The Importance of Finding Your Own Sound

Published: 08/10/2016

What's come to my attention in recent months is how much bands covet the sound of other bands that our merry team of people at Outhouse Studios record, produce and mix. One band in particular springs to mind... our lovely old chums in Architects.

Now if you're wondering what this has to do with the price of butter, let me explain. If you have any interest in pursuing any kind of successful career derived from being in a band, there are many golden rules to be observed in the pursuit of this dream, but in my honest opinion the only one that really matters is - DO YOUR OWN THING.

Obviously we all start out in life in bands playing the covers of our favourite bands and wanting to be those bands (in my case it was Iron Maiden) and there's absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with that - after all, imitation is the highest form of flattery so they say...

BUT in the topsy turvy world of rock and roll these days, there are SO many bands out there to begin with and SO many that sound identical to other bands, it's almost impossible for any of them to rise to the top and find a core audience or indeed any level of success if that is indeed what they are trying to do.

You may have noticed that in each genre of music, there is always only one real flagship band who go on to sell a gazillion records. The Stones did the Stones, the Beatles did the Beatles, U2 did U2, Radiohead did Radiohead, Queen did Queen, and Muse does...well...Muse. But the ONLY reason that Muse became anything like as successful as they have is solely BECAUSE they stopped trying to copy Radiohead and found their OWN sound. In fact it hasn't gone unnoticed that the MORE they try to sound like Queen, the LESS records they sell (well that's my theory and I'm sticking to it). The point I am trying to make is that no MATTER what you do in music, surely the most rewarding thing in the long run is finding your own niche and striving for your own voice?

What REALLY was the point in the band Hoobastank? They were never as successful as Incubus and never sold as many records as them and IMHO were a very poor imitation of them and well - where are they now...?

It seems that all that wondrous musical discovery that went on in the early 70s has fallen by the wayside in favour of a blaze of dreary facsimiles. And not only that, bands have become HIGHLY complacent in bothering to learn to actually play particularly well any more. It seems more important that you have the right hook-ups/merchandise/look/tattoos than actually being able to play in time and in tune. How often do I hear.. "WOW...did you hear such and such the other night??? WOW!!! He actually can sing live!!" I'm sorry, but to me that is the lowest common denominator requirement. It's AS IT SHOULD BE. It's not impressive in the slightest. If you're a cat, you should be able to catch mice and jump off tall walls... if you're a clock, the fundamental reason for your being is to keep time, and if you're a singer the very least anyone expects of you is to be able to SING.

So let's have less of the shape throwing and cool haircuts and more 6 hours per day practicing in our bedrooms please :-) Oh yeah, and drummers, PLEASE don't try to play those really complicated double bass drum parts that you have NO business doing and then expect recording engineers to magically midi them into the middle of next week. Like swearing - it's not big and it's not clever.

Anyway, I digress. The point I'm trying to make is can people please regain some semblance of integrity and indeed creative thinking when entering the wide wide world of bands and composition? Is it too much to ask? We're all a product of our influences, and influences are just that. They should be as varied and as colourful and esoteric as possible. If you only ever listen to 3 or 4 bands, your output will never reach the realms of much more than the input of your influences. When I was a kid my cousin forced me to listen to Dire Straits. I can't say that I'm massively glad that he did, and when I asked him why he did it, he just said "because you NEED a musical education". I replied "but I like what I like... what's wrong with that?" and he came back with the classic retort "how do you know what you like when you only ever listen to Iron Maiden??". Very true. So I immersed myself in all manner of different music and even now I don't feel that I have listened to enough. The time to embrace music the most is when you are young. And don't just limit yourself to listening to stuff that was made whilst you have been alive because all the best stuff was recorded BEFORE you were even a glint in your fathers eye ;-) The more stuff you listen to, the wider and more varied your musical vocabulary will become and the more depth your own music will have.

Even in the modern age of cinema, film companies have run out of steam and have resorted more and more to simply remaking and regurgitating films that have already been made and were probably better first time round.

So PLEASE less of the carbon copying and more free thinking and trying to find a voice that is YOURS. Architects did... my mate Jem did, and so let's not be lazy.

(Disclaimer...I realise that I am a partial hypocrite in this debate as I front a band that sound not dissimilar to Genesis ;-)

(Disclaimer you CAN'T have the same guitar sound as on Daybreaker ;-)

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