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"Local band" theories and thoughts

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by szvonek, Jan 16, 2003.

  1. This is pretty random, but I'm eating lunch at my desk and I'm bored. So I thought I'd share a couple theories I have about local bands in general and see what everyone's thoughts were. These wouldn't really apply to cover bands btw, I'm just thinking about original bands.

    #1 - It is more difficult for a local band to be popular in their own city since they have the "local" stigma. By playing in other cities a band instantly gets a little bit more credibility and the crowd is more likely to be open to their music. So it would be better to play in nearby cities than your hometown.

    #2 - The thing that typically separates 'every local band' from a band that really has a chance of making it is the singer. It seems like whenever I hear an mp3 song from a local band, 9 times out of 10 the musical intro sounds pretty good, but once the singer starts that's where it's painfully obvious that this is a local band. It's like most local bands have the exact same style of singer...just a really average sounding voice. I just feel like emailing them and saying "get a good singer dammit!!" But I know they're hard to come by and that's probably why it's like that.

    anyone agree? disagree? does anyone care? The White Castles were really good btw. Mmmmmmm...onion chips......
  2. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Re #1... I suppose that people would be more intrigued if they know the band has come from elsewhere, but I've never heard of anyone not being interested in music just because it's local. Anyone who is not a total snob will judge the band by its music and/or performance, not labels.

    Re #2... interesting point, probably depends a lot on the genre though. I could point out trends that I've noticed over time, but in the end they'd only be generalizations... Every band has a different weak link, but if it's the singer, more people will notice.

    I've heard quite a few local bands that completely blow away so-called "established" acts.
  3. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    #1 - A lot of bands are reluctant to venture out of town just because it takes effort to get the booking and travelling issues addressed. They tend to whine about the lack of good venues, opportunities, appreciation they're getting, etc. - especially in a small-to-medium sized town. Once they make the leap to play other towns, they've expanded their opportunities many times over, and the law of averages would predict that they'll find some of what they're looking for.

    #2 - I agree with you. I think that at a local level, you find songwriters who either can't find someone better to do the singing, or who simply haven't yet been forced to wake up and smell the pungent aroma of their own mediocrity. Good singers are hard to find, too - as evidenced by your own experience. Then there are the guitarists who think they can sing - there's a can of worms, now! I'm playing in a cover band right now with a great guitarist who started singing a few years back because it's so hard to find a good vocalist. He worked his ass off from what I hear, and he deserves to be proud of himself - but he's unfortunately lost the ability to see the disparity between his great guitar playing and mediocre singing voice. Lots of people (usually guitarists) out there with the exact same problem. What can you do?
  4. That's true...it makes me think of another point (on the singers): It seems that too many bands are into being in a band because of their instrument-playing abilities, and then the singing becomes an after-thought. Like four dudes will get together cuz they love playing their instruments, and then they all look at each other and say "Anyone sing?" until one guy hesitantly raises his hand. "Sweet, we got ourselves a band then!" Instead of auditioning singers until you've really got a good one. Probably a lot of the same logic that's used to find bass players sometimes..."Hey Paul, we need a bass player, do you mind switching from guitar? You drew the short stick." People are so glad to have found someone that can sing decently since they're so hard to find that they grab hold of them like Oprah on a Twinkie.
  6. #1 - It has also heard about the local band stigma. Can't comment about that yet but if I go on a tour, I'll let you know.

    #2 - I agree that local bands treat the singer as an after-thought but there are also a number of awful singers on the radio (ex. Hot Hot Heat). I think that awful singers on the radio have the benefit of constant radioplay - people get the voice beaten into their head whereas a local band only gets one shot to impress.
  7. 1. a lot of people like bands just because they're local. i can't tell you how many kids in my high school think that dropkick murphys are the balls just because they're irish and from boston. same with godsmack. it applies on smaller scales as well.
    2. most people don't know much about musical talent and skill etc. (unless they're musicians too, and sometimes not even then:rolleyes: ). a lotta people don't realize when a guitarist or bassist is sloppy as heck or just doesn't know what they're doing (MY local scene) but almost anyone can tell when a singer sucks.
  8. IME,you really need to get your roots established on a local level..if you can win over a local audience you'll have the confidence to venture out to other areas..if you create a buzz locally,the good news will travel fast(like a ripple in a pond)...as far as singers go...that has to be the hardest spot to fill in a band..the quanity far exceeds the quality.they are the focal point of the band. not only do they need the singing talent,but they need to be a good "frontman" and be an approachable,personable person who is happy to be there and always wear a happy face ALL OF THE TIME...I've come to believe there are 3 elements that make a good singer(which I've already mentioned..talent,showmanship\stage presence and a people person) if you can find someone with 2 of the 3 qualities, keep'em...sometimes it pays off to keep a "pretty good" singer,he or she may be a diamond in the rough and the missing ingredient can always be worked on...just look at Anthony Keidis for instance..not the greatest vocalist,but has the other 2 aspects locked up..Mick Jagger is another that comes to mind,not an outstanding vocalist.. but He's an absolute showman(who looks like Don Knotts),and people dig'em...my point is... don't be to hard on those singers,they do what a lot of us don't have the balls to do..be kind,help them along,encourge them to be better and always stroke their ego;)
  9. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I very much agree with your second point. Many of times I've been browsing MP3.com and come across a band where I'll play their track. The music sounds awesome then the singer open's his mouth and it ruins it all. I agree, good singers with good stage presence are hard to find. Many people are technically good singers, but there has to be something about their voice that draws you in. I really like singers that are distinquishable. (which is one thing that irratates me about modern Country, everyone sounds like a Garth Brooks clone, voice wise) I love hearing a U2 tune for the first time, and saying "Yeah, that's Bono", or "Yeah that's Geddy Lee", or "Yeah, that's Rob Halford". Your lead singer is going to be the person that your audience is going to use to identify with. As great as a guitar player Joe Perry is, when people hear Aerosmith, they are going to be thinking of Steven Tyler.

    Another point I would like to add, is a lot of local bands have really crappy and unmemorable names. I think a lot of times, when a band gets signed, their label tells them to change their name, cause I know so many local bands names, are well, just down right lousy. I've always believed that a good name, is orginal, memorable, and most importantly, describes the sound of the band, without you even hearing them yet.

    What are your thoughts on this?
  10. I don't know if I agree with that really...as many names as our band rejected, I never really thought the one we went with would make that much difference in the end. I agree that you can't name your band something that misleads people, like a polka band called "The Funk-Shikis", or a poppy band called "Death Warmed Under", etc. But I've always felt that your band defines the name, not the other way around, just like a product brand name. For example, if another band took the name Nirvana before Kurt and company did, and they happened to be a sucky pop band, you would probably say "that name sucks, it's so cheesy." But now I gotta ask, LM: what do you think of "Ameba" as a band name?? :confused: :D
  11. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    On point #1...I sorta agree. Are you talking about a 30-minute driving radius or do you mean going to the nearest major market 2-hours away. I've always recommended staying within 45-minutes. Just to overlap your following. Think about it. DO you want to drive an hour to go out on a friday night to see a band, even a good regional act? I don't. 30-minutes is about the limit.

    It depends what you want...I'd rather be in a local band that is known as the best in the area with a strong local draw than in a band that goes to the shore to be one of a thousand ambiguous forgotten cookie-cutter acts. Here's an idea...lie. Put up a fake calendar on the webpage showing that you played at the bigger venues. If you get "credibility" only by people seeing that you've played wherever - I'd rather tell people what they want to hear and make money and grow recognition around a strong base locally.

    If you're looking to get signed, wouldn't you have a better chance as one of the top local acts in the area with something special to offer or an original band that travels to cater to tourist spots and is required to play a certain amount of covers that the band the night before also played?

    On the second point...I don't think there's any doubt about it. Most people notice the vocals. It is very difficult to find a "good" singer. It is more difficult to find a fresh sounding "good" singer.
  12. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I remember Blackie Lawless of WASP once said that the first hook of a song is it's name, and I kind of think in the same terms when it comes to the band name. Ultimatley, the music is definitly the most important factor, but I think if you really want to look at things from a marketing stand point, a name should leave a positive impact on people.

    I see your point though about bands making their name. I would still think Nirvana was a cool name though, even if a sucky pop group was called it. Actually, I think a pyscedlic group would probaly fit Nirvana better, since the defination of Nirvana is obtaining ecstacy by the extection of oneself.

    And Ameba is a cool name. Though I would personally avoid it though, because some people might think of the Nu-metal band "Adema" when they hear it.

    And then maybe, I just worry about trival things and I'm missing the big point. :p
  13. I'd have to say that the singer is the most important part of the band. For example there is a band here in the baltimore/annapolis area and they have a singer who puts on an amazing show and is very energetic and people like him alot. One problem though. He cant sing for $hiznit. Luckily he has a bass player that can sing a zillion times better than him and can back him up enough to make him sound good. And both the singer and the bassist can write really catchy songs.

    And about the playing away from your area thing. The band i was just talking about plays out of their area sometimes and i have to say that it doesnt seem to go very well for them. If they arent playing at their signature place (which they do very very well at) then people see their weaknesses.

    But this is just one band im talking about so im sure it all depends on the band.
  14. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Why is that?

    I disagree - I think all bad members are equally important. If one guy didn't show up to a gig, it wouldn't matter who it was - your sound would suffer anyway.

    Lots of great music has been done by bands that have no singer. Are you saying they aren't as important?
  15. #1 - This is the so-called "expert from afar" syndrome and it pervades not only music but all walks of life. What's more impressive, somebody from your home town giving a presentation or somebody from 5,000 miles away doing the exact same thing? It's human nature that distance equals legitimacy. Some of that may be due to the press since they constantly have to find new things to write about. What's more interesting, a story about the same old locals or someone new and mysterious from far away?

    #2 - As to the singer being the most important factor: I think the average person can't tell a really good guitarist from an average one, but they can tell a hot singer from an average one quite easily. It's because most people don't play instruments but everybody sings, even if it's only when they are alone in their car. So the singer becomes their focal point. The percentage of singers who stand out from the crowd is extremely small. As more and more bands are being formed the quality of the singers is going to decrease because the really good ones are already in bands, so most new bands have to make do with increasingly poorer singers. For what it's worth I refuse to play in a band if they have somebody who is 'just the singer'. I'm playing on every song and doing backup vocals on every song. And frankly I can usually sing lead better than most so-called singers anyway. So why should they get equal pay and become the 'band leader' when I'm doing a lot more work and have a significantly larger investment in time and money than they do? You're right, most of them sound 'local'. Unless they are really spectacular you're better off strengthening your own voice and doing it yourself.
  16. Devilmang


    Feb 3, 2003
    Sayre, PA
    I always think the same ting when I hear a local act, "The singer is singing on a line". Too many times the person is just singing the song straight forward with no inflection in his/her voice. This can make the difference between a good song and a great song.

    As with playing locally, it can help a great deal. It is your base and should be used as such. These are the people that are always going to be there for your band. Go to other places and play but bring it back home and you always have a good crowd :)
  17. Shuller


    Feb 2, 2003
    moscow, russia
    Can't agree any more. Bad vocals can mess up a great song and mediocre vocals normaly bring up the urge to give the singer a kick in ass to put more passion into his words. As for Fretless12ver,
    I guess you're right too, I was just the singer in my band till the bass player skipped and I took his place and kept the vocals. Singing with the bass got me a lot better at both. And theres something that I always feel when I hear a singer w/o an instrument. It feels like the guy is just drifting with the flow not making it up.

    Away with crap singers. Save promising local bands today.:oops:
  18. That's so true...I think that really hits it on the head. Think about singers that don't have stellar voices, but their attitude and inflection more than make up for it. Off the top of my head: Mick Jagger, Tom Waits, the dude from the Hives...

    then you've got people with good voices that sing on a line and sound sooooo average. I think maybe what it comes down to is people study instruments and practice all the time, but hardly anyone really practices singing 'correctly' and listens to their voice and tries to fix what they're doing wrong like we would do on bass. And I've never met anyone that's taken singing lessons.
  19. Shuller


    Feb 2, 2003
    moscow, russia
    Actually I had one, a friend of a friend (etc.) said I should go to old guy who teaches at the biggest conservatory, he listened to my demo (of the band), laughed real hard and said he'll teach me to hit every note the proper way but then I can totally forget improvising. So I politely told him to have a good day.
  20. Since so many people can (or at least think they can) sing, and so many of them want to, i don't think finding a good singer is too huge a problem. I get plenty of people who (at least jokingly) want to sing for my band. My response: no thanks, but do you know any drummers?

    Don't you guys find that it's way harder to find a drummer that actually can keep a solid beat for more than a few measures (and isn't waaaay overbooked/busy) than somebody who could move a crowd with their voice? :)

    By the way, if there are any good drummers in the western suburbs of chicago, FIND ME!
    Speaking of drummers, don't you think it's much more important for drummers to be able to emulate the action of metronomes than for them to be able to do cool fills? I can't stand drummers who can't leave a fill in the same tempo as they entered it. I think that for drummers, "Skill is nothing, Groove is everything." --My father.