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A word to all musicians on this board. This may save your life...well your band

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by JWC, Nov 28, 2000.

  1. JWC

    JWC Banned

    Oct 4, 2000
    It's official. My band is now indefinitely on hiatus due to egos. The story about to be told can serve as a valuable lesson on how not to do things in a band.

    Our guitarist/singer/songwriter took it upon himself to do our shows playing all of his original music. 1 or 2 covers per show. He was so self-absorbed with his originals and thought they were just the greatest songs ever written. He told us how he couldn't put his heart and soul into other people's songs anymore and how we need to keep learning original material. Well, we have now managed to bore the **** out of crowds everywhere in town. I'm sorry, people cannot get into songs they don't know. If you wanna be an origianl band, you got to give the people 1 or 2 at the time. And until you get your following, play the hell out of the covers people wanna hear. The egotistical jerk "refuses" to do covers. So now he is al by himself. The drummer and I are getting a new band together. In the meantime, I'm playing with a side band of local musicians who do shows every month or so. We do NO origianls. Do alot of Black Sabbath, Drivin N Cryin, Tom Petty, Posion, Motely Crue, KISS, and alot of fun stuff the people wanna hear. Good luck little guitar boy.
  2. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    There is nothing wrong with being in a band that only does originals, folks. You just can't do lame, boring originals. I was in a band that played for 700 people a night in college. We did one cover-"I Wish" by Stevie Wonder. The rest were originals. We made bank, and had a great time. The problem started when the keyboard player declared himself Rock Royalty, and thought every song he wrote was genius. Most of them started to suck. He still insisted we play them. People stopped coming to see us. I left. If you WANT to play covers, go for it. You will always be able to get a gig playing "Play that Funky Music, White Boy." But, you have to accept that you are a living jukebox, and no one signs jukeboxes to record deals. JWC, if you are happy playing covers, and not dealing with egotistical guitar players and their "art," more power to you. But, I don't think what works for you works for everybody. That'd be like telling someone who to vote for..... : - D
  3. Interesting food for thought.
    Thanks for the info.
  4. JWC,
    OK man.. I can excuse you for voting for Bush, but not doing original music?
    Dude. Seriously.
    Unless you are just starting out, or trying to make a living while staying local (and you can't do studio work) there is no reason to play all covers. Sure, people will "get into it" more. But c'mon.. you are pandering to the lowest common denominator. ANYBODY can play covers. Not everyone is talented enough to write and perform original music. Don't like your guitar player's originals? Write some of your own! My band plays NO covers. We don't draw the biggest crowds, or sell a whole lot of CDs, but at least we can say what we're doing is OURS.
    I strongly urge you to do original music. You'll be better for it.

    [Edited by Dave Siff on 11-28-2000 at 02:39 PM]
  5. I'm not sure that I entirely agree. I think that anybody can play covers BADLY, but I'm damned sure that I'd rather listen to someone playing boring covers WELL, rather than have "God's Gift to Composition" forcing some mediocre garbage on me, insisting that it's cool and (of course) far superior to anything I've ever heard in my life up until that point.

    There's so much really good music around, why waste time cluttering up the world with mediocre crap?

    Mmm, I think I'll go and recount my vote just one more time...

    - Wil

    er, um - I've just re-read this, and perhaps most of the music which people cover IS mediocre crap, so I suppose you're right.

    Well, let me see now, 1 - OK, perhaps if I count it again, I might be able to make it... Well, how about if I count the number of edges, add in the number of sides, and divide by three... let's see that would make it "2" - ahaaa!
  6. All I know is, my next band is gonna be called "Hanging Chad".
  7. That would be cool if your guitar god was named Chad. Ah...the beauty of the hidden double meaning. :)
  8. JWC

    JWC Banned

    Oct 4, 2000
    Dave, I know a cover band can't get signed to a record deal. All I am stressing is that, being such a new band, we can't just walk right out of the garage onto the stage and be all orignal rockers. At least in our town, you must play covers (at least 60 percent) in order to get a following. Then you start introducing originals bit by bit. The goal is to be an origianl band, but you can't just go out and shove a whole set of covers down someone's throat in the early going.
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Ya better be THICK-skinned to go the "all-original" route...
    especially in Cover Town, USA(my hometown).
    It is pretty cool to hear something you wrote bein' played on, albeit, local radio. It does SUCK, though, when you can't get hired in a decent club 'cause you don't do covers(well, we actually did ONE cover...we opened with
    "Ain't No Egos Underwater" by ARU. Problem? People still thought it was one of ours'). :D

    The two *best* compliments that band ever received(IMO)-
    1)"Are you guys from New York"?
    2)...we took a job in a very Redneck, very '70s Rock STRIP Club(Yep..Hey, now!). Anyway, about 1/2 through our first set, the doofus owner hands our vocalist a note. It sez, "Get the F*** off the stage. You guys belong in the garage". Considering the source, yeah, that was major props! :D
    To make a long story even more BO-RING-
    ...that band became a second band(singer out, added a sax/percussionist type). We still played originals...BUT we also played COVERS(usually in our own way; example, our "Little Wing" sounded more like Sting's version than Hendrix' or Clapton's. Our "What's Goin' On" sounded more like Quincy Jones' than Marvin Gaye's.
    We did do a Helluva lot of Dave Matthews' stuff...come to think of it.

    The point of all this BS is-
    ...play in TWO bands(if possible).
  10. JWC

    JWC Banned

    Oct 4, 2000
    Hey JimK, I see you live in cover town too. I know your problem with the covers that nobody knows. They defeat the purpose of covers....to give the crowd some songs they want to hear, and that they know! Our guitarist was wanting to d all these obscure album cuts by certain artists and then some stuff I never even heard of, and I have heard of alot. But guess what, he's never heard of Jaco. What a miserable *******.
  11. I agree with dave, and everyone that agree with him in this question.

    We play all originals only! We have a policy in our band not to play covers and we get along fine. The trick is to make yourself a name or in some way make people curious about your band.. one way or another. Say you play in front of a crowd of 30. If you can win 3 of them or only one, it is definately worth playing for them. Next time they might tell their friends and so on. All fans are good fans. Maybe to learn to play an instrument it is okay to play covers to learn different styles techniques and so on, but when you get past that stage.. go original when you play live. You can still play your favourite Jaco at home, if you need to.
    It is also much more developing for me and my bandmates to arrange and fix up the songs we make and play, our own songs.. noone ever heard of, so we can do whatever we want with them. No one can say "Hey that doesnt sound like (insert artist covered here), who did this in the first place and did it better". We say: this is our own and we like it and believe in it.

    Covers wont take you anywhere, if you get a good reputation playing covers.. that is all people wanna hear from you. They will probably think all your own material suck since they have heard you play covers (and do it well). No, my opinion is if you believe in your music, let people hear it and they will like it, one day.. maybe today. :)

    Sorry about the long post, but I had to get it out. :) :D
  12. Doug


    Apr 5, 2000
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    Well I disagree.
    I've been at this for 16 years now. I've been down the all original route a couple of times. One time with a very popular local act. I have no interest in making the big time or making a living off music anymore. Most people I come across, that do all-originals are younger, have no family or major bills to pay. I no longer have the time or patience for stardom. I'm in it because I love playing out and entertaining. I prefer to play mostly covers, sure an OCCASIONAL original is great. My current band, so far, has gotten great responses from people in this area. I always believed in being a cover band first, playing 70% covers and 30% originals, especially in this town. Once established you can work more originals into your setlist.
    Also, to say that playing covers is easy, I'll also disagree. I find it easier to come up with my own basslines as opposed to transcribing someone else's. I've blamed the current trend in this city(original only) for the lack of interest in the local music scene here. People want to hear covers. I find that the only ones that want to here all originals are musicians, who have the patience and ear for that kind of stuff. Don't get me wrong, I love to hear originals, but if I'm going out for a couple of beers, I want to hear something familiar too. There are only a couple of local acts that I can stomach listening to their originals. The rest put me to sleep.

    Sorry for the rant, but this hits home for me. I'm sick of other wannabe musicians coming up to me and questioning why I do covers. I always get that, "Oh your'e in that cover band attitude from them." Hey I enjoy it, and I'll probably still be doing it long after their band calls it quits because of egos or lack of people listening to them. IMO, if your going to do all originals, you better go all out, tour, merchandise, professional CD's, and peddle to every record company known, because nobody is going to find you playing in a small corner bar.
  13. Borderline


    Oct 30, 2000
    I beleive that the quality of the original work is probably the most important factor here. I've had the experiance of being in a band with a guitarist/singer who took himself way to seriously and beleived that his origianls were god's gift to the music world. The unfortunate reality of the situation however, was that we were just annoying the hell out of everyone who heard us. I know _I_ wouldn't have wanted to hear that junk. The drummer and I brought this up with the guitarist, and his response was literally "Hey, I'm creating meaningful and powerful stuff. If people don't get it, that's they're problem." The drummer and I, sick of having people walk out of our gigs, left to find better bands with more competent musicians.

    I guess all I'm trying to say is that, IMO, the audience is the final arbiter of your music... if no one is enjoying your originals, chances are, you should think about doing some covers for a while. That and covers aren't automatically worse than originals.
  14. I tend to agree with Doug.
    The original band that I play in (T2) has released 5 albums, signed to two different record companies over the years. This made little difference when we wanted to get paid for gigs. It was mainly expenses, or the honour to support a name band, hoping that their fans might like us and buy our albums.
    If you want to do a tour it is fairly normal to have to pay for the privilege, something we always refused to do. Yes, we did some great venues and festivals over the years but it didn’t really pay the bills or buy really decent gear. Luckily I had the sense to spend a large part of my recording advances getting decent gear, that then allowed me to join a good covers band as well. Original material bands don’t get that much work in my experience in the UK unless you’re the latest fad.

    Now, the covers band works quite a lot, makes regular money for me, which enables me to buy lots of nice basses and amps. (Which I like) :D
    Forget about trying to get them to listen to orig. material though. Most audiences just want to dance and boogie, sing along and generally have a good time. We do everything from 60’s to present day, Rock, Pop, Disco etc. depending on the audience.
    In a perfect world I would love to just play our original material, but it’s just not going to happen, not in these days when most record company’s manufacture most of their releases and add front men and women.
    It may sound a bit like I've sold out, but I want to gig, not give up live work.

    It may be different in the States, I hope so.
  15. cb56


    Jul 2, 2000
    Central Illinois
    I don't understand why the guitar player won't do cover tunes, especially if it helps to get his originals played in front of CROWDS! The Beatles did cover tunes, Miles Davis did cover tunes (well sort of), Garth Brooks does cover tunes....
    I'd tell him to kiss my dimpled chad
  16. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    OK, I'll play devil's advocate here.

    If people hate "original" music then why is there ANY original music? Does the average person really have a filter in his brain that says new music they have never heard before is OK if he hears it on the radio or MTV first but not if it's in a club?

    At what point does the audience's expectation change, I mean they will pay big $$ to go see a band performing original music in a theater or arena, why not in a club?

    Why do people walk up to a band in clubs and ask them if they can play any Jimmy Buffett, does anyone walk up to Bono at arena shows and ask him the same question?
  17. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Miles did plenty of cover tunes...as did Bird, 'Trane, Corea, Hancock, etc.

    Good, valid points that have baffled me for years...
  18. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Jazz doesn't count, it's only in rock music since the late 60s that there is any stigma attached to not performing your own material. I can't think of any other musical genre that attaches any importance to the performer also being the composer.
  19. Doug


    Apr 5, 2000
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    Isn't funny that the more talented jazz musicians have no problem playing covers but rock musicians who play covers are outcasted. Go figure.
  20. I don't know where you guys here live or what kind of scene you all are into, but in the Post-Punk/Indie Rock community, any band that plays more than 1 or two cover songs gets booed off the stage.

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