How To Be In A Band
I saw a post last week that mentioned this phrase- big ups to whomever coined it- and I've been thinking that maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to make a reasonably edited and concise database of tips for How To Be In A Band.
* Do not practice your instrument or noodle aloud during setup, mic check and pre-show break. Nobody wants to hear it.
* Do your homework. When you don't, you have wasted everyone else's time and that is just plain selfish and inconsiderate. Another week down the tubes!
* When joining as a new member of an established and working band, learn all their material and gig a few times with them first before imposing your idea of a set list. they become a working and established band without your visionary genius.
* Understand that even though you love your party bro and you've had some good times together, s/he still may be a lousy and unworkable band mate. Do not try to accommodate his/her wish to be in your band.
* Your band leader may be the weakest musical link, but if s/he's hunting down gigs and getting you paid, shut up.
* DO NOT BE DEFENSIVE.
* DO NOT BE DEFENSIVE.
* DO NOT BE DEFENSIVE.
Step 1. underpants
Step 2. ????
Step 3. Profit
- never be on time for anything, especially soundcheck
- bring at least 3 faulty cables to each gig. be unable to work out which specific cables these are
- don't worry too much about getting your stuff offstage after playing, especially on really busy 5-band bills
- if you don't have the right equipment, some guy from one of the other bands will probably totally sort you out, so don't stress, yeah?
- make sure the sound guy knows to TURN YOU UP ALL THE WAY bruv, no, more, no, more, no, no, more, AAAGH that's too much, ow, why did you do that?
- i left my tuner at home so is it cool if i don't tune up? thanks. i did it last week so it should be fine.
- where's the afterparty yeah?
Ok, my list is more a "how to STAY in a (working) band"...but still...most can apply to "be in a band" too...
DO be fun to be around.
DON'T be a pouty dick or be odd man out if you're the only one who doesn't like a tune in the set. Rock it anyway.
DO know how to play your instrument.
DON'T be a band-limiting control freak.
DO find yourself willing to dive into a song you don't immediately know how to play, and trust your ears and chops.
DON'T stop playing for the same reason above. could cost you a good gig.
DO know how to "look" the part. Stop being lazy, appearance-wise in a live situation. Not over the top, but also not "the guy at the bar".
DON'T close your mind to ANY music. Learn from everything.
DO have decent gear and know how to use it.
DON'T be a volume-war commando.
DO lock into the kick and fuel momentum in the song, tastefully.
DON'T jerk the neck off to impress anybody...u kill the groove, u kill the audiences' investment in your set.
DO get your gear on and off stage quickly.
DON'T tear down and pack all your cords individually ON stage when another band is waiting to set up.
DO invest in a stage tuner that mutes your signal.
DON'T forget the tuner.
Even tho you spent Xtra$$$ for a concise lightweight portable rig, help everybody with load in/out. This one recently learned by me.
1. Shut up and play the songs. :D
1. Show up on time
2. Know your parts
3. Don't be an @hole
Those three things make you better than 90% of the other "musicians".
Don't be an employee musician, be an entrepreneur and book gigs without being asked.
Save the gig- be the guy w/that one key piece, like a TRS cord/adapter/9v battery/Mydol/corkscrew/breath mints/extra guitar/drum key/wet wipes/fingernail clipper, etc
Unless you simply can't afford to, bring an extra everything.
Batteries - even if you don't use them.
Cables - speaker, mic and signal - even if yours are new
Head - with all the micro rigs out there there is no excuse (other than money) to not have an extra head with you
Strings - both yours and guitar strings
Bass - duh
DI - just in case
Tools - at least a 10 in one (Klein) and some needle nose cutters, but I have quite a kit
Mic - own an SM57 (and if you sing, an SM58) and throw it in the bag with the rest of your extra stuff
Flashlight - set it on your rig if for no other reason than shining it on the douche up front who is harassing girls so the bouncers can throw him out
Adapters - 1/4" to 1/8", 1/4" to RCA (stereo), 1/8" to RCA stereo, male to male 1/4", female to female 1/4", Speakon to 1/4", banana to 1/4", XLR to 1/4", etc.
Binder containing every single chart you have ever made in alphabetical order. I have made bands a TON of tip money by having this. Don't sit around making charts. Just keep them as you make them. Never ever throw one away. You never know when you (or the whole band) can make some extra dough by standing around your one chart playing a request. I have done it dozens of times.
I have a gear box (known far and wide as "The Box of Doom") that weighs about 50+lbs. It houses everything on this list and a lot more. That box alone, and the reputation for being ready for anything that goes along with it, have gotten me as many gigs as my playing/vocal abilities. I am known as "that guy". Become known as "that guy" who is fun to be around and is ready for just about anything.
Things not contained in the box.........
Positive attitude - If you bring extra you will make up for the at least one guy who will show up with a chip on his shoulder
Be ready to bow out - If somebody in the band sings a song better than you, or a backup vocal better than you, then let them have it. The audience doesn't care if it is your favorite song. Seriously, they don't care. No. I'm not kidding. They really truly don't care how much you like the song or how cool you think you look/sound singing it.
Lots of songs on your iPod and/or phone. More than I care to remember the house guy has come up to some band I'm filling in with and said "Hey where's your break music?". I have used my phone for breaks at weddings, clubs, and private events. I have everything from smooth jazz (for dinner music) to club hits that involve line dances. If you heeded the above and bring adapters, you can even YouTube a song on your phone to play for a special wedding request over the PA (which I have done several times and the wedding party thought I was some kind of genius...... which I am not.)
Looking at this its a wonder I'm in any bands.
Don't bad-mouth people behind their backs.
Suggest that the guy who does the booking and band management get an extra cut of the gig pay. At the very least, thank him for the gig.
This is counter-intuitive, but be replaceable. What I mean is, get your parts charted and know some players who could sub for you. Getting your band through a crisis without skipping a beat will be remembered, and is the professional thing to do.
I think many of you are missing the most important aspect to being in a band.
Don't look for or audition for bands unless you have this understanding.
If I only knew then what I know now...
Best musical advice...
And my TB Wiki page has two sections with hundreds of more ideas:
Being in a Band
Gigging with a Band
Well 2 out of 3 ain't bad.:D
Play well. Sound good. Don't make new problems.
The three rules of success according to one of my college professors. Applies to any form of employment.
1. In order to get a job, present yourself as a problem solver.
2. In order to keep a job, don't be a problem.
3. In order to get promoted, actually solve your bosses problems in order to make them look good to their boss.
If you get your boss promoted up the ladder, they will usually want you in their former seat, right behind them.
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