Washington Think Tank With W.: Are backing tracks okay?

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My dearest constituents, I beg your pardon. I have neglected you for far too long. In all of my efforts to finish my research into the root cause of motor-vehicle crashes, I have completely forgotten about your needs. I’m certain that your loins have been burning with Think Tank questions, yet I have done nothing but spurn your quizzical advances. Can you ever forgive me?

As an act of recompense, I am opening a user-submitted query to the Think Tank. Today’s question comes from everyone’s favorite chip dip, our beloved Guacamole Jim.

Today’s Question: Are backing tracks okay?

Let me set the mood for you. You’re at a concert in an intimate club venue. You haven’t listened much to the headlining act, but you’ve liked what you’ve heard and are curious to check out how they perform live. As the lights dim and the band comes on stage, you notice that something seems off. It takes you a few songs to place it, but you eventually pinpoint your source of frustration. This band is playing backing tracks for something behind the actual music they’re performing live. It could be lead guitar parts. It could be a bass line. It could be orchestral or key flourishes. It could be vocal tracks. Whatever it is, there very obviously aren’t enough people on stage to be making that sound. How do you feel about it?

I’ve actually experienced something very similar. I’m not a deathcore fan by any means, but when I was single I used to attend every show that came through town out of curiosity and dedication to the scene. One night I went to see Impending Doom at a bar, and somewhere around their third song I realized that the guitarist most definitely wasn’t playing the leads. My mood was soured, and a band I already wasn’t sold on completely lost me at that point. I think it might be interesting to ask why that is.

I think, ultimately, I paid to see band members play their instruments, and there was a sort of complicit dishonesty about playing a taped sound that very obviously couldn’t be reproduced live. It felt very disingenuous to me, as though I had been cheated and sold snake oil. Perhaps you’ve experienced something similar. However, this seems to beg a further question. Is there a circumstance when backing tracks are appropriate? I believe the answer is yes.

I think that backing tracks are a viable solution to bands playing unconventional instruments that they don’t actually have the personnel to play on stage. A violin or piano interlude comes to mind. Another example could be when you have way too many guitar tracks overdubbed on a studio album. A famous example would be the intro to Metallica‘s “Battery.” Typically, the band will let the intro track play then come out to actually kick off the main riff.

 

I’m sure there are some bands that find unique ways around these hurdles. I recall reading somewhere that Rush will typically stage triggers around the stage that the musicians will step on to activate their various additional layers and instruments. It doesn’t quite have the same effect as a live player, but it also doesn’t feel as dishonest as simply having a record played by the sound guy.

Well, what do you think? Do backing tracks bother you? Do you even care? Have you ever been turned off of a band due to backing tracks? Sound off in the comments below!

P.S. Do you have an idea for Think Tank? Send it to toiletovhell@gmail.com! I’d love to collaborate.

Don’t know what the Washington Think Tank is? This is a weekly column where your former President poses a pressing question and allows the top minds at the Toilet ov Hell to investigate his query.

  • MoshOff

    I agree 100%. I saw Within the Ruin’s lone guitarist try to keep up with a second guitar backing track and it was just lame. Like you said, I think intros and the like are fine, but for the most part if you can’t replicate it live without a Macbook, don’t record it like that.

  • Dagon

    I can definitely get behind your opinion on using backing tracks for extra instruments and sounds that the musicians would probably not be able to play themselves. That’s fine.

    Don’t lip sync and don’t use backing tracks for anything else. Fuck you if you do.

  • Dagon

    I would love to hear your opinion on my city’s traffic. I think you would either be fascinated (in a scientific manner) or horrified by it.

  • This is a toughy! Personally, if I am at a show (which is not often) I want to have a good time. If a band wants to use a backing track to sound better in the live setting (ie. vocal backing tracks) I am totally OK with this. But I am less agreeable with guitar backing tracks. Also, keyboard backing tracks are OK.

    In Flames has talked recently about how they wanted to strip down the bigger sound so they were able to pull it off live. Their whole “Soundtrack to Your Escape” era was laced with synths etc that are impossible to play without backing tracks. I.e “My Sweet Shadow”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0D8fG63dnmM

    GL

    • Guacamole Jim

      I do love Sountrack to Your Escape-era In Flames, but I can see how it’d be really difficult to reproduce that sound live (especially since it’s hard to make your drums sound that bad – ZINGER).

      • The whole production on that album was funky. Zing away! Half the song were junk too.

        • Guacamole Jim

          Agreed, but the songs that were on were so fucking on.

  • Tyreeling In The Years

    Hail Rush!

    Those guys deserve to use backing tracks; seriously they are some of the hardest working musicians around. For 3 guys to make the sounds that they do, they definitely deserve it.

    Fucking Flawless live too.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNilsLf6eW4

    • VVayne Brady

      I definitely wasn’t knocking them. I think the way they do it is pretty innovative.

    • I still need to check more Rush albums. But the sound in Moving Pictures is MASSIVE.

      • Tyreeling In The Years

        Man, you are in for one hell of a fun ride. Everything behind that record is pretty fucking great.

        • MoshOff

          I think the 80s records are kinda eh, but Counterparts and Clockwork Angels are both amazing.

          • Tyreeling In The Years

            They certainly got iffy in the late 80’s and 90’s.

          • MoshOff

            Yeah, for some reason I really think Counterparts is the only hidden gem from that period: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNnWEZeJqoc

        • I had a mp3 320k copy of that album and it sounded amazing, despite the format. It was very dynamic, clear, but still warm sounding.

          I’m still amazed of how only three musicians can develop that sound.

          • Tyreeling In The Years

            Yeah, it’s fucking baffling.

        • Akerskronks ov Steele

          HOW THE LIVING BALLCRUSHINGFUCK DOES GEDDY DO IT?!!

          • CyberneticOrganism

            I’ll tell you how. SALESMEN!

          • Akerskronks ov Steele

            aaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAH SALESMEYEN!!!

          • Rubber Balls And Liquor

            Viagra and steroids.

      • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

        You’re going to enjoy it. Rush is awesome.

      • They have a ton of amazing albums. A lot of people didn’t like Caress of Steel very much but for me, I loved it. Everyone has to get down with the Necromancer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JphWi_GOIao

        • more beer

          This album is solid. A lot of people are very mistaken.

    • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

      Rush can do whatever they want. I have no problem with them doing it.

      • I could never get into them. Any album I should check out over another?

        • Enemy Of The Free World

          A farewell to kings/Hemispheres

          • JJM

            stabbed. hard.

        • Rho Stone

          2112, it’s every Rush fan’s favorite number https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va9h4uDYmXQ

          • Tyreeling In The Years

            I always wondered how much Neil Peart’s kit was worth.

          • Stockhausen

            At least, and possibly more than, 20 dollars. This is a true statement.

        • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

          Definitely A Farewell To kings and 2112.

        • Rubber Balls And Liquor

          Check out their Time Machine DVD.

    • JVVG

      Rush live is on my bucket list, but I fear I may never be financially secure enough even to dole out for nosebleed seats. I’m certainly nowhere near there now..

    • My mind can’t even comprehend how Geddy manages to do vocals, bass, and synthesizers without his brain exploding.

  • Eddie Trunk Jr., Floor Tech

    In my opinion it’s not something metal should rely on. In classic rock or pop its fine. Not in metal, especially tech death.

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    No.

  • Maik Beninton
  • Guacamole Jim

    When Dubyah and I were discussing this, I brought up my own experiences. The first time I really realized how bad backing tracks could be was when I saw Katatonia (who I love). There were parts in their show where they would literally stand around while the backing tracks played. This wasn’t as an intro, it was in the middle of songs. Multiple songs. It was irritating to watch, because it totally destroyed the mood.

    The second time was when I saw TesseracT (they’re sweet; bite me). They played everything, which was nice, but the backing tracks were so present it was impossible to tell what they were playing. There were constantly six guitars at any given time, and I couldn’t count how many vocal parts were going on, and yet I only saw one vocalist and two guitarists. At a certain point, I think people just need to calm down and let the live performance be a live performance. It’s not going to sound like the studio, and that’s okay. There are certain things you can do to bring in parts you couldn’t have otherwise played, but when you’re doubling all the instruments that you already have onstage, that’s where I lose interest.

    • Max

      There seems to be a real fear of stripping songs down beyond the conspicuously over-dubbed renditions one hears on the record. I’ve never understood that fear. I’ve always enjoyed hearing the “bare bones” live version.

      Even if your composition absolutely relies on using the four different guitar parts you had on your record when there’s only two axemen in the band, there are still ways around that before resorting to backing tracks – like pitch shifting pedals to handle harmony parts, sample-hold pedals to keep one motif going throughout while you play over it, parallel-wired amps with no distortion to fill in “clean” parts, etc.

      And ask yourself this question: If this song has four guitar parts, which one could it probably do without at any given moment?

  • The backing tracks I can support would be the use of samples from movies and sound effects to add an interesting element to the live experience. Anything else would cheapen it. You laid down those tracks in the studio, you should be able to replicate them live without outside assistance.

    • VVayne Brady

      I’m catching what you’re pitching.

  • EsusMoose

    I think the battery intro being a back track is fine, It’s more up to the musicians being able to either keep up with the track, another important aspect is how dominant the back track is in the mix. If it’s some ambient stuff, some additional synth/melody pieces it probably is alright, once a major section of a song where the band is performing is dependent on the backing track to provide the meat of a portion it’s bad/in poor form

  • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

    I actually quite enjoy snake oil. It’s one of the few acceptable substitutes for greasing the action of an MP 40. No jams! Only kills.

    • EsusMoose

      This just in Dean supports the slaughter of snakes for their oil.

      • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

        This just in: Dean also supports Slaughter (the old school thrash/death band).

        This just in: Dean also supports slaughter (in general).

        • Tyreeling In The Years

          Make way for the Incinerator!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Reichsmarschall Dean von Steel

            Byaaaahhhhhhhh!

            Also, Tyree: Viktor at Daemon Worship said he’s still waiting for the Devouring Star albums to get through customs. I guess he has a big import shipment that’s been hung up for weeks (this is actually pretty common for big import shipments, but it sucks cock nonetheless).

          • Tyreeling In The Years

            Ah, dayum. Thanks for the update man.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            Howard Dean up in the mother fuckin’ hizzy

        • more beer

          You got my vote! On both counts.

        • Rubber Balls And Liquor

          And also supports impromptu uses of ‘Byeah!’.

          (At the BDubs’)
          “How are your wings, sir?”
          “Byeah!”
          “And how’d you like your steak cooked?”
          “Medium Byeah!”
          As the waitress gets all hot and horny and starts stripping on the table.

    • Guacamole Jim
    • makes sense.

    • GO SPEED RACER, GO SPEED RACER, GO SPEED RACER GOOOOO!!!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGfGRnIcmB8

    • Rubber Balls And Liquor
  • I know Animals As Leaders uses a backing track for the bass, which I think they record in-studio.

    • CT-12

      I was gonna mention Animals if they weren’t already brought up; I know they also use a backing track for all the ambient electronics and keyboard stuff in their songs (like at the end of “Tooth and Claw”)

  • In instruments is debatable. For symphonic sounds or other keyboards is a good way to tour cheaper. But, it’s if like in Dark Tranquillity I can’t support the entire thing, it’s just depend in the case.

    I don’t fully support the use of backing vocals. Maybe a choir or something, but no making the chorus or the harmonies just because the other people in the band are just lazy to help with the singing.

    So: lazy bands that use backing tracks are just justifying their laziness and are cheap people that doesn’t deserve the beers.

  • Rho Stone

    I think it’s either you find a way to do your studio tricks live or you skip that song. I’m looking at you Rowing, you could be 4 more minutes of Slaves and Bulldozers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K47iOp6JDqk

  • Tyreeling In The Years

    Now that my Rush praise is out of the way. I don’t agree with them, especially if you are in a band. It works for certain situations, but if they are used to be fucking lazy then then, FUCK OFF!

    • VVayne Brady

      Agreed. Specific circumstances make sense, but one thing to consider for bigger bands is that hiring a touring musician shouldn’t be too hard.

      • Enemy Of The Free World

        That would mean admitting another member to the band and I kind aunderstand why vands choose not to as long as they don’t rely on those parts.

        • VVayne Brady

          True. An example of a band doing it though is Mastodon on the tour for Crack the Skye. They had a guy play keys/synths just on that tour.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            I know Sabaton and Iron Maiden do this too.

          • Rubber Balls And Liquor

            Pffffffffft, they need to dig up Winston Churchill so he can do the opening part to Aces High live!

          • Tyreeling In The Years

            Opeth is the same way. They probably could have toured with backing tracks gut they hired some one to play keyboards.

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            But Opeth has a Keys guy.

          • that’s what HE said. 😛

          • Enemy Of The Free World

            That was a statement which confused this little bear. ‘Cause they added a keys guy right away, when their music started to include keys.

          • Jajajajaja ^ this.

          • Tyreeling In The Years
          • Rubber Balls And Liquor

            They need a keytar guy!

          • Dagon

            Queens of the Stone Age added more and more personnel throughout their career. Alain Johannes (who is an amazing multi-instrumentalist) has played pretty much everything imaginable with them during the Lullabies to Paralyze tour, along with his now deceased wife Natasha Shneider (RIP) on keyboards. He also played rhythm guitar on Them Crooked Vultures.

            Dean Fertita is now a studio and live member of the band handling keyboards, percussion and odd trinkets.

      • CT-12

        “hiring a touring musician shouldn’t be too hard” >>>>> Rwake and Pig Destroyer’s sampler people come to mind

        • PD’s sample guy is a member of the band now I think but he was always playing with them before that.

    • Guitars, bass, amps, drums & mics. That is all.

      • Tyreeling In The Years

        Damn straight.

      • more beer

        Couldn`t of said it better myself.

    • OldMetalHead

      I don’t mind if it’s used for a specific purpose, like the Godzilla roar at the start of BOC’s Godzilla, but it should not be like a member of the band. In W’s example I would have walked.

      • more beer

        But touring with Godzilla isn`t really practical. He would end up setting fire too and crushing the venue, and kill all of your fans. In this case it`s absolutely acceptable.

        • OldMetalHead

          That would be fucking Metal!

          • more beer

            It would be totally metal. But you could only do one tour maybe only one show.

        • Rubber Balls And Liquor

          Hell yeah, and you could get Cloverfield on drums or bass!

  • Paris Hilton

    When you think about it isn’t all music the back tracks to our lives?

  • Enemy Of The Free World

    Generally I don’t like backing tracks.
    But take Whispered for example, they utilize the sounds of a Japanese trad orchestra which Rush couldn’t afford to tour with so it’s more than understandable and OK that they use b.tracks to play those orchestral parts.

    While I would love more bands pull the trigger thing this isn’t possible for many bands because money and the size of the venues they play in.

    Also for big pop stars who are as much about the show as music it’s kinda OK to pull b.tracks in order to pull off the show, even so I’d prefer no backing tracks.

    So basically when it’s necessary for money and logistical reasons it’s perfectly okay. Synths, acoustics and such which would require additional personnel or would make the show otherwise a lot harder is OK. Otherwise no.

    • VVayne Brady

      Actually, in my opinion, a big difference between pop shows and metal shows is that pop shows are a performance where the music is just one aspect. The dancing is a major component too, so some artists will use backing tracks so they can nail the choreography. That isn’t what we as metalheads are likely for, but it does explain some live differences.

      • Enemy Of The Free World

        This is what I wad trying to say, more or less.

        • VVayne Brady

          From your heart to mine, bear-san.

    • Rho Stone

      I think it’d be better if they all found a way. Live music doesn’t necessarily need to sound like the album. I once roadied for a singer songwriter dude I’d never listened to before and even though he didn’t do such a bad job. Then I looked for his stuff on youtube and it was was all wussy boring crap, even though he had a band, backup singers and more onstage. His live show really helped him. I don’t see why big pop acts couldn’t do something like that instead of pressing play on a track, and in cases as Whispered, I really dig their stuff but wouldn’t miss the japanese sounds live. If I wanted it sounding the same as the record, I’d stay home and listen to the record.

      • Some people want the live experience to be identical to the record. These are the same people that prefer to eat at TGI Fridays when visiting a new city.

        • But srs, I love TGI Fridays Chicken Tenders w/Ranch. I go out of way to get those things.

          • VVayne Brady

            *Tendies

          • Da wyfe and eye whent outta eat at the Applebees last Saterday and I gots the tendies. Gawd dayum were they gud. Srs. Tall boy PBR’s only $1.99, son!

          • We’re gonna need a USD to GBP conversion chart in this bitch.

          • STAT

          • Lacertilian

            With a little help from @george_lynch:disqus, we can work this out.
            Chicken tendies are translated in $US, the missing link is how many GBPs per Chicken Tendy. Once this is established, an economy is born.

          • Is saying chicken tendies a real thing?

          • NefariousDude

            It is now

          • NefariousDude

            Duly noted.

          • Tyreeling In The Years

          • NefariousDude

            A good smoke is necessary after a plate of tendies

        • freaking normals. like the venezuelan that go to another country and ends eating in mc’donalds just to taste the difference between burguers and because the price.

          • Dagon

            And then come back home to say that american food sucks. “YOU ONLY ATE AT MCDONALD’S YOU FUCKING SUCKER”

          • NefariousDude

            This reminded me that nefariousgirlfriend put me in the dog house yesterday for going to lo los chicken and waffles for the first time yesterday and not getting a waffle w my chicken.

          • Rubber Balls And Liquor
      • Enemy Of The Free World

        I think a lot of people coming to see an orchestral band would miss the orchetral parts though. Not sure about myself though as I’ve never heard an orchestral band without them.

        As for pop acts it’s the show not just the music.

        But overall I think live show shouldn’t sound like it was the album.

    • Stockhausen

      I enjoy a good “show” being part of a live experience, but I personally can’t stand the emphasis that pop artists put on live production. If the music suffers or isn’t performed live due to the other things you’re doing, don’t do those other things.

  • JamesGrimm

    BOO was pretty bad. no second guitarist.

    • VVayne Brady

      I’ve never really been a fan. What is it with the deathcore acts doing that?

      • Tyreeling In The Years

        They suck. That’s probably why.

      • Guacamole Jim

        It’s been a lot of years, so I could be wrong, but when I saw Despised Icon they played everything. But they’ve got two guitarists, so that probably helps.

    • JASON RICHARDSON WAS A SAINT 🙁

      • MoshOff

        He made the right choice economically.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yj1YiefzpRI

        • PUKE. He has to have hated his options when he got canned. I cannot ding BOO too much. I got into them waaaay back when they first started. Anywho!

        • God dammit. Those vocals are fucking hideous, and not in the positive way. FLUSH.

          • That band is why metalcore is a laughing stock these days.

          • Rubber Balls And Liquor

            There was a time that it wasn’t?

          • Yes, there was, late 90’s – early 2000’s to be exact.

          • Rubber Balls And Liquor

            It’s always been a joke to me.

  • Reposted Avenged Sevenfold Fan

    I’m only thirteen, but I know for sure that I’m going to get tattoos.
    My mom keeps telling me that it’s a bad idea, but she’s against anything I do, to be honest, because I’m not the bright, blonde flower she wanted. I’m a dead, black rose, which will tatooed be on my ankle 😉

    – ? asked 2 years ago

    • I am taking a stab at this: Reposted Avenged Sevenfold Fan is Paris Hilton.

      Thoughts?

      GL

      • VVayne Brady

        Nah, this account was hanging around on The Onion a while ago.

        • I am not convinced. Paris has a way with his (her) words. RASF has a bit of the same flavor. But, who knows!

          • Paris Hilton

            I am not all I appear to be….

      • Guacamole Jim

        whoa

      • I am zzzzzzzz.
        I am Groot.
        I am the Black Wizards.
        I am the State.
        I am Chávez.

      • JJM

        i have a theory, but i’m not saying anything. might ruin someone’s fun!

        • txt it to me. I anxiously await your theory

          GL

          • Dagon

            I am jealous you get to chat with a cunning detective.

      • NefariousDude

        I don’t have enough tin foil on my person for this

      • JVVG

        I think he or she followed one of us from A.V. Club after the creation of Disqus’ new “Recommended Community” function. Any of us who post on both might have inadvertently generated one.

        If that’s true, I’m hoping that AVC’s novelty account that provides long and profound comments on the wrong page will find its way over here.

        W’s theory about The Onion as origin is equally sound, though.

  • RustyShackleford

    If I saw a band using backing tracks for their leads, I would be very disappointed. If a band is a three-piece and just needs some rhythm while the lead guitarist solos and the track is triggered by one of the band members, that doesn’t bother me so much.

  • JamesGrimm

    DT did it well. Subtle and in cahoots with the keyboard.

  • NefariousDude

    I’m cool with audio samples if you cant afford to hire a musician to cover that part(synth leads in metal bands). But leaning on a backing track to actually get you through your performance is straight up posin.

    • Gluteus_Maximus_Rage

      Agree. Electronic samples / noises / some keyboards / synthes = ok. Actual guitar / bass / vocals lines = not ok.

  • Stockhausen

    I was trying to think of something constructive to add, but it turns out everyone has said it about a hundred times already. So I’ll just say that The Body rules, and they can use all the backing tracks they want (because they’ll do it right).

  • Enemy Of The Free World

    Now that we have a think tank there’s no Max to be seen around…

    • Edward/Breegrodamus

      Max is an elusive animal, only bound to his own whims.

    • CT-12

      Max marches to the blastbeat of his own drum

      • Max

        “…staggers unquantizedly to the..”

    • Max

      I AM here! I even got up earlier today! And left a massive rant about Eddie Van Halen and backing tracks. Patience is a virtue, my friend…

  • Boring riffs, boring vocals, playing to cliche styles. But, somehow the production comes together so well. Totally digging this EP.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcDhA4Ad__E

    • JamesGrimm

      this was pretty bad

      • But it just comes together so well! I am astounded by my own interest in it.

    • Guacamole Jim

      Not my jam, but like what you like dude. I listen to worse stuff than this.

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    personally–i think someone could use backing tracks out of their pedalboard -hendrix style–minimallistically—in a fucked up way—but i pretty much dont like them—but you never know

    also—there needs to be federal agents—-giving dubya no charges –in the crimes of 911—-in exchange for his full testimony—against rockefellers,clintons,bush sr

    time for pro u.s.a. feds—-to turn against the black ops portion of the govt

    • How excited are you for a 2016 Hillary run? I anxiously await your response.

      • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

        she’s a weird case—anti u.s.a.–pro agenda 21 puppet—-

        awhile back at yahoo comments–when we were still learning they were fucked up—she responded in a cool “rebellious” way—to an anti u.n./pro netanyahu situation we had going on—

        we were like–“ditch those commies–and get with the truthers”—and she went with the coolness

        but technically—-she is a symptom of the post jfk assassination–fake tv govt bullshit— a strange woman–with a sensory gift–to perceive soulless power

        • Noted friend!

        • your comments–like prose to the ears

          but sometimes—your references are over my head–skynet is real

          terminator is a documentary–not fiction

        • Dagon

          Next one on George Soros please. The world needs to know.

    • Guacamole Jim
      • Enemy Of The Free World

        More like, “Boy, He ejaculated quickly”

    • Hey! Tell señor Obama to not mess with Venezuela! We will defend our country!

      #REVOLUTIONARYVENEZUELA #DOWNWITHTHESICKNESS #ANTIIMPERIALISM #ALLCAPSSOCIALISM

      http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-bIzN-wMz7mg/UF9aqXqjekI/AAAAAAAADNA/mUlCZxq27Sg/s400/chavez-trator-milicias.jpg

    • VVayne Brady

      Guarantee me protective custody and I’ll admit to whatever you want.

  • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

    A few years ago I watched Samael play an entire set without a drummer, only a backing drum track. Idk if that’s their norm these days or what but it was just weird.

    • Enemy Of The Free World

      I seem to recall it’s their norm, they don’t utilize a drummer at all.

      • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

        Ah. I dig some Samael, mainly old stuff of course. I think they were a bit out of place on the bill to begin with (I wanna say they were opening for Napalm Death..?).

      • Guacamole Jim

        Correct. The guy who used to play drums just programs them now. Not sure why they switched, but good on them for sticking with it. It’s kinda cool, in my opinion, but I’m a bit of a fanboy.

  • SUNLIGHTBEARD

    When I saw Amon Amarth play, they had a sample of black birds cawwing. You telling me they couldn’t afford a black bird or two for Amon Amarth? C’mon guys

  • Scrimm

    I don’t mind it if it is part of the way the band always performs, or if they have a reason(like the sudden departure of a member close to a tour) as long as they don’t try to hide it.

  • Edward/Breegrodamus

    Yo homeys I’m about to drive home from work and listen to Mastery’s Valis cause I am off so early <3

  • Max

    I lean strongly toward the “only what’s live onstage” side of this one.

    Many years ago I saw Van Halen. Naturally, the encore was “Jump”. This was when Sammy Hagar wasn’t in the band anymore (ie: the Gary Cherone era) so they didn’t have the possibility of a second guitarist. For whatever reason, Eddie decided to handle the guitar part instead of playing the keyboard part, which appeared to be a backing track.

    Sure, there’s only four members of the band, but I was pretty let down not to see somebody – preferably Eddie – playing the keyboards in a song where they’re so pivotal. Yes, the guitar solo in that song is important too, but the rhythm guitar is, frankly, pretty incidental for most of the mix of “Jump”; so I don’t see how a passable version couldn’t have been rendered by Eddie sticking to the keyboards, perhaps with the guitar solo reinterpreted.

    Another possibility could have been getting Michael Anthony to handle the keyboards since the bassline in that song is also pretty subdued – provided he could learn the keyboard solo, of course.

    Yet another possibility might have been for Eddie to use a guitar-synth ala Judas Priest during the Turbo Era. These days, a guitar synth is basically any ordinary electric guitar that has been fitted with a MIDI pick-up, and hooked up to a synthesizer/sampler/drum-machine/etc. enabling you to play their sounds on your fretboard. The technology’s come a long way since the ’80s and it’s curious that Eddie Van Halen, of all people, hasn’t experimented with it at some point.

    I can’t imagine it would be difficult at all for him to have a guitar-tech switch between the “dry” and “wet” outputs of such a guitar at various cues in the song depending on which is more important. So he could be playing his guitar solo through regular distortion, and then playing his keyboard solo (albeit one re-written for fretboard positioning) on the same instrument right afterward.

    Failing that, there’s always the option of employing a touring keyboardist. Quite possibly that is what I WAS hearing, with the guy offstage. That’s what used to happen in ’80s era Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Personally, I prefer to see all the players onstage, though, to not mistakenly assume that they are some lame backing track. Plus, backing tracks cause their own issues: The band needs to keep time / in tune with them and failing to do so creates a real disaster; whereas with a human keyboardist you’ve got the traditional “let’s all dig ourselves out of this hole together” element.

    The only other prominent example I can think of is Slayer using the recorded intro to “South of Heaven”. That’s not so unethical since it’s just introducing the song (pre-recorded intros to a live set don’t bother me in the least; everybody loves those). But even then, it always seems a bit lame to have Slayer powering through a set, and then when they do that song they’re suddenly offstage with the intro playing like the concert’s starting all over again, and then once they’re back on they’re invariably a bit out of tune with the record.

    • VVayne Brady

      There’s the Max answer I was craving!

  • For me, I don’t really mind if the backing track is something from a keyboard or orchestral in nature. Metal is all about the vocals, guitars, drums, bass for me. As long as those four are played live, I couldn’t care less what is played in the background.

  • J.R.

    I was watching some footage of a Kamelot concert after they got their new singer, and they started in to March of Mephisto…….and it still had Roy’s old backing tracks! Kinda felt bad for Tommy but it was cool to think of the old and the new on stage together bringing the RAWK

    • Guacamole Jim

      For real? I don’t know how I feel about that. On the one hand, I miss Roy Khan a lot. On the other… I’d prefer to have the person they chose to sing, sing.

      • J.R.

        It was pretty goofy. They fixed it by the time I went and saw them.

        but at about the 2 minute mark you can hear Roy’s voice back there.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD6Z9ht9hG4

        the audio is pretty garbage though. that mic picked up not an ounce of the epicness of this song.

        • Guacamole Jim

          SUCH and epic song. SUCH a terrible recording. But still, it made me excited to finally see them live!!

          • J.R.

            At some point or another I’ll upload some of the video I took of them. Turned out pretty sweet! I’m pumped for their new album. Got my preorder in and everything. They’re coming so close to me in May but we just HAVE to be seeing Taylor Swift then. Ugh. Truly this is hell

  • Rubber Balls And Liquor

    I’ll give a pass to Blind Guardian since there’s no way the band could pull off those multi-tracked vocals on their own. Outside of that, no. As W. said, I paid to see the band play live, not to see them doing karaoke.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXW9jVV58Og

  • Formerly Known As Oli Sykes

    It depends, I prefer it when everything is done by the musicians on-stage, but if there is a good reason, it doesn’t make me angry.