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Setting up a funk function band

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Howard K, Sep 22, 2003.


  1. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Right then...

    I've been wanting to do this for ages, but until now I've not had enough contacts of decent enough players to make it happen.

    I have an excellent drummer, who will also do live sound. I have a guitarist who I'm hoping will act as a co-organiser and writing partner.
    And via another band I have access to a fair amount of horn players (who I'm sure will all play for some cash!), who I'm yet to recruit. I have a few ideas for a singer - the toughest thing to find, of course!

    The long term plan is to get a set together (of covers to start with, then some originals) and be able to ask for a decent enough sum so that we can all get paid (nothing excessive) for playing some music that is fun to play.

    But I'm obviously very new to this setting up a band lark and have some questions:

    How should I approach setting up the band?

    My plan is to choose a bunch of simple songs to cover as a start point. Then get the basic band: guitar, drums, keys and vox playing these songs - via a great deal of practice at home. Then to introduce to the horns.

    However - what do I need to do in advance of getting the horn players involved?

    Presuming I need transcriptions for each part, will I need to do them myself (drummer has done notation for string sections, so can help me out, but will still take me months!).

    I worked out the part for the james brown song "outta sight" on the weekend, as my mrs is learning sax - it took me about 1/2 hour to get the basics down, but not I any format suitable for a professional that's for sure!

    I couldnt expect them to do their own notations, could I?

    I've worked with guitar, drums etc for ages - those players are used to working stuff out for themselves! ...and I know I can always buy keys and vocal notations if I have to, but horns are new to me!

    What would be the best way to approach this? How would any of you guys do it?

    ta
    H :)
     
  2. CS

    CS

    Dec 11, 1999
    UK
    Having seen your concept I can see some potential problems...

    The idea is to set up a writing partnership with the drummer. Assuming he is an unkown quantity in this area you need to write some stuff with him to see if it works.

    Also the idea is the use this as yet untried songwriting team after attracting musicians with covers. What if they don't like the material?

    I would get at least 4-5 song ideas down before looking for other musicians. If nobody is writing lyrics then you need to get the singer in on it.

    This leads to another potential problem. Whomever is writing the material may feel that they have some investment in the band therefore have some say in the leadership. Singers tend to be the frontperson and are perceived as the leader anyway.

    So as a recap, sort out the writing early and sort out the leadership early. If you are not writing all the material and doing all the admin stuff then you might have to consider letting others in. I would consider forming a leadership of you the drummer and a singer/instrumentalist to share writing admin and expenses. Get yourself 4-5 originals and some covers ready and source your solists, horn players, percussionists, backing singers and string section. Use these people on an as and when basis.
     
  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Having seen your concept I can see some potential problems...

    The idea is to set up a writing partnership with the drummer. Assuming he is an unkown quantity in this area you need to write some stuff with him to see if it works.

    Nope, with the guitarist.
    The drummer is really a session guy who is a mate. I'm with him in another band and we've discussed the idea - more discussion this week.
    He will basically constribute and play as long as he's getting paid.

    Also the idea is the use this as yet untried songwriting team after attracting musicians with covers. What if they don't like the material?

    I would get at least 4-5 song ideas down before looking for other musicians. If nobody is writing lyrics then you need to get the singer in on it.


    Indeed,yes, a very good point. Thanks. As it happens I have bunch of ideas ready to develop, and am just waiting for a writing partners input.

    The singer will have to do lyrics unless the guitarist (the writing partner) can write words, cause I certainly cant.

    This leads to another potential problem. Whomever is writing the material may feel that they have some investment in the band therefore have some say in the leadership. Singers tend to be the frontperson and are perceived as the leader anyway.

    Hmm. This is another good point.

    I'll have to spell it out from the outset wont I!
    I'm planning to do it on the basis that whoever pays for rehearsals etc gets a say in the direction of the band - if they dont cough up, then they just play for the gigs and get paid when we do.
    So, if people aren't willing to work/play on that basis, then they dont join the band.
    That's fair I suppose? :meh:

    The drummer wont shell out for anything, he's too tight.. but he will work hard and he will get it right 1st time and every time. I can rely on him.
    The toughest part, as you say, is the singer issue - I'd love to have a singer to share the work (and financial load) - maybe this should be our 1st priority after compiling some basic instrumental tracks and getting the writing partnerhsip together..

    thanks CS - some things I hadnt thought of.

    Re: "as and when basis" - i want the band to eventually be a regularly gigging band that can do weddings etc - but also get into some decent clubs.

    hard work. but i know it can be done as long as i can get reliable decent players - my main worry is finding a suitable singer.
     
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    You might well come across horn players who can do horn arrangements themselves - I know quite a few of these from Jazz workshops. It especially applies to Sax players, who will often play more than one instrument - so like Tenor and Alto or Tenor and Soprano and maybe flute or clarinet.

    So, you might be better looking for horn players who can do this and ask if they have any charts ready - so if they had 6 suitable tunes and you create 6 yourself - that's a quicker way to go.

    So - like with the Average White Band - the horn arrangements are done by the horn players, who sometimes get a writing credit.

    I think it would make sense to get at least one horn player involved permanently - so you don't write stuff that is impossible to play - and as I said it may be a quicker way to get started.

    I think you would have to be clear about what sort of music you want to do though, as a lot of the Sax players I know who are good at these kinds of things, really want to play bebop rather than funk!! ;)
     
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    that's a good idea too. I'm hoping the drummer can help me with that - he's an experienced and skilled musician ...there's gotta be at least one in the rhythm section :D

    i'm kinda reluctant to rely on too many people on a permenant basis, and i am fearful of inviolving peolpe who "wont get out of bed for less than.." if you know what I mean.

    I'm happy to work with people who only play for cash, but I dont want to work with people who wont lift a finger. i.e wont rehearse without being paid, or will only read perfect charts etc etc. mercenarys basically! :D

    really, i want good musicians who are willing to put in a bit of time themselves to get good gigs and earn a bit of extra pocket money.

    Man, i'll have to sepll this out to everyone i speak - that's the only way i can make sure i dont annoy people through misunderstanding.

    genre wise it's clear - funk all the way.
    with maybe a hint of light fusion if i can get away with it - headhunters style, for example, but only a touch.

    the idea really - and this is why i think i'll be able to sell it to people - is to have good time playing it. i dont want to get precious about it - i just want to get gigs where people enjoy themselves and dance! :)
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    A lot of the people I meet at Jazz Summerschool are really into playing some funky tunes - so Chameleon from Headhunters is like a "Standard" now, along with "Pick up the Pieces" by AWB.

    The Jazz tutors often do a funky Stevie Wonder medley with a big arranged horn section - so they will do "I Wish", "Superstition" and "Sir Duke" usually - gets everybody dancing! :)
     
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    well chameleon and actual proof are two that i have in mind - chameleon "should" be a sinch - simple form - a two chord wonder unless i'm mistaken!
    i worked out the repeating horn part to that yesterday while playing about with it - fantastic stuff.

    sir duke & i wish might be later additions - i think it'd be best to get a band starting on more simple stuff to get into playing together before tackling harder stuff.
    i'm thinking some of JB's hits - outta sight, brand new bag, get it together, some sly & the family stone... billy jean if i can persuade people :D (i just wann play that bassline, shhh, dont tell!)
     
  8. I "lead" an 8-piece funk band. I'll tell you the secret. Horn players know other horn players.

    We do have charts for them for EVERYTHING. In their key. They have a very different background than bass players and you need to respect that. If yo want to get into horn arranging, beware that there's a lot to consider. Ideally, one of the horn players will do it. As long as we're talking ideally, get horn players with great relative pitch, that can harmonize and transcribe on the fly, and know the idiom really well. Oh, and that have played with each other for years.

    I have no idea how to make money.
     
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    cheers c-ba55.

    I think you're definitley right. One of my current bands used to have a horn section, but they sacked the trumbone player because he kept playing The Wombles theme tune in one of the songs :D

    I'm hoping to tap into this resource once I have the basic drums, bass, guitar and vox together.
    ...and I think you're right - I will make a point of sourcing one horn player who can transcribe and notate for me, then pay him/her extra when we get paid gigs, or pay him for the transcriptions if that's how he/she wants to do it?

    As it happens, I called up the possible guitarist last night and had a chat - he was very into the idea. He said that he'd been into funk since he was at school and had been trying to start a funk band for ages, but just couldnt find the right players who were into it enough. We're gonna get together in a week or so and look at some material and choose some initial covers.

    So I have an excellent drummer, and a potential song writing partner. So, it's moving along nicely.

    I just a need a keys player and a sexy female singer (...a singer?!!?!?!?)
     
  10. We're doing it without a singer, because to make it worthwhile, the singer would have to be ridiculously good. Like the people from Tower of Power or Deep Banana Blackout. Eventually, we'll get around to singing just a little, like for shout choruses or something. There's a few funk bands in town (San Diego) and of the ones with singers, only one has a great enough singer to not make me wish they were an instrumental band. The guy sounds like Donny Hathaway.

    Bands with singers have to play more boring music, to fit a song format, and to have everything be subservient to the vocals. So if you go to all the trouble of setting up this situation, the singer has to knock it out of the box or you just have boring music.

    Go to http://www.googaloo.org if you want to hear our (hopefully not boring) music. We also play stuff like Chameleon and Flashlight and all that.
     
  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Yes that's very very true.

    For me, it's kind of personal mission to find a great singer!!!
    I'm really not willing accept anyone second rate to front my band.

    Of the bands I'm currently in neither of the vocalists can really sing that well.
    It bugs me eternally, but I can still enjoy playing the music.

    So, I'm determined to find a great singer if it kills me! I'm not willing to put in the work to get this band together to have it all screwed up by some one who wont practice, wont warm up their voice etc. I want somebody talented, and professional in their attitude. I know it's gonna be tough finding the right person.

    If it proves impossble to find a singer I'll obviously have to change the plan somewhat :eek: Maybe go instrumental as you have... but, as you said, the music would have to be much more involved to keep it intersting. I'd need some great lead intrumentalists in that case - I'm hoping to get some good players anyway, but if they're going to be the focus of the band they have to be that much better.

    Anyhow, thanks, it's encouraging that someone's achieved what I'm about to attempt, and got round what I anticipated being the toughest thing, finding a singer!

    I've bookmarked your site and will check out the tunes tomorrow.. i'm leaving work now.. i have an appointment with a bass guitar, followed by a date with a can of lager... :)