Are Original Music Bands Just Lazy?

Telenator

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In my ongoing saga of being 63 years old and trying to find a band to play with, another aspect of the scene seems to be making itself apparent.
I have been answering ads and listening to original music in an effort to at least get playing with a good group on a regular basis. In all honesty, playing in an original group is not my first choice at this stage of the game. Been there, done that, sold the T-shirts.

It seems that new "original" bands tend to scoff at cover bands for not writing their own material. I understand the pride and work that goes into writing some original material, but I just don't get the disdain expressed by these bands. Especially when I notice that current original music seems somewhat lacking where interesting ideas, riffs, and song structure are concerned. Of course, not all of it is this way, but enough of it is to the extent where I feel there's something else at play.

People who learn to play and put in the effort to develop a good musical vocabulary often seem to have more interesting song structure and a more complex, sophisticated sound, while those who can't be bothered with building their chops first, often present songs that are somewhat less interesting. Playing in a cover band can be an essential step in musical development before jumping into an all original band. Interestingly enough, I look at their original band songs as "cover material." I take the recordings and learn the songs "as recorded" so I can show up at the rehearsal/audition prepared. Kinda like what you do with a cover band. LOL.

Are bands just finding it easier to create original music and playing it instead of honing their chops before putting pen to paper? Are local original bands suffering from laziness?
 

unixfish

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Wow. Interesting take.

If you are writing all original material, and you are not well known, how do you get gigs?

This seems more like a "cork sniffer" scenario than a lazy issue. The Stones, Zeppelin, Van Halen, you name it - almost everyone has covered a song at some point. I guess I have not seen this, and I just don't understand that point of view. Unless you have a few released songs and your music is at least somewhat known, I don't see how this would work.

Then again, I'm not looking to join a band or gig either, so my opinion means nothing.
 

Ron R

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It seems that new "original" bands tend to scoff at cover bands for not writing their own material. I understand the pride and work that goes into writing some original material, but I just don't get the disdain expressed by these bands.

Are bands just finding it easier to create original music and playing it instead of honing their chops before putting pen to paper? Are local original bands suffering from laziness?
1. Often, I think this is just the manifestation of their own insecurities. This world contains a lot of people who can't simply be happy and confident in who they are, they feel the need to put others down to make themselves feel superior.
2. I wouldn't generalize and say that's always the case, but I'm sure it's true for some.
 
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421JAM

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I've been in a lot of bands that play original music (with a cover or two per show). I've never heard anyone in any of these bands scoff at cover bands. I have heard some scoffing over how tribute bands seem to be dominating the calendars at a lot of music venues, but that's different than a cover band and isn't a commentary on the quality of the music.

Sounds like OP's music community has some internal petty grievances. Or maybe I've been lucky to work with people who don't waste much time being concerned with other bands beyond figuring out which bands would match well with us at gigs.
 

TokyoPortrait

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Hi.

I totally get what (I think) you’re saying. It’s really easy to write a boring, uninspired, formulaic song. Even I’ve mastered that. And, it’s way more easy and far less work than mastering someone else’s complex and interesting song.

I don’t know if it’s a ‘thing,’ but I’ve definitely known people who write ‘original’ songs and also rubbish covers bands in a way that makes me think they are being defensive about their own songs and kinda compensating or deflecting. Or something.

Pax/
Dean
p.s. now I have this running through my head, like a Ramones’ song

I don’t wanna be in a covers band
Cause that’s like a real dead end
I wanna be so creative
Only word I can rhyme now is native
 

standup

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I’ve played bass in cover bands for decades. Mostly doing obscure covers, never really the popular songs everybody has heard too many times. I’ve played a couple thousand gigs doing this, I believe.

4-5 months ago i started playing guitar with a band doing all original tunes, and it’s a breath of fresh air. I grew up in Athens, GA, where playing original music was highly valued. My first band there did original music before my personal detour into cover bands.

I write songs. I value original music.

And I think forming a cover band is the lazy way out, personally. You don’t have to invent anything, you can play it “just like the record” (which has never, ever, been my personal approach).

But in this new band, playing guitar, I get to create the riffs. Guitar/bass/drums/vocalist. What I play has a lot to do with the structure, the dynamics, the builds, the emphasis. It’s a lot of fun.

I don’t think this particular band will ever play a cover of any kind. That’s the attitude. I’m fine with that, for this band.
 

bottlenecker

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Where you are from, or live, seems to determine whether or not you think cover bands are normal, or original bands are normal. The venues are different, and some areas have more of one kind of venue, while other areas have more of the other.
We could all just put out yard signs so everyone would know which side we're on.

But remember, all musicians are lazy. That's why we spend all our time practicing, and we lug, load, and setup our gear--because we're hooked on the easy life and that big money.

(No, I still don't want to come see your cover band.)
 
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Mr. St. Paul

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I've been on both sides of the fence (covers and originals) so I don't have a dog in the fight. I will say there is misunderstanding between all parties. When I played originals, some of my cover band friends thought I was nuts for putting in all the effort for little or no money. I tried to tell them how fulfilling it was to play our material, added in that we didn't play an entire night, production was provided, etc.

Conversely, some of my original band friends thought by playing covers I was being a brainless automaton, replicating hit songs. I tried to explain to them how fun it is to entertain a room full of people, get them up and enjoy the energy going back and forth.

Not everybody was that way, but there were plenty that just couldn't understand why I wanted to do something different than what they did. That's how it is in pretty much everything.
 

loopfinding

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there are terrible cover bands and terrible originals bands.

for me, unless it's playing standards, being in a cover band would be the lazy option. i'm no guitar god, but learning some rock and pop songs note for note is much less challenging than trying to come up with something interesting and realizing it.

Playing in a cover band can be an essential step in musical development before jumping into an all original band.

yeah, but writing crappy material is an essential step to writing good material. someone who hones their craft in a cover band is not just going to write a masterpiece out of the gate. it's a different skill set. i think of when classical musicians who play at an advanced level are asked to improvise for the first time - they fall on their asses.
 
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Marc Morfei

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It seems that new "original" bands tend to scoff at cover bands for not writing their own material. I understand the pride and work that goes into writing some original material, but I just don't get the disdain expressed by these bands.
There is definitely scoffing that goes on in these pages.

Hey, if you play and write all original material, and get regular gigs and get paid good money doing it, then I sincerely admire you.
But I would bet that 90% of the people here are TDPRI are not in that category.

Personally, I think there's room for all kinds of music, at all levels. People are where they are and do what they do for all kinds of reasons. Some players are better than others. So what?

Besides, there are really good cover bands, and not-very-good originals bands. A decent cover band will make $100 each man per gig. An original band - unless you are well-established with a large following - often makes next to nothing. Again: if you are packing in crowds and making dough playing your own songs, then awesome for you. But you don't need to look down on everyone else.

My feeling is that we all should respect and support each other, and not criticize each other's choices and abilities.
 
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Dismalhead

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Songwriting ain't easy, and it's a separate skill from being a musician. IMO good songwriters are few and far between, and I know that I'm not one of them.

I've been in two "original" bands with around 40 songs each, and I can name maybe a handful of songs between them that were actually worthy of being on an album without major rework.

Disdain for cover bands - I've been there in the past, and I guess I still have it to a bit. I think the problem here is a mix of skill levels - you can be in a cover band playing The Stones and Bryan Adams and just be budding musicians, or you can be a seasoned pro doing it. Most of the top 40 cover bands I've seen have been towards the beginner musician end of the spectrum, so that's the picture I form in my head when I hear "cover band" - 3-4 chord songs with mediocre vocals to sound just like the album = boring background music suitable for a wedding or bar mitzvah.

Right now I'm doing covers, but they ain't three chord songs and I do them in my own style. I mean, why write when there's plenty of great material out there that's a lot better than anything I'm gonna come up with?
 
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Mjark

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In my ongoing saga of being 63 years old and trying to find a band to play with, another aspect of the scene seems to be making itself apparent.
I have been answering ads and listening to original music in an effort to at least get playing with a good group on a regular basis. In all honesty, playing in an original group is not my first choice at this stage of the game. Been there, done that, sold the T-shirts.

It seems that new "original" bands tend to scoff at cover bands for not writing their own material. I understand the pride and work that goes into writing some original material, but I just don't get the disdain expressed by these bands. Especially when I notice that current original music seems somewhat lacking where interesting ideas, riffs, and song structure are concerned. Of course, not all of it is this way, but enough of it is to the extent where I feel there's something else at play.

People who learn to play and put in the effort to develop a good musical vocabulary often seem to have more interesting song structure and a more complex, sophisticated sound, while those who can't be bothered with building their chops first, often present songs that are somewhat less interesting. Playing in a cover band can be an essential step in musical development before jumping into an all original band. Interestingly enough, I look at their original band songs as "cover material." I take the recordings and learn the songs "as recorded" so I can show up at the rehearsal/audition prepared. Kinda like what you do with a cover band. LOL.

Are bands just finding it easier to create original music and playing it instead of honing their chops before putting pen to paper? Are local original bands suffering from laziness?
I’ve noticed the same thing many times. “Originality” for its own sake is often terrible. No one can pull art of any kind out of thin air. The less study is done the worse it will be. Learning other music and why it works is essential for everyone.
 

bottlenecker

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Wow. Interesting take.

If you are writing all original material, and you are not well known, how do you get gigs?

This seems more like a "cork sniffer" scenario than a lazy issue. The Stones, Zeppelin, Van Halen, you name it - almost everyone has covered a song at some point. I guess I have not seen this, and I just don't understand that point of view. Unless you have a few released songs and your music is at least somewhat known, I don't see how this would work.

Then again, I'm not looking to join a band or gig either, so my opinion means nothing.

You do realize that whatever you listen to, they had to play gigs before they were known, right? They don't all start as cover bands, and then transition. I'm not sure that even happens anymore.

So there are clubs, bars, theaters, and other venues, that feature mostly original music. The people that go to them want to hear original music. It doesn't matter if they've heard any of the songs before, because they're into music.
I, being one of those music fans, have heard songs you know from the radio played in front of my face in a tiny bar by the original artist.
Even better though, I've heard songs you will never hear because they're too wild/funny/subversive/weird to ever make it on "the radio" (whatever that even means anymore).

There are many levels of local, regional, and national touring, and many more levels between that and what you might call "mainstream success".
There are lots of people I've never heard of who make a living playing their original music. It's a big world.
 

Si G X

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I've been on both sides of the fence (covers and originals) so I don't have a dog in the fight. I will say there is misunderstanding between all parties. When I played originals, some of my cover band friends thought I was nuts for putting in all the effort for little or no money. I tried to tell them how fulfilling it was to play our material, added in that we didn't play an entire night, production was provided, etc.

Conversely, some of my original band friends thought by playing covers I was being a brainless automaton, replicating hit songs. I tried to explain to them how fun it is to entertain a room full of people, get them up and enjoy the energy going back and forth.

Not everybody was that way, but there were plenty that just couldn't understand why I wanted to do something different than what they did. That's how it is in pretty much everything.

I think you are right.... I also think the audiences are usually different for each too.

I think the two things are entirely different, so it's not that surprising that they don't always rub along in harmony.

other than both being 'bands' it's a totally different thing with different aims.
 

teletail

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Musicians in general are lazy. Being in an originals band doesn't make you special. Being in a cover band doesn't make you special. I see tons of people half fasting their way through cover material because they are too lazy to learn it right. They call it "putting their own spin" on it. 99.9% of the time that means making it easier. I've seen lots of originals bands playing awful music that they obviously didn't put much though in to (at least that's how it sounded).

The whole cover vs originals is just another way that insecure people try to make distinctions so that they can feel better about themselves. The best band I ever played in was half cover, half original. We nailed the covers close to note for note and we sweated blood over our originals to make them as good and as tight as possible.
 

Texicaster

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I guess it depends on the venue doesn't it? And goal of band.

I know both kinds of bands. The cover bands do tend to have better chops but there's a lot of things I'd rather do than hear another version of Brown Eyed Girl! Establishment doesn't want to hear originals but a variety of "hits".

The original band I know well plays all originals! A 1970s heavy metal band type. The crowds are raucous and just want to rock out! I'd say their musicianship is at a rather high level after being together for over 10 years (actually longer...most of the band started when they were 15; now in 30s)

Cover band gets gigs.

Originals band got a recording deal!
 

bowman

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I play in a cover band, but I also write and record my own music at home. The two have mostly nothing to do with each other except that it’s all music. I don’t see how a band playing all original songs could get a lot of paying gigs. The songs would have to be really good, there would have to be a lot of them, and the chances of that are pretty slim. As someone who writes, I can say that I like my own tunes, but I’d never bring one to the band and suggest that we do it. Again - it’s two different things. You aren’t excited about the original band concept, so you probably don’t belong in one. Not fair to you, not fair to them. I don’t belong in one either. Having said that, I am fully in favor of original bands doing their thing - who’s going to write the future great songs if nobody tries? Who’s going to realize their potential if they don’t just let it all out?
 

scottser

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Hi.

I totally get what (I think) you’re saying. It’s really easy to write a boring, uninspired, formulaic song. Even I’ve mastered that. And, it’s way more easy and far less work than mastering someone else’s complex and interesting song.

I don’t know if it’s a ‘thing,’ but I’ve definitely known people who write ‘original’ songs and also rubbish covers bands in a way that makes me think they are being defensive about their own songs and kinda compensating or deflecting. Or something.

Pax/
Dean
p.s. now I have this running through my head, like a Ramones’ song

I don’t wanna be in a covers band
Cause that’s like a real dead end
I wanna be so creative
Only word I can rhyme now is native
I don’t wanna be in a covers band
Cause that’s like a real dead end
I wanna be so creative
anything else is masturbative
 

Si G X

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The biggest difference is that a covers band usually sounds more like the record than the actual band when they play it.

There's a band around here that cover 'complete control' by the clash, it sounds just like the record but it's nothing like hearing The Clash live. It has none of the energy or excitement and it does make me wonder if you might as well just stick the record on instead.
 




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