Cover band audition coming up - help me nail it.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Marley's Ghost, Dec 20, 2016.

  1. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    I have an audition coming up in about 10 days with a local cover band. They have sent me 3 sets of material they use for most of their live shows. What approach do you think will work the best? Learn a few songs? Try to learn them all? It will be a trio where the bass player quit due to the other members desire to focus on new alt/rock/pop as opposed to classic rock and country.
     
  2. sqlb3rn

    sqlb3rn

    Apr 6, 2016
    Alabama
    Depends on material of course, but generally for an audition I think three or four well played songs is better than ten songs you have to stumble through. Try and think about what the band would say about you, versus another bass player try-out. They are going to form an opinion on how you gel with the band after only a couple songs... if not by the end of the first song.

    If they like you after the first song, all you have to do is fill time and not mess it up. And if they don't like you, then it's just going to suck for everyone playing through a long set list.
     
  3. 4-fingers

    4-fingers

    Nov 22, 2015
    Ontario Canada
    If you really want to become a member in the band I recommed learning as many of the tunes as possible.....I would start learning them in order and tell them to just roll with the setlist for the audition. I had a similar audition for the band I have been in for 5 years. They sent me all their songs, I learned as many as I could in about two weeks. Got offered the spot at the end of the audition, even though that wasn't their plan going in....we played our first gig two weeks later. Been great ever since. Good luck with the audition.
     
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  4. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    I would contact them and ask if they have any specific songs from the list they want you to learn for the audition. If not, learn as many as you can nail down, and come in with a list of what you know. I am sure part of it is they want to see how long it will take you to be ready to gig.
     
  5. Vines

    Vines

    Mar 31, 2016
    CT
    Since you offered the information as to why their current bass player is leaving, it seems they must have stressed that point to you. I would pick whatever on the set list jives with their new alt/rock/pop vision moving forward.

    Also, I would agree with asking them which songs/how many they want to hear.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
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  6. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member

    This. I hate when a band just gives you the set list. Give me three or four you really want to use to test me on. Beyond that, brush up any you know already and learn as much of the rest as you have time for.
     
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    If you can show you are quick on the draw, it will help. I had an audition recently - they gave me a list of 6 tunes. I went on their website and had another 6 prepped - they were impressed.
     
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  8. Depends on how they operate.
    If they're note for note guys, you're better off really knowing a few songs. If they're more into just being a bar band, you would look better to them if you can cover a bunch of the material quickly. Personally I'd rather tell someone I don't know a song than butcher it up.

    Good luck with the audition.
     
  9. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    There are few things in life I'm ridiculously confident about. Getting the gig when auditioning is one of those things. I just had a pretty intense audition, where I was up against some guys who already knew all the material (and the band admitted they wanted to work with), and I still got the gig. I don't believe I'm any better than any of those other guys, but I believe I prepare differently. From what I'm told by the people running auditions, I'm actually certain I prepare differently.
    • I never go in half prepared. I do whatever I have to do to make sure I nail whatever I'm auditioning with. If that means cramming for 7 hours a day for 3 days before, I'll work it into my schedule.
    • I make sure I learn everything exactly how they want me to. N4N for cover bands, or whatever they have recorded for originals.
    • I always ask if there are any songs they consider more important than any others and, if I were in your place, ask them to name 4 or 5. I'd make sure I nailed those songs.
    • I ask if there's anything they do differently than recordings, or if they use any odd tuning for songs before I learn the songs.
    • I'd go in with only what I know and not even attempt songs I was shaky on. I think it's much better to floor them with 6 songs played perfectly, than play 20 like a deer in the headlights.
    • I always dress generically. Black jeans and black shirt. I also bring the bass most fitting for the gig. A P or J is always a safe bet.
    • I show up early, always. Usually about 5 minutes. Any earlier has the potential to be awkward.
    • I don't bring effects (unless requested), and I don't fiddle endlessly with my sound. I set everything flat, tweak minimally, and go. If it sounds like sheit, I'll shrug, but I won't complain.
    • I smile as much as I can.
    • I don't talk much, never name drop, and let my bass do the talking. I'm friendly and congenial, but never talk myself up. I never talk myself down anymore either... I used to do that for reasons unknown.
    • I always ask that they notify me one way or the other, and let them know I'm a big boy. I have no issues if they choose someone else.
    • I realize they WANT ME TO BE GOOD! They're on my side, not against me.
    • I understand that I'm auditioning them as well as them auditioning me.
    • I pray before all my auditions to center myself, and trust that the outcome is for the best.
    The most important of all the above though is to know the material inside out. It makes it so that I enjoy playing the songs with them, as opposed to worry about getting the bridge or chorus right. Creates an entirely different vibe in me and my playing. A confident one.

    Wrote the above in a rush... one other important thing that has to do with me preparing differently is that I hear many bassists think they're going to wow bands by their skills alone. They come to the audition with the attitude of ,"I kick ass! If I get the gig I'll learn everything and you'll be thrilled with me." Most bands don't want to see that. They want you to prove right then and there what you can and will do, and they want to feel like they'll never have to worry about you doing what you're supposed to do. They don't want to see skills and potential. They want to see and hear you make their band sound awesome!
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  10. I always learn the whole list.
     
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  11. I printed off a bands setlist and highlighted the songs I already knew. Makes it easy for them to choose the songs you're good at. Most auditions are "pick two of these six songs" or "four of these 10 songs".

    I try to play along with every song (YouTube) on their list once or twice just in case, for getting the feel of the song plus what a gig would be like with them (or if you even want the gig).

    Compliment them (simple & genuine like "You sing that really well" Mention that you enjoyed playing with them and, if offered, you'd take the position.

    Wear the clothes you'd wear to a gig. Let them see the total package, looks more professional too.

    Don't worry, just be yourself. Smile & have fun. Good luck.
     
    4-fingers likes this.
  12. Just to add to the good advice above; ask if any of the songs on that list are songs that they'd like to learn but haven't learned yet. Especially going into a band in the middle of reformatting itself. The last audition I went on, they didn't know about a third of the songs. I'd essentially wasted a bunch of time learning them only to have the people auditioning my not be prepared. That was one of the many reasons I declined their offer when it was done.
     
  13. Research this band to the extent possible and try to understand their direction, both sonic and visual. Make sure you appreciate what you're getting into and the long-term goals. Check their internet presence and audio/video. See their gig schedule and what kinds of rooms they play. Go into the audition feeling like you belong there and already know the lay of the land.

    Did the previous bass player sing? Are they expecting you to sing? If so, that would be a nice surprise for them if you come in ready to provide BGV on a couple of songs.

    If your mentality is a good match with theirs, use that to your advantage during the Q&A portion of the audition. Be honest with your answers, and polite yet direct with your questions. Showing an interest in details beyond the music makes a good impression. Everyone should go into a new line-up situation with eyes wide open about protocols and money.

    Did they give you a number of songs, shortened playlist list, timeline, etc. they wanted to run when you show up? If not, you might ask. At any rate, I would go above and beyond and learn as many as I could play well within 10 days' time. Remember: You're not the only bass player auditioning. If you like the project and want to be part of it, what are you going to do to set yourself apart from your competition?

    To show your musical versatility, try to learn a wide variety of tempos and grooves from their playlist, including what you consider the most challenging songs. Better to nail 5 tough ones than 8 easy ones. Don't cherry pick, show them you can accept a challenge.

    Be a pro, do all that "solid work ethic" stuff like you would for a job interview, give them the impression that you have your personal life sorted out and you'll be ready to roll without dragging them down come the first gig.

    Good luck.
     
  14. DirtDog

    DirtDog

    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Aside from Joe's excellent advice (I wish even a fraction of people I've auditioned would come half as prepared as Joe), I'll add the following strategy - don't try to learn all the tunes they give you. Bracket out:
    • those tunes you are highly confident about (know the tune inside out, can play without thinking);
    • those tunes you have moderate confidence in (have heard the tune, might have played it once or twice, but don't have it down cold, yet);
    • those tunes you have low confidence in at the moment (never heard the tune, not a familiar genre/artist, etc)
    For the audition, try to steer them towards your high confidence tunes and spend time learning a few of the moderate confidence tunes as backups for the audition. If they hire you, then spend more of your time learning the new material while keeping the high and moderate confidence stuff polished up.
     
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  15. Max

    Max Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
    Bakersfield, CA
    Joe Nerve nailed it.
     
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  16. Ant Illington

    Ant Illington I'm Anthony but I'm only illin' Inactive

    I've seen your videos. You have charisma and a great attitude that everybody can learn from. That would edge anybody over many other players in the same or even better ballpark, skills-wise.
     
    Jimmy4string likes this.
  17. gidbass

    gidbass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Lots of great advice here.

    I would ask them which songs from the list they would prefer you to focus on. I can't believe that they expect you to learn 3 sets worth for an audition. Once they give you that list, learn it and then learn a few more.

    What did for my audition with my current band, is the following

    From Joe's Post (which is excellent btw), i did do these things:

    • I always ask if there are any songs they consider more important than any others and, if I were in your place, ask them to name 4 or 5. I'd make sure I nailed those songs.
    • I ask if there's anything they do differently than recordings, or if they use any odd tuning for songs before I learn the songs.
    • I'd go in with only what I know and not even attempt songs I was shaky on. I think it's much better to floor them with 6 songs played perfectly, than play 20 like a deer in the headlights.
    • I always ask that they notify me one way or the other, and let them know I'm a big boy. I have no issues if they choose someone else.
    • I understand that I'm auditioning them as well as them auditioning me.
    • I never go in half prepared. I do whatever I have to do to make sure I nail whatever I'm auditioning with. If that means cramming for 7 hours a day for 3 days before, I'll work it into my schedule.
    • I make sure I learn everything exactly how they want me to. N4N for cover bands, or whatever they have recorded for originals.
    So, my band gave me 5 songs to learn and their entire set list. They told me to pick 5. I picked the 5 I wanted to play and kinda knew and learned them inside out and backwards. I then looked at their list and broke it down as follows
    • ones i know
    • ones i kind of know
    • ones i like and want to play
    • ones i never heard
    I attacked the list in this order and ended up learning about 20 for my audition and guess what? We had so much fun playing the 5 that we blew through the other 15 during the same audition. Anything I felt i was shaky on, i told them upfront but also told them that I was willing to give it a go.

    Basically, i think you can approach any and all auditions with three simple rules.

    1. Be prepared
    2. Show up on time.
    3. Be humble.

    I think these can be applied to almost every situation.

    Good Luck!
     
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  18. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    OP: joe's take is the absolute final word on what to do, IMO. it's the only professional approach. if your situation does not merit that kind of professional attention: i would advise you to use joe's post as a template and adjust accordingly.

    good luck on your audition: please let us know how things turn out and what your experience is/was. thanks! :thumbsup:
     
  19. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    Thanks so much all for your input. I feel all warm inside now. :thumbsup:

    A few clarifications are in order.

    1) I have met them and seen them live. They did their last show with a bass track. :wideyed: They did an admiral job of not milli vaniiling. :nailbiting:

    2) They didn't specify what I should learn. And my audition would have been this week except like the holidays.

    They seem to be real easygoing and cool. They have viewed my old band videos and contacted me online so they want me in the band. Now all I have to do is not screw it up. :bag:
     
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  20. I auditioned one time and didn't know any of their material, so they played a few things that I knew, had a good time with them and got the gig. I think they liked that I had been on the road with real pros and could do the job. Like Joe suggested, charisma and stage presence really sell yourself.