Do You Think A Punk Cover Band Is Viable?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jive1, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I've been listening to alot of Punk lately, old and new. Made me want to play some Punk again, just for the fun of it. But, I was wondering if this would be marketable.

    I was thinking doing a Punk cover band. It would be doing old-school Punk like the Ramones, Pistols, etc, newer Punk like Blink and Greenday, doing punk covers of top 40 hits, or a combination of the above.

    The issue for me, the notion of 'Punk' and 'cover band' don't seem to mesh well. Punk, to me, has been the realm of DIY and original music. You don't see any Punk cover bands around, and I wonder if it's because the audience wouldn't accept a band like that. Or maybe it's because 'serious' musicians don't want to play stuff like that. I don't know.

    So, what do you think? Do you think a Punk cover band would work? Why or why not?
  2. THand


    Jun 9, 2008
    Why not? Popular punk songs have been covered for years.
  3. FunkyMcNasty


    Dec 4, 2010
    I'd go see ya. But I'd think that it would be hard to book shows. I don't know of any bars around here that have "punk" band playing. Maybe in VA tho.
  4. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    a band in portland does it pdx punk rock collective is their name... I have seen them butcher a few good old punk songs. I find it fun to do one or 2 covers in a set of 10 originals. I just find it boring to play some covers, id rather play something original. but cover bands do make more money then original bands which makes no sence. it takes more skill to write your own songs and play them then play some songs someone else wrote.
  5. snapple


    Nov 25, 2003
    Victoria-Vancouver Canada
    Endorsing Artist: PCL Vintage Amps
    Punk tribute bands are always a good sell, especially when you're tributing a band like black flag or the misfits that aren't together anymore.

    However, I don't think that it's a great idea to mix punk genres like pop-punk (blink 182 and green day) and old school stuff (buzzcocks, television, ramones)
  6. bombpop14


    Apr 10, 2010
    Irvine, California USA
    Endorsing Artist Ampeg Amps
    There is a popular band that does "Punk Rock Karaoke" in So Cal...
    The members sing some of the songs and invite people up to tackle punk classics. Definitely no Blink or Green Day, more old school classics like Ramones, Clash, Pistols etc.

    They do pretty well and it's a lot of fun.
  7. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Definitely. There is a large audience for punk amongst younger bar aged kids in SoCal, and probably other places as well. There are some bars/clubs that cater specifically to that crowd and only book punk bands. I see no reason why they wouldnt book a punk coverband.
  8. shrap


    Feb 14, 2007
    Montreal, Canada
    I'm from the school of thought that every song sounds better when performed in a Punk Rock fashion.

    i.e. Have you ever seen the rain as performed by the Ramones

    I have done Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb at high speed and it sounded killer.:bassist:

    The possibilities are endless.
  9. timber22

    timber22 Supporting Member

    Personally, I love it. :bassist: I enjoy the music and would love to play in a band that covers classic punk. I would support you.

    But in my area, I think the marketability is limited. I've seen very good "classic punk" cover bands have very mediocre success. I see you are from VA so maybe the DC area will be better than Eastern PA. I'd say go for for it! But I'm just trying to be being realistic in what I've seen in my personal experiences.
  10. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Thanks for all the input. I'll try address what was said so far in this post.....

    One of my concerns is marketability. My fear is that the mention of Punk around here would make the clubs not want to book you out of their own ignorance or exposure to terrible punk bands. Depending on which direction I go with it, I may or may not market it as a Punk band overtly. But, the DC area once had a good Punk scene with bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Fugazi coming out of here.

    I wouldn't mix genres, like hardcore and pop punk. That wouldn't work, and it wouldn't be authentic either, IMO. Like I said earlier, I have 3 avenues I'm thinking of:

    1 is an old school Punk band. Maybe do a tribute with one set of Pistols, one set of Ramones, and one set of Clash. Or, do more of a smattering of 70s and 80s Punk doing the above and adding in Television, Buzzcocks, Dead Kennedys, and stuff like that. My concern is whether people would pay money to see a show like that, and how much demand there would be, especially among females.

    2 is a more modern Punk band doing Blink 182, Green Day, New Found Glory, and stuff like that from the 90s. I would probably add more Indie/Alt stuff like 3rd Eye and Weezer to make it more marketable. I think this would be the most marketable avenue, but I'm afraid that it would make us like most other cover bands and we'd have more to compete against.

    3 is a Punk/Ska band that does covers of hit tunes. There's tons of Punk covers already out there, and plenty of tunes still left to Punk up. Boys of Summer by the Ataris, Take on Me by Reel Big Fish, and Ring of Fire by Social Distortion are examples of stuff we'd cover. The question is will people want to listen to this all night, or get pissed that we're trashing their favorite songs?

    I'd possibly mix 1 and 3, and 2 and 3, but not 1 and 2.

    I've seen bands pull off 1-2 Punk tunes like Sedated or Anarchy, and have it go well. I have seen Punk bands do a set on a multi band bill, and do OK. My concern is whether folks would be down for listening to it from 9 til 1 AM. Would it be too much?

    Anyway, thanks for your responses thus far, and looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts.
  11. IncX


    Jul 23, 2007
    i think it'll be hard to get a paying gig out of it... but if its just for fun, i think there would be many bars out there who would get you.

    a lot about the music is based on looks though, since majority of your audience would be kids ... and well, moshing is to be expected, so i guess you'd start out making rounds in the dive bar circuit - unless there are good punk and rock clubs out there in your place
  12. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    From a management perspective.

    I'd consdider pop punk... bands like QuietDrive promote as a pop band...

    hardcore wall-0-JCM hardcore isn't in the taste realm of many venues.

    I doubt if you'd get any casino, corporate, event or social bookings.
  13. NOAH_FX


    Aug 12, 2010
    Ottawa, Canada
    Hey Jive, what about having the setlist progress? Start with a Ramones/Pistols set, roll into some more hardcore punk second set, Bad Barins, Misfits,. Third set more modern punk, like Bad Religion, NOFX, Rise Against, we do a Re-education through labour, people love it. High energy rocking tune.

    I personally I think here (ottawa) it would go over amazing and would probably get steady gigs. But, the Scene (scene) or atleast thats what im told it's called is pretty huge here, and most of those kids like punk.. Skate punk in particular is coming back pretty hard here... Think like Lagwagon meets Milencolin type of thing.. Without any sort of message.
  14. Did everyone really just forget to mention Rancid?
  15. Count_Blah


    Jul 5, 2011
    We're thinking about doing a set like this, but sticking to the Ramones. In this area, I don't think it would be worth it to do a full night of punk covers, so we're gonna see how a single set of the Ramones goes and decide from there.

    If you are looking for some other ideas for covering "standards" check out Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Love Their Country" has some really good tunes on it
  16. Hey Jive,

    I've done it before. The most success comes from more of the 'Tribute' side of things.

    For example, when i lived in DC still, i was in a Minor Threat cover band called, 'Miner Threat'... we dressed in spelunking gear and played MOSTLY Minor Threat songs. To extend the setlist we included 'obvious' other songs. Songs by Teen Idles, SOA, Youth Brigade, and Government Issue... maybe some 7 Seconds, Negative Approach, Uniform Choice and SSD... it;s hard to remember, haha.

    Anywho... my point is... DON'T try to overstep bounds. While you and i may just as easily get down to The Paul Colin's Beat, Gorilla Biscuits, Discharge, and Green Day... a lot of people that would want to see a punk cover band wouldn't.

    I'd stick with relative close time/styles... PROBABLY focusing on ONE band, and expanding from that base.

    A Green Day tribute band is an easy thing to do. They have a HUGE library, and are pretty well regarded across the board... throw in some Pinhead Gunpowder, Op Ivy, Rancid, Blink 182 or Alkaline Trio... you should be good to go.

    Off the top of my head, these days, the only bands i think that could be tributable AND have a large audience are either Green Day or The Ramones. However, you could also maybe focus on era/time/location... I dunno.

    I know the local area well, and have been part of the 'punk scene' in the MD/DC/VA/WVA area for 15 or so years... Let me know if i can help any!! :D

    On a related note, there ARE a lot of local 'one off' kind of cover/tribute nights that happen every so often. My favorite:

    For the past few years, in Baltimore, a BUNCH of local bands all get together and play a show that's been dubbed "Damaged Bloody Damaged" in which each band covers a few songs by Black Sabbath and Black Flag... it goes over VERY well... here's the flyer from the one back in January:

  17. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I think a punk cover band, or ideally a cover band that did a lot of punk, has HUGE potential. I think it's underrepresented as a whole, and the nostalgia for that period of time is big right now.

    Are you willing to perform shirtless, and cut yourself with a razor blade just above the hairline right before you play so blood streams down your face? If so, I think you could have a monster on your hands.....
  18. Floridabwoy

    Floridabwoy Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2008
    Jacksonville, Fl
    There is a local band here in Jacksonville called "What About Me" that is a punk cover band.. they do pretty well. The original punk bands do better and what is called "Revival" or folk punk ala Chuck Ragan, Tim Barry do really well.
  19. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    If done well I can see that going over in NYC, but in my immediate area (tri state area) probably not so much. All the bars/clubs here are mainly looking for good cover bands, just more of a top 40 style of music.

    I'd go see it though! And I agree...add some Rancid to that list! Social Distortion too...
  20. rumblinbass


    Aug 22, 2003
    Wimberley, TX
    yep. we have one called Squid Row here in San Antonio.