The topic of backing tracks has been a hot one in recent years. Some artists feel they're a good way to pad out a live show, while others feel they're cheating the audience out of seeing a genuine performance. Personally, I'm somewhere between – I don't wanna see a band like Dimmu Borgir or Septicflesh without all their orchestrations (or Ghost without all their layers, etc.), but I also don't wanna see a four piece rock band get up there and mime their parts either. Happy mediums exist, y'know?
Mudvayne vocalist Chad Gray is certainly against bacing tracks as a crutch, as he'd made well known in a recent interview with the Syncin' Stanley YouTube channel. Or as Gray puts his feelings on backing track-heavy bands toward the end of the below rant, "I don't think you should be allowed to take someone's money, 'cause you're not playing your shit." Fair enough!
"We used to do the opening of [Hellyeah's] 'Human' that was an actual track, and I sang over that and then it stopped or whatever," said Gray. "But there was no backing vocals. I really wasn't into it. I had a conversation with Vinnie. I'm, like, 'We're a killer band. We could write a musical part,' blah, blah, blah, blah. It was an argument I lost.
"I think it's an epidemic, man. I really do. 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 favorite bands play songs that they love and they're not getting that. They're getting shafted, I think, honestly.
"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."