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The "Official" Cover Band thread

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Eskimo_Joe, May 23, 2011.

  1. Eskimo_Joe

    Eskimo_Joe Rocker, roller, way out of controller Supporting Member

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    Sorry to use this worn out approach, but thought with the wealth of knowledge contained within the membership, it would be great to capture the collective wisdom on cover bands.

    Thought starters:
    • Do's & Don'ts
    • Better to identify a small, but fervent niche OR aim more broadly?
    • What are the most successful niches for cover bands (i.e. glam metal revival, Led Zep tribute, 80's, etc)?
    • Play it like the record or put your own spin on it?
    • Songs that make the crowd go crazy? Songs that miss?
    • Who are the best cover bands out there? What can we learn from them?
    • What's your experience taught you?
     
  2. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    I assume you are supposed to pick one topic and expand on it? So, I won't do that.... :sarcasm

    Do's & Don'ts
    Better to identify a small, but fervent niche OR aim more broadly?
    What are the most successful niches for cover bands (i.e. glam metal revival, Led Zep tribute, 80's, etc)?
    Play it like the record or put your own spin on it?
    Songs that make the crowd go crazy? Songs that miss?
    Who are the best cover bands out there? What can we learn from them?
    What's your experience taught you?
    • DO - identify your strengths as a band and identify your niche. If you choose to aim more broadly be prepared to sound like a bad version of a niche band.
    • You do NOT have to play anything just like the record - except signature guitar riffs like DayTripper. It is actually better tio put your own spin, especially on the more tired songs.
    • Most successful - tribute bands, but it requires a lot of work and you can't be 1/2 arsed about it.
    • My experience has taught me that showmanship counts. Look at the audience and smile, be interactive, but most important play well and be a tight band.
     
  3. DGTCrazy

    DGTCrazy Moderator de Emporio Staff Member

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    Humm.........

    The Do's

    1) Show up prepared (maybe not note for note, but remember signature tag-lines, play in the record key, and have a solid beginning and ending.

    2) Hire a sound person who knows what they are doing.

    3) Have fun.

    4) Shamelessly promote yourselves before, during and after the gig.

    5) Website, Social Networking and a good demo.


    The Dont's:

    1) Don't be late.

    2) Dress for success.

    3) Don't party harder than the patrons.

    4) Don't allow more than 5-10 seconds between songs (unless it's for shameless self promotion)

    5) Don't swear, argue or rant.
     
  4. greggorypeccary

    greggorypeccary Member

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    :huh Shouldn't "dress for success" be in the do's?
     
  5. Eskimo_Joe

    Eskimo_Joe Rocker, roller, way out of controller Supporting Member

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    I'm curious what he means by dressing for success?
     
  6. greggorypeccary

    greggorypeccary Member

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    Dude haven't you been paying attention to TGP? No shorts, no hawiian shorts, no hats & no sandals. :p
     
  7. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

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  8. silvertone1481

    silvertone1481 Member

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    I need advice....I'm trying to start a cover band (high school!!!) and I want to do UFO, AC/DC, Scorpions, Accept, etc....I might have found a drummer....how should I go about "recruiting" people?
     
  9. DrumBob

    DrumBob Gold Supporting Member

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    Just some general replies to your queries:

    Play material that's recognizable that fits the format of the band and the players in it. You can take liberties with arrangements and add your own spin. While you're keeping the customers satisfied, make sure you play stuff you like as well.

    Play up strengths, downplay weaknesses. Learn to identify them quickly.

    Always work on your vocals!

    Every band is the sum of its parts and every band needs its own image and vibe. Find your niche.

    Dress to impress always. Dress to fit the music you play. Don't show up looking like a dork or dressed worse than the average joe in the crowd. If you're a rocker, dress like one and play it to the hilt. Visit the website www.rustyzipper.com for cool vintage stage clothes. Or, your local Salvation Army or Goodwill. Don't buy stage clothes in Wally-Mart!

    Showmanship counts! Too many bands I've seen stand there motionless, staring at their shoes. BORING! Look like you're into it, like you're having fun. Good vibes are contagious. You should be having fun. We don't make that much money doing this, so it's imperative to enjoy yourself.

    Graciously take requests, but if you can't do a tune, just apologize and offer to do something else. Give them options.

    Go around on break and schmooze, talk to people, get them to sign your email list.

    Don't let the drunk harp player sit in, no matter how good he says he is.

    Don't play "Freeturd," er, "Freebird." Ignore all requests for it.

    Always acknowledge the bartenders and wait staff and encourage the crowd to tip them. Thank the clubowner over the mic.

    Talk to the audience between songs, introduce bandmembers, but don't tell bad or off-color jokes. In other words, appoint one member as frontman who talks to the crowd.

    Set up quickly and as quietly as possible and act like a total pro at all times. If some drunk is busting your balls, let the bouncer or manager handle it.

    Good luck.
     
  10. Brooks

    Brooks Member

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    time machine.













    ps - you have great taste in metal. hope you find folks to jam with.
     
  11. Eskimo_Joe

    Eskimo_Joe Rocker, roller, way out of controller Supporting Member

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    Great advice!
     
  12. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    Do: Identify your niche and work up a song list that fits that niche and sound.
    Don't: Try to be everything to everybody. Just because some drunk woman wants to hear Sweet Caroline doesn't mean you have to play it.

    Do: Pay attention to your sound. Have a good PA, including subs, mic everything no matter how small the venue and spend time before the show really dialing in a good mix.
    Don't: Try to get by with a speakers on sticks, vocals only PA. Bands that do it properly will sound better than you. Don't show up with a $500 PA and $10,000 guitar rig.

    Do: Dress the part. Have a look for your band and try to look a little larger than life. When you walk in the club, people should know you are part of the band by looking at you.
    Don't: Look like somebody's dad who has just finished cutting the grass, even though that may well be who you are.

    Do: Play in tune. Everybody should have a silent tuner.

    Do: Put some energy into your show. You don't have to go jump up and down crazy but do look like you're enjoying yourself. Fun and energy are infectious. The audience will take their cue from you.
    Don't: Stand there looking bored. It doesn't matter how well you play, if you look like you'd rather be somewhere else, the audience will feel the same way.

    Do: Have at least a minimal light show. Remember, you want to look like a real band. Entertainment is about more than just the music.

    Do: Be approachable. Your job is to be the life of the party. The music is how you do it, but it isn't really why you're there. If somebody complements you, be gracious. Engage them in small talk.
    Don't: Be standoffish and full of yourself. Make people feel comfortable and want to be around you.

    Do: Try to play a variety of places. Build a following in several parts of town, but don't overplay the same club or people will get sick of you. Try to play enough that people can find you, but not so much that it's not an event to go and see you.
    Don't: Stick to one neighborhood or just one or two bars. Get out there and get known.
     
  13. sws1

    sws1 Member

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    Describes my last band PERFECTLY. Were you in it?

    The reason I left. (Well, those 5 rules, and the drummer doing coke in bathroom between songs.)
     
  14. boldaslove1977

    boldaslove1977 Silver Supporting Member

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    some of the most important things i learned from being in a busy cover band don't have much to do with playing... (although i did learn a lot about playing too). but most of them are pretty universal... whether you are doing covers or originals.

    have fun.

    be on time.

    work out contracts/pay before you play a note.

    use as little equipment as you can to get the job done well.

    bring backups for everything.

    if you are going to go for the note-for-note approach... nail it! if you are going to put your own spin on it... make sure it's different enough from the original that people don't think you tried to do the original and failed!

    find one versatile guitar that can do a lot of sounds. i have teles, strats, LPs and more i can use... but a tele works best for me. when i first started... i was switching back and forth... bringing 2-3 electrics to a gig PLUS and acoustic for a few songs. all the changing back and forth was slowing things down and it was too much to carry anyway. and the average person in the bar won't know the difference.

    watch other more experienced cover bands. you will learn a ton in a matter of a few minutes.
     
  15. gstan

    gstan Member

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    Play what you want to play because that is the material that you will actually do the homework it takes to play it really well. If the material isn't fun for you to play it will show in the quality of the performance. By playing what the band members like you are also likely to have a greater variety of musical styles, maybe some eclectic choices, and you'll probably step outside the cliche/standard material and have more deep cuts in your sets.

    Sure, if making money is the primary goal you can go for some formula about who/what the band needs to be, go the hired gun route, or any number of other "methods", but the best cover bands I've been a part of consist of a group of musicians who share basically similar musical tastes, play the music they like, create a clown free, substance free and drama free zone for the band, and take a professional approach to the business end of things.

    Granted, depending on your musical tastes versus the local market you may not get the all gigs you want but I like it better when the band is what the gig wants.
     
  16. MKB

    MKB Silver Supporting Member

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    Do: Make sure everybody in the band is in agreement on what direction to go. If not, either have priorities reassigned or get different members.

    Do: Identify your audience and what they want, and give it to them, with the highest quality every time.

    Remember: if you are in a cover band, your job is to play covers the way your selected audience wants to hear them. Don't think you are much of a stratospheric artist; the audience is there to hear songs and party, not listen to how great a player you are.

    Most important: you are there to entertain your audience, not just play songs well. There is a big difference.

    Also; in the great majority of cases, you only have to learn around 50-75% of a specific guitar solo for it to sound right. The trick is to learn the right parts. If you do, the audience will swear you played it perfectly.
     
  17. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    I just want to point out the discrepancy between this...

    4) Don't allow more than 5-10 seconds between songs (unless it's for shameless self promotion)

    And all of the suggestions to interact with the audience, have fun, be entertaining, etc.

    Personally, (and I know a lot of players will disagree with this) when I am at a club I don't need the songs to come on like Bam, bam, bam. I like to get to know the people on stage by them talking to me.

    In our band I suggested we tell the audience why we are doing every song we do - even if it is a joke (and most of the time it was a running gag about each song being about loose women). Not only does this give each player time to doublecheck everything, but it gives you a personal connection to the audience. It also puts all the players on the same page about what song is next.

    I just think the "entertainer" concept has an edge over the "background music" concept that I perceive the "no more than 5 seconds between songs" idea to represent.

    I also personally think sets should be shorter, 50 minutes tops, although I know some people think longer sets are better. But I think people in clubs want to have a break to be able to talk to people, not just listen to the band.
     
  18. Full Monty

    Full Monty Member

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    When playing the function circuit the chat should be kept to a minimum apart from when the set changes pace. I've worked with singers who like to talk between every song and it can kill the gig.
     
  19. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    Work on your vocals!

    Nothing improves a band's chances to draw like strong vocals
    and harmonies.

    Choose your material to target PAYING customers who want to have fun.
     
  20. Eskimo_Joe

    Eskimo_Joe Rocker, roller, way out of controller Supporting Member

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    I think this is 110% right. This is universal advice, for pros alike.

    Everyone can point to fantastic musicians that have loads of talent but are flatline boring for the average, non-music geek to see. And then there's Lady Gaga, moderate talent, but a genius entertainer.
     

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