It’s All About What it has always Been About

Years ago, when I was working another job, before I was as involved as I am now in making music I was doing a site visit with a person for my job.

First I would like to qualify that I take people as they are and am in no position to judge anyone for their looks, ideas, or behavior as long as any of those do no harm to anyone else. Then I am only judging actions and not a person.

So I meet with this guy to talk about business.
OK, first this guy had a mullet and was in his mid forties I think. Nothing wrong with that but as I was trying to engage him in the discussion at hand he wanted to talk about something else and immediately jettisoned the conversation to what I assumed he really wanted to talk about, his band.
The spiel went something like this “so yeah I do this job man but really my heart is in my music.”
I was game so I played along hoping he would get that out of his system, be assailed, and then move on to the business at hand. But no, he wanted to persist with the band thing.
“We are really into Metallica and the other guitar player, I play rhythm, a little lead,and sing lead, is smoking bad! We are playing a show tonight, you should check us out.”
So this went on some more, I got no where really and agreed, because I was staying in town that night, to come out to the event.

It was a typical bar, neon, dance floor where the band set up. Out comes the band. They looked to all be in their 40’s, dressed in jeans and un-tucked bowling type shirts and running shoes. They had all the equipment, some stage lights, and even a smoke machine which turned out to be the most entertaining thing of their show because it would hide the band eventually, all but the sound, from all of us there to bare witness. Eventually you just got this fog blaring horrible Metallica covers.
Ok so first they were no Metallica. I like Metallica, love their first 3-4 albums. But these guys were not even off to a good start as a tribute band. They did happen to do one “original” which came off as even worse Metallica yet with more pretentious lyrics.
During a break the original mullet guy who invited me came over with what I would describe as a “can you believe us” look and an extended hand. I was greeted with “Well didn’t I tell you?”
I shook his extended hand and said what any musician should cringe to hear “that was really good man, really good.”

Ok here is my point, with the remembering of this event.
If you are serious about making music in any professional capacity you have to realize some hard fast rules, and thinking about it now here is how I should have responded:
1) You guys need to give up the Metallica Shtick because there is only one Metallica and if you are really hoping to quit your bad day job it is not happening being Metallica because guess what? There is already some guys who have that slot and they do it about 1000 times better than you.
2) An old baseball coach said to me once “if you are going to be a baseball player look like a baseball player.” So if you are going to be a band look like a band and not some guys getting ready to go bowling or running or beer bonging or all of those at once.
3) No one wants another Metallica. I know that I am beating a dead horse but I really want you to understand this one.
and last but not least
4) Man if the music is not there it just is not there. If you guys had come out and played a dead on rocking set, no matter what else was going on, that would be all that mattered. You could be dressed in Penguin outfits but great music is what it is: GREAT! If you had been all “penguined up” we would all have been bouncing around with our devil horns held high saying “man these penguins rock!” But it didn’t happen and it was not for lack of any penguin costumes only good music.

So many people get so deluded because they messed around and learned 25 cover songs, play some shows and think their route to super stardom is all but sealed. Doing what? It is hard enough for truly talented, great, creative, rocking bands to make a living today so how in the heck do people get so lost in this mind set?
Well here is reality.
Great music is great music. If you are doing it for fun great. If you are doing it to advance some idea great. If you are doing it because there are these original sounds and words inside you that just have to be gotten out then even better, double Great! But being a cheap, poorly tuned, poorly dressed imitation of an already legendary band is never going to get you anything but an occasional gig at the VFW and maybe free draft for the night. If they do get a good paying show more power to them.

And in the spirit of all things
Go practice your guitar!

John Henry in the digital age

Many wonder, with the advance of musical software and DAW (digital audio workstation), if that musicians and the making of music by humans will become obsolete. It has been likened to an assembly line worker waiting for that other shoe to drop when the robots come into fore and the unemployment line awaits.

I have rolled around with this idea in my mind for a couple of years. I utilize digital technology to record and after my early forays with old analog tape I could not imagine doing it any other way. Of course my setup and approach to recording in a non studio environment is still strictly garage-esque, but this is on purpose. But could processors, software, and machines one day make it all unnecessary. John Henry for the modern age?