Former Van Halen bassist and current Mammoth WVHfrontman Wolfgang Van Halen recently slammed the bands who rely heavily on pre-recorded tracks during their live performances.
In recent years, more and more artists have been given a pass for relying on pre-recorded tracks, drum triggers and other assorted technology that makes concerts more synthetic but also more consistent.
For better or worse, pre-recorded tracks are becoming increasingly common for touring artists of all levels and genres and they’re not just used in pop music — many rock artists utilize playback tracks to varying degrees.
Speaking to Finland’s Chaoszine at the Copenhell festival in Copenhagen, Denmark on June 17 about some rock acts’ reliance on pre-recorded tracks, Wolfgang said: “I can’t make it clear enough. I think if you’re replacing core tracks, that’s dumb. If your laptop goes down, you should be able to play. It depends. There’s a line for everybody. But if you need a laptop with 60 stems running to play your show, that’s not a show; you’re miming it. You should be able to play your instrument. You shouldn’t be miming anything… If you need, like, an 808 drop for a breakdown or you don’t have a keyboard player, so you need the keyboard pad going… But it should be an addition, not a replacement.”
Wolfgang previously talked about some bands’ reliance on backing tracks last month in an interview with “Coffee With Ola”, the YouTube program hosted by Ola Englund. At the time, he said: “Hell, half the people live, it’s tracks nowadays, which is such a huge… It’s just a fucking bummer, man.
“Look, I think everybody else draws their own line with what tracks are acceptable or not, but it’s, like, if you’re pumping in the main guitar riff and the lead vocals and actual fucking drums — like, pre-recorded drums — that’s a problem,” he explained. “You should be able to play your shit.
“I can understand [if] you don’t have a keyboard player, so [you] need the pad. That’s fine. You can’t carry around a 60-piece orchestra, so you’ve got the strings. That’s fine. But lead vocal, main guitar, main bass and the drums — you should be playing that. [Laughs]”