University of Calgary

Tactical Hands

May 7, 2009

New school of rock

L-R: Mark Hickaway, Matt Kurceba, Jason Chehade and Brett Sieben (back).

L-R: Mark Hickaway, Matt Kurceba, Jason Chehade and Brett Sieben (back).
/ Photo: Ken Bendiksen
A group of four University of Calgary students may have a lead singer, a drummer, two guitarists and even a band name—Tactical Hands—but, their talent will never take them to Carnegie Hall or even the nearby pub. Although, it might win them $100,000.

The group plays the infamous video game Rock Band where people can perform rock songs using special controllers, hooked up to a television, that are modeled after musical instruments. Tactical Hands formed after the members learned about AMP Your Game National Gaming Tour—a competition testing students’ skills of the video game.

“I used to sing in a Calgary’s boys choir and toured internationally, so I have performed in front of people before,” said Brett Sieben, 19. “When I got to the stage I just tried to think it was just another day in my basement—just rocking out.”

The second-year students Matt Kurceba, Mark Hickaway, Jason Chehade and Sieben usually play the game in someone’s basement on a quiet Friday night, but jumped at the opportunity to perform on a stage in front of peers who would vote on the band’s skill and charisma.

“We picked a song and dance moves that people could laugh at,” said Hickaway, 18, a Schulich School of Engineering student. “There’s not much seriousness to it.”

The group won the U of C competition partially because they petitioned many of their friends to come listen and vote, but also because the band was skilled at playing the game, not to mention the group’s synchronized hip-thrust dance moves and matching dance attire.

“We felt that the cowboy look would be nice to represent Calgary,” said Kurceba,18, studying in the Haskayne School of Business. “Everyone wearing the same thing, blue jeans, white sleeveless shirts and cowboy hats, really helped us stand out. If we make it to the finals, we will be wearing the cowboy hats for sure and I think I’m going to get a fake mustache.”

Starting on May 5 semi-finalist performance videos were posted on the AMP ENERGY Canada Facebook page. The top four voted bands will compete in the AMP ENERGY $100,000 Rock Off! finale in Toronto.

“If we make it to the finale we have a few tricks up our sleeves,” said Chehade, the 19 year-old drummer and Haskayne School of Business student. “I’m considering memorizing the song and playing it blindfolded. It does feel like you’re actually performing, but I mean you’re still just playing a video game.”

To view the band’s video and to vote, visit AMP ENERGY Canada’s Facebook page. You must be a Facebook member to view the page.

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