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Comping in a cover band - how far is too far?


Griffinator

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So I'm assembling a cover band, centered primarily around the female vocalist, secondarily around as much f*** music as we can perform as possible.

 

Question is, am I demanding too much of the keys man, asking him to comp through songs that had no keys in the original? (this sort of extends forward from the AC/DC thread)

 

I'm going to offer a list of songs that were all guitar/bass/drums, and I'd like you to tell me what you would find "comp-able" and what you'd find off the deep end, along with what I hear in the back of my head as potential comp-ability...

 

Links provided for the more obscure stuff. ;)

 

First batch - Hammond, fat and distorted or laid back and mellow as appropriate:

 

Heart - "Barracuda"

Concrete Blonde - "Joey"

Aerosmith - "Walkin' The Dog"

James Gang - "Walk Away"

Joan Jett - "I Love Rock 'n' Roll"

U2 - "Bullet the Blue Sky"

Scorpions -

Led Zeppelin - "Immigrant Song"

Foo Fighters -

Alannah Myles - "Black Velvet"

 

Next batch is songs that could function with some drippy DX7-type patches...

 

Weezer -

(this is strictly a maybe, and could probably function as well with a thick B3 patch)

Ugly Kid Joe - "(I Hate) Everything About You"

Warrant -

(again, something that would do probably as well with a funky B3)

 

Now, before you quit the band, there are plenty of bones for the keys to gnaw on, such as:

 

- Van Halen - "Why Can't This Be Love"

- Deep Purple - "Perfect Strangers"

- Journey - "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'"

- Chicago - "25 or 6 to 4" (the possibilities are endless)

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I'd analyze the song and see if a keyboard part would fit or try to use my imagination, most of those songs would be ok with Hammond or RnR piano or Wurly or distorted clav.

 

I would play the rhythm guitar part. Maybe give him some solo opportunities to keep it interesting?

 

It really depends on the keyboard player. The reason I pointed you to Gov't Mule is that they do that and Danny Louis can make the parts sound great where you might not thought a keyboard part would fit. Look at it as a challenge, it might be difficult at first, but could get really cool results!!

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I'd analyze the song and see if a keyboard part would fit or try to use my imagination, most of those songs would be ok with Hammond or RnR piano or Wurly or distorted clav.

 

I would play the rhythm guitar part. Maybe give him some solo opportunities to keep it interesting?

 

It really depends on the keyboard player. The reason I pointed you to Gov't Mule is that they do that and Danny Louis can make the parts sound great where you might not thought a keyboard part would fit. Look at it as a challenge, it might be difficult at first, but could get really cool results!!

 

Gotcha.

 

Let me emphasize here that, although I do play keys (and am sympathetic to other players) I'll be playing lead guitar and leading this band, which is why I'm soliciting this opinion regarding whether I'm asking too much to comp all this crazy s***

 

- Oh - and yeah, I intend to pass plenty of solos his way to keep him interested, too....

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I'd say the keys player's level of interest in comping some of those tunes would vary from every one of ours, depending on whether we have played these tunes many times before.

 

I would be hard pressed to want to mess up Immigrant Song or Barracuda with keys.

Moe

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Let me emphasize here that, although I do play keys (and am sympathetic to other players) I'll be playing lead guitar and leading this band, which is why I'm soliciting this opinion regarding whether I'm asking too much to comp all this crazy s***

 

- Oh - and yeah, I intend to pass plenty of solos his way to keep him interested, too....

 

Well, if I was making my living playing keys, then yeah -- I would emulate the esteemed kanker and say: "How much does the gig pay".

 

But I'm not making my living playing keys. This band's repertoire would be a red flag of boringness for me from what you've said so far. Unless there is some huge factor I haven't heard yet that would make it a desirable gig for me, I would pass on it.

 

YMMV, of course.

 

--Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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I would be hard pressed to want to mess up Immigrant Song or Barracuda with keys.

 

^^^^^^^^^ Yeah, that too for sure ^^^^^^^^^

 

--Dave

 

Ditto here. Some songs I think you'd want the keys player to lay out. What about finding someone who plays keys and rhythm guitar? Quite a few folks around who do that ...

Original Latin Jazz

CD Baby

 

"I am not certain how original my contribution to music is as I am obviously an amateur." Patti Smith

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c'mon. . .almost two hours up and still missing my favorite KC klassic response. Anyone? Bueller?

 

Dave Pierce has you covered. :D

 

Well, if I was making my living playing keys, then yeah -- I would emulate the esteemed kanker and say: "How much does the gig pay".

 

Unless there's another classic response you had in mind ...

Original Latin Jazz

CD Baby

 

"I am not certain how original my contribution to music is as I am obviously an amateur." Patti Smith

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If I "HAD" to come up with keyboard parts for tunes on that list, or at least those genre of tunes that typically have no keys, I'd likely do the following and make them my own:

 

Heavy rock tunes: There's always room for some tasty distorted Hammond, used with the right voicings.

 

Funky tunes: Clavinet can always be used and can play rhythm guitar with the best of them. I often also use a rhodes with a little flange and maybe some distortion and play some real funky comping stuff. Never miss that 2nd guitar.

 

Lighter tunes that need to breathe a little: Piano or Rhodes.

 

I'd stay away from patches that might be considered "unnatural" in the environment of those kinds of songs, assuming your being fairly faithful to the original. Strings, lush thick pads, synth sweeps, would all be no-no's for me. All bets are off if you're doing a Kate Bush-esque version of "Black Dog". Then feel free to fire up your best Fairlight patches and wail away.

 

Lastly, like some others here, I'd likely pass on that gig also, unless I really needed the income from it.

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I'd use a clav sound on Immigrant Song (did that before in a band) and probably a wurlie type sound on Black Velvet. I think any decent player could come up with interesting parts that don't take away from the vibe of the original. Some of those songs are clearly 2 guitar songs, and it doesn't always work having only 1 guitar and keys covering them. At worst, you try them out and if they don't work, scrap them for something else that might work.

 

As a player, I'd probably not be real interested in a gig like this. There is enough work out there for situations that are more key oriented and more challenging.

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I would be hard pressed to want to mess up Immigrant Song or Barracuda with keys.

 

^^^^^^^^^ Yeah, that too for sure ^^^^^^^^^

 

--Dave

 

Ditto here. Some songs I think you'd want the keys player to lay out. What about finding someone who plays keys and rhythm guitar? Quite a few folks around who do that ...

 

I was actually considering being that guy until a keys man from FL dropped into my lap last week.

 

My only problem is, "lead" guitarists around here tend to be real fatheads who like to step all over everyone else in the band. Me? I'm more the "lay back and let everyone else shine" type.

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My only problem is, "lead" guitarists around here tend to be real fatheads who like to step all over everyone else in the band. Me? I'm more the "lay back and let everyone else shine" type.

 

Then you would be the "lead guitarist" from heaven! So many of your guitar brothers could take a lesson from you in this regard!

Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
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It depends. First, how close do you want to stay to the originals? There are some cover bands who try to nail the sound, feel, and notes of the original tune, and there are some who just play the song in their own way. (Then there are some who really make it their own, such as the aforementioned Gov't Mule.)

 

Second, it depends on the keys player. As some have posted above, some players would see the list and cop a walk. Others would see it as a challenge and come up with keyboard parts where there were originally none and have fun with it. (Then there are guys like me who would want to do that, but only have ideas for some songs and not for others. :D )

 

(I hope no one takes offense at the above paragraph. I get that there are different approaches to playing keys, and I'm just pointing them out.)

 

One of the bands I play with does this. Every cover song we play ends up sounding like us, and how close it sounds to the original just depends on what we happen to do with it or what crazy ideas the band leader has. My own old band did some songs that were originally keyboard-less such as Yer Blues, and Jesus Just Left Chicago, and those were mainly my suggestion. I also wanted to do Dazed and Confused but we never got to it. There were only one or two songs we did that I could never figure out a KB part for.

 

Lastly, maybe let the KB player also suggest some tunes that he wants to play and he'll be happy. :thu:

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Lastly, maybe let the KB player also suggest some tunes that he wants to play and he'll be happy. :thu:

 

That's a no-brainer - I'm going to be convening the group in 2 weeks to fill out the rest of the set list (we have about 35 songs on there right now) and it will definitely be a democratic process, limited only by whether the singer (who has a confirmed 4+ octave range) can manage it.

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Cool. Sounds like you're going to have a fun band here. I'd like to see/hear where it goes.

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Maybe it was the '80's "synth" bands that gave people the impression that keys were not compatible with rock. I played in a few band where the keys had great equipment, even a real B-3, but had no idea what to do in a 3 chord blues, or a simple funk jam. As a non-keys player I'd like to make two suggestions for a keys player who is building a musical vocabulary:

 

1. Have the keys listen to a lot of '70's classic rock, like Deep Purple, Rainbow, early Journey with Gregg Rolie, Inner Secret from Santana (IIRC, Don Airey), for hints at how keys and hard rock can mix. Zep's later albums have prominent keys,

and there was some guy named Fitz who played for Sammy Hagar, Night Ranger, Ozzy, and a few others, always the right amount in the songs.

 

2. For the funk, and everythign else; Sly Stone, Bernie Worrell (P-funk in all it's various and sundry incarnations, as well as the Talking Heads album "Stop Making Sense"), Earth, Wind, and Fire, the Gap Band, Little Feat's Waiting for Columbus album, Garth Hudson of The Band. Ohio Players, not a key-centric band, but if the keys can get the idea of the horn parts, he'll have plenty of material to draw from; Ray Charles, Rufus, Mother's Finest (live album) and Motown; all should give the keys a good idea of what to play (more importantly, what not to play) for whatever style you're looking at performing.

"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet

 

Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.

 

 

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I'm not in a band environment like others on this Forum are, but as a OMB that sequences classic rock songs, I'm a KB player doing the majority of songs that are guitar oriented songs. My main emphasis has been on vocals and using a harmnonizer so I could do songs that normally requires 3 singers, not one. That said, the above post that suggested avoiding comping that does not sound natural in a song is a good one. I primarily play Wurly sounds in CCR songs, mirror the rhythm guitar parts and double some of the signature parts without stepping on them or over powering them. In other words, be part of the wallpaper musically.

 

 

Mike T.

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I would be hard pressed to want to mess up Immigrant Song or Barracuda with keys.

You should try it. :cool:

 

I play a fat, snappy synth brass patch during Immigrant Song, doubling the guitar line. Sounds killa, and is a lot of fun to play, especially hitting those C chords at the end. :)

 

dB

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:keys:==> David Bryce Music • Funky Young Monks <==:rawk:

 

 

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My only problem is, "lead" guitarists around here tend to be real fatheads who like to step all over everyone else in the band. Me? I'm more the "lay back and let everyone else shine" type.

 

Then you would be the "lead guitarist" from heaven! So many of your guitar brothers could take a lesson from you in this regard!

 

Being a multi-instrumentalist teaches you a lot about how much space everyone needs. ;)

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I would be hard pressed to want to mess up Immigrant Song or Barracuda with keys.

 

^^^^^^^^^ Yeah, that too for sure ^^^^^^^^^

 

--Dave

I recently played in a Heart tribute band that had only one guitar, and I found a way to make keys work on Barracuda, although what I did was rather sparse, until the end. During the verses, I punched in some accents using an airy patch from my D-550, and used some high single-note string lines during some sections. At the end, during the guitar solo, I did the "doom da da doom da da doom" rhythm part using a heavy acoustic strings patch in the lower register, and octaves in the mid-upper range for the three accents/hits at the end of each line for the outro. I thought it added a complimentary part that contributed to the dramatic effect of the ending.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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I play guitar so I wouldn't mind this gig. But if I didn't I would only do this gig if I was desperate. I was in a band with 2 guitars & with the grunge really happening they wanted to start doing a bunch of Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, etc. I warned them if they wanted to become a guitar band, I would quit.

 

I've been talking to some buddies about getting a band going. In the song list was a bunch of April Wine & Tragically Hip, obviously guitar bands. I plan on playing guitar in these tunes.

Steve

 

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You say you have a keys player so I would think his opinion matters most at this point. But one should also plan for succession. Keyboard players are typically hard to find, and a set list that's 30% not keyboard friendly would make it substantially harder.

 

In my head, I've always heard heavy B3 on Walk Away. Barracuda seems kind of unimaginable. A band that played Weezer and Warrant would likely just be not my kind of band, but that's just me.

Gigging: Crumar Mojo 61, Hammond SKPro

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Like someone mentioned, it depends on how faithful you want to be to the originals...and that's always a fine line. If the group is into making these songs your own, you can use any damn instrument you want and make it interesting.
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In my head, I've always heard heavy B3 on Walk Away. Barracuda seems kind of unimaginable. A band that played Weezer and Warrant would likely just be not my kind of band, but that's just me.

 

I hear ya. This isn't material that would be in my music rotation, but good strong beats get asses moving on the floor in the bars I usually play, and both those songs fit the bill.

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