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If only I knew then what I know now...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bigcatJC, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. bigcatJC


    Jul 9, 2004
    I was talking with a former guitar player who is still a good friend about our band days when we were young and stupid. We know so much now that would have made life back then so much easier, but there was no one to tell us any better - and no internet forums like this to learn from. Not that we would have listened anyway...To get to the point, what do you know now and would like to tell your younger self way back when? I've got a few easy ones:

    1. Rehearsal space/setup
    We never had enough space to set up like you would on a stage (straight across), so we ended up playing in a circle, facing inward - with our amps behind us - firing away at our own ankles and straight at the guy across from us. What a clusterfudge. No wonder we couldn't hear ourselves, resulting in the dreaded Volume Wars...I would tell myself to tilt those freaking amps back like monitors and save everybody from the head-splitting volume.

    2. Turn the f&*k down and/or get smaller amps!
    Related to #1. We probably needed about half the volume we used, but nooooo...Rock stars are cool 'cuz they're deaf! Closing out the hearing trilogy, we have...

    3. Tell the drummer he doesn't have to beat his kit like John Bonham all the time.
    The rest of us have volume knobs, you don't. Ease up, O Mighty Thunderer.

    4. Some people will not change their essential nature. Move on.
    If a guy is a selfish, combative bandmate, he's probably that way with other people in his life. If he won't change for people he's known all his life, what makes you think he'll change just because he's in your band? Life's too short and there are too many other musicians out there. Find one that's a decent human being.

    5. Agree on a list of new songs to learn before you start practicing.
    "Do you know this one?"
    "No, how about this song..."
    You get the idea. Make out a list of 20 songs with each person choosing 5 (We were in a 4 piece band), so there's no hurt feelings ("We never play what I like!"), and make sure everybody has audio copies of all songs. Learn 4 songs each week, choosing 1 from each person's 5. Start a new list when the 20 are done. This solves many problems: What are we going to play? I've never heard that, how does it go? We never play my stuff! What are we practicing for next time?

    How about you guys? Pass on some knowledge!
  2. + 1 to #5. Agree on a list of new songs to learn before you start practicing.

    Ill add something to it. If its your song, make sure you have the chord sheet or sheet music available also. No progress is made when everyone is in a different key :D
    Floyd Palma likes this.
  3. troy2003


    Aug 29, 2007
    Great points!Number 5 resulted in sooo many wasted hours of rehearsal.Took forever to agree on a tune,then when we did,hopefully somebody had a chord sheet(if they did,he huddled around that person to read it)If not,went through many many attempts of 4 people trying to remember all the chord changes etc..Someone finally thought of a white board which helped out a ton.

    I would also add-be on time-everyone else makes it a point to be on time to practice-always has to be one in every band.We all know the guy-he gets there 15 to 20 minutes late,then has to start telling a story why he was late or the "horrible day at work".Then has to get out his gear,set it up,tune it,etc while we are all noodling on several differant songs.
    Floyd Palma likes this.
  4. 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
    Excellent thread. Here's a couple from my current band.

    Absolutely no drugs or you're out.

    The first rehearsal or gig at which you get drunk is your last.
  5. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    For most gigs, you won't need a huge PA.

    Everything doesn't need to be mic'd and use that reverb a bit more sparingly.

    Don't boost the bass on the vocal channel. It will only lead to that nobody will hear the words.

    Use quality stuff built for the road. Pack everything well. Fortunately, we always did this with my old band. Once when the trailer ended up in the ditch and most things fell off into the snow, we were happy nothing except the trailer broke.

    Less is often more. Play dynamically. The powerful parts will be twice as powerful if you don't play with the same power all the time.

    Like it or not, but the vocals will always get the most attention in a band. Make sure they're heard. See also advice 3 above.

    Turn down the guitar amp.

    Listen to the singer. If he/she really don't want to sing a song, don't play it. There's usually a reason behind it.

    Play songs you like. Don't play songs you hate because the audience might want to hear them (exceptions exist).

    Still, be a little flexible regarding what songs to play.

    Have ONE (1) person that takes care of the gig booking.

    Be on time.

    Don't drink more than perhaps a couple of beers before a gig.

    Have some backup stuff with you. Ask the guitar player to have a tuned backup guitar with him on the stage if he's known to break strings. He shouldn't put on a new string on while you other people start playing the next song without him...

    Everybody should participate in carrying the stuff on gigs. Don't go home before the others just because you live further away, alternatively accept a lower share of the gig money.

    Share the gig money fairly between band members. Take travel expenses into consideration, and do it already when you're booking the gigs.

    Make sure you have insured your instruments and PA.

    Avoid communal owning of stuff like the PA.

    Make sure all band members prioritize the band equally much and that they have similar long-term goals with the band.

    Have fun. :)
  6. +100 to all of the above, in addition:

    Don't put up with a gui**** that you constantly have to tell "put your finger here."

  7. Croox


    Sep 16, 2007
    South Side Chicago
    I'm learning this now :mad: Its always great when your guitar player and drummer turns down shows because that only want to play once a month.
    4 Out of 5 likes this.
  8. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    here's one:
    don't take yourself too seriously
    aparker82 likes this.
  9. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    That's a good point as well. :)
    Old Blastard likes this.
  10. Fnord Explorer

    Fnord Explorer

    Feb 3, 2008
    If you show up to jam/audition and the drummer has a 9-piece kit or larger, turn right around and go home. Guess who'll stuck helping that guy move all his crap? Certainly won't be the singer.
    Combat Wombat, russman and Alik like this.
  11. #7 - 8 out of 10 drummers are douche nozzles.

    the best you can hope for is a decent one that's in three different bands...
    Old Blastard likes this.
  12. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    I disagree with this (I think).

    My last band was a chick who had single handed veto power on songs. It really pissed some of us off. If she didn't "feel inspired" to sing on something the others came up with...too bad. Yet if I wasn't inspired to create something cool for the song she liked...too bad, keep working on it.

    All of our songs were awesome, but I don't attribute that to her "keen sense" of picking the hits. I attribute this to the band being very good and playing everything like we mean it.

    Frankly, one of our best songs is one she actually hated.

    That's a riot.
    coilcbl_RT likes this.
  13. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    If you can't communicate on a musical level with your bandmates, be prepared to be stuck playing to them and playing their songs.
    3Liter and SaltLamp like this.
  14. troy2003


    Aug 29, 2007
    Don't put up with players who use practice as just that-practice.(meaning they don't touch their instruments except during band practice)Hate that.
  15. Valerus


    Aug 4, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    Subscribed. :D
  16. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    The ones that leap to mind are already mentioned:

    Vocals are the priority, and will generally make or break your band's sound. Vocal mistakes are easily perceived by the audience, most instrumental flubs go unheard.

    Pay attention to dynamics. After the vocals, this is what most of the audience are following.

    Practice your parts alone; rehearse as a whole band. Rehearsal is not for you to figure out your own parts.

    Be clear about band/artistic/musical/ goals, make sure everybody is on the same or similar wavelengths.

    Be clear about job/family/non-band priorities, make sure everybody is on the same or similar wavelengths.

    One new one:
    Be very wary of playing in a band with your buddies. Friendships can be destroyed by the challenges of being in a band.
    Mpcorb and Floyd Palma like this.
  17. corradoc


    Dec 20, 2007
    New York City
    big +1 to this. i've spent my fair share of time playing FOR people, instead of WITH people.....lame.
  18. four2oh


    Mar 29, 2006
    Seattle, WA

    i like being able to look at everyone in the "circle", but we're musicians, not models! i need to hear you, not see you!

    My plan this afternoon is to rearrange our entire studio to get away from the "circle" and setup more like we do on stage!
    Alik likes this.
  19. mdiddium


    Jun 21, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA
    "Too many cooks in the kitchen" can be applied to so many scenarios (i.e. studio, writing, managing/business affairs). One or two leaders is just fine.
    eJake and Floyd Palma like this.
  20. fullrangebass


    May 7, 2005
    +1 to all of the above

    One thing I'd like to add: Try to be truly professional when rehearsing. Take care of everything that can (and probably will) go wrong. If you cannot save it at the rehearsal, you won't save it at the gig. Be responsible at your end about everything that involves you: bass, strings, tuner, backup bass, back up plan if the guitar player breaks a string etc etc

    If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.
    Mpcorb, eJake and Alik like this.

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