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The issue of backing tracks

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Viper617, May 17, 2019.

  1. Viper617


    Sep 11, 2018
    Hi all, this is my first post here on TB, I’ve recently started a new band project with a friend of mine who produces electronic music and we’re interested in playing live. I’ve played live before in a completely organic rock setting with no synths, however this current project relies heavily on heavily layered tracking and production effects. I worry that the live show would not be accepted by other musicians because not everything is “live”. What are your opinions on using heavily tracked music in a live setting when the music would not be possible to replay otherwise?
    Seanto likes this.
  2. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    To me, it isn't live. It is more like Karaoke with guitars. But I'm sure there are others who have no problem with it. it is a matter of personal taste.
  3. expatmuso


    Sep 3, 2015
    Some people won't like and others might go for it. Do you know who will be in the audience? Is there a scene that's into this style of music?
  4. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    To me it depends on the degree to which the synth stuff is being "played" live in real time, as opposed to pre-programmed tracks that you're just playing along to. For an example of the former, check out these guys:

  5. Kriegs


    Feb 14, 2018
    Industrial metal bands do it all the time. There's nothing wrong with it and the audience is not even aware of it. However, if those parts were missing when played live, the audience would notice that.
    tearalong, Seanto, Saorex and 14 others like this.
  6. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    I think you grossly overestimate the amount musicians rely on backing tracks and things that are not "live." There are very few Eddie Van Halen's out there (he demanded everything on record could be done live, hence no backing guitar until Sammy.)
    obimark likes this.
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    In general, I much prefer a stripped down version of tunes played live, so that there are no backing tracks (I don't care about a perfect replication of a studio recording). But I am a musician. Most people in the audience aren't. Also, it sounds like the music you will be playing is something where those parts are needed. I would announce to the audience that due to the complexity of the music, you are using backing tracks from the original recording.
  8. getbent


    Aug 20, 2010
    Chicago, IL
    Eh, who cares what other musicians think? Try doing it and see how the audience reacts, but make sure you're giving a performance and not just pushing buttons and looking at your instrument.
    smeet, filmtex, Seanto and 26 others like this.
  9. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I'm personally not a fan and if I was watching a show and felt that the backing track was so necessary that the people couldn't perform without it, I'd be very unimpressed. Backing tracks also take away some of the natural tempo drift that happens live.

    But, what is important is how it hits the general non-musician customer. IF your sound is drawing an enthusiastic crowd, then there's your answer.
    SoCal80s likes this.
  10. sqlb3rn


    Apr 6, 2016
    Backing tracks are fine when it's an instrument you can't play. Like layers of synth stuff. But I wouldn't use vocal backing tracks or drums or guitar, unless it's a really weird specific sound that would be hard to reproduce on stage. A lot of song intros are backing tracks... Parkway Drive Wishing Wells plays the studio track live for the clean intro. The stage is dark so you can't see them until the distortion kicks in.
  11. Saw them a couple years ago with David Lee Roth actually. Every song with keyboards was done via backing track.

    Fact of the matter is, you need to be genre conscious here. For the average rock band, backing tracks have always been a big no-no; this is not the case, however, for contemporary pop/electronic music and many up and coming (and classic) rock acts of today. Nine times out of ten, if you go see any local or touring act chances are you'll be hearing backing tracks of some manner and you might not even know it!
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
  12. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    If your crowd is exclusively musicians- worry.

    If you have a normal crowd- do not worry.
    Runnerman, obimark, bpmben and 21 others like this.
  13. DoctorZee

    DoctorZee Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2018
    New York / New Jersey
    This is solid advice in literally any possible context.
  14. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
  15. DanGroove

    DanGroove Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2017
    I wouldn't worry too much about whether other musicians will accept it. Worry about whether the bars and patrons will accept it. I left my band at the end of last year because they were getting too busy for me. We used tracks for several songs. They have NOT replaced me. They are using tracked bass as well now and they are even busier then ever, playing every weekend, sometimes twice and even a few weekday gigs. They still get paid and the crowds still come.

    Ween gathered a large following with two guys and a DAT machine.

    Do what is right for your music and stop worrying about what other musicians think about YOUR art.
    Nevada Pete, SteveCS, murphy and 5 others like this.
  16. tb4sbp


    May 9, 2017
    North East
    I would not mind at all
    As long as you were doing it in a creative way and having fun with it
    The audience doesn't really care how the music is made they are there to have fun and enjoy a night out
    Your enthusiasm when playing will transfer to them
    Have fun, experiment and then let us know how it went

    Note: I saw Van Halen on their Sammy reunion tour and they played to a backing track for the Synths in Jump! And they messed it up... a couple of times! The crowd didn't care that it was prerecorded. They laughed, we laughed it was a great show.
    Quinn Roberts likes this.
  17. Viper617


    Sep 11, 2018
    The thought has definitely been in the back of my mind since I started this project.
  18. DanGroove

    DanGroove Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2017

    This is a valid concern. When we used tracks, we set it up so the recorded tracks were track on left channel and click track on right channel of the stereo file. Left went to FOH and Monitor mixes. Right (click) went to dummer and bass players in ears to keep us on tempo with the track. We would even use verbal cues in the click. For example, we had a track for living on a prayer because the guitar player did not own or care to figure out how to use a talkbox for one song. The song leads in with a synth pad until the bass comes in. its a little tricky to hear the timing on the synth pad so we had "BASS ,2 , 3 ,4" to cue me when to come in big with the bass line.
    JRA, bpmben, Mr_Moo and 2 others like this.
  19. Well, you are absolutely correct on that point. If it's any indicator, here on TB you will get about a +90% disapproval rating for using anything tracked, programmed, pre-recorded, sampled, sequenced, etc. (based on similar threads over the years).

    But my question for you is, are you playing venues where the patronage is mostly musicians? Is that what's causing your concern and focus on that specific demographic?

    I ask simply because in 40 years of public performance, I have never done a showcase for an audience of mostly musicians. In fact, it's safe to say my typical audiences have been 99.5% non-musicians who really couldn't care less what tech you use as long as it's done tastefully and consistently well.

    For that reason, I have played in and managed many (good successful well-paid) bands that used tracks and that .5% of the audience comprised of snooty opinionated musicians could go to hell for all I cared.
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  20. I want that piece of my life back.
    Gearhead17 and electrichead like this.
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