Friday, January 24, 2014
16 Things I learned from my last band:
- Collective musical improvisation can be a real joy when it works, and it doesn't always work. When it works well most of the time you will be tempted to think that you're in the greatest band in the world.
- You will pay for this conceit dearly later on.
- Charisma is a word meaning “a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm.” In the original Greek it means something like “Favor freely given.” If your singer has this exciting commodity you will think that Almighty God is your roadie. Refer to second item above.
- A drummer should conserve energy. Flailing away for an hour is not always sustainable.
- You will sometimes be put in a position of having to decide what you believe and what your response will be when those beliefs are doused with lighter fluid and set fire to.
- It's a good idea to be clear about what you're doing. Why are you in a band? Do you have a sound in you that needs to come out? Do you want attention? From whom do you want attention?
- If you're not getting any gigs it feels the same as when you don't have any friends or can't get a date. It is well to ask wether this is because you are too intrinsically unique and out there and no one understands you, or is it because... ?
- Be kind to animals, even dead ones.
- Don't put down other bands. At all. For any reason. You don't have to like everything, but just remember that everyone is taking a risk, putting themselves forward, and that in itself is beautiful.
- Support other bands. If your friend or casual acquaintance has just put some recordings up on Sound Cloud or Reverb Nation or Bandcamp, go listen to them. Take the time to really listen to what they're trying to do. Let them know you're listening. Let them know what you like about what they're doing. If you can't be bothered to do this then you really have nothing to complain about when you put up recordings and are greeted by tumbleweeds rolling across an arid desert.
- Go to your friends gigs as much as time and funds permit. It means a lot to them when you show up. If you can, stay and see other bands that you may not know. You wouldn't be happy to see your audience melt away when you're playing just because the previous bands friends have all left and didn't want to give you a chance. Do unto others...
- Being offensive and incomprehensible doesn't make you punk. It makes you offensive and incomprehensible.
- Make common cause with bands you like and feel affinity for. Bands are getting used to a Hobbesian existence, playing dead clubs to 5 people, competing with other bands for any scrap of attention or airtime. Many have been around for years and suffered much. Make lineups that reflect what you would like live music to be like and work the promotion hard to get people to come to the overall event, not just to see awesome and wonderful you. It will take work to turn around this sorry state of affairs but it's not impossible.
- Screaming abusive things about women is never cute or clever. You may not be the one doing the screaming, but it reflects on you all the same.
- The grace was freely given, if you want to sell it to the devil then why should anyone want to watch?
- This is supposed to be fun. Even if the music is angry there should be visceral joy propelling it. If you've descended into bitterness and despair then it's time to reevaluate the situation, and not wait another 18 months.