Overplaying? Or not.

mikel

Platinum Member
Saw a band last night, first on the bill, and they left me with a question.

They played Seven Nation Army, and I like Meg's simplicity in that song, But here is the thing. The drummer overplayed all the way through, fills and lots of cymbals and hi-hat. I have no problem with musicians adding there personality to a song, lets face it, if you play in a covers band its your way to be yourself.

Do you feel there are certain songs that should be played "as the recording" or is every song fair game? Sometimes, no matter how many chops you have, I feel some songs need to be respected as the drum part is such a huge part of the overall song.

Part of my problem is that Meg gets a hard time, in general, but the pulse in 7 nation seems perfect to me, and the loss of that pulse by this band/drummer spoiled the song for me.

What do you think?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
This is a much-discussed issue, and the conclusion is that there's no conclusive answer.

Some feel that playing the parts that make the song worth playing, is important.

Some feel that whatever they do should be their own, and it's a copout to play the original parts.

And others feel that only egregious parts and fills need to be adhered to, and everything else is fair game.

As for specific instances, that's really up to the people who pay the drummer - they decide if the parts are appropriate or not. But, those people also fall into one of the categories above, so that's really not the answer either. :)

You may as well have asked who's the best drummer, or who makes the best drums!

Bermuda
 

mmulcahy1

Platinum Member
If you're palying strickly covers, play the music "as writen." That's what people expect. If they heard it any differently, the audience think that the musician(s) doesn't know what he's doing.

"Hey Joe" by Jimi Hendrix is a perfect example. I don't play the drums the way Mitch Mitchell plays them. I have some cool fills and hi-hat barks that I insert that kind of jazz it up for me. But if I were to play it in a cover band, I'd play it striaght!!
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
This is a much-discussed issue, and the conclusion is that there's no conclusive answer.

Some feel that playing the parts that make the song worth playing, is important.

Some feel that whatever they do should be their own, and it's a copout to play the original parts.

And others feel that only egregious parts and fills need to be adhered to, and everything else is fair game.

As for specific instances, that's really up to the people who pay the drummer to decide if the parts are appropriate or not. But those people also fall into one of the categories above, so that's really not the answer either. :)

Bermuda
Bermuda raises good points. But this is much-discussed because people like discussing it.

Mikel, if you would like to discuss this type of thing, I might suggest a link to some YouTube video to organize the discussion around, "Is this person overplaying here?" Otherwise the discussion becomes a mess of fisticuffs, sophistry and gasbagging.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
This is a much-discussed issue, and the conclusion is that there's no conclusive answer.

Some feel that playing the parts that make the song worth playing, is important.

Some feel that whatever they do should be their own, and it's a copout to play the original parts.

And others feel that only egregious parts and fills need to be adhered to, and everything else is fair game.

As for specific instances, that's really up to the people who pay the drummer - they decide if the parts are appropriate or not. But, those people also fall into one of the categories above, so that's really not the answer either. :)

You may as well have asked who's the best drummer, or who makes the best drums!

Bermuda
I was not asking for a conclusive answer, I was asking for your take.

What I meant was, 7 Nation Army is such a basic but recognisable pulse/beat. I felt it was like playing Sunshine of Your Love without the accent on the one.

Also, this was a covers band, no one was paying the drummer. It seemed he had his chops and was determined to use them in every song.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Also, this was a covers band, no one was paying the drummer. It seemed he had his chops and was determined to use them in every song.
Whether the drummer is paid or not, his performance is still subject to assessment. The idea that he's determined to display chops in every song is a basically bad one, except for genres/songs where chops are requisite. That is the drummer's issue. But it's also the issue for the band who asks him to play. If they're fine with what the drummer - or anyone else in the band - plays, then those parts are right... for them.

Best we can do when we see something that grates us is to not do the same thing when we play. It's part of the learning process.

My approach is to play cover songs as close to the original as possible, unless the style is deliberately altered (such as playing Mustang Sally inna reggae style.) That approach has never failed me, and nobody has ever said "whattsa matter, can't make it your own?" In fact, I get compliments and repeat gigs based on doing the original parts. And, it's fun to 'be' those drummers.

But, my only agenda when it comes to parts is to make the song(s) sound great. I'm not there to be me, whatever that entails. I like playing drums, and apparently my ability to play the right parts - whether in a cover, or an original, understated or busy - is what keeps me working.

And FWIW, I do not adjust how I play based on what I'm paid, or the situation I'm playing in. I try to be pro 100% of the time. That's just my work ethic, and undoubtedly contributes to my value as a musician.

Bermuda
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
My take is play it as close to the original as possible. If you were copying the Mona Lisa, would you make her cross eyed?

It's funny, I'll think I am playing a part true to the original, and when I hear the original after a long time, I realize I play what I thought was the original part, but really I was doing it differently. But I like what I do and it keeps the original intention alive. So like I said, get as close as you can.

A song like SNA, yea, you just play it straight. It's what the song is based upon.

It depends on the song, how much latitude is available.

Like 50 ways has to be played pretty close to the original
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
My take is play it as close to the original as possible. If you were copying the Mona Lisa, would you make her cross eyed?
Some people would, and then call it art.

And others would refuse to copy it, saying "it's already been done, why do it again? If people want to see the Mona Lisa, they should go to the Louvre!"

And there are drummers who say "if the band is playing exactly like the record, the bar should just play a jukebox!" Although I've yet to see a band walk into a bar and make that suggestion. It's all well and good to be 'flip' in a forum, but in the real world, that would be ludicrous and self-destructive.

Bermuda
 

Jeffrey99

Member
Playing in a cover band currently, my thoughts:
I think it depends on the song. A song like "Seven Nation Army" has a memorable drum part to most people, even the average non-musician. A song like that I'd play pretty much as written. Maybe a few fills here and there but nothing flashy. If it's a song that no one knows the drums to, like 90% of country songs, LOL then I think it's a different story.

Either way I try to play songs close to the originals, unless band wants differently. Only things I really change are fills.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
it was like playing Sunshine of Your Love without the accent on the one.
Yup, & I'm berated for it frequently by drummers, but never once by an audience member. They seem to love it, especially the younger crowd who get off on our up tempo version with a backbeat. I'll never convince drummers that our version's credible, but I'm not in the business of convincing drummers.

In general though, I agree with the verbatim stance, if that's your band vibe. Either that, or a purposeful departure from the original. These things also depend on context. A function or social club band needs to nail it as originally done. A club or event band has more latitude, at least in the delivery style, so long as it's consistent with the band's show vibe.
 

NerfLad

Silver Member
I felt it was like playing Sunshine of Your Love without the accent on the one
Yup, & I'm berated for it frequently by drummers, but never once by an audience member. They seem to love it, especially the younger crowd
who get off on our up tempo version with a backbeat..
It's fun with a motown groove too. Amazing how just accent placement changes things!

okay, I've been on the forums far too much today...
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I believe that you should either capture the vibe of the song, or make it into something entirely new. e.g. http://youtu.be/ZVQAj-2amps

The thing with this is that these folks are entirely capable of playing it just like the record. But Terry had other ideas, and made it into something new. And he's not a cover performer, folks go to hear him play what he does, not sound like anyone else. There's a big difference between that and sort of doing it right. Or one person flailing away while everyone else does it more or less straight.

So often, the "I don't want to be a record player" or "I need to put my stamp on it" is code for "I can't do what is on the record so I do what I can play instead". Very unfortunately a common attitude amongst cover bands. I was talking to the drummer in that video about playing the Allmans' version of One Way Out. Some folks are able to do a complex Latin figure that sounds like the double drummer bit from the original but I can't. He suggested editing it down so that the important pulses were in the right places, even if it meant simplifying down to a basic 2/4 praise kind of beat. So while I practice the complex bit at home to try and get it to groove, I'll play it edited down on gigs. And if the bass or something else isn't happening, I'll take it down to a straight 2/4 so that everyone else can find it. But I own up to not being able to groove the complex pattern. I would never cop out saying what I was doing was better.

The vibe of SNA is that on top incessant 4 on the floor beat. If you want to turn it into a Samba, knock yourself out e.g. Charlie Hunter's Come As You Are. But if you're going to play it something like White Stripes, then you really should forgo the Thomas Pridgen licks for another song. For that matter, pre Mars Volta, I heard Thomas playing an R&B gig with some friends and he played most of it straight, some linear bits here and there, but none of the wild cymbal bashing folks associate him with. The singer was the star of that show and he let that be what it was. That's being musically appropriate.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Yup, & I'm berated for it frequently by drummers, but never once by an audience member... I'll never convince drummers that our version's credible, but I'm not in the business of convincing drummers.
Drummers, no. Audience members, perhaps. But you do have to convince those who ask you to play with them. They decide whether to accept (hire) or reject (not hire) you based on your approach to songs.

But, there's a way to beat that system and call the shots: the drummer needs to lead, book and pay the band, then nobody can tell him he's right or wrong.

Of course at that point, the audience will decide whether that works or not.

Bermuda
 

NerfLad

Silver Member
To make an on-topic post, sometimes busy playing better suits the song (as taboo as that is to say). Listen to the old album version of Jeff Beck's "Big Block" with Terry Bozzio on drums and then listen to him play it live a couple years ago with Vinnie Colaiuta. He plays the hell out of it compared to Terry, but it gives it a new energy and suspense that I find far more exciting and complimentary to the riff.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
I agree w/ Bermuda. If he was throwing chops around for the sake of doing so, and the music didn't sound good, then I'd say he has a pretty unprofessional attitude. If it worked and the music sounded good...why sweat the details? You don't have to play jazz in order to improvise.

I don't agree that you have to adhere to the original if you're in a cover band. Why can't a cover band interpret the original and use a bit of creative license?

When my band covers a song, we try to stick to the spirit of the original - a high-level representation, with our own details sprinkled in. I never copy the drum parts verbatim...that's no fun, IMHO. The original drummer had his own style and I'm not trying to do an imitation. I'll keep signature grooves and fills mostly intact, and change some things to fit the style of my own band. If done tastefully (not saying I can always do that!) - it's usually well received by the audience.

It'd be hard to hear any White Stripes cover with flashy drum parts, and not think it was "overplayed", at least a little. Meg White isn't known as a technical whiz.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
My take is play it as close to the original as possible. If you were copying the Mona Lisa, would you make her cross eyed?
You won't want Mona cross eyed if you're copying, but covers aren't necessarily copying. IMO it completely doesn't matter whether the cover is copy or a reinterpretation. Not even a bit. The only question is "Did it work out?".

I would MUCH rather an effective, enjoyable remake than an anaemic second rate copy - as both a player and a listener. There is a reason why at a local level the bands that stick closest to the originals tend to have the most trained musicians. Throw a stone at a tribute band and you'll probably hit a music teacher.

Mikel, the drummer you saw seemed to have the attitude that Meg's too simple, so he decided to "improve" the song with a "better" drummer with chops ... I bet no one else who ever covered SNA thought of that :)
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
The only question is "Did it work out?"... I would MUCH rather an effective, enjoyable remake than an anaemic second rate copy - as both a player and a listener.
And vice versa! Either way, it has to work. Not every alteration can be considered an improvement, or regarded as a valid interpretation, if it's not actually any good ("good" being subjective, of course.) A band that is too lazy to learn original parts, OR lacks the creativity to suitably make a song their own, shouldn't be working anyway.

Bermuda
 

opentune

Platinum Member
It is art, do what you like with it. Is it desired by others? Well that is up to them.
It is up to you to create, either by duplication, or your own take on something, and offer it to the world. Then it is up to the audience.

An example - many people complain of Bob Dylan concerts that some of his old standards are totally unrecognizable on a given night. He completely re-arranges them. This frustrates people, but as an artist I am certain Dylan loves doing this. He still sells tickets. Some people clearly like that re-arrangement. (For the record, I don't like the sound of Dylan live anyway)

I for one much prefer a cover band that does *not* duplicate, and does their own take/versions of songs.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I for one much prefer a cover band that does *not* duplicate, and does their own take/versions of songs.
Suppose the band neither wants to work hard enough to create their own version, yet won't work at duplicating the song, and does a half-assed version... is it still valid?
 
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