“If you can’t play your s**t, then why the f**k are you onstage?”: Mudvayne frontman Chad Gray voices opposition to live backing tracks
Gray says people who pay to see artists who use backing tracks are getting “shafted”.
Mudvayne’s Chad Gray. Credit: Jeff Hahne/Getty
Mudvayne frontman Chad Gray has added his voice to the chorus of musicians decrying bands who use backing tracks.
While it’s accepted that it’s necessary to use backing tracks to replicate instruments that aren’t on stage, such as orchestral elements or synths, the idea of a band using backing tracks to replace their own parts has sparked debate.
Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian has said he “really doesn’t care” about whether bands use backing tracks or not, while on the other side of the fence, Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor has recently denounced the use of backing tracks in live shows, saying there’s “no way” he could rely on them because “there’s no heart to it”.
Now, Gray has had his own say on the matter in a new interview with Syncin’ Stanley. “I think it’s an epidemic, man. I really do,” he begins. “I think it’s crazy that what’s happened in the past happened in the past, like the Milli Vanillis of the world. That band was fucking dead the second they did that. Ashlee Simpson, when she did what she did on Saturday Night Live, that girl was absolutely lambasted, like she was the goddamn devil and all the things.
“There’s so many huge artists that do it or whatever, and it’s really frustrating, coming from a dude that doesn’t do it. I would never have backing vocals or lead vocals, and I know that people do lead vocals and stuff. I’ve actually toured with bands where I’ve watched their soundcheck and there’s so much goddamn track coming down the pike, it’s like — it sounds like the album. It’s crazy. Vocals, guitars, guitar overdubs, everything. It’s insane.
“But there’s a part of it, like, I kind of feel like, do you wanna come to a venue, spend good money and listen to my record? You know what I mean? Or do you want to come and listen to the music live? Which means missing notes, you’re not hitting every note, it means dropping lyrics, it means missing guitar notes, it means missing drum beats. It’s the human element.
“And it’s really frustrating to me because people are paying good money to go and see their favourite bands play songs that they love and they’re not getting that. They’re getting shafted, I think, honestly.”
He continues: “If you can’t sing your shit and you can’t play your shit, your music, then why the fuck are you onstage? You’re not doing anything that anybody else can’t do. There’s nothing special about what you’re doing, and you can do anything in the studio, so…
“Again, I’ve seen bands where their tape stops and it’s absolutely fucking atrocious. It doesn’t sound even remotely close to anything. And I have some friends that do actually do it, but they do it, again, with musical parts or whatever. It’s not this blatant, you know, backing vocals or lead vocals.
“It’s very frustrating, and I’ve been wanting to speak out on this. I actually just did an interview last week that I need to edit and get put up. But it’s basically talking about this exact same thing. It’s ridiculous. There’s so many great real bands out there, man. Every band that I am a fan of didn’t do this shit. You think about the Metallicas, the Slayers, the Panteras – the old-school Panteras with Vinnie and Dime. [Look at] fucking Lamb of God. They’re real bands doing real shit.
“But, yeah, I absolutely am sick of it and I think that motherfuckers that don’t play their shit shouldn’t be allowed to play. I don’t think you should be allowed to take someone’s money, ’cause you’re not playing your shit. That’s my two cents.”