Blessed by Duality
Hope everyone is doing well. Have a little bit of quiet time, so thought I would post and let you all know the happs…
So a few weeks ago was a busy one for your hero. Not only did my new album “Glamour & Filth” drop Sept 14th on all streaming platforms, the same day I had another fabulous gig as my “alter ego” in Split Decision at the school, then I also had our album release party (finally) on Saturday in Danbury!
After much stressing, posting, promoting and organizing for weeks and months I am happy to report the show went off great! All of the bands sounded great, supported each other, we had a great sound/light show thanks to Jeff and Lisa in Split Decision and in the end we had a nice turnout which restored my faith in the local music scene and gave me a glimmer of hope for the future.
Some pics from Facebook….more plus video on the way this week!
Did we have a packed house and make tons of money? Not at all, in fact to be completely honest after expenses I ended up only spending @ $40 total for the night which to me was a win! We had an open bar, four bands, rented a venue, had a door person (big props to my new friend Dizzy he was a champ!) and no egos or drama at all. I would of loved to have given the bands some money but at the same time I didn’t walk out of the place a few hundred in the hole and everyone who worked as “Staff” were taken care of.
Fortunately, NOT me after the gig!
After the smoke cleared (literally, gotta love fog machines!) and I was home the next day, I started to reflect a bit. I started to think back and realized how fortunate I am these days in the fact that not only do I have a great family and friends, I also am blessed to be able to perform music not only as an original music writer with a kick ass band backing me up, but also being in a kick ass cover band that does a lot of good things so I get the best of both worlds!
If I look back even a year ago, it wasn’t always the case….
For as long as I could remember, especially when I was in my early 20’s really pursuing music as a career, I used to look at cover bands as “beneath me”.
Sure the original bands I was performing in at the time loved to throw in the occasional cover tune from time to time in the set as almost a goof, but I remember a bunch of times while out bar hopping with my friends going into some dive bar or even back in my college years hitting places like Tuxedo Junction I would walk in and there they would be....the cover band
To me it was always the same formula. Stupid band name, bunch of older “alpha male dude bros” wearing a baseball cap or stupid dress type shirt, the “hot chick singer” who basically is there to shake her ass, shake a tambourine and sing some Pat Benatar and they would be playing the sammmmme olllld sonnnnggs. Normally what was sorta popular at the time, mixed with your “Sweet Caroline”, “Brown Eyed Girl”, or some moldy classic rock standard to make drunk people dance. My friends and I if we happen to see one of these groups performing would sit there and goof on every move, the songs, the look, everything.
But that’s the thing, people WERE dancing and singing and having a great old time watching these bands. The place would be packed to the gills and from what I would hear these bands would make some serious money!
For a kid who grew up on a steady diet of punk, hardcore, metal and other heavy music in his teens, who had only played in original bands since 14 and was trying to book gigs playing my own music making $50 maybe for 4-5 members, these bands used to piss me off to no end. I used to hear myself say things like:
“what a bunch of sellouts! they don’t have the talent to write their own music! This is so hack, why do these clubs/bars support this stuff and pay them so much instead of original REAL music!”
As you can probably guess, all of this venom being spewed was coming from pure jealousy. We were doing the same hard work, promotion, hustling and what not just as much as these cover bands, but yet we were playing to 10 drunks in a bar making zero money. But “Slappy and The Happys” cover band always played to a packed house making bank! It used to always make me upset.
So almost a decade ago (gasp!) my wife asked me if I would play bass for a cover band that the teachers of her school were putting together. At this point money was tight and the original band I was in wasn’t doing much at all so I rolled my eyes and agreed. I figured “well, if I do this at least I can play more gigs and make some extra cash while doing so I guess I’ll give it a shot” I thought it would be easy so I said I would do it, but I remember having a huge chip on my shoulder walking in like I was a “professional” helping out some “amateurs”.
As the years followed I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Lets compare the two shall we?
Playing a show as an original artist, you are usually playing with a bunch of other bands, so most of the time you are playing a max of 30 minutes or if you are lucky and headlining maybe an hour tops. Unless you are doing well, most of the time besides the 5-10 friends/fans you brought you are playing songs to people that have no idea who you are or the songs you are playing.
Now performing in a cover band, you are doing 3 sometimes 4 sets of 10-12 songs EACH so that’s a lot of songs to learn! Not to mention unless you are only playing the “oldies” you are constantly adding and changing out songs that have come and gone already in popularity. Sure you are doing the “standards” that never go out of style (and trust me, NO band likes doing these sometimes but you have to) but there’s a lot of songs that you learn, perfect and then you never play them again. The big difference here however is when people come in, friends or not they KNOW what you are playing ahead of time.
Bottom line is, unless you are a supporter of new bands, new music and local original music ...most of the time the average barfly that walks in, if they are going to be getting loud amps in the face while they are hanging out they want to hear something they know and love already.
So with that jealousy and chip on my shoulder coming in, I’ll admit I did not take the cover band seriously AT ALL. I’d walk in not knowing any of the actual riffs, just cheating off the guitar players watching them (thank god I’ve been good at picking up stuff pretty quick and following along to the guitar) and with my drinking in full swing I took cover band practice as just an excuse to get loaded.
It started with splitting a 6 pack with my pal Darrell (who I asked to help us out since we needed a drummer), which turned into “splitting” a 12 pack to having Darrell pick me up for practice because I knew I couldn’t drive. I’d walk in, crack a beer and say “alright what are we playing Pink? Whatever”
I also soon realized that my goal of making “big money and fabulous prizes” wasn’t happening at all. The majority of the gigs we did play were mostly charities for either the town or school. If we did play the occasional bar gig, the way I was drinking more than half of what I would make went back to the bar anyway. You know when you go from ordering beers between sets to ordering beers while on stage? You start to realize you might be drinking way too much.
So after awhile I decided to quit the band and “concentrate more on my own music”. At least that’s what I told them. Honestly both bands were going town the toilet due to my behavior and I needed to just stop.
So after a few years, when I started doing my own thing I would see them play at the school and I would really miss it. I was lucky because they ended up needing a bassist again and I jumped at the chance.
Now after being back in Split Decision for over a year I couldn’t be happier. Once I was able to clean myself up and put my ego aside I am enjoying playing with these super talented musicians more than ever! Everyone is so nice, we look out for each other, support each other and have an absolute blast when we play together!
I will always love writing and performing my own songs, that will never change. But, at the same time I also get to play shows playing covers in a great band to great crowds and for great causes.
I would always say that I don’t do music for the money. So what’s the difference if it’s my own song or belting out Eddie Money? It feels great now to use my talents to help the school or the community and give back.
So whether you are playing covers or originals, regardless you are a MUSICIAN,.Nobody is better than the other.
And sometimes you are doing both which is even better.