When you look at listings for local shows in most towns, you will find a large selection of cover bands. Usually a band of older guys who want to pay tribute to their favorite musicians/bands every Thursday night down at the VFW Hall. I’m not knocking cover bands at all. I was in a very popular cover band in college called The Dance Commanders, and we were awesome. It was always a lot of fun, as are most cover bands–if they are done right.
I would like to introduce you, faithful reader, to Augusta, Georgia’s own Hush. A ragtag group of non-musicians who caused a stir in the internet a few months ago with a video of their cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”. It was their first gig, and the worst thing you’ve ever seen. The video below–and subsequent videos–kind of speak for themselves, so go forth and enjoy.
Pink Floyd – “Comfortably Numb”
This is the video that started it all. If you love this song, or love Pink Floyd, I defy you to make it all the way through this video without removing the skin from your arms and prying off your finger nails in anger like a PCP junkie. I have made it through multiple times because Im a damn professional journalist and had to do it for this article, but Ill tell you: Im no better for it.
Right from the start, things go wrong. What sounds like a cymbal roll intro turns into a slow guitar strum, one bass note hit, hesitant vocal start, and instantly everything you remembered and cherished is quickly flushed into a cesspool of pain and forced buggery. The lead singer, Joe Zale, seems lost. Its either from the drummer playing erratic beats and tempos, the guitarists not even coming close to the drummer, or the bass player six steps behind everybody. Zale shakes his head in points, trying to remove the cobwebs and drug haze of his youth to find some kind of common ground. He knows they sound bad, but he tries to soldier on. He even tries to get the crowd into it during the Stand up. I do believe its working verse (complete with his own echo since the microphone has no effects) by waving his hands up, pleading for some kind of recognition.
The guitar solo comes up around the 1:57 mark, and you can see the guitarist – aka Andy Lester – get ready. He stops playing whatever god damned chords he is playing, and nonchalantly goes to his distortion pedal, turns it on, and plunks out the worst, 3rd-grade-guitar-class, hands in jars his whole life, guitar solo I have ever heard. This band just might be the live version of those So-and-so Shreds videos. Christ almighty.
The band manages to hit the choruses with authority, but thats about it. Zale is always itching to show off his chops when it comes to IIIIIIIIIIIIII have become
comfortably numb. When it comes after the solo, he blasts it and his vocal chords hang on for dear life. In the end, the band just seems to stop playing, the crowd awkwardly claps, and the humble leader mutters a thank you very much and the band quickly exits.
Eric Clapton – “Cocaine”
According to the description of the video, this is the song that comes before Comfortably Numb in the set list. This one is a little easier to stomach, but still a little easier means instead of swallowing hypodermic needles you are swallowing razor blades.
In this song you can almost pinpoint who is screwing everything up at the start: lead guitarist Andy Lester. However, once the song continues, you begin to think, Wait no its gotta be the drummer. Then a little further down the line its back to the guitarist againespecially when you see the death stare Zale gives Lester at the 25sec mark. The stare is followed by a shrug, and Zale getting in Lester’s face to try and guide him through the chorus. It doesnt quite work, but the band pushes on into another blazingno wait, whats a word thats the opposite of blazing? Horrid? Yeah that worksanother horrid guitar solo.
The frustration finally gets to Zale around 1:55, and all he can do is give a sideways glance to Lester, and mouth the word fuck as he goes back to reading the lyrics off a sheet of paper. Oh, did I not mention that before? Yeah, Zale is doing the whole song with a piece of paper in his hand that has the lyrics written out on it.
The song finally ends around 2:05, and while the band is preparing for their next number the camera lingers on the stage. The band members shuffle around dejectedly, and from the side of the camera you hear a conversation about the band. The cameraman admits he is going to put the video on YouTube, and his friend agrees then says, I just talked to Billy, and he said Dude you gotta film that and show it to me. They did the worst rendition of Wish You Were Here I think Ive ever heard in my life.”…
Pink Floyd – “Wish You Were Here”
Which leads us to the worst rendition of Wish You Were Here youve ever heard in your life. This video starts a few bars in, and the sound quality is a little worse, but that wont take away from the glory. A freight train could be wailing on the horn and shaking the stage, and it still wouldnt take away anything.
The scene seems to be a couple months or so later. The previous video has already been put out on the internetwhich I learned from the interview video youll see nextand the ever-articulate internet posters have trashed the group. The boys are wearing jackets and sock caps, and the pumpkins from the front of the stage are gone. The description on the video says this is for a Toys for Tots drive, whereas the other videos were from a Breast Cancer Awareness drive. But its the same store, the same ironic MUSIC sign in the background, and the same band. This time, however, they are sporting band t-shirts! They are matching! Maybe over the last month or two they have practiced hard and really come together into a cohesive unit or musicians whoaww damn it! I pressed play. Its the same thing.
In this song it is clear who is the problem: Lester. The guitarist. For the first minute of the song it is just he and Joe Zale, and he is just playing whatever the hell tempo he wants to play, and changing chords on a whimsy. At one point, around 50 seconds, Lester plays a chord twice as long as he should and leaves Zale dangling on, Did yoooooooou exchange a walk-on part in the war Zale shoots him a look, but Lester just keeps bobbing his head to the rock hes spreading out like rancid butter on the winter crowd.
After that the other guitarist, Steve Zeit, and bassist, Michael Lester, hold down a pretty steady temposomething not seen in any of the videos so farwhile playing the opening riff. Then Andy Lester starts back in and it falls apart again as they limp to the finish of the song.
Now I have been in a cover band before that has covered this song, and I will admit that it maybe isnt the easiest to cover. But it also isnt like you are covering a Rush jam or something. Listening to them play one of the most well known Pink Floyd songs ever is just so damn frustrating.
Interview with Joe Zale
Following the set in the previous video, and intrepid reporter meets the band in their tent to ask them a few questions. Joe Zale takes the questions while the drummer, Chris Mance, stands by and smiles. After watching the interview, you cant really hate on the guys. Yeah they are terrible, awful, musicians, but they have a drive. They want to get better. They want to pay a proper homage their musical heroes. Watching Joe Zale talk reminds me of most of the old musicians I grew up with in my hometown. They just want to freakin rock, and if you squares cant handle it, then hit the road jack. They are just horrendous musicians, who are gaining a little notoriety because they cant keep a damn beat to save their lives, but at least they are trying. What are you doing chump?
Here are a few key quotes that I pulled out, but I suggest watching the whole thing:
0:25 How they got the name Hush: We were so terrible in the shop [where they practiced] that they said, Yall need to hush, and just stop playing. Youre so terrible. Were like ‘Heck with it. Well just keep our name.’ We just keep on jammin. Dont worry about it, ya know? Dont ever give up, ya know? Its a lot of fun.
1:44 On wanting to get better, and not trash the songs they play: Id hate to get a call from Roger Waters saying, hey man, get off my stage. Ya know?
1:54 After the interviewer asks Zale if hed try out for American Idol: Im not that good of a singer, but if somebody thought I was then Id give it a shot.
2:23 Speaking of how the band was on a local Comcast show: They had us come on there and explain how we got started. I know we had some bad publicity on the internet, we understand that, but we got some good publicity cause we had the guts to get up there and do it.
Inspirational, isnt it? Now do you feel bad for trashing them? I kind of do. Plus, I would see them live in a heartbeat, and buy a shirt.