An interesting question to those in cover bands...perhaps.


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I went to a Bar last night with a friend of mine to check out a band called chump. He told me only good things about them. They played most stuff found on your radio stations that play, godsmack, alice in chains, stand, korn, metallica, the toadies, etc. For those of you in a cover band, does it ever strike you that your crowd base may not necessarily be because of what you play, but who you play? I mean, maybe this is a one sided view, or maybe the context is different in my terms, but to me, I'd like to be in a band that is original and where people can say oh man did you hear so and so last night or I just got so and so cd, they rock. I understand alot of people like doing that and the money pays well and to them thats fine. Maybe its just one of those thoughts that should have never came out, but thats all I could think about watching this band.


New member
Try to look at it from this view. If you are playing a local venue and getting paid for it then you are going to have to play what people want to hear (a majority of that is going to be what they know from radio). Yes...definitely throw in an original here and there and let the people hear your stuff. If they like it then they will let you know and they will request it at future shows. Eventually when people get to liking your stuff then hit them in the face with it and let it roll. Look at it as baby steps to get your stuff into the mix. When you go from getting paid to play covers to getting paid to play your is well worth it!! Peace.

Johnny Cat

New member
I totally agree with the first post. I really enjoy playing covers if it's just a damn good song, regardless of who wrote it, but yes, I think it's a lot more enjoyable and sincere when you're known for playing your own stuff and doing it well.

I played in a Rush tribute band for a while, and I find it much more satisfying playing original material with my own drum parts, even though they're nothing spectacular.

I also agree with Stump's post about getting paid and really having to play what people want to hear. It comes with the business. Perhaps if you're tactful about it you can work some of your own songs into the set if they're similar in style to the covers your playing, and see how the crowd responds.


New member
well my band when we first started, had had like 2-3 covers in our sets with orginals. a few months went by and brought it down to 1-2 covers a set, and now we are down to doing no covers unless we feel like having some fun with all of our friends at a local venue.


New member
Over the years I've seen people come to shows for all kinds of reasons. Regardless of who is playing. Possibly the only reason some are there is because the venue is close to where they live.

I prefer to play original music. I am pretty well over playing Brown Sugar. But, a gig's a gig.


New member
im in a cover band and i hate 98% of the songs we play. but when you're playing a bar as a cover band you have to remember the bar and people there are paying to hear songs they know, you're basically a really loud human jukebox. it suchs completely. but then again, you're playing for a room full of drunk people, most of which dont even play an instrument so they really dont care if what you're playing is technical, or impressive. they want a good feel and something they know the words to. it sucks, i wanna go out and play the songs i like but i know i cant because im getting hired to entertain other people. and for some reason drunk people at bars seem to like bands like godsmack, nickleback, manson, seether, papa roach. i dont know why. they just do. i'd much rather just play all original music!

The Alien Drummer

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It all depends on where you live. I'm in a cover band because that is the only thing the bars here will book, unless you want to pay to play. So I take the gigs, play in front of a lot of people, get paid and use the money to buy drum stuff. Nothing wrong with that. Then when we want to record some songs we have the money to do it without coming out of our pockets. I love to express myself with my own music but I'm not going to sit on my ass at home and bitch about our club scene. So here I am in a cover band.

PS- The original alter ego of our cover band does get occasional gigs.


New member
I guess I'm a merc drummer. I never really get much of a chance to write my own songs, I've been working on a solo album for 6 years now! I play drums for a living, and I play with some original bands, and I write, arrange, and produce other original bands. But for me, I just like being able to wake up everyday knowing that I'm going to get paid to play drums! It's just important for me to be playing.


New member
Well, I figured when I saw the title of the thread what you guys would respond with, but since it doesn't seem too hostile in here, I'll throw in my two cents worth. Or is it a penny for my thoughts? Anyway, playing covers is great. I have been in both original bands and cover bands. And in cover bands, you get a lot better response from those who count.. regular people. (As opposed to musicians.) I could absolutely care less about the out-of-work guitarist who stands in the back of the room next to the soundman, arms crossed, analyzing (and probably dissing) my playing, the guitarist's lead, the bassists sound, etc. We play to PACKED houses and people love to hear songs they know, songs they love, and songs they can have a good time with. They could go see some DJ, or original band, but they don't. They come to see a live band that is not trying to promote some homemade CD they made in the basement. They come to ESCAPE their everyday, boring lives. They escape with us into a journey that is like seeing ALL their favorite bands live. Your ego will try to tell you that they come to see you, but the truth is that you are a means to an end. They pay their $5 to get in, have a few beers, try to hook up, and be entertained. Enter: you. Entertain them. Play songs they know. DOn't you hate going to a "big league" concert only to see the band promote their new CD by playing one or two hits they had in the past (when they've had 6 or 7,) only to watch them play a bunch of songs you don't know? Keep the change.


New member
Starting out, I've found mixing a couple of covers that you know will go down well in a particular venue gets the crowd on your side.
Then, as you build up a fan base, filter in more of your own songs and get YOUR music in people's ears.
Though some gigs (pubs, birthday bashes, etc.) all people want to hear is a live band who can pull off a song they love (Hey Ho Silver Lining and Smoke On The Water come to mind here) so they have a good night.
It's all about playing to who's there, and why they're there.


New member
In my town either you play covers or you don't play. It's pretty basic. And to tell the truth, I like playing covers. That is what the people want to hear so that is what they respond to. The crowd has more fun, I have more fun, which makes the crowd have more fun, and on and on. And, I get to go to the bar, which I would have done anyway, but instead of watching a shitty band, I'm in the shitty band, drinking free beer, and increasing my chances of "getting lucky" about 100 fold.

Now, the "artist" in me wants to go out there, show off the songs we have written, show some chops and hopefully give some people a good time. But, the "realist" in me knows that if I want to play I play covers.

Now, if I could only make the rest of my band realize this...


New member
Here's the bottom line: Music is music is music, and it's all good.

Every cover started life as an original somewhere up the line.

It's funny to me how I get bashed by original band musicians in my region for being in a cover band (GASP, a "Tribute" band, no less!!), yet my band plays for at least 500 people per show, and the original band musicians that slam my band are playing for about 7 of their friends per show.

I admire and respect original bands, writing music is something that I'm certainly not adept at. But all I ask is for some respect in return. Just because someone is playing originals doesn't mean that they are putting more into their craft than I am. I bust my ass to make sure that I'm playing everything right.

And for those that would bust on cover bands for being "human jukeboxes", think of it for a moment from this perspective:

Original musicians create original music. You develop your own style and get comfortable with it. You get to the point where you know what you want to do, when you want to do it, and are able to do it at will. But you are still playing only one style: Yours.

Cover bands are learning (given a 3-set, 4-hour show) anywhere from 30-50 different bands' music, and their individual styles. And you have to learn their parts, figure out stickings, and NAIL it dead on.

In one given set in my band, for example, I have to cover these drummers: Bobby Blotzer (Ratt), Rick Allen (Def Leppard), Rikki Rockett (Poison), Mikkey Dee (Britney Fox), Peter Criss (KISS), AJ Pero (Twisted Sister), Rob Affuso (Skid Row), Vinnie Appice (Dio), Steven Sweet (Warrant), Matt Sorum (The Cult), Tommy Aldridge (Whitesnake), Jackie Enx (Rhino Bucket), Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), Cesar Zuiderwijk (Golden Earring), Greg D'Angelo (White Lion) and Mick Brown (Dokken). Each one has a different style, different signature licks, and different feels to the way they play. And I have to learn to nail every single one of them. I can't get comfortable in the way I want to play it. It has to be as close as humanly possible to the original version.

Tell me that's not a bit of work, and that you put more into your original music. Bullshit.

Cover bands (when done right) put as much into their music as any original band, any day of the week.

That's my 2 cents, anyway.


New member
screamkevin":37lp2e7f said:
Here's the bottom line: Music is music is music, and it's all good.
It's all good if it's good...
I've noticed there tends to be an elitist mindset sometimes with bands that don't play any covers- sometimes 'original' bands feel like only they deserve artistic credibility. Problem is, just because you write your own songs it doesn't automatically make you a GREAT band.
There are plenty of crappy bands playing their own music out there.
There are plenty of accomplished bands playing other people's music too.

Personally, I like to see a little of both- esp if the covers are a bit off the beaten path. A nice homage to a band that inspires you is a welcome addition to a setlist, I think.
Hope that didn't veer too far from the topic...


New member
Y'know guys all I want to see from a band is GOOD music. I could care less, if it's a cover or whatever. After my band crumbled because of drugs, lost our deal etc. Starting another band is hard, so to keep momentum I play whatever.

LITTLE SECRET! - Major drummers play in cover bands when they are off the road. Just met a vocalist that plays with Eric Singer!


New member
I've been playing in coverbands pretty much exclusively for a while now. You have to find the right situation. I'm lucky enough to be in cover bands that try to stick to stuff that's fun for us. Sure we end up having to play Sweet Home Alabama but only when there is no avoiding it and that's usually at a time where the vibe is so up that it ends up be a fun time.

I like the challenge of nailing a groove and feel of diffent songs while still making them my own. Plus the pay and being able to play for 4 hours a night without being rushed on and off stage is great. Also I still get a charge from seeing someone reacting to what I'm playing. Whether it be dancing, taping their feet or just bobbing thier head I'm the one putting that groove out there that they are connecting to.

I live in Los Angeles and I really feel for the guys that are tring to make it here with an original band. It's pretty much exclusively pay to play for new bands here. I pretty much burned out on the rush on stage to play for 35 min and rush off which we all know as a drummer sucks hard.

P.S. This board has been flooded with new topics I just randomly hit one the the old pages and found this topic.


New member
Cover bands=work. I play in cover bands but maintain at the moment 2 or 3 original projects. Keeps the sanity.

And listen carefully kids, because this pertains to YOU- You can chase the $100/night gigs FOREVER and I mean like, until you DIE. Always strive to push outside of your normal situation. Best-case scenario- find a group of players that like to do the original thing AND the cover thing. The tighter you can become with one core circle of people will help to develop your success.

And please, learn to spot when the band (or yourself) is circling the drain and have the presence of mind to save yourself from getting sucked down.

Rob Crisp

New member
Right now I'm in an original band, my first. Before it was all covers.

I agree with the comments that good music is good music. We all sit down and play along to our favourite songs just for the hell of it, so why should it matter when you sawp the iPod or CD for a few other band mates and then get paid for it?

I actually miss the days of playing in the cover band. It's a hard job writing, practicing and then playing your own material to a room full of people who may or may not think yours is"good music".

With the covers band, it was turn up, set up and play for a couple of hours. Now it's turn up, some ass hole beats your kit about, you play for 40 mins and then have to pack everything down.

Oh then you get paid a pittance if anything at all.

I'd say it's definitely harder to keep your motivation up in original bands.


New member
Well... our band plays the local clubs here in Dallas/Ft.Worth (that's TEXAS for y'all foreigners :wink: ) We only play for one reason: It's fun!
All the guys in the band are pushing 40, have families and full time jobs, and aren't looking for our 'big break'. There are TONS of cover/tribute bands in the DFW area, and TONS of all original bands too. Personally I like bands who mix it up (like we do). We currently have about a dozen originals and 25+ covers that we mix up depending on the venue and type of crowd that we will be playing for.
Just like screamkevin stated; on any given night I have to reproduce lots of different drummers chops - Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Rush, UFO, Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath, ZZ Top, AC/DC, KISS, etc... all crowd-pleaser's for the local rock bar patron. And when we throw our originals into the mix, the crowd has a tendency to pay more attention to what we are playing. We put on a good show, and get asked to come back and play pretty much 100% of the time... pretty much all that matters.

So anyway, you can check out the originals at the bands myspace:

Peace and beer!


New member
i have played in more than my share of cover bands over the years and this is my take on it.

To be in a steadily working cover band you have to stay on top of your song list which means learning a lot of songs. Over the years, I developed a series of shorthand notations and shortcuts for learning the details of songs quickly and accurately. I used this to my advantage and now when I get called for original gigs and have to learn a set's worth of songs quickly I'm able to use these things to my advantage.

I also learned a lot about music in general... as you are learning these cover songs you start to see different arrangement ideas. Maybe some different beats that you wouldn't normally think of that you can alter and use in other things.

One of the bands I was in did a lot of weddings/banquets...playing the polkas, or doing a set of standards at dinner time. Or bizarre requests that the wedding party had... we ended up playing things and styles that normally i would not have had to do. But in researching this stuff in learning it... I gave myself the ability that I can convincingly play some of these styles now if called upon.

The key to being a full-time musician is being able to play a LOT of different stuff.

So... my point is... the key to enjoying a gig like this is looking at what your gaining. Don't worry so much about it not being your own music or that people aren't listening to YOU. And think of it as would you rather be playing drums and getting paid... or waiting tables.

one final note, people DO go to hear the "songs". BUT if you're good... they'll come see YOU play the songs... and not some other band. They do know the difference.