Are Original Music Bands Just Lazy?

THX1123

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Playing music for the joy of it and the camaraderie of being in a group and the experience shared with the audience is not always dependent on the material you play. These are really the important things, for me anyway.

My three rules are:

1. Play music you like
2. With people you like
3. For people who like it

As long as any 2 of those things are happening the band has value to me.

When I started in the late 80's-90's the cover band guys we had to play occasional gigs with and compete with for shows had all the attitude. They thought we were foolish for playing original music. They all played Paradise City and Radar Love and Stealin' by Uriah Heep.

The only bands I have been in that have worked extremely hard have been the original bands. Lots of work and even more self-reflection and critical thinking about the songwriting is required. Our years of work and songs got us signed. The band took me across the country, and gave me the chance to open for some of my heroes like Cheap Trick, Sloan, Weezer, and Mike Watt, and got us into some legendary studios like Electric Lady, Dreamland, and with Albini at Electrical Audio.

No, we didn't "make it." I didn't buy a house for my Mom via the band. Maybe our songs weren't good enough, maybe we weren't lucky, maybe we weren't good looking enough, maybe we failed to sound like already successful bands. I'm not sure it matters anymore. But I personally wouldn't trade those 15 years for Paradise City and Radar Love and Stealin' by Uriah Heep.

The two attempts at cover bands after the original bands were done and I started moving around the USA seemed to be less focused on making interesting music and more focused on what other people (audience) thought. My experiences were unfortunate tests of how long I could tolerate insecure individuals with mediocre ability and experience focusing on bickering over changing keys and lead guitar parts and setlists.
 

4pickupguy

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Tabula Rasa doesn't mean ignorance and weed.
One of our current bass players former bands was named Tabula Rasa. A very good brit pop band back in the day.

As I get older, I feel the clock running out on creating music. I am more and more focused on writing than learning some older tune. Breathing new life into a cover is fun but writing music is so much more.
 
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Minivan Megafun

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I’m late to this thread but why is it always some sort of competition for “artistic integrity” with musicians? I think it comes down to egos.

Who gives a crap what you play? Why does it matter? If you want to play your own music go ahead! Is the existence of cover bands a threat to you? Why do cover bands feel threatened by tribute bands? Are gigging musicians superior to bedroom players?

WHO CARES. Stay in your lane and stop worrying about what someone else is doing. For some people music is about joy. For some it’s a business. For some it’s their living. For some it’s their hobby.

Why don’t actors get s*** for performing plays that have been performed 1000 times through the years? No one gives an actor grief for not writing and performing their own scripts. Because it’s about the art of the performance!

Bands are work regardless of what you play. How about showing respect for music performed well whether it be original or covers. There’s LOTS of crappy cover bands and LOTS of crappy original bands.
 

Mjark

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One of our current bass players former bands was named Tabula Rasa. A very good brit pop band back in the day.

As I get older, I feel the clock running out on creating music. I am more and more focused on writing than learning some older tune. Breathing new life into a cover is fun but writing music is so much more.
Sure but you know music!
 

metalicaster

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It's interesting that nobody has an issue with going to see an orchestra perform cover versions; they are simply judged on their performance and arrangement. The same can be said of most 'standards' in other genres that you'll hear done over and over. Yet when we talk rock & roll, it's only the Version Originale that is allowed.
 
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Charlie Bernstein

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. . . Some of the great acts I’ve seen in house concerts are . . . Trout Fishing in America . . . .
I was just thinkingt about them the other day. Great act. Wonder if they're still at it.
The music that many of these acts perform is sometimes called folk music, though to my ears it is often pop music that includes elements of rock, rockabilly, jazz, country and traditional folk music.
Yup! I call mine folkabilly: folk, pre-Nashville country, old-school blues, and garage rock.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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It's interesting that nobody has an issue with going to see an orchestra perform cover versions; they are simply judged on their performance and arrangement. The same can be said of most 'standards' in other genres that you'll here done over and over. Yet when we talk rock & roll, it's only the Version Originale that is allowed.
Yeah, that's what I meant above about jazz where I used work. How many jazz acts aren't cover bands?
 

Charlie Bernstein

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Both are a must. They probably have to pick the right venues and be adept at social media like YouTube and streaming services.
Just seems like a tough road to hoe.
Yup. The thing is, we do what we do — like the fabled spider who said he bites because his nature. Like you were saying, there's no advantage to thinking one is better than the other. There are successful and unsuccessful cover bands and originals act.
 

Harry Styron

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I was just thinkingt about them the other day. Great act. Wonder if they're still at it.

Yup! I call mine folkabilly: folk, pre-Nashville country, old-school blues, and garage rock.
Keith and Ezra of Trout Fishing in America live near Fayetteville, Arkansas and still perform quite a bit. Ezra’s daughter Dana, who is also very tall (and pretty) also is a fine singer, songwriter and performer.
 

FuzzWatt

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Interesting take OP. Something I noticed after 10 plus years working with musicians - Many "original" bands just aren't that originally. They speak harshly of cover bands who "lack originality" but meanwhile, their bands are often parking lot versions of some band(s) that was big 2 to 5 years ago and something many people don't necessarily want more of.

Two bands in particular, I knew well. Very talented musicians, thorough knowledge of theory, practiced regularly. But their music was boring and sounded way too much like their influences, but without the catchiness.

Contrast that to an original country band I knew - not a very original style/look, but damn if their songs weren't catchy as hell and they put on an exciting, well rehearsed live show, including where they moved and stood on stage.
 

teletail

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It's interesting that nobody has an issue with going to see an orchestra perform cover versions; they are simply judged on their performance and arrangement. The same can be said of most 'standards' in other genres that you'll hear done over and over. Yet when we talk rock & roll, it's only the Version Originale that is allowed.
I think Joe Cocker would disagree. Led Zeppelin’s first album was mostly covers; a lot of Van Halen’s early hits were covers; many of Linda Ronstadt’s hits were covers. Just to name a few.

There isn’t a prejudice against making songs “your own,” there is a prejudice against trotting out some lazy, half fast version of a song because you’re too lazy to play it right and too lazy to make it your own.

At least that’s what everyone is saying. 😀
 

JustABluesGuy

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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 remember when starting out that I really enjoyed writing songs. As soon as I learned an A chord to go with my E chord, I put them together as a vamp.

Learning cover songs by much more advanced players was also beyond my skill level at the time. For a time there I was an originals snob. As a listener I’ve always enjoyed bands that played mostly their own tunes more than cover bands.

Now I realize that learning songs by other, better players can be very helpful with learning the skills one needs to be a better player.
 

JustABluesGuy

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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.



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.
For me it isn’t an either or situation as well. I started “writing” as soon as I learned a second chord.

Understand the standards and learning riffs can come from learning covers, but there’s nothing quite as satisfying as creating your own music.

Early on, I was against doing covers, partly (mainly?) because as a beginner they were far too hard, and partly because I had alway preferred bands that played originals to cover bands.

My approach is more balanced now. I don’t think I would (or could) ever play in an “events band” doing exact dance covers, but I don’t have any issue with doing my own arrangements of other people’s songs along with some originals mixed in.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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It's interesting that nobody has an issue with going to see an orchestra perform cover versions; they are simply judged on their performance and arrangement. The same can be said of most 'standards' in other genres that you'll hear done over and over. Yet when we talk rock & roll, it's only the Version Originale that is allowed.
As I said, the annual festival I worked at required all originals unless it was jazz. Then, suddenly, playing nothing but covers was fine.

I still don't get it.
 




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