covers live

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bassplayingdan, Apr 20, 2004.

  1. my band has a problem with doing covers and i dont know what the deal is. they say a band who plays a cover song or 2 cant be taken seriously. what do yall think?
  2. What do you mean by "taken seriously?"


    Paid well?

    Packed dance floor?

    Compliments from audience and invited back by club owner?

    Respect from other musicians who play strictly original music?

    Respect from listeners who pay for and attend only original act shows?

    Do what you love and love what you do, from that point it doesn't matter. :) And don't let anyone change your mind FOR you. Only you know what's truly in your heart.
  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    A lot of big name bands will still drop a cover or two into their concerts or even their albums. What they tend to do is to take the song and play it in a style that is appropriate to them - so Twist & Shout is going to sound very different when dropped into a set by a thrash metal band than if a Beatles tribute act pulls it out.

  4. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Personally I've only ever played a couple live, but I dont have a problem with them.. except for one scenario...

    A band I was in a couple of years back played an unsigned night at a local club. All the bands play original material and the audience is there to hear new bands and new music... that's the point in an unsigned band night. Well that's what I thought at least!
    The band after us played 2 chili peppers covers, an Incubus cover and a couple of other covers.. in total they played 7 songs, 2 of which were original. The audience loved them, which is fine, but they loved them because they played material they already knew and could get into.

    I have no problem with covers in general, but at an unsigned band night where everyone is trying to get their music accross I think it is a little unfair to steal the night by playing music that everyone knows already and that you didnt actually create!

    It's not as if it's difficult to play the majority covers, in fact it's easy, and generally speaking involves no creativity whatsoever. It's also easy to win over the audience playing material they already know.

    Covers are great, I learn loads of other peoples songs, and I enjoy hearing a good cover version, but I think it's wrong to use covers to improve the impact of your set as an originals band. Just my opinion tho :)
  5. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Nothing wrong with it. In fact, if you're playing bars you'd be best to mix in a LOT of covers if you want to be taken seriously. Entertaining drunken people is easier if you play songs that are already cemented in their heads.

    If they just plain don't WANT to play covers, that's different. Simply look for gigs where it's not needed.
  6. Finger Blister

    Finger Blister

    Jul 8, 2003
    I think the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Van Halen are known
    for covering songs.
  7. baba

    baba Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2002
    3rd stone from the sun
    Let's not forget Zeppelin, Clapton, Allman Bros, and endless others. Tell your band members they are wrong and cite these examples. People get so caught up in what they think is going to be perceived as cool or not that they forget to play music and enjoy themselves. Silly fools.
  8. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    As long as covers are clearly secondary to your originals (unless, of course, you consider yourselves to actually BE a cover band), it shouldn't be a problem.

    Here are my own personal rules of thumb when deciding which covers to play:

    1) If you are going to play a cover by a well known band, try to pick something that is not heard as much on the radio, but that is not so obscure that NOBODY will recognize it. For example - if you are going to do a Zep tune, do something off of LZIII not called Celebration Day. Maybe something like Tangerine.

    2) If you are going to cover a song by a group or artist that people might not expect for your particular genre, make sure that it is a song that is recognizable and that doesn't result in a lot of eye-rolling. A good example of this is demonstrated by moe. covering "Cornflake Girl" by Tori Amos. You don't expect it, but it sounds DAMN good when they do it. A bad example would be a metal band covering a Rick Springfield tune.

    3) If you MUST cover a "goofy" song (i.e., one that is dated or that is just kind of comical to begin with), try doing it during an encore, coupled with an original. Why? Because, by this time, most of your audience is likely to be drunk and thus, more accepting of the goofier stuff.
  9. Schwinn


    Dec 4, 2002
    Sarasota, FL
    A band I'm in didn't want to do covers either, so I'm leaving that band this summer and I have a GREAT cover band going right now that is about to take on the bar scene in another month or two. Covers is what it's all about, unless you are trying to "make it" or you're an artist or something :D Me, I'm a musician, not an artist. I don't really care about writing music.
  10. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Man, there are a boatload of bands that got famous playing cover songs (Metallica started out as a cover band) and there are a boatload of bands that played cover songs even after they got famous (Aerosmith, Van Halen). If you choose the all-original route, be prepared to struggle. If you're struggling as a cover band, you're playing the wrong covers!

    Good luck, dude!
  11. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    I think it honestly depends on the scene. In the Boulder/Denver area, strict cover bands, for the most part, will be lucky to get a job playing the local Holiday Inn lounge. People here want originals because they like to say that they caught so-and-so the night before or "when they were still small".
  12. I've been plaing for 20 years now and in all that time I can't figure out why so many musicians have a problem with cover tunes.

    The only theory I can come up with is that it ticks people off when they put their heart and soul into writing, tweaking, redoing, practicing, and perfecting, and then finally playing their songs live only to have someone say " Know any Skynyrd dude?"

    To those that write I say "Hats off to you!" I really admire those who are able to convey their thoughts and feelings in a musical format.

    I think it is wise to play covers if that's what it takes to get your originals out there.

    The only people that aren't going to take you seriously are the writers that haven't yet succeeded to gain widespread acceptance.

    I think that anyone who writes their own music has already succeeded. It is not an easy thing to do!

    With that in mind I would advise you not to let any frustrations cloud the simple reality that a lot of people like to hear something familiar. It is also true that all songs were heard for the first time at some point. People can be won over with originals, but it's a good idea to spark their interest first.

    If you live in a place where the original scene dominates the cover scene you are one lucky SOB. This is not the usual case.

    On a final note I would like to say that I think it is fun to play originals AND covers. It's all music, and I like music. It doesn't have to be all mine.
  13. I have also played in bands for about 20 years, the first two were strictly covers, 'cause we were all just kids who didnt know how to write a song. After I began to write, (Ive always ended up being the main lyricist in the band) the original bands were born. I know what you mean about the drunk guy in the back of the room shouting "Freebird!!" haha!
    Im from New Orleans, but last year I relocated to Denver after losing ALL of my gear (as well as everything else dear to me) in a fire that devastated the building where I lived. Denver, suprisingly, is a very good scene for original bands right now...(watch for Love.45 who has just been signed from here). But - there is one band here, mainly covers, Called Opie Gone Bad....and they pack the house!! They take songs like, Sympathy for the Devil, and Sir Duke (S.Wonder), all these weird songs that Id never dream of choosing, and they totally funk-ify the tempo, the vocals, inn such a COOL way unlike anything Ive ever seen. The bassist, Windall Armour, has toured with the likes of James Taylor, and yet when he's home in Denver, Opies his band...haha! Anyhoo, didnt mean to get long winded, I just think that approach to doing covers is real fresh! And maybe we'll be the next band signed out of here! :eek:
  14. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Ever notice when big name artists from different groups get together onstage, they play a bunch of cover tunes?

    Think of awards banquets for musicians, where musicians are honoring other musicians. They all get up onstage, with like what, a dozen guitar players...and they all jam out material by other musicians.

    There is hardly any original music out there any more anyway. Almost everything is a rehash of something else. If you think you are being totally original...then where did your ideas come from...some black hole in the universe?
  15. Never looked at it that way. I guess out of 88 keys on a piano, or 144 notes on a guitar fretboard, mathematically we probably are out of completely original music...this brings us more to learning how to color the song with different instruments and different tonal qualities and time signatures. I believe that these were the very factors that forced metal to become progressive. (For that matter progressive is a term which is now used in ALL genres of music). Then even when you have some great originals, comes the painstaking task of selecting the perfect people for the band...etc. But yes, there is a vast ocean of "original" material out there, and if you listen to enough of it, after awhile most of it does sound like white noise. :meh:
    Every now and again, something will come along that really jumps out, and for me it's more about the soul and the energy than about virtuostic "chops". And also about what kind of live show they are capable of pulling off.
    Just my two (more) bits...hahaha!
  16. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    There was an artist (I can't remember who) that said...

    "There is only one original creator. Once He was done, everything created since is a mere copy, no matter how well done."
  17. "Good artists borrow- Great artists steal!"

    -guesses anyone?

    If someone in your band has an issue with covers, tell them to get over themselves. You can also do your own version of the song. We do a killer Good Times Bad Times/ For What It's Worth "medley."
  18. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I think they are stupid, to be blunt.
  19. "There is only one original creator. Once He was done, everything created since is a mere copy, no matter how well done."

    Man that is extremely well said.
  20. ok well i talked it out with them and the only reason was the guitarist would get bored playing stuff he didnt make up but i convinced them. it has nothing to do with ego but we have some decently strong material that can carry its own so it was never really a big deal with any of us.