I know this is the one that will get me in the most trouble. I feel like there is a divide in lots of musician circles that we, the cover band guys, are sellouts and lame for not writing our own music. It is thought that we are somehow less than because we lack the “artistic integrity” of musicians making and performing their own music.
I know that sentiment because I definitely felt that way as a younger musician.
I played in an original group for roughly 10 years. We were pretty good. We played a lot of shows, we made a few records and got to do some cool things. It was hard work and I didn’t make much money off of it but I still looked down my nose at guys who “gave up” their dream and played covers.
Here’s the thing though: I was not a primary songwriter for that group. When we went into the studio, I didn’t play every part. When the record was done, odds are I ended up playing something the other guitar player or producer put down or singing a harmony someone else came up with.
When that band split up I went the route of hired gun. My job was to play for other artists and play their songs. Again, I was playing someone else’s parts on someone else’s songs.
That’s when it hit me: I was in a cover band. It didn’t matter what we played: odds are as a musician your job is to play someone else’s song.
Also, most of the guys slugging it out in clubs on the weekends are recording their own music, and they’re using those cover gigs to fund it. I was working at an Apple store.
So that begs the question: if all bands are cover bands to some extent, are you in a good one? What can you do to make your band better? Do all rules apply to all bands if the reality is that there isn’t much of a difference?