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  #41  
Old 06-04-2018, 01:11 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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Originally Posted by Rattlin' Bones View Post
Don't play in a cover band. Find a jazz-oriented or blues-oriented or NOLA group. Find a group that does more originals. Plenty of band genres besides covers of Top-40 and Oldies.

When my wife & I go out to listen to music we avoid these kinda shows, and try and find jazz or blues oriented bands. And by Blues I'm not talking Allman Brothers I'm talking about NOLA and Chicago blues that isn't the stuff typically heard.

That's the kinda band I'm in and we mix a bit of jazz and blues. Even some non-original material we re-arrange to make it our own sound.

Groups and artists like Ricky Nye's group in Cincinnati. Or the West Market Street Stompers in Louisville.

It ain't all covers. Think outtathebox.
And Ricky Nye is a double threat. Mostly known for Boogie Woogie (and other styles) Piano, also quite handy on the drums. Not to mention his days on keyboards with the Raisins.
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  #42  
Old 06-04-2018, 01:27 AM
williamsbclontz williamsbclontz is offline
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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Originally Posted by oldskoolsoul View Post
I was speaking about the typical (rock-) coverbands that only want to please the audience..

When you speak about covering songs in genres like blues and jazz, then you are right..But people that play blues and jazz are in general focussing much more on being creative than people who only want to please..
You are right about that. I guess it probably depends somewhat on where you live and what kind of venues you play. Around here most people want to hear blues and country stuff, and they'd get upset if we covered an Aerosmith song

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Originally Posted by Odd-Arne Oseberg View Post
That one annoying dude asking for some Creedence tunes isn't representative of everybody.
I don't know everyone likes ccr ;), but if another guy yells out freebird in between songs...
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  #43  
Old 06-04-2018, 02:14 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

Very interesting thread.

I find myself in a band where some of the players seem to be struggling with nailing the 40 we have identified so far, when, what we really need is to at least double that number of songs.
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  #44  
Old 06-04-2018, 03:48 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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Originally Posted by Frank View Post
Very interesting thread.

I find myself in a band where some of the players seem to be struggling with nailing the 40 we have identified so far, when, what we really need is to at least double that number of songs.
There are hundreds of well-known, well-liked hits out there to choose from over the past 60+ years of pop/rock/country, that are easily playable by a 4-pc group (2 guitars, bass & drums.) There's no excuse for bands to limit themselves to a relative handful of super-common covers such as the oft-lamented Proud Mary, Brown Eyed Girl, Mustang Sally, etc.

A search of the Billboard top-40 from about 1965-1985 will yield probably 200 songs that you could consider adding to your repertoire. It's always good to have more modern stuff on your list, and I'm not suggesting you limit yourself to older material. I'm just saying it's super easy to find songs if you take maybe an hour or two and look for them. You'll be surprised at how many get overlooked by bands, and doing those seldom-heard hits is what will separate your band from all the others playing the cursory 40-50 songs that most bands play.

And obviously choose songs that the band can play without too much compromise. Playing a lushly orchestrated songs as a stripped-down 4-pc isn't going to impress anyone, so you might stay away from Petula Clark, Tom Jones, etc. :)

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  #45  
Old 06-04-2018, 05:10 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
..Let's not look at pleasing the audience as a bad thing..

..It's kinda futile if there's nobody there to hear it..

Everything i wrote is from a musicians/drummers view, not the audience view..

When 'pleasing the audience' becomes the most important, then why would any musician even try to get the best out of themselves..?

I mean, a few years ago i saw a Beatles tribute band..And really, they were playing almost like each of them was playing in a different time signature..That bad..But, the tunes were still recognizable..And i tell you, the crowd went wild for 1,5 hour..

And that also goes for most coverbands..If the people just recognise the tune that they like, they will go wild..Not mattering a lot if that tune is played by Berklee graduates or pure hobby guys..


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Originally Posted by alparrott View Post
..Meanwhile, your originals - how indispensable are they, really? What sets them apart from other music? Are you saying something worthwhile?..

For me thats not mattering..

I like a lot to listen to a crappy punkband with some own 2 chord songs that plays like their life depends on that..I like when things are real, when musicians are real and when everyone plays because they created something..I will always give a band with own songs a listen if i pass them somewhere..Maybe i will like them, maybe not, but for sure they will all give me at least the feeling that i saw something new, instead of hearing a cover..

But, to be clear, i am not having any disrespect for anyone who likes to play in a coverband..Everyone should play drums how they wish and what they want to achieve with that or how they experience this is up to themselves and definitely not me..

I was only reflecting on the creativity-part, nothing else..
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  #46  
Old 06-04-2018, 05:28 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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Originally Posted by oldskoolsoul View Post
When 'pleasing the audience' becomes the most important, then why would any musician even try to get the best out of themselves..?
This doesn't make any sense to me. How is pleasing the audience detrimental to getting the best out of yourself?

Getting the best out of yourself comes from within-no matter what the context whether sweeping a floor or playing music. A smart musician will get the best out of themselves playing covers by working on getting their part right, getting their stage presence down, learning how monitoring and stage volume effect a performance, learning to smile through the pain of a bad day at your day job or an argument with the wife or an injury while performing, etc. etc. etc.. A smart musician does these things with pleasing the audience as the goal of the performance. If pleasing the doggone audience isn't the point why play music at all? It becomes musical masturbation...all about ME otherwise doesn't it?

NOT singling out "oldskoolsoul" here, just a general observation of the thread...

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but it sure sounds like the problem here is a lack of audience appreciation or something along those lines. Blaming the consumer for the poor quality or lack of sophistication of the product.

If that is so maybe it's time for a new vision, a new direction, and a new audience that better fits your bands needs?

But that will cost me gigs and money you say? Well then learn to see your audiences more clearly and work toward the mutual benefit of them and the band. Step away for awhile maybe and look for some fresh inspiration.

Like Bermuda pointed out above-there are literally HUNDREDS of top forty hits from 1955 to the present that would please a crowd AND fulfill the need of musicians to grow and stay fresh. It may mean a change in line up-but better fewer bands with better players on the circuit than ever guitar-slinger and tub banger in 100 miles out there banging out the same 20 tunes...
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  #47  
Old 06-04-2018, 08:05 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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Originally Posted by Mongrel View Post
This doesn't make any sense to me. How is pleasing the audience detrimental to getting the best out of yourself?
You beat me to it.

I always think I get the best out of myself, whether I'm playing for 10 people, or 10,000. But with zero people there, I don't even get the opportunity. I suppose there's some satisfaction just playing at home, alone, but then this discussion no longer applies.

I have never met a musician who doesn't want to play to an audience. And if you can't please that audience, they will shrink and disappear, along with opportunities to play.

Bermuda
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  #48  
Old 06-04-2018, 08:50 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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..This doesn't make any sense to me. How is pleasing the audience detrimental to getting the best out of yourself?..

I said that when 'pleasing the audience' becomes the most important or the main target, then there is no need anymore to become a quality musician at all, because the audience in most cases couldnt care less if you have skills or not..They just want to recognise a tune and thats basically that..

And, the 'give the people what they want'-idea is just not my idea of being a creative musician..

I played many years with coverbands, from weddings/casino's/business-parties/etc with a normal coverband till each week for 1000-1500 people audience with a rockcoverband and i just think that for my development as a creative musician other choices would have been better..

But again, no disrespect at all to anyone who plays in a coverband now..
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  #49  
Old 06-04-2018, 12:01 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

For about 7 or 8 years I was in a band that took well known songs from multiple genres and played them with a “Rock/Punk” spin. Not simplifying them and playing them quickly, but really doing our best to translate them musically, incorporating keys changes, stops, segues and mash ups. And despite the well known nature of our set list (Dolly Parton, songs from the musicals, Tina Turner, Robbie Williams etc.) it took us most of that time to find acceptance. We would work hard to get into a venue and once we got a toe in the door more often thatn not we got repeat bookings but for many years venues were “frightened” of hosting a band that they couldn’t pigeonhole.

I’m currently in 2 bands, one of them is a Classic Rock band, one of many in the North East Of England. Before Out very first gig we needed one more song to make us feel comfortable that we had enough to put on a show. We had minimal time to do it. Someone suggested Whole Lotta Rosie, a song that all of us had played at some point in other bands and that I had decided I’d never play again after leaving my last band. But we played it, tagging it on as the last song of the night. The bar went wild. It’s been our encore for 3 years now, the bar goes wild 9 times out of 10. If I had written that song then damn sure I’d keep playing it night after night, so I see no need not to play it just because we didn’t write it and everyone knows it.

When playing covers in pubs a band can stray only so far from the track. “B sides” and “album tracks” tend to be about the band trying to show how clever they are to other musos rather than keeeping the audience happy. We’ve introduced quite a few songs over the years that came and went, because the age range in our band is from early 30s to 50s and the members have different backgrounds then ideas have gone into the mix that individuals wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, and yet many of those really good ideas fell flat and got dropped. Listen to the isolated drum track of Heart’s Barracuda. If you think it’s an easy thing for an untutored weekend warrior like myself to play then I’ll shut up, I think it’s rather difficult and I worked damned hard and made a good fist of it. Our singer is fantastic and could handle that song in the correct key, hitting all the notes with conviction. After a couple of months we reluctantly dropped it as it was just sapping the energy in the room. I still wonder why because growing up (and a lot of our audience is in my age group) that was a really popular song in my neck of the woods, but there you go.
We’re rehearsing a version of The Lemonheads version of Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs Robinson tonight. That’s a track that falls slap into the remit of this thread, I’ve never seen it played live locally but it is very well known, hopefully it’ll work.
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  #50  
Old 06-04-2018, 12:34 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
The audience doesn't come to a bar to be educated with unfamiliar music, and bar bands that think it's their job to expand an audience's musical horizons are misguided and destined to not work much.
This really brings up a good point. A couple of my friends cover bands try to be really clever in their minds and play much more obscure stuff. One of them actually said they felt they were 'educating' the audience. They play 2x per year and don't understand why they don't gig more.

I've always felt like in picking songs, don't pick a band's biggest hit, choose song #2 or #3. It'll feel like you are going off the page a bit to the crowd, but you aren't really.
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  #51  
Old 06-04-2018, 01:06 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

[quote=DrumEatDrum;

A lot of cover bands are players who work 9-6 all week and have players who don't' strap on their guitar/instrument until they get to the bar. The gig isn't about making money or doing a fabulous job, it's just about blowing off steam and reliving a bit of their youth for 4 hours.[/QUOTE]

This is us - although we do try and stay away from the exact same songs all the other cover bands play...We put in some 'cleverer' covers, 10cc Art for arts sake,Chicago 25 or 6 to 4, and the like. We try to 'medley' some too. Led zep...everyone plays 'rock and roll' - we do it with a bit of moby dick, into whole lotta love and then run it straight into Hocus Pocus by Focus.We do three Thin Lizzy songs joined together - we don't just play 'Whiskey in the Jar'.......
We often get praise for playing 'something different' but we get much more of a crowd response from White Wedding and Rebel Yell than any clever stuff we spent weeks working out and rehearsing.
Covers band song choices are also limited by the sounds available. A lot of 80's songs are full of synth for example.Really hard to do them justice only having 1 guitar,bass and drums.
When you take this into account, the 'hundreds' of possible song choices suddenly seem much less - we really struggle to find new songs.
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  #52  
Old 06-04-2018, 02:28 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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Originally Posted by AzHeat View Post
That’s is my point. I could easily come up with a list of 100 songs or more that people love to hear, but to everyone around me, the song list is always the same 20. Just met up with guys who said they play different stuff than everyone else. Got the set list and yup, same 20!
Got to be honest. I'd hang up my sticks and never touch drums again if my only option was to play that Mustang Sally/Brown Eyed Girl stuff.

People are generally willing to take a listen if your performance is engaging, and if the music is listenable to. We play originals melodic punk rock. We usually get a warm reception whether that be an audience of 10 or of 100 and regardless of venue as our brand of punk is pretty mild, and very humorous. We'll slip in a cover occasionally just to avoid 'original music fatigue'. Swords of a Thousand Men always seems to go down a storm.

We find, and this is personal experience, we'll do probably four reasonable gigs for every one really enjoyable gig. Bizarrely it is often the reasonable gigs which pay. We seem to enjoy the unpaid charity gigs far more. Hard to fathom huh?

I'd rather play original stuff, for nothing, for the rest of my life, than play for money in a covers band. Tried the classic rock covers thing and could feel my enthusiasm for drumming and music (and life) just slipping away. In a way I guess I am fortunate to be able to make that choice.
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  #53  
Old 06-04-2018, 02:32 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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Originally Posted by oldskoolsoul View Post
Everything i wrote is from a musicians/drummers view, not the audience view..

When 'pleasing the audience' becomes the most important, then why would any musician even try to get the best out of themselves..?

I mean, a few years ago i saw a Beatles tribute band..And really, they were playing almost like each of them was playing in a different time signature..That bad..But, the tunes were still recognizable..And i tell you, the crowd went wild for 1,5 hour..

And that also goes for most coverbands..If the people just recognise the tune that they like, they will go wild..Not mattering a lot if that tune is played by Berklee graduates or pure hobby guys..





For me thats not mattering..

I like a lot to listen to a crappy punkband with some own 2 chord songs that plays like their life depends on that..I like when things are real, when musicians are real and when everyone plays because they created something..I will always give a band with own songs a listen if i pass them somewhere..Maybe i will like them, maybe not, but for sure they will all give me at least the feeling that i saw something new, instead of hearing a cover..

But, to be clear, i am not having any disrespect for anyone who likes to play in a coverband..Everyone should play drums how they wish and what they want to achieve with that or how they experience this is up to themselves and definitely not me..

I was only reflecting on the creativity-part, nothing else..
I get it mate and am entirely on your wavelength. I wish more people thought like you.
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  #54  
Old 06-04-2018, 03:00 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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Originally Posted by oldskoolsoul View Post
I said that when 'pleasing the audience' becomes the most important or the main target, then there is no need anymore to become a quality musician at all, because the audience in most cases couldnt care less if you have skills or not..They just want to recognise a tune and thats basically that..

And, the 'give the people what they want'-idea is just not my idea of being a creative musician..

I played many years with coverbands, from weddings/casino's/business-parties/etc with a normal coverband till each week for 1000-1500 people audience with a rockcoverband and i just think that for my development as a creative musician other choices would have been better..

But again, no disrespect at all to anyone who plays in a coverband now..
Not sensing any disrespect-and not trying to be disrespectful at all. Just trying to see your perspective.

Pleasing an audience and "give the people what they want" may not mean the same thing depending on the venue...

Also-what is the main purpose of a band playing out-especially a cover band if it is not to please the audience?

Not saying there aren't bands out there playing poorly or only giving the minimum effort as long as that pleases an audience. They are out there. But what about a great band that is out there? What about the group playing that circuit who makes it their mission as a band to "please the audience". The band who "makes the main thing pleasing the audience"? They put the time in developing a great set, individually learn their parts, have productive rehearsals, invest in some lighting and stage presence-all because they want their audience to have a great time as the primary result...

How is any part of their experience "detrimental" to their development as a musician?
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  #55  
Old 06-04-2018, 03:03 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

There is so much stuff to play, if you just tweak it the tiniest bit.

My band plays Tainted Love...but a Rockabilly version based on Imelda May's version.

Last weekend we started on These Boots Are Made For Walking, with a slightly bluesy flavour.

We play Careless Whisper, yes you read that right, but with distorted lead guitar taking the sax part.

These aren't done as novelty versions, just slightly different takes on the versions that people know. They are generally well received, and fun to play.

Also, sometimes songs that you think will go one way, turn out to have very different personalities to what you expected, and thought you knew if you tackle them with different instrumentation to the recording you are initially emulating.
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  #56  
Old 06-04-2018, 03:38 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
That's a common perspective for musicians. You have to understand (and accept) that the vast majority of people that musicians play for in bars, clubs, corporate events, weddings, etc., are not other musicians. Conversely, jazz and funk venues tend to cater to musicians as a core audience.

If you want to make money - and I think that most musicians would like to make money from their craft - you give the people what they want. In fact, even if you're doing original, eclectic music, it still has to appeal to people, or nobody will want to hear it. You have to give the eclectic crowd what they want, too.

Personally, I enjoy most juke box music. I've never let being a musician get in the way of my enjoying music. I see that a lot in other players, and I honestly don't get it. It's like they lost something along the way. Or they've become cynical about music, or maybe too self-absorbed with their own art. I still enjoy playing everything that comes my way. Give me Mustang Sally, Midnight Hour, Brown Eyed Girl, Chain Of Fools, Grapevine, Proud Mary, etc and I'm happy. I guess because I just enjoy playing.

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I feel the same . I enjoy playing no matter what it is . Some material more than others. But I do understand where a lot of you are coming from . There are other tunes to play that fit “”the beat”” but You definitely have to play to and be able to read the the crowd though if you’ve been given that freedom by the venue .That being said , how many of you get together with your band or others just to play for yourselves once in a while ? I’ll get together with other musicians in the yard when we can and just jam whatever tunes we want . Anything from the classic top 20 or 40 tunes to funk, blues, country rock or whatever we agree upon. Friends will get the word we’re ...”JAMMING” and stop by , and that’s great , but we play what we want . It could be a 20 min improv blues jam or some allman-esque extended rock/country rock jam ( whatever). Sometimes we play or attempt stuff some of us have toyed with or never even attempted and that’s fine too as it’s just for us and our entertainment . Keeping perspective is important when being a ... “musician” . Remember we get to play music . Others would love to , but we do it . So enjoy it no matter what or where your playing . You never know how long it will last . JMO and how I choose to view it . I learned this from my older brother who passed in 2001 at 37 (very talented guitarist). He’d play anywhere , anytime , for anyone and any material he was able ( which was most ) because he loved it that much .
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  #57  
Old 06-04-2018, 04:17 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

I also think that with the amount of cover bands there are lots of them break up and form new ones. I see ads available all the time. So if many play the same material it is easy to just take someone else's spot. "here is the required songs" oh perfect, I can already play them all. haha

I for one would love ANY cover band that plays the B sides and some out of the norm stuff. but that is why I play in 2 bands that write original tracks.

I was thinking about bermuda's post as well. When I make a YouTube cover, I try and learn the fills, grooves, and match drummers style as much as I can. It is much easier to "wing it" and add your own flare. Playing it exact and like someone else is harder because every little mistake is noticed. I find it easier to play my own bands stuff because I can do what I want. There is only ONE correct way when you are trying to nail a cover perfectly.

I also don't want to hear some drummer changing grooves or adding chops to a song that I already know and is in my head if I am out at the bar.
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  #58  
Old 06-04-2018, 05:00 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

When playing covers, and I'm referring to me only, I don't think it's necessary to deconstruct the song and try to replicate exactly what was played....unless the other guys are doing the same, which they don't.

We play The Band's "Ophelia". Which has a 1/6/2/5 portion. Well the band leader prefers it without the 1/6/2/5 part. So if I played the original part, it wouldn't line up. What's a girl to do?

We play Elton John's "Your Song". The record has no drums for the first few minutes. We don't have a piano. The bassist doesn't replicate the bass part.
I play drums right from the beginning of the song because that's what works.

I play what works best with what we have. Even the original bands don't perform their songs exactly the same way night to night. I think it's nuts to replicate a drum part that was played with a different bass line than I'm playing to, and since we don't have a piano and violins, then it's not going to be the same anyway. No one in the audience is at all unclear about what song we're doing.

We play "Wagon Wheel". We've been told, and at the risk of sounding pompous, we've been told that our audience prefers our version, and I agree. We all think it sounds better than Darius Rucker's version, which to me is just too fast and misses the mark badly. I don't like the feel the studio band gave to that song at all.

My band does a version of WW that's closer to the original version. The original version is from a band called Old Crow Medicine Show. How many audience members even know that? So in my mind it doesn't matter one bit how we do a cover, as long as it's easily recognizable and is well liked. No one, even the other musicians, don't know what the original drum part is.

With covers I do what I think is best with what I've got. No one knows the exact drum part anyway. Hell if I don't even know the exact drum part down to every last detail, how in hell is a punter gonna know? I play it so it works good with MY band, and frankly, to hell with what someone else did with the song in their particular musical situation.

This is why I have no problem playing covers. I play it like we're recording it, and I play the part that works best with my bandmates. I get to be plenty creative, but mainly I stick to what everyone needs, and anything signature. Beyond that I get to take as much creative license as I want, when I am so moved to do so.
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  #59  
Old 06-04-2018, 05:05 PM
Vandalay Vandalay is offline
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

I'm not currently in a working band, but I think if you're in a cover band that plays bars & clubs, the main objective is to get 'em to dance,..even if means playing songs you're not crazy about,..

In my past life, I was a radio DJ for 30+ years, in top 40 through the 80s, and 60-70's oldies for the remainder. I played A LOT of songs I didn't care for, but I also understood that via the research that was done, these were extremely popular with the listening audience. So as tired of playing "Pretty woman" or "Yesterday" or "You've lost that loving feeling"..I knew these songs were absolutely bulletproof..and I absolutely think this applies to a working band as well..
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  #60  
Old 06-04-2018, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

Yeah Ricky Nye's group is tight. And it's not what you hear from anybody else. Very NOLA influenced. I have two of their CD's and try and catch them whenever we're in Cincy.

They are a perfect example of a working band getting gigs that are not a cover band. If you don't wanna play cover songs and Oldies Top-40 then there are plenty of other opportunities. Cover bands are not the only game in any town.

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And Ricky Nye is a double threat. Mostly known for Boogie Woogie (and other styles) Piano, also quite handy on the drums. Not to mention his days on keyboards with the Raisins.
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Old 06-04-2018, 06:42 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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If you mean in the literal sense to create, you're right. A cover band is about re-creating (see below.)



I make my living figuring out how other drummers play parts, and how producers program them. And it's not just about copying their parts, it's about getting inside their head to figure out what they would play if they were called to play on a track.

As for just plain covering parts being useless, I'd like to meet the drummer who's going to come up with better parts than anyone whose song they're covering. Please think about that for a minute.

Nobody has ever said to me "Hey, you played just like the guy on the record! Whattsa matter, can't think for yourself?" Indeed, my willingness to play covers like the original versions is what keeps me working. I've replaced more than a few drummers who couldn't or wouldn't grasp the concept. Just sayin'...

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Also replying to Oldskoolsoul...

I disagree about the cover band/creative statement you made. I find that learning cover songs teaches me new things, that I then can experiment with around the kit, sticking, phrasing, etc. After figuring out either a new pattern or fill, I can experiment with them. I don't have the "bag of tricks" most drummers have and because of my limited time to practice, this is what works best for me. It does push me to learn new things and be creative.


And to the parts of Bermuda's response that I highlighted in bold: I recently had to learn the drum part's to Chaka Kahn's, "Ain't Nobody" since we decided to add it to our set list. I knew going in that I could probably find the transcription of the drum parts online but this was one, especially w/ the hi hat part, that I wanted to figure out on my own. I got it worked up to where I could play it comfortably (for me) and then decided to see what the internet had to say. I was pretty close but hadn't picked up a couple little things.

I read that JR Robinson programmed the drum tracks on a drum machine for the song and then had to learn to play it himself afterward. As Bermuda eluded to above, it would be interesting to learn to think like that/him and how he decided to approach that song that way.

Last edited by Lee-Bro; 06-04-2018 at 06:43 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 06-04-2018, 07:17 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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For about 7 or 8 years I was in a band that took well known songs from multiple genres and played them with a “Rock/Punk” spin. Not simplifying them and playing them quickly, but really doing our best to translate them musically, incorporating keys changes, stops, segues and mash ups. And despite the well known nature of our set list (Dolly Parton, songs from the musicals, Tina Turner, Robbie Williams etc.) it took us most of that time to find acceptance. We would work hard to get into a venue and once we got a toe in the door more often thatn not we got repeat bookings but for many years venues were “frightened” of hosting a band that they couldn’t pigeonhole.

I’m currently in 2 bands, one of them is a Classic Rock band, one of many in the North East Of England. Before Out very first gig we needed one more song to make us feel comfortable that we had enough to put on a show. We had minimal time to do it. Someone suggested Whole Lotta Rosie, a song that all of us had played at some point in other bands and that I had decided I’d never play again after leaving my last band. But we played it, tagging it on as the last song of the night. The bar went wild. It’s been our encore for 3 years now, the bar goes wild 9 times out of 10. If I had written that song then damn sure I’d keep playing it night after night, so I see no need not to play it just because we didn’t write it and everyone knows it.

When playing covers in pubs a band can stray only so far from the track. “B sides” and “album tracks” tend to be about the band trying to show how clever they are to other musos rather than keeeping the audience happy. We’ve introduced quite a few songs over the years that came and went, because the age range in our band is from early 30s to 50s and the members have different backgrounds then ideas have gone into the mix that individuals wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise, and yet many of those really good ideas fell flat and got dropped. Listen to the isolated drum track of Heart’s Barracuda. If you think it’s an easy thing for an untutored weekend warrior like myself to play then I’ll shut up, I think it’s rather difficult and I worked damned hard and made a good fist of it. Our singer is fantastic and could handle that song in the correct key, hitting all the notes with conviction. After a couple of months we reluctantly dropped it as it was just sapping the energy in the room. I still wonder why because growing up (and a lot of our audience is in my age group) that was a really popular song in my neck of the woods, but there you go.
We’re rehearsing a version of The Lemonheads version of Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs Robinson tonight. That’s a track that falls slap into the remit of this thread, I’ve never seen it played live locally but it is very well known, hopefully it’ll work.


Where do people sit with covering cover versions then? I guess it's accepted to cover the cover if the cover is better known than the original? (As Larry said - how many people know the original version of WW?)

Speaking of Simon+ Garfunkel - We tried the Bangles version of 'Hazy shade of winter' only to get 'heckled' for not playing the original. We ended up doing a mix of the two.We're currently learning the Futureheads version of Hounds of Love.
Even among 'non muso' audiences there appears to be some disdain for certain modern cover versions? Hilarious considering they quite possibly don't realise how many songs that they consider to be originals are in fact covers. Is this created by the age of the audience? If they remember the original Mrs Robinson and are they more likely to dislike the Lemonheads version for example??
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Old 06-04-2018, 07:57 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

A total ramble...

Our band's objective was to have all the songs be "A-side" or ones that people wanted to hear, AND that we enjoyed playing.

Some of the "moneymaker" songs...the ones where everyone gets up and dances...the tried-and-true that everyone does (there is a reason for that) I am tired of, some I always like playing.

I could do without playing "September" by EWF for a while, but it's one of the crowd favorites. "Uptown Funk" by Bruno Mars...an obvious standard and crowd favorite AND I'm not tired of it yet. :) "Long Train" by the Doobies...and "All right now" by Free...I love those each time we play them. Ditto for "Don't Stop" by Journey.

On the other hand, I could do without playing "Funky Music" by Wild Cherry for a while...but the crowd loves it. Usually when the crowd loves it...that picks me up and gets me into it.

I'm old now (turn 50 this year) so a song from 10 years ago is "recent" to me. We have "Poker Face" is our set list and that sounds fresh to me. Hey, it's only about 10 years old right? :)

There are some songs I like to play no matter how old they are or how much they've been done. I personally love playing Mustang Sally...although that is NOT in our current set list.
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Old 06-04-2018, 07:59 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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[/b]

Where do people sit with covering cover versions then? I guess it's accepted to cover the cover if the cover is better known than the original? (As Larry said - how many people know the original version of WW?)
Interesting question. I guess you should swing for the more commonly known version in general. A friend's band does a cover of a cover of Folsom Prison Blues that was done by a punk band, to me it just sounds like they are screwing up the song. It doesn't have a train beat, it's just a fast punk style beat. It just seems wrong to me.

I'm officially in the 'play it as close to the original as possible' camp, unless you go and take a song somewhere totally different from the original. My last couple bands I've played with, and most of my fill in stuff, I try to learn the original version as close as I can. If you are bored of the same old songs, go back and really listen to the original, and try to reproduce the exact copy of the original recording. It's a great challenge. Other instruments are supposed to do it, why should drummers get to slack off and call it 'good enough'.
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Old 06-04-2018, 08:00 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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And to the parts of Bermuda's response that I highlighted in bold: I recently had to learn the drum part's to Chaka Kahn's, "Ain't Nobody" since we decided to add it to our set list. I knew going in that I could probably find the transcription of the drum parts online but this was one, especially w/ the hi hat part, that I wanted to figure out on my own. I got it worked up to where I could play it comfortably (for me) and then decided to see what the internet had to say. I was pretty close but hadn't picked up a couple little things.
When I discuss changing drum parts, I'm referring to drummers who try to be clever by trying to take the part to a new level... to make it their own... to somehow make it better as a result. Sorry, that's not going to happen. You can only make the part different, which can (and usually does) adversely affect the song. Going above and beyond should not be the goal when playing covers. Or, when playing anything. Then it's just overplaying.

Now, there are times when a part needs to be simplified to a certain degree, in order to play the song at all; where playing a complicated sequenced part or trying to imply conga parts for example. It's smart to back down a bit, rather than stumble through something intricate. That doesn't mean it's okay to play straight time through Chili Peppers' "Give It Away," but short of playing the exact part, it's better to get as much of the kick work as possible.

Bermuda
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Old 06-04-2018, 08:11 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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Also-what is the main purpose of a band playing out-especially a cover band if it is not to please the audience?
Exactly. I would agree that we play primarily because we enjoy it (I certainly do!) But without someone to acknowledge our work, it's never really validated. The circle isn't complete. We don't decide if we sound good as a band, or if our covers are chosen wisely, or if our originals have merit... it's the audience that makes that decision. Always. Small, large, musicians or lay people, they determine who is worth seeing. They determine who is allowed to grow and prosper. They determine who cares if we make music at all.

That's why we try to please the audience.

Bermuda
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Old 06-04-2018, 08:52 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

As a contrasting voice, many times the cover songs my band plays naturally evolve. It really can't be helped. Some don't change at all.

I have to wonder how many drummers record hit songs they didn't play 500 times before recording them. I would think that number would not be low.

So a cover band drummer plays a song a few hundred times. Other playing choices will occur to that drummer over time. Maybe the person who recorded it didn't have nearly as much time with the song, when it was recorded. Song evolution, meaning whole band song evolution, is a thing that I can't really stop, nor do I want it to stop. That naturally happens with some songs we've been playing for years and years.

There's lots of different ways to approach it, all valid. There's as many different approaches as people doing it.



Room for everyone.
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Old 06-04-2018, 09:04 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

I consider myself very lucky that everyone plays these songs. It means that I am alone playing very horrible stuff that no one can stand to listen to. Less competition.

I can tolerate being exposed to any amount of silly covers at dance events, parties, Zumba class etc.

If it ever gets too much I have an antidote. I just whip out some ear buds and crank out five minutes of Ornette Coleman at the earliest opportunity.

Oh, the joy of being a lunatic.
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Old 06-04-2018, 09:42 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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[/b]

Where do people sit with covering cover versions then? I guess it's accepted to cover the cover if the cover is better known than the original? (As Larry said - how many people know the original version of WW?)
We have 3 horns in the band and we play the Third Degree version of Duffy's song, "Mercy." It fits perfectly with our set list.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ9oT_BRNt8
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Old 06-04-2018, 09:59 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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I have to wonder how many drummers record hit songs they didn't play 500 times before recording them. I would think that number would not be low.

So a cover band drummer plays a song a few hundred times. Other playing choices will occur to that drummer over time. Maybe the person who recorded it didn't have nearly as much time with the song, when it was recorded. Song evolution, meaning whole band song evolution, is a thing that I can't really stop, nor do I want it to stop. That naturally happens with some songs we've been playing for years and years.
For sure. Its possible s session drummer, had never heard the song before, did 5 to 10 takes, and we're now hearing that as the 'signature parts'.
On other hand, drummer who is a regular band member, maybe had played a song 100 times during its development, before the recorded version we hear.

I'd think it would be naturally human (Creative) to have the parts evolve, or "make the song your own", after playing it in a cover band a few 100 times.
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Old 06-05-2018, 01:35 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

If I had to play in a "cover band" for a living, or that's the only type of band available to play with, I'd have to shoot myself. How boring to play over and over and over what I hear on the oldies radio stations. Sure there's an audience for it and lots of gigs, but darn that is soooooo boring to me.

I recently auditioned for a new start-up Rockabilly cover band. 4 or 5 Dwight Yoakam covers. Some Elvis. Johnny Cash. Hank Jr. At end of session I said no thanks. My wife was really happy I said no: she said she would have a hard time being at our gigs and hearing those songs over and over. (PS: I do admit I enjoyed playing Stray Cats "Rock This Town").

There are choices. if ya don't wanna be in a cover band then don't. Find a band in the genre you enjoy playing and go play!
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Old 06-05-2018, 02:40 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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If I had to play in a "cover band" for a living, or that's the only type of band available to play with, I'd have to shoot myself. How boring to play over and over and over what I hear on the oldies radio stations. Sure there's an audience for it and lots of gigs, but darn that is soooooo boring to me.
It really depends what you want from your drumming.

If you truly embrace the pure joy of sitting behind the kit, playing and making music, then every song and every gig should bring satisfaction. Especially if you can make a living playing.

If your goal is to achieve a certain performing level or status, and playing the same songs - any songs - gets boring, you will probably never get where you hope to go, and you will never be happy while trying.

I'm not suggesting you bite the bullet and rationalize your gigs. Not every one is ideal, and not every song is going to be to your liking. Just don't forget why you play drums. So when you do get to play, you should be thrilled.

I play a lot of different material and various independent and professional levels, and I love it all. Why? Because I love playing the drums. That's where my joy comes from, not from playing (or avoiding) specific songs. The fact that I make my living from that is just icing on the cake.

Bermuda
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Old 06-05-2018, 04:40 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

I like to play what I like to play. Covers and Top 40 Oldies just don't do it for me anymore. I don't go out to bars or clubs listening to that music. I don't wanna play it. If I don't like the music I don't wanna play it.

I heard "Crocodile Rock" on the bus going back and forth to high school in the 70's. I've heard it for too many years. It doesn't interest me anymore. I don't wanna hear it and I don't wanna play it.

A cover band starts playing in a bar or club and they have an 8" thick binder of songs and material and I'm outta there. The last thing I wanna do is play in a band like that.

But I do admit to some guilty pleasures: like I said "Rock This Town" was fun to play. And, Elvis-style "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", too. Both fun to play.

I play what's fun for me to play. For me it's never the same old rehash Oldies Top 40 Cover Band songs because, truly, there are just so many others to choose from.

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It really depends what you want from your drumming.

If you truly embrace the pure joy of sitting behind the kit, playing and making music, then every song and every gig should bring satisfaction. Especially if you can make a living playing.

If your goal is to achieve a certain performing level or status, and playing the same songs - any songs - gets boring, you will probably never get where you hope to go, and you will never be happy while trying.

I'm not suggesting you bite the bullet and rationalize your gigs. Not every one is ideal, and not every song is going to be to your liking. Just don't forget why you play drums. So when you do get to play, you should be thrilled.

I play a lot of different material and various independent and professional levels, and I love it all. Why? Because I love playing the drums. That's where my joy comes from, not from playing (or avoiding) specific songs. The fact that I make my living from that is just icing on the cake.

Bermuda
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Old 06-05-2018, 05:10 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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..Just don't forget why you play drums..

Exactly..

And i never started playing drums to find myself at a wedding with some people who play within 10 minutes Jambalaya followed by Disco Inferno and then Enter Sandman because the bride wants to go crazy..

Maybe there is also a little difference between coverbands where i live (i am dutch) and the USA..

Here we call such bands 'allround coverbands'..

And the musicians who play in those bands treat all those songs the same..Just as a song they 'have to' play..

Thats why i will always prefer a band with some own songs, because in most cases they feel a 'urge' to play..The urge to get their own material into the world and to be heard by people..
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Old 06-05-2018, 08:06 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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..Also replying to Oldskoolsoul...

I disagree about the cover band/creative statement you made. I find that learning cover songs teaches me new things, that I then can experiment with around the kit, sticking, phrasing, etc. After figuring out either a new pattern or fill, I can experiment with them. I don't have the "bag of tricks" most drummers have and because of my limited time to practice, this is what works best for me. It does push me to learn new things and be creative..

What you are describing is one of the normal parts of studying drums and i would never disagree with that..

I was referring to the procedure that most professional coverbands here have, which is learning a few tunes on tuesday and reproduce them the next friday and saturday..And i am just not seeing any creative part in that..

But again, i am not trying to convince or tell anyone here that playing in a coverband is a bad thing..I just came to the conclusion for myself that regarding developing myself as a creative drummer the whole thing has not brought me a lot..
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Old 06-05-2018, 11:44 AM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

I bit my tongue metaphorically in my last post on this subject but I’m starting to get a bit vexed at some of the opinions being laid out as factual.
First of all no one seems to have questionned the opinion put forward that playing covers, enjoying oneself and stretching oneself as a musician are all mutually exclusive. Any bands that I’ve been in have chosen the set list ourselves, we’re not told by someone else only what we can play. Yes there may be compromises (4 or 5 people aren’t all going to enjoy the same songs to the same extent) and one eye has always been on whether or not an audience will enjoy those songs, but I have NEVER been in a band where we have agreed to play something that none of us like just because an audience may like it. Or may not like it because all audiences are different. The same point put slightly differently, there has been an air around this thread that all covers are bereft of any merit whatsoever and that people who play covers are lesser as a result. And no amount of saying no insult intended or with respect is going to have me overlooking that.

I’ve never taken lessons and my learning has been on the job. I was a handy Heavy Metal drummer in my youth playing covers to learn how to play before playing original material. Many years later I learned how to play in a more driving Punk style. Then I learned how to rein things in for Classic Rock (including that stab at playing Barracuda properly). Then I learned how to play the early 70s Glam Rock style which was very different to the other styles and despite the fact that people might look down their noses at Glam it tended to be played by session men, many of whom had come from jazz and big band backgrounds, but learned they could make more money by playing music with a bit of glitter on their face or wearing a pair of satin flares. The techniques I’ve had to learn playing that music have now found their way into some of the Classic Rock I’m playing. And out of the 100+ songs that I’ve learned in 3 bands over the last 12 years I’m struggling to find one song that I hated.

And if anyone is interested in how our cover version of Mrs Robinson went last night, we had a change of plan. One guitarist has left the band so we decided instead to go through our set and check what if any changes need to be made. The same songs sound a bit rawer and more powerful with our remaining guitarist having more freedom to play. He’s now putting in little licks of his own and from live/alternative versions which has freshened a lot of the songs up. I’ve simplified the hi hat work on a couple of songs which adds to the drive and power. Our bass player has been watching interviews and videos on YouTube and brought changes to the mix, happily explaining how Cliff Williams from AC/DC is a genius because sometimes he hangs on an open string when everyone thinks he’s doing something more complicated, then other times uses 5ths and 7ths when people think he’s actually doing something simpler. Our bass player suggested we change the key of one song because it might suit our singer better. It starts with some chord picking but because one of those strings is an open string it doesn’t work immediately when played higher up the neck. Our solution? The bass player became a human capo, comically placing his finger on the correct fret to allow the guitarist to play the sequence easily. Once we’d sropped laughing and started playing the main body of the song our singers face Immediately lit up and she punched the air as she was able to belt the song out as it now falls slap into her most powerful range.
Why the essay about last night? Because most of us in cover bands recognise this sort of thing as being the norm, heaps of fun, our set will improve as a result, and the new songs that we will work on in the next few weeks won’t be practiced on the Monday and included on the Saturday, we’ll practice them and polish them for a few weeks so that when do play them to an audience they’ll have the maximum effect and no one will now if we’ve played those songs once or a hundred times. Just like most other cover bands.
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Old 06-05-2018, 02:13 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

Bravo Woolwich.
I 1000x agree. This totally matches my experiences as well. Honestly, I don't care what anyone plays the on drums, just as long as you are enjoying yourself.
Hell 75% of this board are probably guys who play at home in their basements for fun, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Or for being a weekend warrior in a cover band. Or for making youtube covers for 2 subscribers. Go have fun!

From what I see and hear and read, it seems like live music scenes are dying everywhere. Everyone going to the local bar that has a band are all getting older. Most of the young people around here aren't going out to clubs with bands, so I figure we have about 10 years left of bar band gigging before it dies off, so I'm going to play every chance I get between now and then.
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Old 06-05-2018, 03:26 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

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And i never started playing drums to find myself at a wedding with some people who play within 10 minutes Jambalaya followed by Disco Inferno and then Enter Sandman because the bride wants to go crazy..
Hmmm, I play drums because I simply enjoy playing drums. Any song, any gig, it's all good as long as I get to play.

I've played those songs, but never on the same gig!

Bermuda
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Old 06-05-2018, 04:08 PM
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

when I leave a wedding or club date with $1000.00 cash in my pocket and a full belly the last thing I'm thinking about is what songs I just played.

in my mind I just had a blast playing drums for 3 hours got a grand and some killer grub

if you're not down with that I'm sure there is a cubical somewhere that would love to have you ... you could get a nice name plate on it and everything.

when you can no longer have fun playing Superstition , Celebration and a few top 40 tunes for the love of drumming you are better off making "art" in the basement ... there is a good chance no one wants to pay you to play anyway ... and no one wants to play with people with a shitty attitude

I personally don't care if I'm handed a paper bag and some brushes and asked to play Satin Doll all night ... I love to play ... and I can make one song my own for 3 hours if I had to

give me a chance to play and I'll make it worth every penny for you ... it's what I do

musicians play ... the material does not matter ...

we are a conduit ... lets not make this something bigger than it is

we are simply the messenger ... stop worrying about the message so much... just deliver it like no one else can
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Old 06-05-2018, 04:21 PM
Rattlin' Bones's Avatar
Rattlin' Bones Rattlin' Bones is offline
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Default Re: Why the same songs, when so many to choose from?

Yes exactly what I have fun playing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by oldskoolsoul View Post
Exactly..

And i never started playing drums to find myself at a wedding with some people who play within 10 minutes Jambalaya followed by Disco Inferno and then Enter Sandman because the bride wants to go crazy..

Maybe there is also a little difference between coverbands where i live (i am dutch) and the USA..

Here we call such bands 'allround coverbands'..

And the musicians who play in those bands treat all those songs the same..Just as a song they 'have to' play..

Thats why i will always prefer a band with some own songs, because in most cases they feel a 'urge' to play..The urge to get their own material into the world and to be heard by people..
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