"I'd say 30 to 40 percent of the touring bands I deal with use samples or some type of prerecorded tracks."
Sound tech Larry Ashburn, whose Audio Design provides the sound system at Soma, is referring to prerecorded instrumental tracks that are triggered with a flick of a switch.
According to a sound tech involved with the sold-out Independence Jam September 19, four of the five bands on the bill used prerecorded tracks. (Secret Machines did not.)
Acoustic band Bright Eyes used prerecorded instrumental "loops" at their Spreckels Theatre show last month. "Even artists like [former San Diegan] Jason Mraz plays a riff into a box and then uses it as the basis of a song onstage," said the Independence Jam sound tech. "It all started for alternative rock in '84 when the Smiths used that wah-wah-wah in the beginning of 'How Soon Is Now' [onstage]."
"I argue with people all the time," said Ashburn. "There are some naysayer dry punk rock bands that don't want to use any technology, but they don't mind plugging into a Marshall 900 [speaker] with distortion. It goes back to when people got mad at Bob Dylan when he plugged into an amp."
Just because bands like the Sex Pistols and the Ramones didn't use prerecorded tracks onstage is no reason that modern bands shouldn't embrace technology, says Garett Michaels, program director of FM-94/9, which produced the Independence Jam.
"The technology just wasn't there 10 or 20 years ago. I think technology was always embraced by bands as it became available."