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Dave Vader

Why be in a covers band?

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Since I've written 2 books in which you could be forgiven for thinking I just contantly ridiculy cover bands I felt it was time to write something about my actual ever-abiding love for them
 
It's here and contains plenty of video evidence of me playing in various covery situations
 
TLDR: Cover bands are amazing and neccessary and I will fight anyone who says otherwise
 
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A friend of mine, fine classical musician, was deriding tribute bands. I pointed out that the Berlin Philharmonic was a arguably a Wagner/ Beethoven Tribute band, that the Huddersfield Choral Society only really records The Messiah,  and that the string quartet on the radio were specialists in one composer only. 

Nothing wrong with playing other people's music if it's what you and the audience like.

 

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3 minutes ago, Richard R said:

A friend of mine, fine classical musician, was deriding tribute bands. I pointed out that the Berlin Philharmonic was a arguably a Wagner/ Beethoven Tribute band, that the Huddersfield Choral Society only really records The Messiah,  and that the string quartet on the radio were specialists in one composer only. 

Nothing wrong with playing other people's music if it's what you and the audience like.

 

Agreed.....mind you I'm in a tribute band. 

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7 hours ago, Dave Vader said:
Since I've written 2 books in which you could be forgiven for thinking I just contantly ridiculy cover bands I felt it was time to write something about my actual ever-abiding love for them

I read your Weekens Rockstars novel and thoroughly enjoyed it, though it did put me off joining a serious covers band or buying that Candy Red Nate Mendel Precision bass :).

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There have been so many talented people who have written so many great songs. What's wrong in wanting to play some of them?

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4 hours ago, chris_b said:

There have been so many talented people who have written so many great songs. What's wrong in wanting to play some of them?

Agreed. And what's wrong with wanting to earn a few bob doing so?

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1 hour ago, Dan Dare said:

Agreed. And what's wrong with wanting to earn a few bob doing so?

Oh yes. . . . . . . . . . and while a room full of people is having a great time, all because of you. If you do it properly everyone wins on so many levels with cover bands. Covers v Originals has never been an either-or situation for me. I'm lucky to be able to do both.

Edited by chris_b
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One particular band I play in is a Clash covers band. We don't play often but always get paid far more than the originals bands I play in. We have a decent following which often exceeds the safe limit for the venue. We got together for one gig and it evolved from there. There are no disillusions about what we do, We always have a laugh and a great time. No falling out or fits of pique. No dressing up to suit the genre. We also managed to get five members who all love The Clash too. That's exactly why we do it. We love em and we're not really bothered if folk turn up either.  So far, only one person (well, a guitarist 😂) has ever questioned our motives. After having a go and slating us, he contacted me and told me we should sack our guitarist and get him 😂😂😀😂

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Fun gigs, play music you like, money, appreciative audience, what's not to like?

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I feel a quota system might be good though...

So all cover bands would have to submit set lists to The Powers That Be. On a first-com-first-served basis individual song choices would be limited, so that by the time (for some songs!) 1 band has said it's going to play "Sex on Fire" no other bands would be able to play it until the next gig (if they're quick enough). That way when you walk between boozers that do covers bands you won't hear Freebird in all of them.

Some songs would have special dispensation, so if you were going to do a Shockabilly type version of Smoke on the Water that'd be fine, or if you were to attempt a funk version of the Cramps' "Human Fly" you'd be awarded extra credits to play unlimited Mustang Sallys...

It would encourage some creativity in set list choices!

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I'm in a 70's Glam Rock covers band and love playing the covers that first got me into music in 70's plus i get to dress up for the part too.

If i enjoy it then its worthwhile.

I've done the rock, prog and pop originals over the years and it was good at the time but this is way much more fun lus the band members are all top guys that all get along really well. 

Dave

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Being creative and generating new music is great, long may this continue. However, I don’t understand why some folks are so sniffy about covers in popular music. In classical and jazz this is the norm. No one gets snotty about musicians playing Bach or Motzart, etc (as mentioned above by @Richard R) or playing stuff from the Real Book. Why is pop/rock any different? I play in an 80s covers band because I love the music and because a lot of what we play is particularly challenging/fun for the bass player i.e. me. Yes, there are some poor examples of pop covers bands out there, but I bet if I went to jazz jams, etc (is there a classical equivalent?) there’d be some some stuff that would make me wince too. It’s music and should be enjoyed for its own sake, whether original or cover. BTW I heard Bob Dylan’s original of ‘Watchtower’ on the radio the other day, I didn’t know it was so good (I’m not a Dylan fan) but it’s the Hendrix cover most people know and revere.

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21 minutes ago, ezbass said:

BTW I heard Bob Dylan’s original of ‘Watchtower’ on the radio the other day, I didn’t know it was so good (I’m not a Dylan fan) but it’s the Hendrix cover most people know and revere.

Jimi Hendrix - there's a man who had a healthy attitude to playing covers.

Anyone else remember the Lulu show when he launched into an impromptu 'Sunshine of Your Love?". A showcase slot on BBC prime-time Saturday night TV and he decides to do a cover. What a man.

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22 hours ago, Dave Vader said:

TLDR: Cover bands are amazing and neccessary and I will fight anyone who says otherwise

I'll respect anyone's decision to vote how they want, bow down to whatever god they want, eat what they want, consensually sleep with whoever they want, or even play in cover bands. 

That said, I've never seen the appeal in playing other people's songs and have have been subjected to too many Creme Brulee's over the years that have shaped this opinion.  Too many coordinated outfits, too many guitarists pulling a w*nk face playing someone else's solos (badly), too many bassists gurning their way through anything from Chelsea Dagger or Boogie Wonderland all the while acting like they actually wrote those lines.

Nah, not for me, so am I going to get a kicking? :)

 

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2 minutes ago, NancyJohnson said:

I'll respect anyone's decision to vote how they want, bow down to whatever god they want, eat what they want, consensually sleep with whoever they want, or even play in cover bands. 

That said, I've never seen the appeal in playing other people's songs and have have been subjected to too many Creme Brulee's over the years that have shaped this opinion.  Too many coordinated outfits, too many guitarists pulling a w*nk face playing someone else's solos (badly), too many bassists gurning their way through anything from Chelsea Dagger or Boogie Wonderland all the while acting like they actually wrote those lines.

Nah, not for me, so am I going to get a kicking? :)

 

Yup.  See, you have contradicted yourself immediately.  You say you 'respect anyone's decision' and then in the next paragraph have been disrespectful about people not doing what you do.

 I play in a blues rock trio.  A decent chunk of the material are covers of stuff written in the 20s and 30s with another wave in the 60s.  Successive generations have put their own spin on the songs - including us.

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40 minutes ago, Paul S said:

 

Yup.  See, you have contradicted yourself immediately.  You say you 'respect anyone's decision' and then in the next paragraph have been disrespectful about people not doing what you do.

 I play in a blues rock trio.  A decent chunk of the material are covers of stuff written in the 20s and 30s with another wave in the 60s.  Successive generations have put their own spin on the songs - including us.

Nah, my results are more in line with the scientific process; Question ('Is it good to play in a covers band?'), Research ('Do your diligence; search out great and not so great cover bands. Maybe even play a few covers (shudder).') , Hypothesis ('Will I enjoy it or not?'), Experimentation ('Submit the subject (me) to many gigs of bands with differing ability/grasp of instruments etc'), Data Output (I've answered this above), Conclusion ('My general findings are, yes, while cover bands do have a place in society, they are generally adored by people who have no real grasp or love of music.')

I know it's each for their own, but most of the people I've played with in the 30 year journey have little or no time for playing other people's material.  I'm not saying there's no art to it, but isn't it just like a painter copying the Mona Lisa and thinking he's a great artist?  He didn't paint it, he copied it.  Paint me something original.

 

 

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I have played in both, and to be honest there was not much difference, as the 'originals' weren't actual original to me, they were just something the guitarist had come up with and frankly, they weren't very original! Obviously some originals would be great to be in if they were actually original. Original bands were certainly more common back when I was starting in the 80s, although again, not truly much originality, and pretty well all original bands I have seen do the occasional cover. 

Personally don't mind what I am in, as long as I am playing stuff and get to say how I play it. 

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10 minutes ago, Woodinblack said:

I have played in both, and to be honest there was not much difference, as the 'originals' weren't actual original to me, they were just something the guitarist had come up with and frankly, they weren't very original! 

Exactly. Everyone builds on what went before and most allegedly "original" music is heavily derivative. Nothing wrong with it, but to stick one's nose in the air and claim that what one is doing is somehow superior because it's "original" is ridiculous.

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The way I see it is that I’m a musician (specifically a bass player rather than a songwriter) and I like playing music. I also like being paid for playing music where possible. Most of my friends are also musicians. It makes sense to put together a covers band to make a few quid for playing music together. Of course, there is nothing to stop any of us pursuing other musical avenues.

I am currently in three bands: a tribute band, an original band that has an album coming out this month, and I am rehearsing up a rehash of an established band that plays rock covers in pubs, bike rallies etc.

I was asked to join the tribute band by the singer who also plays the pub / club circuit and knew of me from an earlier version of the covers band. I was then approached by the new guitar player in the tribute band (who has a bit of a track record in a certain rock sub-genre) to re-record the original bass player’s parts on an album and subsequently to join his band. The new album is getting plenty of interest on social media from all over Europe and hopefully will do well.

I’m open to whatever opportunities present themselves, but it always makes sense to have a gigging covers band on the go to keep your hand in. I pretty much approach playing covers in the same way as I do original music anyway…

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Personally it doesn't matter who wrote it, if I play it exactly as per the original or what anyone else thinks, as long as we are having fun, getting paid and playing with a group of people that I love then I'm happy

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3 hours ago, Leonard Smalls said:

I feel a quota system might be good though...

So all cover bands would have to submit set lists to The Powers That Be. On a first-com-first-served basis individual song choices would be limited, so that by the time (for some songs!) 1 band has said it's going to play "Sex on Fire" no other bands would be able to play it until the next gig (if they're quick enough). That way when you walk between boozers that do covers bands you won't hear Freebird in all of them.

 

I wouldn't mind at all if one of the other bands did Sex On Fire, Dakota or Valerie. Not one bit - in fact I would encourage it 😀

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24 minutes ago, Dan Dare said:

Exactly. Everyone builds on what went before and most allegedly "original" music is heavily derivative. Nothing wrong with it, but to stick one's nose in the air and claim that what one is doing is somehow superior because it's "original" is ridiculous.

Which is after the end of that group, exactly what the singer did. He said he only wanted to do his stuff in future. Thats fair enough. We used to be a combined covers / originals band and I guess it must have been depressing that when the originals were played, people went and sat down or went to the bar, and when the covers came on they all got up and danced. He has been on the local radio though saying about how unimaginative playing covers is. Fair enough, keep banging out those imaginative i-iv-v acoustic songs in 4-4 time.

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