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Spazmatics - Is this the new business model for cover bands?


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Being from Cleveland, I have seen this version of the Spazmatics the OP mentioned a few times. The first time was when they played the bar I was working at. I can honestly say it was the busiest night I had there. The place was nut to butt all night.

The second time I saw them, they just happened to be playing the bar I decided to stop at for a brew or two. I wasn't paying much attention to them, but didn't pick up on them playing to tracks. However, I did remember thinking that they did the same schtick at the same time from the first time (the "theme song" from Revenge of the Nerds, same jokes).

They definitely play at all the A list clubs here, and have a decent following. {censored}, they even had a gig at the 15th anniversary bash for a strip bar (how the hell do I get one of those gigs???)

 

That being said, I don't think I would join a band as such. Obviously, the business model works, the pay is great, you get the great crowds, etc...but I would want the wiggle room I have now to change up the set list, add/drop songs, and not HAVE to act like I nerd.

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Wow, wait a minute.


Are you saying that they don't have any musicians playing live? All backing tracks? Like Karaoke? Guys on stage acting like they're playing?


I must have missed that.


I might sing, but I wouldn't act like I was playing an instrument. They wouldn't want me for my singing, though, so I guess it's a wash.
:facepalm:

 

I may be mistaken w/r this outfit (it has been a long time since I've seen them), but I have seen a few "bands" doing this very thing.

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Wow, wait a minute.


Are you saying that they don't have any musicians playing live? All backing tracks? Like Karaoke? Guys on stage acting like they're playing?


 

When I saw saw them, I am pretty sure that they all played live. I was sitting next to the stage, behind the mains, so I was catching stage volume from drums and guitar. Now that doesn't mean there weren't tracks playing FOH...but I was really paying more attention to my honey than the band.

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I think, for me, the question is, "If I could make a living playing this kind of music and performing that kind of schtick, would I do it?


If dressing like a nerd or a nurse or wearing a chicken bucket on my head while playing the same thing 3 or 4 nights a week allows me to quit my day job and still allows me the chance to play what I like on occasion, then I'm in.


To me it's not about wanting that kind of money vs expressing myself through my music. It's about trading a non musical job that I don't particularly care for for a job that wouldn't be my first choice but pays the bills and
is
music related.

 

I can dig that, but no way I'd give up my day gig for that gig, even if you could actually get 78k. Music related or not, I go to work for the dough. Other music related gigs I'd not give up my day gig for include:

 

1. engineer-that would probably destroy my love of music having to record and mix crummy musicians while pretending they are recording some profound musical statement.

 

2. booking agent: trying to warrant the reliability of perhaps the most un reliable people on the planet

 

3. backing a mid level name act: see my post above

 

4. Corporate top 40 band: worse than #3

 

5. Manager: see #2

 

Really the only music gigs I think are really great careers (if you can do it)are being a name act(or an intergral part of one), being a top level session player, film/video game or advertising composer, orchestra member, producer, or a college professor.

Not that many other gigs aren't rewarding, but those are the ones that come to mind as far as giving up my day gig. Unfortunately, or not, none of those have exactly panned out for me :cry:

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If dressing like a nerd or a nurse or wearing a chicken bucket on my head while playing the same thing 3 or 4 nights a week allows me to quit my day job and still allows me the chance to play what I like on occasion, then I'm in.

 

Bonus points for the Buckethead reference. Yeah, I'm with ya. It's gotta be better than sitting in this cubicle and filling out TPS reports.

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I think that's the core question. Who would play in a band like the Spazmatics? Assume the following:


1.) They gig regularly for $1500 a night. It's a 5 piece (I'm guessing) so your cut is $300 a night.

2.) They play to full houses of young, attractive, fun-loving people.

3.) You are given sheet music for 50 songs and expected to learn it note for note.

4.) You play it basically the same way every night except where noted in the sheet music for ad lib playing.

5.) You are expected to stay in character (NERD) while on stage.


For me, I'd be cool with it except for the acting like a nerd part. I just don't think I'd do a convincing job. I don't know if I have the energy to keep that up all show. Other than that, it sounds like a pretty good gig. I'd consider it for my "work" band.

 

Some bad assumptions. Looking at the agency's calendar, I'd say these bands are playing 3 times a week, except for the Vegas group.

 

Assuming $1,500 a night might be the going rate in LA or Vegas, but I bet they're getting a lot less, especially on week nights.

 

I doubt there's an even cut, since the lead singer was the SHOW. In fact, when he stepped down in the middle of the set and let the other two sing, there was a total let down -- the crowd didn't applaud those songs, etc...

 

And what about paying their agents, managers and crew? I would be surprised if the singer made $75K a year (and he was a really good singer!!), and the sidemen might gross $50K. Hi burnout factor too, I bet.

 

The conversation has morphed to "Is this better than my crummy day job?" and everyone has to have their own take on that. For me, luckily, the answer is no. I have a great job with great benefits. (I doubt this agency is paying health care, 401K, etc.)

 

I like playing in a cover band.... but the thought of playing songs I really despise the same way night after night, while "wearing the shoes of a clown" (Feats reference) would not be my idea of a fun move or a career move.

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Actually, The Nerds are just one band. They don't franchise themselves out. I've seen them MANY times and haven't seen anyone but the same 4 guys playing.
www.the-nerds.com


The band mentioned earlier, Metal Shop, who then became Metal Skool then Steel Panther. I saw these guys in LA recently. Their guitarist is one of the nastiest lead players I've seen in a while. You can't say these guys don't have talent. They play alot of covers of 80's glam metal but also write original songs too. Again, always the same players. Look up Steel Panther on Youtube, you'll see these guys (while they do use alot of backing tracks) are really good players too.

 

I'm pretty sure that Steel Panther is an actual band with actual players (which used to be called Metal Skool). According to Wikipedia they're an 80's cover/tribute/parody band.

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Very entertaining and sad thread at the same time. I like live music for many reasons that vanish in a track.

 

Not many of us are playing 5 nights a week. Most of the groups I know out here are lucky to be playing nearly 3 nights a week steady. (And the pay generally stinks.)

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I can't speak to the Cleveland Spazmatics, but the Austin Spazmatics make a LOT more than $1500 playing here on Wednesdays. They literally pack a 400-500 person club to the point of there being a line from 10pm-1am and get a $5-$10 cover charge.

 

Having said that I'm very conflicted about my feelings for the band. On an individual level, if you can earn a living as a musician today I'm happy for you. On a musician level, playing with tracks is just {censored}ing lame period. Not to mention getting a Spazmatics franchise as opposed to a Subway or an Arby's is equally lame.

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Having said that I'm very conflicted about my feelings for the band. On an individual level, if you can earn a living as a musician today I'm happy for you. On a musician level, playing with tracks is just {censored}ing lame period. Not to mention getting a Spazmatics franchise as opposed to a Subway or an Arby's is equally lame.

 

I played Saturday nite for a couple hundred folks with my 3 piece band using backing tracks for the first time where I played all the instruments (mostly keyboards and a few background vocals), recorded, produced and mastered on my own and the crowd absolutely ate it up. My sound guys thought it was cool as hell. There were a few musicians in the crowd who also thought it was neat.

 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think backing tracks are fine as long as they are YOURS and not some 'cut and paste' of other peoples music.

 

Times are a changing folks. Tracks/Effects/Stomp Boxes/ etc. are all just TOOLS to help put on a better show. I would LOVE to find and hire and good keyboard guy/gal who could also sing backup harmony vocals but until I do, I'll do whatever I have to do to keep an audience. Hey, if it's 'OK' for major national touring acts to use 'em, I guess they are 'OK' for me too!

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I think they're pathetic, and they make it harder for cover bands that actually spend time as a group marketing themselves, making a name for themselves, and playing all the music.

 

Bands like them and Disco Inferno really make me sick...and it's everything that's wrong with the "Cover" industry today.

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I can't speak to the Cleveland Spazmatics, but the Austin Spazmatics make a LOT more than $1500 playing here on Wednesdays. They literally pack a 400-500 person club to the point of there being a line from 10pm-1am and get a $5-$10 cover charge.


Having said that I'm very conflicted about my feelings for the band. On an individual level, if you can earn a living as a musician today I'm happy for you. On a musician level, playing with tracks is just {censored}ing lame period. Not to mention getting a Spazmatics franchise as opposed to a Subway or an Arby's is equally lame.

 

Lame is a matter of perspective. One could argue that playing originals to a handful of barflies is lame.

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Lame is a matter of perspective. One could argue that playing originals to a handful of barflies is lame.

 

 

Hey, I just realized that I prefer to play "One Way Out" the way Greg Allman did it rather than the way Sonny Boy Williamson II and Elmore James origianally played it back in the early 60's. I also prefer to use an electric guitar and Marshall amp. Is that 'lame' and 'not real?' Does that mean that Greg Allman is 'lame' and 'not real' too?

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LOL. Ok Sex Panther. You're right, the "Cover Industry" is really going down the tubes. LOL.

 

Yes. It is. You have people busting their asses practicing and marketing themselves, and whoring out to bar owners to get paying gigs, and then random musicians show up to play along to backing tracks at gigs.

 

It's not even the same guys. If you go and see the Spazmatics...and then go a month later...you see the same exact show, but more than likely it'll be different people on the stage. They're the Wal-Mart of the Bar scene.

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Yes. It is. You have people busting their asses practicing and marketing themselves, and whoring out to bar owners to get paying gigs.

 

It's just funny listening to someone complain about how the good ole days of "The Cover Industry" are gone, especially when their name is Sex Panther.

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Yes. It is. You have people busting their asses practicing and marketing themselves, and whoring out to bar owners to get paying gigs, and then random musicians show up to play along to backing tracks at gigs.

 

You are implying that anyone who uses backing tracks could not possibly work as hard as a group that doesn't?

 

Not a very strong argument there, bub. :cop:

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Lame is a matter of perspective. One could argue that playing originals to a handful of barflies is lame.

 

A-Freaking-Men.

 

Having done both covers and originals, I can say that each one has it's own periods of lameness as well as their own periods of coolness. Or fun factor, or "This is the best thing ever!" or whatever...

 

:p

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I played Saturday nite for a couple hundred folks with my 3 piece band using backing tracks for the first time where I played all the instruments (mostly keyboards and a few background vocals), recorded, produced and mastered on my own and the crowd absolutely ate it up. My sound guys thought it was cool as hell. There were a few musicians in the crowd who also thought it was neat.


I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think backing tracks are fine as long as they are YOURS and not some 'cut and paste' of other peoples music.



Times are a changing folks. Tracks/Effects/Stomp Boxes/ etc. are all just TOOLS to help put on a better show. I would LOVE to find and hire and good keyboard guy/gal who could also sing backup harmony vocals but until I do, I'll do whatever I have to do to keep an audience. Hey, if it's 'OK' for major national touring acts to use 'em, I guess they are 'OK' for me too!

 

You Sir,win the self quote abuse award :) Just keep saying it enough and it will all come true.... NOT! It may be kareoke performance but NO Tracks weather your own hard work or others will ever qualify as a Live Band & I'll say it loud & proud ( "This opinion was sequencer , backing track & looper free) :) LIVe keys rule dude!

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This is a great thread. I get both sides of the argument too.

 

On one side, you've got a musician who is infuriated that some homogenized, manufactured, product... is making them obsolete. Anger, fear, what else... the injustice of it all.

 

On the other side you got a musician who's working his ass off to meager ends and looks at the Spazmanian Devils and thinks... "Hey $$$, that's $$$ kinda $$$ cool."

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A-Freaking-Men.


Having done both covers and originals, I can say that each one has it's own periods of lameness as well as their own periods of coolness. Or fun factor, or "This is the best thing ever!" or whatever...


:p

I've done covers and originals as well and I agree on both having their own degree of lameness and awesomeness.. but there is an element to showing up, getting in costume, playing with backing tracks, following your bosses set list and having the same between song banter every track which feels very UN-rock-and-roll to me. When you have a script which you follow between songs its just... eh... cant put it into words but thats not why I picked up a guitar.

 

AGAIN - I know how tough it is to make a living in music so I'm not begrudging ANY member of ANY of those bands for doing what they do and I support their right to make enough to live like human beings its the concept which I don't support.

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...but thats not why I picked up a guitar.


 

Well sure, that's true. When I stopped gigging and got into audio, it was because of music. This was 18 years ago. I'm 48 now and I wanted to stay close to music as I got older. Audio! Well guess what, I make my living doing Telephony! That's telephone audio folks. That is not why I studied acoustics, learned about digital theory, etc. That's not what I had in mind.

 

But I'm happy. Real happy. I get to record albums for people that I want to work with in my personal studio. Because I make enough money to do that. The Spazmanian Devils get to record their punk opera they've always dreamed of recording if they want. Because they can afford to.

 

I understand that it's too close to rock and roll for comfort. And the fact that it's so close and yet so far away really bugs... but you probably didn't pick up the guitar dreaming of Top Ramen either.

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You Sir,win the self quote abuse award
:)
Just keep saying it enough and it will all come true.... NOT! It may be kareoke performance but NO Tracks weather your own hard work or others will ever qualify as a Live Band & I'll say it loud & proud ( "This opinion was sequencer , backing track & looper free)
:)
LIVe keys rule dude!

 

Yeah, right. I can tell by the way you write that you're probably not capable of recording a backing track.

 

Just 'being real', dude!

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