They’ve sold countless records, toured the world and appeared on the cover of just about every rock magazine you can think of. Meet Rock Sound’s top secret band insider…
The alternative scene always used to be like, ‘I hate pop stars, they can’t even play their own instruments’. Now? The pop stars seem to be playing as many of their instruments live as some of the top metal bands in the world.
There are bands miming, playing to a super intrusive backing track... there are so many production things going on which mean bands aren’t playing live anymore. I’ve seen a band on Warped Tour play where even the screamer couldn’t scream. His vocals were coming out of the PA, and I was like, ‘This is insane. If you can’t even make that sound with your voice, you have no fucking chance’.
There was a pretty infamous Reading Festival set the other year when a backing track basically rendered a well-known vocalist useless. Everybody thought they were miming, and regardless of whether they were or not (I don’t know if they were) it didn’t seem to bother anybody. A few days later I was on Twitter and saw somebody criticizing them for miming, then I went to the comments and 90 per cent of people were saying, ‘It doesn’t matter, the production was awesome’. It just makes me sad, because at that point there’s no reason to even go to a show, you can just sit at home and listen to a CD and look at some flashing lights on a laptop.
They must have recorded that vocal, so just try it instead of miming it or pulling the microphone away from your face and pointing it at the crowd.
To me, the only reason to mime is a lack of talent. Being unfit and not being able to sing properly and run around for an hour and a half is not an excuse for miming.
People are like, ‘I’ve got to be on the drum riser by the end of this verse because that’s when the lights hit it and I’ll be lit across the room with my arms out’. They’re thinking, ‘That’s the moment people will remember’, but the moment people remember is when you fuck up a note but everyone else drowns it out because they love the song. The moment is when you slide across the stage or pass the microphone into the crowd or fall over or climb something.
It’s never going to be perfect. The point of a live show is that it’s not perfect, it’s imperfect and it’s human and it’s memorable. The bits where a vocalist fucks up the name of the city and makes a joke about it, the bits where bands and the crowd actually show that they’re human together, that’s what I feel people want from shows. That way, you can see a band three times in two years and have a different experience every single time.
If you go to a show and it sounds exactly the same as the album, what’s the incentive to go back and see that show again? We’re in the age now where people are just famous and people just want to go and see famous people. Kids want to pay $30 or $40 to spend 15 seconds with somebody, and a lot of these kids don’t know any different. Those same people will probably see a great live band and say, ‘These guys don’t sound like the album, they’re terrible’.
I just feel sad for the kids who are just getting into rock music, because they aren’t seeing brilliant, insane live sets any more. I remember being a kid and going to shows and being excited that I wasn’t going to hear the CD quality music. There was going to be weird notes, bands were going to change songs up, it was going to feel more raw and more human. Now, bands spend so much fucking money on lights, screens, backing dancers... all of this shit. And they’re so scared of ‘wasting’ that money that they daren’t be out of time or out of tune, so they don’t even bother to play live anymore.
There are bands who were raw and gutsy and real, but there are fewer and fewer of them. letlive. used to be breathtaking to watch, you can go on YouTube and see footage of bands playing record stores and trashing everything. It felt like it was a coming together of the band and the crowd at every single show. You’d see everybody having a good time together and connecting, but now so many bands are on time codes and daren’t do anything or speak for too long between songs because then they’ll be out of time with the computers they’re playing with. It’s genuinely heartbreaking, and it’s not a show any more. It’s a performance. It’s like going to a Broadway show, not a concert.
And then because big bands do it, smaller bands think that’s what they should be doing even before they’re playing in arenas. Now we have bands playing tiny shows and everything is artificial, and people act like this is the way it’s supposed to be. If you can’t just go into a show with two guitars, a bass, drums and a voice and play, to me it feels like you’re not a rock band, you’re fucking performance artists.
You’re sacrificing the music, which is what people are supposed to give a shit about. Now, people are spending the whole time recording lights on their phones because they don’t give a shit about the music.
Oh, and one more thing; hey bands, if you’re thinking about doing synchronized dance routines, just don’t! It’s that easy.
You don’t hear bands say, ‘Fuck pop bands’, because half of them want to be pop bands. There’s no edge to it any more. Where’s the fun? There are no bad guys, everybody is so scared of saying the wrong thing that we all pretend to be friends with each other. Everything is too safe. If there were bands who spoke their minds, bands who didn’t choreograph their sets, people who did actual rock ‘n’ roll, this world would be so much more exciting.
Yeah, if there was actual rock ‘n’ roll in rock ‘n’ roll now, everything would be so much more interesting. Because at the moment it’s missing.