How to start a band
Hey, hey. Wanna be a rockstar? Nice. But before you go cutting your hair and changing your name, you’d better actually start that rock band. You don’t get something from nothing! And here’s how…
Maybe you’ve been singing your whole life. Maybe you just picked up an instrument last week and now you’ve got the bug. No, not the flu that’s going round. The Band Bug.
Now you’ve listened to the Siren’s call, ask your friends. If one of you has caught it, you can bet more of you have.
This is where you’ll hit your first problem: There will be one position in the band you will always have difficulty filling. Everybody has this problem. With my band it’s always been the drummer. People will join the band and drop out, and sometimes it will feel like you’re hitting your head off a brick wall. Just keep trying. Ask friends, siblings, cousins… anyone you trust and enjoy the company of. This is key: You’re going to be spending endless hours with these people, investing your time and money and hopefully one day touring the country with them – you need to know you can count on and like them.
You might form a band with all girlfriends, or you might end up with a bunch of blokes. Both have their plusses. If you treat the band like a circle of friends, there should be no problems. The one downer with a predominance of guys is you can get labelled ‘The Girl’. People who haven’t heard you play may say you’re only there for eye candy or, even worse, because the lead guitarist fancies you. Stick it to them. Channel your anger at this into your music. Think of all the great female musicians out there and mentally add yourself to the list. And remember the people who dissed you will probably never get to the top.
Another problem is the talentless friend. They have the money, the gear, perhaps the car, and you’ve known them for years. But they can’t sing, or play to save their soul – or yours, for that matter. The trick is to let them down gently. Or suggest they help with the technical stuff. Or stick them on merchandise if you get that far.
You’ve got bandmates? Great. Now it’s time for your first practice. For the first few practice sessions you might want to avoid playing at the rehearsal halls. They can be pricy if you don’t know what you want to play just yet. Even just sitting down and talking about your playlist first can be good. Some of the best practice sessions I’ve had have been in a garage with my old band (though if you can’t get a drum kit, you going to be forced into a hall). If you do hire a practice hall, shop around as much as you would for a new pair of shoes. Find somewhere where the sound is right, the price is within your budget and the vibe works. You’ll know it when you find it.
How many rehearsals you have will depend on your budget and what’s coming up. Most bands meet at least once a week, even if it’s just for a jam. You’ll know each other better for it. This shouldn’t be the only time you practise, though – you should also practise at home by yourself to get a better feel for the songs. Add more practice sessions before gigs or other big events. If you can’t afford an extra session at your local practice hall, meet up at someone’s house. Take a snare drum so your drummer can keep time and grab your practice amps.
Okay, so everyone plugs in and you’re practising, but now what? If you’re lucky, you’ll start playing something you all know. Or perhaps someone – it could be you – will take charge and lead the band members into something wonderful. There’ll be some days where all you feel like doing is playing covers – on other days it will be your own stuff. Try and keep some balance to the way your band works.
Lastly, musicians have egos. It’s part of the magic on stage… but when stuck in a small, dark room those musicians and their egos can become a problem. Treat your band like your family, or even better. When you start to get pissed with each other, take 5 minutes to calm down. Learn what is good for you guys to bond over… computer games, shopping trips and days out are a few things I’ve found to work. Also, don’t let an argument get too far. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, tell them. Don’t let the anger build up. Many a good band have fallen through because the fights have gotten in the way of the music.
- Make sure you’re rockin’ with people you can party all night with.
- Don’t be tempted by the talentless, rich kid.
- Make a sensible budget for practice space and find the place you like.
- Extra practice sessions pay off when you have something coming up.
- Decide if you want to play covers or not
- Nip arguments in the bud before they start
So. The next question you will have to ask yourself is… Are you ready for the next level?
If you are, then step on up to the plate and get ready for your first gig…