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How to audition front persons

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by SeaBassSteve, Jul 12, 2012.

  1. SeaBassSteve


    Nov 14, 2008
    Well, this isn't something I could find on the search
    Essentially, we are auditioning a front person (ideally female) for our new 80's Party Band (read function and events)
    There is very little competition in the genre around here, and it is getting into fashion big time.

    The question is
    How can you guage someones front persons ability in an audition?

    We would rather have an average singer who can work a crowd than an amazing singer who just introduces the songs.
  2. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    It's a job interview. They should come across as personable to you, because that charisma should be evident before they even take a mic. I wouldn't think you can get much about the whole "host" thing by an audition; you're going to have to start with whether or not they can sing. I have seen some people who think they're the best front person in the world, but can't sing very well, and it is an audience killer. You definitely need them to be able to sing.

    But you should see some natural stage presence, if you're going to be out there working right away.

    As far as working the crowd, it is very difficult to work an imaginary crowd. I do it, in our rehearsals, but I am a major diva, and huge PITA, and prone to fits of imagination. I would never audition for a band, because I usually FORM a band, or at the very least co-found a band. You don't need someone who is a huge stage presence; you need someone who isn't a shell-shocked mess. Anyone who has even half a personality can be developed, and you should, as a band, all develop together. The entire band needs stage presence, not just the lead singer.

    That's my take, and I am often wrong.
  3. Incredibly sound advice. Definitely start with someone who can sing; stage presence is easier to teach/learn than vocal ability.
  4. How about asking each person auditioning if they have some video of their performance abilities ?
  5. Moloch666


    Apr 22, 2012
    I've found that checking out vocallists at karaoke seems to work alright.
    Not only do they do a song they know (or you make them do one you know) you can see how well they interact with the crowd within that 3-4 minutes they're on stage. It's not a lot of time, but they should show if they have any stage presence or whether they're just going to get up and sing.

    ...plus it's a karaoke night. :)
  6. soulman969

    soulman969 Banned

    Oct 6, 2011
    Englewood, Colorado
    You'll know pretty quickly if she has the combination you're looking for. Look at it this way. If you guys are attracted to her and she holds your attention and can handle the material she's the right one.

    She doesn't need to have the voice of an opera singer but she does need to know how to sell a song and keep the momentum going. Easy on the eyes is a good thing too. You'll know when you have the right one.

    Sparkly = Good Flaky = Bad
  7. SeaBassSteve


    Nov 14, 2008
    Been thinking about it overnight after
    Reading some comments. I get the impression a confident singer who is clearly confident in their own abilities is going to be the easiest to "train " at front person ness.
  8. UncleFluffy


    Mar 8, 2009
    Head Tinkerer, The Flufflab
    Do they own their own vocal PA or do they expect you to provide the amp for their instrument as well as your own? ;)
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Tell me about it. We auditioned a female singer who brought her rhinestone-encrusted mic to our rehearsal studio (at least she has a mic) and she related enthusiastically to the non-existent audience. It was so weird we knew she wasn't fit, so it all worked out.
  10. If you are a theme-based band, you need to have your audition candidates show up in wardrobe, in character, and display and describe for you how she intends to carry out her role as front person.

    FWIW, there is an 80's band in my area, and they do VERY well in the upscale market (weddings and corporate events). Average musicians, they get the job done, but they have the look and attitude down.
  11. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    After ascertaining that they can sing decently enough, I would have them do their best David Lee Roth screams and jumps, and Michael Jackson ee-hees and slides. Preferably in front of a bunch of people they don't know. Even if you never plan to do VH or MJ tunes, if the prospect (male or female) can charmingly pull off those frontmen's sounds and moves in front of people, they'll do well.
  12. SeaBassSteve


    Nov 14, 2008
    We have ton of pa equipment for gigs of any size as a result of our previous experiences in diff bands
  13. slaps76


    Jul 10, 2008
    Medford, MA
    Also being prepared. We're looking for a singer now, and it's so hard to find a fit. We found someone in the right age, had a great tone & pitch to his voice, but showed up not knowing the 3 songs I gave him the week prior at all, and totally screwed them up. Considering whoever the new singer is will have to learn 50+ songs in a relatively short time, that to me was a sign of a guy who will be rocking lyric sheets on stage...
  14. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I have seen at least a half dozen established bands within the past couple of months all with female fronts.

    None of them had decent stage presence and really couldn't connect or do anything that resonated with the crowd.

    My opinion, stage presence is not easier to teach or learn.

  15. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    Totally agree.

    But if it was our band, I think we'd still go for the best singer over personality. There's plenty of crowd working capability in the rest of our band.

    If you're drummer has the gift of charisma, use your drummer as a "front man" etc. There's more than one way to skin a cat so to speak.
  16. Dantreige


    Oct 22, 2009
    I think you missed his point. If a singer shows up and does not own a mic, monitors or a small pa, you should beware.

    It's way different to sing in your car or in the bathroom then singing on stage with with drums, guitars and bass blasting in your ear. How do singers practice proper mic technique if they don't own a mic? If you do not own monitors, how do you get experience singing through them? How can you relay to the sound person what you need to hear and if you hear something odd?

    I would pick a singer that owns his/her equipment over one who does not nine out of ten times.

    +1 to having them sing Karaoke for a try out.
  17. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I think the band front persons I saw had little to no band experience and were picked up from karaoke backgrounds.

    I am not sure if karaoke experience means much.
  18. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I'm not so sure on this. Regarding that "it" factor that a really good front person needs, I have come to believe you either have it or you don't.

    A decent (not great) singer with awesome fronting / crowd skills will trump a great singer that's blah on presence every time. Especially if you're talking "party band" scenarios. I've been in both situations and know of which I speak.
  19. UncleFluffy


    Mar 8, 2009
    Head Tinkerer, The Flufflab
    and if they own it, they're more likely to help load it in and out
  20. Corevalay

    Corevalay Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    New Jersey
    Absolutely agree with this. I am an average singer at best, but bands I've sang lead for have always done well because I was great on stage. I've played bass in bands where the lead singer was great but boring, and we didn't get nearly the response we did when I was singing. You really just have it or don't. Teaching someone to be a front person almost never works IME.

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