Six Beloved Bands That Are Shameless Knockoffs

Photo by Faith Silva
Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups
Originality is scary sometimes,especially in entertainment. After all, it can be really off-putting to see something you don't understand, even if it is new and innovative. We like comfort-food entertainment. Hence Hollywood's obsession with sequels and remakes and all those band reunions we complain about but secretly adore.

But sometimes bands can really verge over into the territory of being just too damn familiar. I'm not knocking inspiration. Even homages, while eye-roll-inducing, are fine. But when a band's whole sound is defined by the sound of its predecessor, you're dealing with a knockoff, no matter how much you might love it.

It's becoming more and more prevalent these days, too. Let's take a look at five pretty popular bands who are just copying their forefathers, and one old one that's still inspiring copies of copies after several decades.

Stray from the Path

Oh hi, Rage Against the Machine. The thing that's so crazy about Stray from the Path is that as an up-and-coming hardcore band, they have virtually everything they could possibly need to succeed as artists. They're signed to Sumerian Records, they've had production handled by Misha Mansoor of Periphery and Kurt Ballou of Converge, and they've had guest appearances from huge names like Cory Brandan of Norma Jean.

Instead of doing anything original or innovative, though, they wrote some subpar angsty political lyrics that read like the manifesto of a 17-year-old anarchist and handed them to vocalist Drew York to yell in his very best Zach de la Rocha impression. Come on, guys. You have all the tools, and your best idea is ripping off Rage? That wasn't even cool when Rage was in vogue.

The band that sent me down this whole train of thought. I am a hardcore, hardcore Black Sabbath fan, to the point where I even know the lyrics to songs from the Tony Martin years. That being said, even I, upon hearing Orchid, wondered if there were some undiscovered Sabbath demos from the '70s I had just never managed to hear.

But no, Orchid just sounds that much like Black Sabbath. It would be one thing to be influenced by Sabbath -- a million bands are influenced by Sabbath and wield that sword well. The way Orchid does it, though, they might as well be a soundalike hired to record for a commercial Sabbath wouldn't sign off on. Christ, some of their riffs are just taken from Sabbath verbatim. It's noxious.

Silversun Pickups
This is one I don't hear as much as maybe other people do, but it is undeniable that Silversun Pickups do sound a lot like the Smashing Pumpkins. I can tell the difference, probably because I've spent so much time listening to both bands, but play them for your casual-listener friends and they'll inevitably ask if they're listening to the Pumpkins.

SSPU has grown a bit on their latest record, but they still carry that stigma and probably always will. Put it like this: If people were confusing America with Neil Young and Aerosmith with Led Zeppelin in the time before Google, they'd be just as quick to confuse Silversun Pickups with Smashing Pumpkins regardless of little variances in their individual sounds.

La Dispute
One of my favorite bands to come out of the emo-screamo-post-hardcore-genre-names-for-days revival is La Dispute, whose ingenious wordplay and poetry combine with some seriously catchy riffage to make a fantastic rock band. Unfortunately, they just cop a little bit too much off of their primary influence, mewithoutYou.

Sure, I hear other things in their sound. There's even a strange amount of thrash in the guitar work. But have you listened to [A->B] Life by mewithoutYou lately? La Dispute works so much from that blueprint that it can honestly be a distraction from how talented they are. Luckily, they seem to be carving out a little bit more of their own niche as they keep recording, but front man Jordan Dreyer will probably never not sound like Aaron Weiss's twin brother.

List continues on the next page.

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Your point about Zeppelin is specious. Yes, they played "You Shook Me" etc., but it sounded NOTHING like Willie Dixon. 


Ok. So mewithoutYou (whoever the fuck they are) gets cited by name but Robert Johnson, Bert Jansch, Willie Dixon and Joan Baez get dismissed as "obscure blues and folk artists"? The sad thing Mr Deiterman is that ,unlike a shocking number of your Press colleagues, you seem to be able to put a coherent sentence or two together but you waste it on articles like this. Read some history, move out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. 

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