Building a band w/out vocals?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Depth_Charge, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. How do you go about starting a band and auditioning players when you don't have a singer to direct the set list?

    I'm thinking there must be a better way than sending my own repertoire list to each individual in the hope a couple are common.

    THoughts advice welcome.
  2. speedkills


    Jan 10, 2008
    I am starting my next band without a singer or guitarist initially.
    I decided that this time a drummer I know and I are going to work together and get tight and then add a guitar and then singer.
    I've never done it this way but based on past experience, and and based in part on dealing with the egos of guitarists and singers in general, I think this sounds logical.

    Both the drummer and I can fake the guitar parts well enough to get some basic tracks down before we find the right people to join us.
  3. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    Musicianship comes first without a vocalist in my opinion. Before looks, or style, or gear, or anything... how they can play and how you all play together.

  4. me and a friend and his son have started a band without a singer
    we have no desire for vocals
    one of us writes a piece of music and then the other two add what we feel.....but it just starts with a idea.
    you will be surprised how quick it will build into a song
    our myspace is in my can check us out if you like
  5. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    I'll be honest ... I don't know

    If your playing just to jam for creative gratification maybe? However if you are considering a serious project that is geared towards public performance/commercial success then personally I see the singer as too big of a focus of attention to not be part of the initial equation.

    :meh: ... As always I could be wrong!
  6. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008

    Strap on a pair yourself and create a set list that is comprised of songs that you want to do and that somewhat dictate the direction you want to go in. Just because someone is a singer doesn`t mean they get complete control of what songs are played. If they don`t like one or two then to heck with them. Those decisions should be based by voting unanimously on them.
  7. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    I don't think so. If your band has adequate players and killer vocals, you work more than a band that has great players and poor vocals.

    Unless you're an instrumental band. Then you need to have virtuoso talent and a loyal fanbase.
  8. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Thoroughly Nice Guy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004
    Agree with all the bolded- especially the part about dealing with the egos. If you want your focus to remain the focus of the band, you need to begin to form that focus while you are only half the equation. That's not cheating anyone out of their rightful influence, because you're going to receive interest only from those people who are willing to go with the program as advertised.

    Also agreed. Once you have the musical ideas down, you can find a frontman or woman to do most of the PR (both vocally and in terms of showmanship, if that's going to be your band's thing) while you all make it happen.

    My impression is that the OP intends to find a singer before gigging the band. That the singer is going to be a huge focus makes it all the more important that s/he come into a situation that is already at least partially formed. A script can sometimes help to prevent dilution of the initial concept. It also helps set the tone by telling the new folks, "This is what we want to sound like" and there are now (good) limits to the concept. I've been in bands where everyone wrote and everyone said that they "pretty much didn't want to sound like anthing they'd heard". The songs were good to great but we were all over the place, and there was no concept for anyone in the audiences to grasp.

    Of course, sometimes you have to pay those folks a bit more than you do if you give them initial membership and a full say in the concept. But I can see how anyone would want to try it the OP's way.
  9. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    I understand getting the initial concept going … but just the voice of experience talking here, that “concept” can change dramatically with the addition of the singer! I’m just saying don’t get some elaborate idea together work up a ton of material and then try to present or sell the idea to a potential singer.

    When the initial concept of my band started some 8 years ago, it was to be a mix of some traditional Memphis style blues and some new material written in the same vein … mind you we started with a singer. Now 3 ½ singers later we are just returning to the original concept and the tunes have been all over the map … going in some directions you don’t even want to know! :scowl:

    If you’re trying to get some initial “traction” getting a band started that’s good … you just want that traction to be in a FORWARD gear or you may find your spinning your wheels in the wrong direction. IMO get a singer involved early on.


    :meh: ... Again as always I could be wrong
  10. -No point having a singer if you can't play well together as a band.

    -A good singer will be easier to find if you have a great band in place.
    Most singers are terrible so making sure you get the music right first will probably help you recruit one of the good singers.
  11. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    Not since jr. high, and NEVER since getting "serious", have/would I ever consider a band without vocals. IMO, "jamming" along to tunes without vocals is just too bush-league. Vocals & lyrics are just such a huge part of popular music, they can't be ignored, even for awhile. It's like watching a movie or TV with no sound. Vocals provide a lot of your cues to the changes within a song, too.

    Disclaimer: Vocals are primary unless you're into something that's totally instrumental, but the people who can get away with that are very few & far between.

    One or more of you needs to sing. Even if it's only until a better singer can be found, somebody who's there now needs to do it. In the process, you'll build your vocal chops & be that much better at helping out on backing vocals when/if a good lead vocalist is found. Until then, you'll at least be able to perform complete songs. If you get enough material down to play a few gigs, you may find a singer who pops out of an audience somewhere, likes what you've got going so far, & wants to contribute.

  12. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    i don't feel vocals are necessary...or guitar, or even bass, depending on what you are trying to accomplish.
    there are no rules.
    i've managed to tour internationally without guitarists or vocalists.
    the music just needs to stand on it's own.
  13. Vocals are not necessary. I love being in an instrumental band, I wouldn't have it any other way.

    But obviously this only works if you know about instrumental music (that is to say, "instrumental rock," etc.)
  14. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Thoroughly Nice Guy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004
    If I understand you correctly, your singer at the beginning was one of the people who helped shape the concept at the time, and the other singers were allowed to change that concept as the band continued.

    I'd suggest that maybe the band going in directions I don't want to know is partially the result of new people joining and then not keeping with the original plan. I'd also suggest that it's easier to present a potential singer with music (complete with rudimentary vox), say, "Our CD is planned. Gigs will follow. These are the songs. Learn them, and we'll rehearse and go forward from there". Again, not as many responses as you'd get with "Let's collaborate", but it will keep the OP's concept as pure as possible. That's more important IMO than giving a singer input on the initial concept and running the risk of having it ruined before the band's even played a note.
  15. Korladis

    Korladis Inactive

    Just sing yourself or find other musicians who sing.

    My own band decided to go that route after getting fed up dealing with with lead singers and deciding that they're much more trouble than they're worth.
  16. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    It's true we had several singers ... but there is NO WAY to stop input, if you do that you #1 don't get singers and or they don't stay #2 it's not a dictatorship it's a "band" people are allowed their input, #3 bands evolve and over a period of time that can mean straying from "the Concept" ... Not to say the basis of what was started didn't stay as a core sound but over a period of 8 years a lot can happen!

    You see for us we wanted to play more venues, and there are these evil people out there called booking agents and they talk to bar owners and promoters and such, and they have input on changes/adjustments you may make. If you want to work that is! Some bands are NOT working bands that's different. The OP hasn't indicated what their goal is except to say they want a singer.


    :smug: ... In any event I'm back to where I want to be, and learned a lot along the way.
  17. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Thoroughly Nice Guy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004
    #1- The idea is not to prevent input. It's to limit the effect of that input so that the concept doesn't get muddied any more than necessary.

    #2- There are both, but no one has mentioned a dictatorship. Fagen and Becker are not dictators- they're songwriters (yes, the situation is the same whether the people involved are geniuses or hacks. Guy wants to write and play, appears to want to play only his stuff). I stated earlier that the OP might have to compensate the other musicians and the singer more than they'd get if they were making more decisions, but that's all good if that's what he wants. Cooks... soup.

    Saw your car image. Thanks for the contribution to the thread.
  18. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Thoroughly Nice Guy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004

    There are so many great songs out there with vocals that might not stand up to scrutiny from some poncey music critic but still fit comfortably and tastefully into the space provided by the musicians.
  19. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    Not bad, nice and tight...reminds me a lot of Tools version of Zep's "No Quarter" from the Salival CD.
  20. Korladis

    Korladis Inactive

    Quite so. And I don't think that there are really many people out there who really "can't" sing decently. Most people just haven't ever really taken it up. The voice is just like any other instrument, it requires practice to be good at using it. Most people are just unpracticed, I think.

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