I’m in a disco band

Original entry and comments: http://cherryteresa.greatestjournal.com/2006/12/07/

The beginning of last week, I posted a bulletin on MySpace.com that I was in a funk/disco cover band that’s seeking a female singer. I got a bunch of messages from people going “HUH?!” So let me explain the deal.
Yes, I’m in a band now. We juuuust started working on stuff and that’s why you didn’t know.
No, we’re not being sexist. The reason why we want a female singer is because our guitarist (who’s male) is also singing. But there are a lot of disco songs that were performed by females and have lyrics that refer to being feminine subjects, so that’s why. We want a singer who can really sing well and sing the high notes. Anyone who’s ever heard me sing or even talk knows that I have a deeper voice so there’s no way I could do that. So basically some songs will have male vocals, some will have female, and some will have both.

And here’s what I want to make clear:
Why am I in a cover band?! I’ll be honest, at first when I was asked, I said no. But being in a cover band is a way to make money. For those of you who don’t know, most original bands lose money. Sure you usually get paid to play gigs but that usually doesn’t even cover the amount of money you’ve paid into for studio time, practice space, gas money driving to play out of state shows, merchandise, etc. And plus a lot of gigs you may get paid little or nothing because you are getting something bigger in return – such as you might be opening up for some big national act, or the show will be aired on the radio, or the show is guaranteed to have a big audience. I certainly never played in a band before for the money which is obvious when you know that I lost more money that I’ve even earned for being a musician. I’ve always done it for the love of the music. But at this time, I’m playing music for both the love of the music and to make some money.
As I stated a few months ago, I do not have a keyboard that I can use to perform on anymore; I just have a practice keyboard. (Go down a few entries on my journal and you will see the explanation on this). One of the huge obstacles I have in ever being in a serious band again is that I need to save up hundreds of dollars to get gear again. And when you consider the tens of thousands of dollars of debt I have from being sick, that’s going to take years to happen.
I am lucky enough and our vocalist/guitarist is nice enough to have offered me to use his keyboard for this band. So problem solved on that one! I can play out using his keyboard. And hopefully I will eventually save up some money to put toward buying myself one. Before you point the finger at me and call me a sell-out, thnk about this. I am making money doing something that I love. There are many musicians who make extra money by doing illegal things such as selling drugs whether as a full-time job or on the side. Then there are those who will do things they might not like such as working long hours at a high paying job they don’t like or even stripping. (I’m not saying people shouldn’t strip. I’m just saying that there are those who hate it but stay in the business for the money). Would I be called a sell out if I were doing any of those things for money? Probably not as likely as being called a sell out for being in a cover band. Sure I am adjusting to what the bar owners want but at least I am still doing what I enjoy. (Plus I actually like disco and funk music).
I also realized that until I find a band or find people to start a band that I really get along with musically, personally, “professionally”, etc. (and I am picky), I can still be out there performing. And while yeah part of it will be unfulfilling because I won’t get to be very creative (considering none of us are writing anything), there are still a lot of great things about this band. We just started practicing a couple weeks ago, and already we are getting along well. And I’m lucky in the fact that again I am in a band where every musician is very talented. (There is no weak link or person who is just there because we needed someone who plays “fill in the blank”. Unless you count myself haha). I actually like practice, I find it very fulfilling and I think it helps keep me centered. Then there’s the fact that the places we’re more than likely going to be playing are places that have built-in audiences/regular followings. So while we’re still going to bring our friends to shows, there’s no pressure to bring a certain amount of people. There’s also no pressure of having a CD done by a period of time since we’re a cover band. There’s also a lot of pressure taken away because this is something we’re doing for the fun of it. It’s not like we’re trying to make a name for ourselves or we have to question what direction we’re headed or if the band is going somewhere.
Don’t get me wrong. I like going into the studio. I like building up a following. I like having band merch and all that other stuff. But in a way, it will nice to just concentrate on playing rather than other things such as the business aspect of the music business.

Before you go off on me about how it’s messed up or backwards that most unsigned original bands lose money while cover bands make money (if you do it the right way), realize this: I know it’s messed up! But I don’t make the rules.
Also, my opinion still stays the same about orignal bands doing covers. Original bands should only do a small amount of covers. They should be really picky about what they cover. And the cover should sound like the artist who’s covering it while still doing justice to the original version. (For example: Johnny Cash did a cover of the song “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. But many Cash fans had no idea it was a cover because the song sounded like a song he would have written/performed usually. But the cover did not – in my opinion – do an injustice to the original version. And many Nine Inch Nail fans give Cash the thumbs up on his version). If your covers stick out like sore thumbs, if they are songs that anyone could tell is a cover because it doesn’t sound anything like your other songs, you’re doing it the wrong way. Also, if most crowds have little interest in your originals, but get pumped up when you peform a cover, you probably need to work on your originals or perhaps play different venues.
I don’t think that original bands should throw in a ton of covers in their set. I don’t normally like some of these half original/half cover bands. Pick what you want to be! If you want to stay an original band, then be selective with your covers or just don’t do any covers at all. If you really enjoy doing the covers (and especially if the covers sound like the original and not your band), then consider just being in a cover band.
(I’m not dissing the original bands who will sometimes play two or three hour sets at clubs they don’t usually play to make some extra cash and have to throw in several covers).

Moral of this long entry is that I’m in a disco/funk cover band and that doesn’t make me a hypocrite. And whenever I get a keyboard and meet the right people in the future, I will also be in an original band at the same time. And if it wasn’t for this cover band, I might not ever even have the chance to be in an original band again or at least not anytime soon. If you have a problem with that or would like to call me a sell-out then I suggest you buy me new gear yourself or raise money to pay my medical debt. Don’t want to? Didn’t think so. So shut it!

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