song Soul Space Express getting airplay on our local rock stations and other licensing opportunites, it was our one rock song, so was ironic that it got the attention it did. Because of that I figured it had a good shot. The other submission I honestly didn’t think would have ever gotten picked. I had a comical rock band I was doing with some friends and this was an instrumental I had produced myself lying around that I thought fit the tough motorcycle vibe. I submitted under the different band name rather than my own because as I was already in the industry, I didn’t want any preferential bias in the submission process.

How did the songs “Soul Space Express” (Home Cookin’) and “Cyclops” (Poet Jester) come to life?

FK: Soul Space Express was written by Home Cookin’s singer Jordan Robins, he had a great knack for writing catchy bass or guitar grooves and melodies that made for really hooky songs – this one happened to have an edge to it. I produced our album and focused on the tones and choices in the production to make it as in your face as possible, heavy guitars, distorted bass with wah effects, and thought it would be cool to add a vocoder to a rockin song as a bonus to make it unique. Cyclops was a track I played all the instruments on, more of a Metallica-like Load / Reload era inspired track, and I dug it, but I honestly thought the fact it was instrumental might not make it a candidate. I figured they might be wanting more vocal based tracks. So again, it was a gamble and a surprise – but I guess I had a knack for at least knowing what could fit well in terms of feel. I was already familiar with the road rash franchise having played the previous games, so I knew what it was about.

What was the general reaction as to getting your name out there through the game? Do you feel that the exposure that Road Rash: Jailbreak gave you any additional opportunities in the music business?

FK: Exposure more than anything, there were a lot of fans of the game that liked the music, so I remember positive feedback overall. Beyond that, not many other opps were necessarily a result of it.

Did you ever play any of Road Rash games, or Road Rash: Jailbreak in particular?

FK: Of course, as I mentioned I’d played the previous games, and certainly played Jailbreak when it released, to see the whole thing put together. I had a lot of fun with it, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the other bands contributions as well, I thought it was a solid game, I had memorized all the other tracks too by the time I finished playing the game. haha

If you play video games (a strong possibility given your extensive list of gaming credits), do you have any favourites?

FK: Sure! When I play for fun, I tend to enjoy immersive world games like GTA, Skyrim, Conan Exiles, Red Dead Redemption, Witcher, but I love old school arcade games and casual games too. 720 degrees, the Atari 1986 arcade coin-op is my all time favorite.

Punchbuggy

Featured Track: “Cletus”

Game Bio:

Like a rollercoaster out of control, Canadian Power-Pop-Punksters Punchbuggy has been bringing power-pop to the world for the last 6 years. They aren’t slowing down. E-mail at: adam_punchbuggy@hotmail.com

Additional Info:

Thankfully, here’s another band with not as much research required as Wikipedia comes to the rescue. If you are too lazy to click it (doubtful if you’ve scrolled this far down the article), their biggest link to the mainstream would be through close connections to comedian Tom Green, who is also from Ottawa. Not only did they have a song feature in his movie Freddy Got Fingered (“Lucky Me, Lucky You”), Punchbuggy had previously worked as house band for the original incarnation of his talk-show.

Contrary to the in-game bio, Punchbuggy did slow down soon after as they would disband in 2001. Four albums were released under the Punchbuggy name: All Nite Christian Rollerskate, Grand Opening Going Out Of Business Sale (home of “Cletus”), My Norwegian Cousin, and The Great Divide. There doesn’t seem to be much of a recording career by the musicians outside of Punchbuggy. Some of the Punchbuggy boys collaborated on former guitarist Jim Bryson’s album The Occasionals in 2000. Bryson’s replacement Bryan Curry played in Michigan-based punk band Rugby Mothers in the early ‘90s.

Personal Thoughts:

No punch backs! That punch buggy childhood car game takes me back even further than this video game. I didn’t even realize a Canadian band was on this soundtrack when I was growing up, but here we are. The Great White North seemed to be an endless factory of pop-punk in the late-’90s and early-2000s, with the likes of Sum-41 and Simple Plan being on the more popular end of the spectrum.

I grew up a bit jaded from the over-exposure of pop-punk (Yet I didn’t feel the same way about nu-metal. Figure that out!), but I can sit back and listen to a rather accessible example like “Cletus” and remember how fun and uplifting some of it can be. If it was playing on 102.1 The Edge 24-7 like the others I referenced, I might feel different, but I digress. And forget what I said about that Chevelle song because Punchbuggy prove here when you have a riff like the main one in “Cletus”, that’s all your song really needs. That tight snap of the snare accents it all nicely, not to mention their multi-vocal attack. To call this one a head-banger may seem like a misuse of the term given it isn’t a metal song, but I was often helpless in resisting.

Words from the Creators:

Do you have any memories of how you were afforded a slot on the Road Rash soundtrack?

Adam Luedicke (drums, vocals): I can’t remember exactly. I think EA may have heard of us when we did the BornOnTheWWW in 1999. In that contest we won a MP3 contest and got 50,000 to record a album and a ton of gear and some cash (which became our fourth album “The Great Divide”). I think they just reached out and asked for the song. Not entirely sure why the picked that song. Maybe the tempo.

How did the song “Cletus” come to life?

AL:I wrote it with Jim and the rest of the band. Most likely late 1995 or early 1996. It was off our second album “Grand Opening Going Out Of Business Sale” I think we were messing with the fast riff and I just started singing it. We had a rule that whoever wrote it sang it.

What was the general reaction as to getting your band’s name out there through the game, be it from friends, family, band mates, etc.? Do you feel that the exposure that Road Rash: Jailbreak gave you any additional opportunities in the music business?

AL: It was pretty cool, it was an additional avenue to market the band. The only weird thing it was a song that was about 4 years old and I don’t think we really played it much when game actually came out. Not sure it did much in terms of opportunities but it definitely wasn’t a bad thing…and we’re still hearing it and talking about it today! Life is a trip!

Did you ever play any of Road Rash games, or Road Rash: Jailbreak in particular?

AL: Not so much, but we did get some copies and did try the game. Was pretty amazing.

If you play video games (or used to play them), do you have any favourites?

AL: I was an old school Atari, Colecovision, Intellivision kid from the 80’s. Defender, Galaga, SuperMario, PacMan etc. Loved them all.

Pushmonkey

Featured Track:Maybe”

Game Bio:

Pushmonkey stormed into the national rock arena in late ’98 with their self-titled debut Arista Records CD, followed by whirlwind national touring and media appearances. Contact at: info@pushmonkey.com

Additional Info:

Possibly the third, fourth, or fifth-most popular band on the list after Chevelle and Celldweller, or Punchbuggy or whomever, but who’s counting? They were on the aforementioned Arista Records (a major label) for a while, with whom they released the self-titled album that included “Maybe” as the last of its eleven songs. Mike Clink, who you may know from his work with heavyweights such as Guns ‘N’ Roses and Megadeth, produced the album. The album still seems to have a following, as evident by YouTubers such as Old Head insisting they “should have been huge”.

Their Wikipedia page details some of the band’s other noteworthy points of exposure, such as some minor radio success for their song “Handslide”, and that they were in an episode of Melrose Place (which was hilariously titled “Suddenly Sperm”). IMDB further reveals that they appear on the soundtrack for Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation with the song “Mother” from their debut album Maize.

Their existence spanned from approximately the early-’90s to the late-’00s, though a Facebook page is maintained to reminisce about “the good ole’ days”.

Personal Thoughts:

This was one of the catchiest tracks in the game, and I’d sing along to it at the drop of a hat! I always felt that it was along the lines of what Anthrax were doing in the mid to late-’90s with John Bush, or at least it sounded more like that when blended into the background of the various noises heard through the game. Maybe blend that with a bit of Stone Temple Pilots too. Trumpet wails make an interesting twist during much of the track, in what I would put among my favourites from Jailbreak to this day.

Pushing nearly four and a half minutes, this is among the longer songs in the game. Depending on what course you were riding on, there was a good chance you wouldn’t even hear it in its entirety while playing. Or “maybe” not if this song greeted you right from the start line.

Signal 12

Featured Track: “Bye Bye Biff”

Game Bio:

Signal 12, also known as Oneiroid Psychosis, was conceived to express hard electronic atmospheres, but follows a pattern of melodic integrity and detailed rhythmic structure. Contact at: cop@dnai.com

Additional Info:

The sibling duo Leif and Lars Hansen make up Signal 12. Their name came from watching episodes of Cops, and learning a Signal 12 was when a corpse was found at a crime scene. Their official website hosts a selection of interviews detailing the mindset behind their various music projects, which also included Ascent and No One. There appears to be two releases under the Signal 12 name, a self-titled album in 1999 and a follow-up Aphonia (which contained “By By Biff”) in 2000. Though Signal 12 appears to be inactive, their main project Oneiroid Psychosis is active, releasing the album Anhedonia in 2020.

Personal Thoughts:

I’m glad they opted for rather different sounding songs when it came to picking instrumentals. “Bye Bye Biff” is a soothing yet up-beat electronic number which I think could work well in a variety of video game contexts, be it anything from a puzzle game to a platformer, or from a sports title to a sci-fi shooter. I think this song weirdly works well for this game in two aspects: it can add tension when navigating the narrow city passages, and yet calm enough to be one of the more natural choices of the lot for menu music. It’s hard to explain why that is.

Slave Unit

Featured Track: “Mold”

Game Bio:

Slave Unit is possibly the first genuinely industrial hardcore/punk band that doesn’t fall into the trappings of recycled metal or rock. Their live show is an electrifying experience not to be missed. E-mail at: info@slaveunit.com

Additional Info:

Multi-instrumentalist Mike Welch leads this project, with a varying roster of musicians joining him for live shows. A quartet of albums have been released under the Slave Unit moniker: Slave Unit (1996), The Battle For Last Place (2007), Certificate of Participation (2009), and Through With You (2014). Mike is also credited for appearing with long-running industrial project Sounds Of Mass Production (SMP) on a few recordings.

Refer to their official website to learn more about this self-described “caffeinated electronic punk rock” project.

Personal Thoughts:

Their name would have the mind of a younger me instantly thinking Fear Factory, though in reality this song is a significant departure from that, with as much in common (if not more) to a Refused than any industrial metal bands. If you stripped away some of the drum machines and miscellaneous noises, you could call it plain and simply punk, but I hate digging too deeply into the weeds of genre-tagging. Their game bio, I suppose, refers to Slave Unit as they wish to be called anyway.

One of the more aggressive vocal deliveries of all performers to go along with perhaps the heaviest section of any track here once he roars that “HEAD!!” line a second time. I always appreciated this song’s intensity!

Words from the Creators:

Do you have any memories of how you were afforded a slot on the Road Rash soundtrack?

Mike Welch:Yes, I entered a contest. There was an ad in a magazine. There were a couple of rounds and we kept making the cut. Then EA called us and sent us a final letter saying we’d been chosen.

How did the song “Mold” come to life?

MW:From what I remember, break beats were a huge thing so one night we just started messing around and that’s what we came up with. I remember it not taking that long to write.

What was the general reaction as to getting your band’s name out there through the game, be it from friends, family, band mates, etc.? Do you feel that the exposure that Road Rash: Jailbreak gave you granted any additional opportunities in the music business?

MW: I feel like we got a lot more international fans. More web traffic for sure. Not sure if we got more opportunities. I could be wrong though. We were excited.

Did you ever play any of Road Rash games, or Road Rash: Jailbreak in particular?

MW: They sent us a copy of the game. I didn’t have a PlayStation so I had to play it at a friends house. It was fun. I’ve never played the other versions.

If you play video games (or used to play them), do you have any favorites?

MW: Favorite games when I had time to play them: Any Zelda (except for maybe Zelda II), MarioKart or version of Diablo.

The Suburban Vamps

Featured Track: “Surf Vamps”

Game Bio:

Punk, pop, and a little bit of what you want all rolled up and moving in next door. You better put the cat out, your neighbourhood is about to get Vamped! Contact at: darren@suburbanvamps.com

Additional Info:

First off, I’ve got to point out their cute little logo.

I’m certain that a smiley face is public domain, so anybody that claims there’s infringement going on against the Nirvana estate shouldn’t get worked up. It’s an adaptable template to work off of, not to mention a cost-effective design that leaves an impression.

The Suburban Vamps are Tony Leicht (vocals/guitar), Darren Denenberg (bass), and Mike Walker (drums). Previous recording experience on these three is a bit hard to come by, but there was a Baltimore-based thrash band Strychnine that employed one Tony Leicht on guitar that released a demo tape in 1989. Suburban Vamps’ three albums to date are Happy Songs of Despair, Positively Negative, and Time Heals Nothing, which must be rare enough as they have yet to be uploaded to their Discogs profile. They also had their track “Vampire Girl” appears in the 2009 cult horror film The Vampires of Bloody Island. The band appears to be active, or at least keep a Facebook group and official website running.

Personal Thoughts:

It’s funny listening to many of these songs outside of the context of the game. Regarding this one, I’m usually so pulled into the action of the game that certain details have gone unnoticed. It’s probably the frustration of having my biker flying a hundred feet across the pavement that I barely remember the second guitar solo, which absolutely rips! Good surf vibe overall, and they’ve got that classic ‘60s tone nailed down.

Words from the Creators:

Do you have any memories of how you were afforded a slot on the Road Rash soundtrack?

Tony Leicht (guitar and vocals): Our bass player, Darren Denenberg, was always a big gamer, and he told us about a contest that the company was having for the soundtrack to a new game. I can’t remember why we submitted Surf Vamps, other than maybe it was just different, but we received a letter awhile after the submission that out of over 3000 entries, Surf Vamps was the top pick and would be included in the game and on the soundtrack CD. 🙂

How did the song “Surf Vamps” come to life? What made you decide to use this song over one of your songs with vocals?

TL: I wrote Surf Vamps after hearing “Miserlou” by Dick Dale in the movie Pulp Fiction. I thought “I should write a Surf song!” and Surf Vamps was the result. I think we chose that song because it was interesting…you didn’t hear a lot of Surf music at that time, so that’s the one we submitted. I got the name “Surf Vamps” from a song by a Goth band I liked called 45 Grave. They had a song called “Surf Bat” that I really liked, so I thought ‘Surf Vamps!”.

What was the general reaction as to getting your band’s name out there through the game, be it from friends, family, band mates, etc.? Do you feel that the exposure that Road Rash: Jailbreak gave you granted any additional opportunities in the music business?

TL: It’s funny, it took many years for people to start getting into the band because of the game soundtrack, but over time it’s really been a big deal! I’ve seen people playing “Surf Vamps” on YouTube videos. I think now in the age of music streaming, that people have found out the band’s other music just looking for the song Surf Vamps.

Did you ever play any of Road Rash games, or Road Rash: Jailbreak in particular?

TL: I personally am terrible at ALL video games! LOL! I have seen it played, and it was awesome to hear one of my songs being played while seeing the game go on, but I haven’t played it myself. On a side note, Darren is now a professor at University of Irvine in California and teaches a course on gaming. He also had the largest Atari 2600 collection in the USA! He donated it to a college I believe.

Darren Denenberg (bass): I was a pretty hardcore gamer when the first Road Rash was released on the Genesis, and loved it. Accessible, fluid, fun, Road Rash II was the same way. Jailbreak maintained the gameplay and was just as fun, although I found the more ‘realistic’ graphics less appealing, so I was glad the song was associated with a game that was actually fun to play.

If you play video games (or used to play them), do you have any favourites?

TL: See above comment lol. I do play some computer games, old ones…I like Sid Meier’s Pirates and Diablo. Darren is the big gamer though…I should probably have him send in his answers as well? Just let me know!

DD: I have many favorites. As Tony said, I teach our game design and development class, and those students have to hear endlessly about how I think Sonic (both 1 and 2) are the best games ever made. But there are so many that I think are real standouts, from Adventure on the Atari VCS, Alternate Reality on the old Apple IIe and Blood Money on the Amiga to the more recent Dead Space series (not 3), Metro: Exodus, Bioshock, and Deus Ex to name a few. I’m also a big fan of games that are…different, and tend not to be too popular. A particular favorite in that category is Everblue 2 on the PS2 – a game with a unique premise, very atmospheric, and with no monsters or weapons one of the most tense experiences I’ve ever had in a game. Slowly running out of oxygen while trying to find your way out of a sunken cruise ship is an experience.

Turd

Featured Track: “Automatic”

Game Bio:

Named by Grandma Morris, TURD’s brand of hard rockin’, trailer shakin’, camero driving tunes satisfies the true American rocker in all of us. E-mail at: lawabi@aol.com

Additional Info:

The only album to their name, which featured “Automatic”, was 1999’s Turdsville U.S.A. There are five members in their promotional photos and cover for their Turd Up The Volume EP, but I’ve only found detailed information on two in particular whom have noteworthy credits outside of Turd. Guitarist Jon Morris had a major role with alternative/shoegaze band Dig, whose self-titled 1993 album was produced by Dave Jerden (Jane’s Addiction, Alice In Chains), as a multi-instrumentalist and album art designer. The group’s bassist, Chuck Garric, has had himself a rather busy career. He’s currently involved in the band Beasto Blanco, but his highest profile gig to date was as the low-end provider for Alice Cooper (he can be heard on select tracks on albums including Along Came A Spider). He also played with a fellow member of Alice’s band, Eric Singer, in the drummer’s ESP (Eric Singer Project). Turd’s vocalist Ian Morris I would have to assume is Jon’s brother, as would be Derek, who’s referenced in this Tahoe Daily Tribune article that takes an extended look at Chuck Garric’s career. The same article mentions the fifth member, who is simply called “Blue”.

Personal Thoughts:

Turd doesn’t seem to describe their sound at all, rather their attitude. From that perspective, I see the song as a great match for the game. I can picture a guy pulling his Harley Davidson into a truck-stop bar, and selecting a song like this one from the jukebox. It helps that the sounds of racing vehicles are sampled in the song, perhaps the reason why “Automatic” was offered up for the soundtrack in the first place.

Beefy guitar playing with gruff vocals that let you know that the odds of the next track being a folk song are highly unlikely. Very much a no-nonsense type of song that doesn’t pretend to be anything but a hard rocker.

Unjust

Featured Track: Searching Eyes”

Game Bio:

Mascot recording artists, Unjust hail from the San Francisco Bay Area, playing heavy rhythms under soaring melodic vocals that are second to none. Contact at: unjust@pacbell.com

Additional Info:

Unjust had quite a lengthy run in comparison to some of the groups here, with plenty more for the curious to check out. 1999’s Thin Line Emotions included “Searching Eyes”, but Unjust released three additional albums after this: Makeshift Grey (2001), Glow (2006), and To Lose A Name (2008). For a time, they were on Faith No More bassist Billy Gould’s Koolarrow Records.

There are some interesting ties to other bands through a couple of Unjust members. Bassist Eric Wong had a notable presence in the Bay Area scene going back to the ‘80s, having played with thrashers Heathen and Piranha (with Paul Baloff of Exodus fame). Paul Mendoza lent guest vocals support to Skinlab on their song “Anthem For A Fallen Star.”

Personal Thoughts:

Listening to the song in isolation, I completely forgot that crazy, pace-altering bit at the end of the intro. It’s all over the map in terms of the vocals (in a good way), but I tend to forget that diversified range was showcased in this one track, as I mostly identified it with the melodic vocals of the verse. They all blend to good effect, which along with the variety of grooves and tempo changes crammed within the roughly three-minute track, matches the energy of many of the metal bands I grew up listening to in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.

Words from the Creators:

Do you have any memories of how you were afforded a slot on the Road Rash soundtrack?

Eric Wong (bass): We had a fan at EA that we met on the machine head message board. That’s how we got on Road Rash.

How did the song “Searching Eyes” come to life? It’s credited as a band co-write, but do you remember who got the ball rolling?

EW: Searching Eyes was written before I was in the band.

What was the general reaction as to getting your band’s name out there through the game, be it from friends, family, band mates, etc.? Do you feel that the exposure that Road Rash: Jailbreak gave you granted any additional opportunities in the music business (for you or Unjust)?

EW: The reaction was very nice. I myself and many friends did play with that console so it was cool to be able to play it, and use it as a tool to promote the band. As far as promotion it helped a bit but nothing iconic. It was a good medium sized piece of the puzzle in building up the band.

If you play video games (or used to play them), do you have any favourites?

EW: I played Madden up until the late 90s, and COD then gave up video games.

Vice

Featured Track: “Sweenie”

Game Bio:

Vice, a versatile and heavy sounding band in which the music has no boundaries, was formed in 1998, and has opened shows for Machine Head, Sevendust, Exodus, and Snot. E-mail at: vice_cal@yahoo.com

Additional Info:

I wish I had some! Going through the dizzying array of artists under the same name hasn’t yielded much information. Thus, the placeholder photo I’ve used of a.. you know! It was either that or a pic of my high school vice principal, but that reference would be lost on you.

The YouTube link I provided for the song has users commenting and speculating about the group’s history. One poster shared that they were from Pleasant Hill, California (which is also echoed in the game’s credits), they were founded in 1998 and possibly changed their name. The song was written by Chris Long, who I believe to be the vocalist. It’s only my ears making this link as well as approximate geographic location, but I believe I can identify two potential additional recordings containing his vocals. Listen to guitarist James Murphy’s “Through Your Eyes (Distant Mirrors)” and tell me that it isn’t the same Chris Long singing. Assuming this is a match, the album the song came from (Feeding the Machine) mentions the vocalist “appears courtesy of Under”, who released a demo in 1997.

Personal Thoughts:

Call this one biker punk or hard rock, it’s a hard-hitting brief and punchy track. I wouldn’t be shocked if Vice was booked to play the victory party of the first Road Rash participant to cross the finish line. Hell, with that gravelly vocal delivery, he sounds tough enough to be swinging a chain from one of the sidecars.

A good companion track to Turd’s offering. I wonder if they ever shared a stage.

Your Mom

Featured Track: “Cosa Nostra”

Game Bio:

Rocking from NY to California, Your Mom, has built upon the masters in American Rock creating a unique sound that can’t be ignored. Their debut album hit in June ’98, with another coming summer 2000. Contact at: dorayme@earthlink.net

Additional Info:

Here’s a band with one of those obnoxious but not too vulgar-sounding names. I’d bet good money that if you grew up in the late-’90s or early-2000s that there was a garage band with that name in your hometown.

Your Mom made an appearance on another soundtrack in the form of horror film Cabin Fever, which uses the song “Shitstorm” from their album Something for Nothing. I consider that a surprising inclusion as it was a 2002 movie and the album was from 1998. Apparently, the band split after making another album in 1999, but I can’t confirm it exists. They also had a pair of 7” singles that predated their debut album in Big Black Joint / Wrecked (1993) and Left In L.A. (1995)

It’s a shame that their moving from the east coast (Poughkeepsie, New York) to the west coast in the Los Angeles area has made searching for any of the band members to be a difficult task. Their lineup consisting of people with rather common names (Conor O’Neil, Alex Gomez, Josh Turner and Marc Phillips) doesn’t help to isolate their whereabouts.

Personal Thoughts:

It’s far from the Lenny Rocillo sound, but I’m glad to have the bass once again in the spotlight for much of this song. I could hear The Offspring playing it, or possibly early Foo Fighters (rest in peace, Taylor Hawkins). A song that goes about at a laid-back pace, but still packs a punch when that chorus rolls around.

The Ziggens

Featured Track: “Surfin’Buena Park”

Game Bio:

The Ziggens’ music is a diverse blend of classic surf rock, SoCal punk, and hoe-down country topped with a steaming pile of sarcasm. Contact at: zfish@ziggen.com

Additional Info:

The Ziggens clearly took after the Ramones by taking on a collective surname, though they can be individually referred to as follows: Bert (Susanka), Brad (Conyers), Jon (Poutney), and Dickie (Little). Skunk Records, for a time, primarily released music for them and their more popular contemporaries in Sublime (whose frontman Bradley Nowell co-founded the label), and members of both bands have had close bonds throughout the years. For instance, the “supergroup” Volcano had Ziggens’ bassist Jon Poutney join forces with Sublime drummer Bud Gaugh as well as their soundman Michael ‘Miguel’ Happoldt (Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets rounded out the band).

While eight studio albums total are listed on Discogs (with the newest of those coming in 2003), a ninth (Oregon) was released in 2021.

Personal Thoughts:

Such a chill track at first, but quickly accelerates, then coasts in style at the end. That pretty much summarizes my typical Road Rash strategy. Starting in the lead is no fun since you want to give opponents a view of an approaching fist before showing your rapidly-departing license plate. The surf is no doubt there as they describe it, but reggae and ska adds much of the track’s flavour too. If their promise of sarcasm is being used here, it’s a bit more subtle because the effort and heart is more than there. These cats know their stuff, and play here with passion.

And with that, there’s all the bands of Road Rash: Jailbreak. Though I doubt many of the groups within the game have even encountered one another or have given each other much thought, I’ve viewed these artists as something of a fraternity that was granted this shared platform that will forever bond them. Wherever the members of these respective bands are today, they can hold their heads up high knowing that they were all part of something unique and special.

This write-up was my little way of giving the artists a bit of a reunion, but it still feels somewhat lacking, and making me wonder if there’s more I can do. Why not get them all in the same physical space and organize a concert of some kind? Jailbreak Festival! It can be my personal Waynestock. A Road Rash tournament can decide who headlines, with each group choosing one representative to play (one-man bands don’t need to sweat over this decision). The winner would also have to be the only band that gets paid because I’m hardly Jeff Bezos.

They’ll all have to settle for my gratitude then, so thanks to all involved for the fun tunes to pair with this fun game.

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