Do you have integrity?!? Cover band related...

Ian

Silver Member
Hi All,

I'm starting a new cover band. Before I do this I always look into local competition and who is working the most to see if I can fill a void. I've set on doing 80's and 90's hip hop, rap, and R&B because there is a complete dearth of BANDS that do this, the popularity of the music in its "hey day," and the fact that the "young professionals" and party planners of today grew up on this stuff. I don't expect many people on this board to be down with the tunes, but believe me when I say they are fun, groovy, and vocally challenging, so I get to hone my skills too.

My questions are these: Who on this board would not play in a cover band? Who on this board will play anything for a paycheck? Who thinks a musician is compromising if they are not trying to bring new music into the world? Do you think I'm crazy? Am I sacrificing my integrity as an artist?

I get a lot of funny looks from friends and fellow players when I say what I'm putting together. Some of my band-mates in my original band outright cringe at the mention of my intentions and I get a whole lot of "I could NEVER do THAT!"

The only comments that outnumber the "WHA?!?" comments are the enthusiastic ones from my peers who are STOKED at the idea of four white guys in suits playing this music REALLY WELL. Without a single gig or demo we have offers to play parties and even a wedding.

I don't take myself too seriously and I love to play and make people dance. Is there anyone else on this board who thinks like me?

Oh yeah, and the money is nice too.

What are you thoughts?
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
It all depends on a musician's outlook. Some people say, "I will never do (such and such) because that's (for sellouts/for losers/just dumb). To me, those people are close-minded. What got them wanting to play music in the first place? Didn't they, at SOME point in their musical development, learn to play some of the songs they loved? (maybe even play along with recordings of the songs?)

There's nothing wrong with playing covers as a band. There's nothing wrong with playing in a cover band. The only thing that would be wrong is misrepresenting a song you're covering as your own.

I hear musicians saying all the time, "Man, I never want to play in a cover band!", but they never have a good reason for it. I'm actually all FOR them feeling that way...it just means that us musicians who "lower ourselves" to playing covers will get more gigs!
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I've played in both originals and covers bands. For satisfaction and creative kicks nothing beats playing good originals IMO. Beating an original into shape so it sounds good is the best feeling. My current band plays old classics, but we prefer to play our own versions rather than do weak copies of classic performances, so we still enjoy a fair bit of creative fun.

I admire people who can play covers note for note. It's not something I can do but it's also not something I want to do. If the performances bring some happiness into the world, I see no integrity issue.

These days I'm happy to simply play drums with other musicians who can play. It sure beats being at the office or doing the grocery shopping! All I really care about is that the performance has some sort of vibe about it.

Good luck with it, Ian. If it works out, great. If not, then no doubt you'll learn from the experience and move on.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
It all depends on a musician's outlook. Some people say, "I will never do (such and such) because that's (for sellouts/for losers/just dumb). To me, those people are close-minded. What got them wanting to play music in the first place? Didn't they, at SOME point in their musical development, learn to play some of the songs they loved? (maybe even play along with recordings of the songs?)

There's nothing wrong with playing covers as a band. There's nothing wrong with playing in a cover band. The only thing that would be wrong is misrepresenting a song you're covering as your own.

I hear musicians saying all the time, "Man, I never want to play in a cover band!", but they never have a good reason for it. I'm actually all FOR them feeling that way...it just means that us musicians who "lower ourselves" to playing covers will get more gigs!
+1

I've played in both....numerous times each. Unless your original band gets signed, then I know what gig: a) pays better. b) gets more regular work, thus pays more often. c) draws better crowds. d) has a greater choice of venues. e) gets more exposure.

Integrity nothing.......if you want to play drums, then play in whatever band will give you the opportunity to do so. Is there any point of 'keeping your artistic integrity' and only working once every couple of weeks? Where's the integrity of a musician who never plays???

Go for it man!!
 

mcbike

Silver Member
I think more musicians should play covers. Little steven van zandt from the e. street band wrote an article warning about the state of music and touched on this very subject.

“It’s become uncool to play other people’s songs, and that’s absurd,” Van Zandt says. “It has got to change. It’s the reason why everything’s so mediocre.”

http://http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601088&sid=aGh1ypRotMME

I have been in alot of bands that wouldn't even play a cover in rehearsals! it was looked down on.

I also look at it this way, as a drummer alot of times we are in situations where we did not write the song, and in essence we are playing a 'cover" anyways. You can have alot of fun working with covers and I think it makes you a better musician. It is definatley looked down upon by alot of musicians. but do you look down on Abe Laboriel Jr. when he is playing a beatles tune with paul mccartney on the superbowl halftime show?
 

Monica McCoy

Senior Member
I play in an original band but we play a half dozen covers or so. People want to hear songs they know. That's a fact.
 

rogue_drummer

Gold Member
Hey, if it pays, I'll play!!! Sometimes I'll play for something other than money, like to do a favor for a friend who needs a drummer, or some other venue where I know the audience will love what I do. I've played for food: nice lunches or dinners, I've played as barter for something else, etc.

No, you are NOT selling out by playing covers. Far from it.

Think of it this way, experienced symphony orchestra players play "covers"; rarely something original. Every time I go to the symphony (haven't in the past years, but the ex loved it, so I went), they are always playing Mozart, Bach, etc. Those are the original term "cover" because every orchestra plays those tunes. And every orchestra player thinks of themselves as accomplished musicians and "professional".

Also if what you are playing is what people want to hear, all the better. There is nothing like and no better feeling in the world than playing a cover tune that people easily recognize and love, and they get up and dance to what YOU are playing. YOU are providing them a means to have a great time by playing what they like.

Who gives a rip if some snobbish musician won't play covers - all the better for you because YOU'LL get work and exposure, not them!

Besides there are a lot of artists out there who have taken someone else's cover and put their spin on it and made it a classic. They are known for it, not the person who originally recorded it.

Also it's a great feeling to take a cover, NOT play it note for note as recorded, and instead put your own feeling into it and your own style, and see what comes forth!

GO FOR IT! GOOD LUCK! AND HAVE FUN!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I think you're thinking too hard about it. I'd say have fun playing the music that inspires you and don't worry about what anybody thinks except yourself.
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
i love playing original music, but i love playing covers too! i just love playing, and i'll play pretty much anything.
 

BoomBoom

Junior Member
Who on this board would not play in a cover band? Who on this board will play anything for a paycheck? Who thinks a musician is compromising if they are not trying to bring new music into the world? Do you think I'm crazy? Am I sacrificing my integrity as an artist?
You are not sacrificing your integrity as an artist by playing in a cover band; you are sacrificing your integrity(and dignity) as an artist by playing 80's and 90's hip hop and rap. What is that, ghetto poetry recited to a drum machine? What do you need a band for?
 

Ekim

Silver Member
The average original band's songs aren't that original anyway. The same old song structures, same old chord progressions and un-inspired lyrics.

That said, if I was more confident in my playing, I'd play anything if folks would have me.

I don't see "integrity" entering into anything other than showing up on time and knowing my parts.
 

Alex H

Member
You are not sacrificing your integrity as an artist by playing in a cover band; you are sacrificing your integrity(and dignity) as an artist by playing 80's and 90's hip hop and rap. What is that, ghetto poetry recited to a drum machine? What do you need a band for?
Not sure if you're being sarcastic, because that's entirely possible, but if you're not...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIo6UakaFVY
If you were being sarcastic (again, hard to decipher over the internet), at least that'll be fun for you to watch.

As for your idea Ian, I think that's really cool. I think hip-hop is one of the coolest things to try to translate to live instrumentation. As for the integrity issue, there are a lot of respected local musicians with their noses buried in Real Books, so I wouldn't worry about it. I was fortunate enough to see an amazing concert last Saturday with Terri Lynne Carrington absolutely destroying (in a good way) the Jazz Messenger's "Blues March." I don't think anyone was too worried about integrity.
 

Eric

Senior Member
Integrity?! A gig is a gig, and a gig that pays is better than one that doesn't. I'm friends with some great players and I can't think of any that would disagree with that.

I'm a jazz drummer who finances his "habit" by playing weddings and such. The only difference between a wedding band and a cover band is no rehearsals but lower quality music. Maybe it's different in other circles, but no-one questions my jazz cred because I like to get paid once in a while. I was actually fantasizing about starting an '80s new wave cover band myself earlier today. I would only play cool stuff that grooves hard, no kitsch. That right there might cost us some gigs initially, but eventually it could take off. Gary Numan, Level 42, Talking Heads, Devo, maybe slip in some King Crimson if no one minds. I know I'm veering outside the genre, but this is my band, not yours!
 

yesdog

Silver Member
I can't tell how many times I have gone to see a band that plays covers and then goes heres one we wrote and the crowd dissapears. one band I was in we would play covers at the paying gigs and throw in an original or two without mention. We would play all original material at approriate venues. I play in one 70s cover band and a 80s / 90s cover band and originals as well. Just have fun play gigs and Kick ass.
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
I actually used to come at it from the side of "it's selling out, it's a waste of my talent, it's not real art," etc. Then, one day, I was offered some cover work. I was going to turn it down, when my bass player in my original band and I had this conversation:
Him: What do you love more than anything else in the world?
Me: Drumming
Him: Do you love working your day job?
Me: No, I hate it.
Him: Well, what's really "selling out?" Working a day job where you don't get to drum, or drumming as much as possible, making a living off it, and doing what you love, and getting better at it, too, 'cause it's still practice?

From that point on, my career in drumming began as a full time job. It's much more of a "sell out" to spend time away from the drums to pay the bills, than it is to sit behind the drums and earn your living that way (not calling everyone who doesn't play for a living a sell-out, but hopefully you all get my point!!!!!!!!!!!!)
 

Skitch

Pioneer Member
Hi All,

I'm starting a new cover band. Before I do this I always look into local competition and who is working the most to see if I can fill a void. I've set on doing 80's and 90's hip hop, rap, and R&B because there is a complete dearth of BANDS that do this, the popularity of the music in its "hey day," and the fact that the "young professionals" and party planners of today grew up on this stuff. I don't expect many people on this board to be down with the tunes, but believe me when I say they are fun, groovy, and vocally challenging, so I get to hone my skills too.

My questions are these: Who on this board would not play in a cover band? Who on this board will play anything for a paycheck? Who thinks a musician is compromising if they are not trying to bring new music into the world? Do you think I'm crazy? Am I sacrificing my integrity as an artist?

I get a lot of funny looks from friends and fellow players when I say what I'm putting together. Some of my band-mates in my original band outright cringe at the mention of my intentions and I get a whole lot of "I could NEVER do THAT!"

The only comments that outnumber the "WHA?!?" comments are the enthusiastic ones from my peers who are STOKED at the idea of four white guys in suits playing this music REALLY WELL. Without a single gig or demo we have offers to play parties and even a wedding.

I don't take myself too seriously and I love to play and make people dance. Is there anyone else on this board who thinks like me?

Oh yeah, and the money is nice too.

What are you thoughts?
I only play in cover bands. The only market for original music is Nashville or LA. Every original band I have ever worked with ends up imploding due to that lack of financial success because they just don't understand that without the radio airplay and the backing of a major label, they won't go anywhere. I am tired of waiting for the uneducated to figure out what I already have (sometimes painfully) learned.

Mike

http://www.mikemccraw.com
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Ami

Senior Member
I think what you are doing is great! Playing other people's songs is always an opportunity to learn... in fact, that is how most probably all professional musicians learn to play their instrument- by learning other peoples parts. One can always continue to play their own music whenever they want, and have an original project on the go, but there is probably no serious player who has never covered other peoples songs (even if only with the record at home) and learned from it. As far as playing a covers gig, It is a professional engagement - go for it and have fun!!
:)
 

Neil

Senior Member
I play in a covers band that has an original music 'wing' so to speak. Same people 2 different band names.
One guess which one gets the most work. Originals are fun and let you get creative but covers allow me to play the drums and hone my/our craft. I get some stick for it, the department at my office is full of musicians (seems people who work IT moonlight as musicians as well) but I've always thought who is the bigger loser, the guy playing in a covers band or the guy to who is sat at home not doing anything :) If you enjoy it, do it.
 
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