If you want to get good, there are two types of bands you should be in:
1. Cover band. Playing a variety of different styles and learning songs that are already written will teach you a lot about how instrumentation, arranging and playing for the song typically works. You'll also be forced to play a lot of material you might not necessarily have on your iPod - that forces you to think outside the box. And you can't half-ass it in a cover, and especially a tribute band - I've done the tribute and cover band scene for several years, and you gotta make it sound as much like the recorded track as possible. I am forever going back and listening to songs I have been playing for years and finding new things I didn't hear before.
2. An original band - with one caveat - you have to be recording. All the time. Then listening back. Then changing what you were doing, because, believe me, what you thought sounded great in the rehearsal room ain't gonna sound all that great when you're hearing the playback in the control room. If you're in an original band that isn't recording, you're wasting your time.
Getting yourself into uncomfortable situations (you know, those times you are confronted with the naked truth) is how we learn and grow in just about every field of endeavor.
Aguilar Club Member #126
Spector Club Member #158