Jeff Young Thinks Using Pre-Recorded Tracks Is Fraud

Former Megadeth guitarist Jeff Young talked about pre-recorded tracks in Syncin’ Stanley’s YouTube video. Jeff mentioned that using backing tracks is dishonest, and should not be this prevalent, and explained how some exceptional cases such as Queen worked out in the past:

“[I’m] not a big fan — not a big fan at all. Maybe if you need it for some extraneous, extra orchestral parts or a huge choir. Think of Queen when they did ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ live back on the ‘News Of The World’ tour. They would leave the stage during that middle part and let a tape roll and then they’d come out for [the rest of the song]. That’s the way to do it. But if you’re getting out there Milli Vanilli-style and lip-syncing your vocal, I don’t consider that artistry; it’s a little more akin to ‘con artistry.'”

‘Is using pre-recorded tracks honest?’, ‘To which extend groups should use backing tracks?’, ‘Should fans be informed if an artist uses backing tracks?’ are only a few questions asked throughout the long debate of pre-recorded tracks.

Saxon’s Nigel Glockler recently said that he doesn’t approve backing tracks, just like Anvil’s Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow mentioned. In 2014, Axl Rose criticised Red Hot Chilli Peppers for backtracking during their Super Bowl performance:

“Maybe they all had microchips installed in their asses and not only pick up the frequencies of their instruments but get DirecTV and the Internet too! Like Google Glass… Google Ass! They could be ‘Scientific Pioneers!’ Like Buzz Aldrin and shit! True (pardon the pun) ASS-tro-nots! Or like Super Bowl crash test dummies for bands kinda like those cars that drive themselves!”

Deftones’ Frank Delgado commented on the subject in 2022, and pointed out the ‘perfection’ angle in using pre-recorded tracks:

“So much music uses click tracks and backing tracks these days, so there’s so much perfection, which is a trip for me because there’s never been any of that with us. People are so used to seeing a perfect show, they expect things to sound exactly like the record but there’s something about a raw, visceral performance with tension that will always speak to some people. Others might say it sounds like shit but in a time when everything sounds and looks so perfect, I think some warts and all are important.”

As opposed to people who reject backtracking, there are a number of artists who admit they use backing tracks, and it’s not necessarily a malevolent thing to do. Nita Strauss justified her decision to use David Draiman’s pre-recorded voice:

“I’ve used a track for David Draiman’s vocal for ‘Dead Inside’ since the song came out. We made no secret of it. It wasn’t feasible to pay a singer for a whole tour to only sing one song with us. So in my humble opinion, there are circumstances where it makes sense.”

Twisted Sister’s Jay Jay French stated that the decision should be made according to fans’ reactions:

“I guess at the end of the day, the real answer is, do the fans care or not? And if the fans don’t care, and there’s a lot of money on the table, the band’s under a lot of pressure to replicate a record, then they get away with it and they do it.”

You can watch Jeff Young’s video below.