The music industry – and its fans – have changed. Guest writer, Freddie Mack of Liquid Meat fame, takes to Cat on the Wall to explain his views on the industry, the people, the music and more…
As musicians, we’re all influenced by certain bands and certain other musicians. Wanting to play like them is an admirable goal, but wanting to sound like them is another matter!
Think of all the legendary bands that are usually listed as influences:
Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, The Doors, Cream, Queen, The Who, Motörhead, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc…
If you think about it, the only two things they have in common are:
- That they’re bands
- That they’re well known
From a musical stand point, none of them sound like the other. Most of these bands are likely to have a very similar list of influences: early blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Just as most of us see them today. Even the “newer” bands that have managed to stick around – they all have a unique sound: Queens Of The Stone Age, Foo Fighters, anything to do with Jack White, etc…
I get it! As a teenager, you get introduced to these rebellious bands, one in particular speaks out to you, and you want to reproduce everything they stand for… the look, the feel, the sound, the lifestyle.
What I think should happen is simple: you get better at your instrument, you find your own voice, and that’s what you should present to an audience. By better, I don’t mean a trained musician: once your fingers can support themselves holding the power chord, you’re good to go! However, these days, even bands in their 20s – and sometimes their 30s – set out with the mindset “I want to sound like…” What’s the point? That band already existed, you and I know that you won’t do a better job than they did, and, in the end, you’re not bringing anything new to the table – and you’re not showing people your own voice.
I always touch on the subject of authenticity, because that’s the cornerstone of rock ‘n’ roll; along with the ‘fuck you’ attitude. Think about this, none of these bands were radio friendly when they came out. It’s only because of a thriving live music scene that bands were able to build an audience, record companies took notice, and facilitated, legally or not, airplay on radio stations.
These days, all of these bands are played constantly, each and every day. Just remember, they didn’t get there because they tried to sound like other bands on the radio – they got there by creating their own style of music, constantly playing shows, and, let’s not forget, just being really great musicians that put in the work needed to make them that incredible.
Naturally, it’s a long journey to find your own sound. Hell, I’ve been in one band for 14 years, and my style constantly changes here and there. I’m not a virtuoso, I’m not someone who practices his scales every day, I’m not a trained musician, therefore, compared to musicians in the list above, my journey has taken a lot longer. However, since the day I started writing music, I only created music that came out of me naturally. Since I’ve been on stage, my music has been compared to Motörhead, The Stooges, Dead Kennedys, Pantera, AC/DC, ZZ Top, etc… that list is very diverse, and everyone hears something different in my music. I consider that a job well done. I didn’t want to sound like a specific band, but take all my influences and create something original. If I accomplished anything, it is exactly that. My various influences can be picked out, but I don’t specifically sound like any of them. People just like to draw comparisons and then find some band to tie you to.
I know it’s nice to idolize bands, but don’t try to recreate them. That band had their sound, and they made it. Just cause they made it with their sound, doesn’t mean you will make it trying to sound like them. Actually, in my opinion, you’ll have less of a chance to “make it” trying to copy a sound, because people who know about music will just say: this already existed, only better. “Making it” is on such a slim chance, anyway… so why not just bet on yourself and your voice? Let’s not forget, music is art! Even if you decide to make art that’s commercial, at least make it your own.
If a painter is into Picasso, and then makes shittier versions of Picasso paintings, do you think anyone will give a shit?