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Best way to audition a singer????

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Mohawk Freak, Jun 1, 2002.

  1. Mohawk Freak

    Mohawk Freak

    Mar 8, 2002
    I need your help Talkbass Bro's ans Sis's!!!

    Our band has been going a good while but the singer we have is average at best and monotone, atonal, out of key, tone deaf and arrogant at worst (and he spends most of his time at the latter end of the scale). Anyway, to cut this story short he's getting the chop and we're auditioning new vocalists on the side.

    We play Original Experimental Rock (not a very specific description I know!), and put a few internet ads out for singers interested in doing the same. To our surprise we got a reply (1 so far! woo!). So now it comes to the interview, and I really dont know the best way to do it!

    Should she have some material to listen to beforehand? We have a demo with our other singer on but we don't want to influence her interpretation of the vocals.

    Should we get her to sing something acapella? This seems very intimidating but could be invaluable!

    Should we just play and see what she makes of it? Should we play accoustic or very quiet so we can hear her properly (at least the latter I would have thought!).

    Should we get her to sing something she is familiar with so we can really hear her at work?

    It's important she's versatile and creative, but also able! We want someone who can actually SING (and not mimic some of the "styles" currently so popular). Obviously we need to see whether we think we'll get on with her but are there any other pertinent questions we should explore??? Gimmie your years of experience please people!

    If she's free we'll audition on Tuesday the 11th so we have a week or so (but obviously shorter if we need to send her material).

    Thanks in advance! Mohawk.

    P.S. I'll be away for a week but I'll pick up replies when I have computer access.
  2. You're going to have to give the singer a chance to show that he/she can sing ... so obviously he/she will need to know a song or few.

    I'd do this ... agree to meet this person somewhere -- local pub, a cafe, and have most (or all of the key members) of the band met with the prospect. That way you can get a good gauge on any personality issues ... and wiggle out of having to endure a horrid audition.

    If you decide you like the person, then give him/her a tape. Include one, maybe two cover tunes that are close or in the genre of music you're doing.

    I'm assuming that you're not going to want to spend a lot of time coming up with new songs, so the new singer is going to have to learn what you have anyway. Include your tunes on the recording. Maybe even give him/her a copy of the lyrics. And be specific -- it's okay to tell why you don't like the singer on the recording. And it's also okay to suggest that you're open to any reinterpretations.

    Then set the audition ... and hope for the best!
  3. Never done it before, but If I had to id go about it like this:
    The first and foremost central issue with a band is chemistry. With that said get to know who your dealing with before you ever hear him/her sing. Like Flavor Factory said, go out to a bar or someplace just to hang out and get to really know the person. If you guys dont mix well it will be readily apparent. If he/she seems like a good person and someone the whole band can work with then evaluate her singing. But, I dont think an audition or something of that nature will really do the trick unless you have a bunch of people to choose from, thus play her some of your original material. Have a few songs of yours recorded for her and have her come up with some stuff. Give her a deadline and then jam to it. If you guys dont feel it then it will be obvious that she wont work, but I think this will be the only way for her and you to really put her skills to the test because its what she needs to do as part of the band. A lot people can sing covers, but very few singers come off with originality and the ability to translate the rest of the bands effort.
  4. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    The best way to audition a new singer: have 'em sing something!


    Seriously, get her a copy of your stuff and tell her that you would like her to put her own "spin" on the vocals. If I was in her place, I don't think I'd feel comfortable singing a capella and I'm sure she'll appreciate not having to duplicate your old singer's style and sound (I know the few tryouts I've had, I didn't like being told that I had to play everything note-for-note the way their old bass player played it).
  5. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I think you just described about 75% of singers right there - especially rock singers. :D
  6. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer Supporting Member

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    I have been through a bunch of these.

    First, give her your tape and written copies of the Lyrics and suggest that she is free to interpret the lyrics and song she sees fit.

    Second, ask for list of several covers that she enjoys singing and reflects her style/interest in vocals. Hopefully you'll know one or two of them. If not, learn a couple. You need to see her in a setting she comfortable with. Work through this stuff first then give her a shot at singing your stuff.

    Schedule the band there early so that you are warm and ready to go. Remember, if she is serious about what she does, your impression on her is as important as hers on you.

    Play at reasonably normal volumes. No need to play quiet but make sure you have enough PA coverage that she is not straining her voice or struggling to hear. Either of these will make her very uncomfortable.

    Listen for range and pitch control. Watch for energy and comfort.

    Look for potentional and don't get caught up in nuance.

    Remember that whether you like it or not, the lead singer fronts the band. So, her personality, look (I didn't say looks) and charisma is just as important as her singing ability.


  7. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Auditioning rock singers is at times comedic and at times seems like the seventh circle of hell. Chasarms has good advice! I would also add that you should try to weed out as many wacko's as possible by phone, to minimize your wasted time.
  8. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    this is an extremely useful thread for me, as my band is going through the same stuff.

    and mohawk freak did a damn good job describing my ex-singer!

    my opinion on a cappella: don't even try it (unless of course you will require absolutely stunning vocals and have parts in songs of yours where the band is tacet).

    a rock singer only has to sound good with a band (as far as i'm concerned), and plus the singer depends on the music to layer his/her "window dressing" (ie-melody).

    yeah, so...there.
  9. Mohawk Freak

    Mohawk Freak

    Mar 8, 2002
    Thanks for all your advice lads!!! I've emailed the girl following chasarms sugguestions. I've also taken a load of other tips on board!

    I'll let you know how it all goes!

    Cheers!!! Mohawk!

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