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Starting new band... best methods for auditions?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by ::::BASSIST::::, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    If you recall I was in a classic rock band that had a crazy 2 hour load-out. They decided to change to a more soft-rock genre and that was the deal-breaker for me. I quit. Not many, if any restaraunts around here are going to pay $400 for a band that doesnt get the people dancing. Anyway, they are done with for me.

    I'm onto my next project. I'm going to start a 50s rock dance band. Great covers that get people dancing is my goal. The other band I'm in plays some 50s style music too and I'm quite combfortable with it, but they are becoming more and more an originals band. I'm happy with that band, but I want to get involved in something else as well as I like to keep busy musically.

    Anyway in a few weeks I'm going to start auditioning members. I was thinking of setting up 3 different audition sessions, all with different players, then picking the best candidates of those three sessions. Personality, ability and commitment will be my primary focus in what I'm looking for.

    Am I on the right track? Anything else I should consider?
  2. Busker


    Jan 22, 2007
    I'll be watching this thread. I've been toying with the idea of starting a band myself. But I hesitate because I think there will be a lot of headaches and hiccups, just going on what I've seen in the bands I've been in (some musicians are a bit on the flaky side).

    I doubt its going to go as smooth as what you envision, the setting up of 3 different audition sessions, picking the best out of all the candidates, etc. I see bands advertising for a keyboard player for months (for example), so it can't be all that easy, at times, to find the right musician(s). You'll be lucky if all the candidates you schedule even show up to your audition sessions. And about the time you think you have your lineup, one will quit. Good luck though.

    May you have better luck than this one band I was in. We needed and advertised for a Country lead guitarist. One guy we auditioned? He was a 20 year old kid who showed up to the audition with an acoustic guitar, wanting to impress us with his renditions of Beatles and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young songs. Didn't have a clue about country lead guitar, or any song we did. They (the band leaders) should have screened that guy a little better, but after all, it was clearly stated in the ad what we were looking for. People aren't always what they say they are, or think they are. And it took months to find the right guy. :rolleyes::p And by that time the drummer and myself were beginning to lose interest.
  3. I'd focus on finding inividuals first that will give you the core and that share your ideals. I always look for the lead guitar first then build the band around us but one at a time.

    I've been to a number of auditions where they were looking for just a bass player and we would each come in and have say 45 minutes and we had to know 5 songs that they sent us. Then if we were ucky we got called back. So build your core first.

  4. Skarekrough


    Aug 7, 2006
    Be selective and make sure the players you like for the gig know what the full story is from the get-go.

    Hit CraigsList and BandMix and put together a decent ad stating what you're doing and what the expectations are.

    Go to open jams and scope out players. For the trouble of spending a few nights in a bar you may find some great recruits. It might even do well for you to come out and play a few tunes as well.

    Some local shops do Musician Networking nights. Sometimes these can be productive, but mostly I've found them to be every single person I never ever wanted to be in a band with in one place.

    Take this time to lay your groundwork; put together your MySpace or Facebook page as both reference for potentials as well as getting it set up the way you're going to want it. Decide on a specific criteria for material for auditioning; burn a few CD's and put together a downloadable package for those that inquire. Put together a Beta Version of your Set List and start writing your Band Bio; that can help you think through what it is you want the band to be as well as let others know where you want to go.
  5. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Good suggestions so far. I have been in contact with a lead guitarist I know to see if he is interested. Hopefully that will pan out. I've also named the band "Cruiser" and have begun to build a myspace. I'm using the theme of a hot rod car and 'greaser' imagery (sort of like from the movie "Grease" but not so cheesy and a little less deliberate). I'd like to have matching shirts too eventually. Saves alot of time figuring out what you want to wear and gives the band an instant 'look' which some perceive as professionalism.

    Here is the draft setlist I am working on:

    1. Little Sister - Elvis
    2. Johnny B Goode – C. Berry
    3. Blue Moon of Kentucky - uptempo rockabilly version
    4. Folsom Prison – Johny Cash (country-rock version)
    5. Its all over now - rolling stones (Johnny Winter version)
    6. Good Rockin Tonight - Springsteen version on youtube
    7. Gloria - doors version (sort of)
    8. Rave-on - 10CC version
    9. Train Kept Rolling - Johnny Brunette
    10. That's Alright Mama - Elvis (rock version)
    11. Lonesome Hound - The Beat Farmers
    12. Honey Don't - Carl Perkins
    13. Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash
    14. Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran
    15. Rock This Town - Stray Cats
    16. Bad Boy - Beatles version
    17. Saw Her Standing There - Beatles
    18. Flip Flop Fly - Powder Blues Band version
    19, Around & Around - Chuck Berry (Stones Version)
    20. Memphis Tennessee - Elvis Version
    21. Rumble In Brighton - Stray Cats
    22. Laudy Miss Claudy (Elvis version)
    23. Route 66 - John Mayer version
    24. Tear It Up - Johnny Brunette
    25. All Shook Up - McCartney version
    26. Say Mama - Gene Vincent
    27, Number Nine Train - Memphis Slim
    28. Be-Bop Alula - Gene Vincent
    29. I'm Goin' Home - Gene Vincent
    30. Twenty Flight Rock - Stray Cats version
    31. Kansas City - Beatles version
    32. Blue Suede Shoes - Elvis
    33. Roll Over Beethoven - Beatles version
    34. Matchbox - Carl Perkins (McCartney version)
    35. I'm Ready - Fats Domino (The Band version)
  6. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    Getting back to the auditioning process in the past I have found that players will show turn-out... at least for this genre since it is quite accessible musically and thus appealing. The concept also has some uniqueness to it as we would not just be another classic rock cover band. Alot of bands around here are originals groups and indie type bands and I think this kind of band would appeal to the 40-50 year olds. The hardest part will be the singer. His ability level and showmanship/stage presence is important. I have a feeling he will be the most difficult to find.
  7. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    well i'm setting up a band myself at this time. plus i've done this before but never as the top dog.

    my advice would be to pick 5-10 songs to have players know before they show up. I would also be the most selective with drummers. they make or break you. be prepared for more auditions than you think you're going to need, and to have to deal with some real freaks. :p

    I found that once you make the initial e-mail contact a phone call can screen out a lot of jokers and weirdos. it's amazing how most people hang themselves if you give them enough time on the phone. Have a list of questions you can ask w/o sounding like you're reading from a script. Ask who they've played with, for how long, are they playing now, how long have they taken off, what kind of gear they have, etc. it's amazing how unqualified players or psychos will out themselves when you ask a bunch of simple questions and just let them talk. then you don't have to waste time auditioning them!
  8. RECORD the auditions.

    Aside from making sure you feel good about their vibe and skills, you need to be able to get an 'unbiased' listen at what they did. I know that if I had gone on my memory or the feeling I got alone when I auditioned our current singer, I might not have missed out on getting him.

    He was fine at the audition - very understated, personally. His style caught me off guard - we had him sing 2 originals we provided and 2 covers of his choice. Since he had a style that I wasn't really ready for, it was hard for me to know how I felt about what he did at that moment. I liked him personally and figured he'd be a cool person to hang with - but I wasn't sure how I felt about his style or voice.

    Until I listened to the recording on my way home from the audition. He sounded KILLER! But since I was 'off balance' at the audition, I didn't catch how killer he really was at that time.

    Record 'em - you don't want some strange set of circumstances at the audition to cause you to miss a real score.
  9. AlembicPlayer

    AlembicPlayer Im not wearing shorts

    Aug 15, 2004
    Pacific Northwet, USA
    here's what my band does
    this works especially well with cover bands.

    after you weed out the ones that won't workout..
    use a rotation or call list of players.
    Get as many decent players that can work the material and put them on a call list. Pick the best person for the primary role, then have backup subs that can fill in if the primary can't do it. The show goes on, not reliant on any one person
    except for maybe you!
    In the audition process, let the potential players know that there is a call list and you would like to put them on it if they are interested.
    This works pretty well because you don't diss anyone and at the same time you are checking out the local talent and keeping all potential players in the loop. I find most players like this approach even if they aren't first call.

    anyway, that's my input on your bold and daring pursuit
    good luck

  10. I agree with a lot of what's been said. I am putting together an alt rock cover band, and it has been slow going.

    1. I'd start with finding a drummer (or a drummer and a guitarist at the same time) - rehearsals / auditions are useless without them!
    2. Write ads
    3. Be specific about things you need to be specific about, be general about things you need to be general about.
    4. List deal-breakers.
    5. Run yer ads.
    6. Rent a space for auditions, don't do it at your home / normal rehearsal spot, if possible. A 'furnished' spot is the best - people don't have to bring their drums or amps, it's a huge time saver.
    7. Make sure you send people directions and your cell number.
    8. Call everyone before the audition to remind them, send an email as well. Prep them on how the audition will work.
    9. Have auditioners learn 3 or 4 tunes from an approved list of about 10. Everyone gets 1/2 hour. Enough time to talk a bit and get 'em in and out without wasting an entire evening. It's plenty of time to get a feel for someone's talent.
    10. Pick from the more difficult material you plan on doing.
    11. Make sure to represent a few styles the player will need to cover, if applicable.
    12. Record all auditions. It's amazing how different things sound later on.
    13. If you are doing a lot of auditions, make notes from your emails and phone conversations. Take a photo of the musician at the audition, for later reference. We did this digitally.
    14. Have something to do if people don't show up.
    15. Send email follow up after the audition to those you aren't hiring. Calling is better, but not easy.
    16. Call those you are interested in for a follow up audition - longer, less formal.
    17. Remember that a first audition is as much about weeding out losers as anything else!

    If you are organized, things will go smooth!

    Good luck!
  11. Kimpini


    May 14, 2008
    I would try to get a guitarist and drummer first, then go after the singer.
  12. I'm going to be auditioning some guitarists this weekend. I all ready have a bass player and a drummer (me) who are tight and have been practicing for months, so of course I have guitarists breaking down my door :D
    I have a 4 hour slot booked at our rehearsal space on Sunday, so I'll probably bring in one guitarist per hour, if one clicks and wants to stay on, bring on the next one, the more the merrier :D

    Since we're purely an original band, the format will just be a basic jam - a few songs that we've written skeletons for, and then just a general jam to get a feel for their playing.

    To be totally honest, I'll also be judging them on their gear (since I've invested tens of thousands in my own and I want a great sounding band), personality (playing like hot **** is no good if you're an a**hole ), and their musical listening scope (since this is an indie band cred counts :D and I need someone who listens to and is influenced by a wide variety of music).

    This is my first "solo/side project" type band, I have my main bass playing gig that will always be my first priority, and this band is really my solo project - I write the songs, play drums, bass, and provide all the gear. Anyone who joins up will be made aware of this, of course, which is only fair. That's not to say it won't be a democracy the vast majority of the time, cause it will. I recognize that I can't do everything at once :D
  13. crijan

    crijan Supporting Member

    Jul 6, 2005
    Dallas, Texas
    Endorsing: JH Audio IEMs
    I just started a band from scratch a couple of months ago. What I did was schedule to bring in a full band worth of people on the first audition, selected the best to move forward (turned out to be lead guitar).

    Then I scheduled again a full band (3 applicants) with me and the lead guitar player, got a drummer out of that session.

    Did it again and got a rhythm guitar.

    Then we were down to just a singer, so I started auditioning multiple singers on the same night. After a couple of tries we got an awesome singer, but the lead guitar player moved away unexpectedly. So now we're trying to get together another round of lead guitar players to come in.

    The best advice is to have your vision for the band and expectations for the audition of the future members be clearly defined and stated up-front. Having it all clearly spelled out will make your auditions run more smoothly and ensure everyone knows the plan from the get go.
  14. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    One thing that drives me a bit nutty is when the older 40 yrs + musicians (50s music is very appealing to them) try to throw their weight around. Dont get me wrong I have no desire to be a tyrant, but when people start challenging your vision right away it kinda blows. I dont want to stereotype but I have noticed that younger players tend to be more open-minded while the older guys, who no doubt have tons of experience, are more stuck in their way being the only way.

    One thing of interest is that the father (he is a drummer too) of the drummer for Nickelback (they're local around here) has expressed interest. Small world.

    So far I have one guitarist (who I know and like) two drummers and two singers in the works. Just trying to get things figured out with the more experienced singer before I schedule our first get-together.
  15. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    run like heck when that happens. say thanks but no thanks. sure, once you've been playing for a while it's fine for hired members to give input, but initially it's your trick. I had the same thing happen to me with a couple of cats. unreal? can you imagine applying for a job and during the interview telling the owner how he's going to need to make some changes to his biz model? :eek:
  16. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I always bring a small 1x12 combo to an audition. It's light, easy to carry, and easy to setup.

    Plus it has the added benefit that if the 1x12 is not loud enough for a rehearsal then I don't want to join the band :p
  17. My own experience is that isn't due to an old/young axis but rather due to a 'nice person/jerk' axis.

    CRUISER band rules:
    1/ practice is weekly from 1 pm until 4 pm Sunday & occurs in or near north Smallville
    2/ max gigging is twice per month, one or 2 nighters
    3/ Cruiser's focus is on danceable songs from the 50s.
    4/ Cruiser's bandleader is John Doe. Please do not confuse any politeness of his into permitting your disregarding Rule 4; this is NOT a democracy. You get an ear, you do NOT get a vote.
    5/ et cetera

    Someone can't be bothered to practice? They've thereby left the band. Ditto for Rule 4.

    Though very fun to write, the above might be a bit draconian. But keep it clear.

  18. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    Not to piss in your Cheerios but is there a demand for an all 50s band where you live? It just seams to me that the people that grew up with that music would all be retirement age and probably not really into the bar scene.
  19. If I were you a would bring them in individually and have them lay out there best spread (solo), Then have them play with music going or with other band mates to see how they work together.
  20. Jools4001

    Jools4001 Supporting Member

    +1 I don't want to put a downer on it either, but I really can't see that there is a huge market for an entire set of '50's music. IMHO, the nostalgia that people feel for a certain era is for the music of their adolescent youth, when they first started dating, when they first got a car, when they first got some freedom from their parents - rights of passage stuff - let's say between the ages of 15-20. So someone who was 15 in 1955 at the start of the beat era would be 69 this year, not really an age when you'll be up all night dancing.

    I'm surprised you say that this music appeals so much to 40+ year old musicians. I was born in 1955 so I'm 54 this years 50's music doesn't appeal to me, I wasn't even at school by then and it's the music that my Dad danced to. Now if you want to roll on to the late 60's through to the start of the punk era in 1977...

    Good luck and all but I think you're limiting your potential audience AND the potential number of musicians you'll attract to an audition if you stick rigidly to the 1950's

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