Discussion in 'Musician Resources' started by davelms, Nov 25, 2009.
If you don't think your music's shit then what's the point in trying to better it?
From a musical point of view, two classic mistakes I've seen inexperienced (and sometimes experienced) bands make time and time again are:
1. The band members don't actually listen to each other when they are rehearsing or gigging. They are all so busy concentrating on their part that they haven't considered whether what they are playing is as valuable a contribution as not playing anything might be. The overall sound is fine but it could be so much better if the band were paying attention to each other. Guitarists make lyrics unintelligable, vocalists fill instrumental breaks with vocal gymnastics, keyboard players muddy basslines etc (I've been guilty of that one myself). Often the drummer and the bass player are listening to each other and everyone else is listening to themselves.
2. Neither the songs nor the set have any trace of dynamics. There is no light and shade. Ballads and love songs don't lift or surprise you with an angry surge and rock songs don't suddenly drop you off the edge of a noisy cliff into haunting darkness for a few bars before catching and whisking you off again. Instead, every band member plays at the same volume solidly for 4 minutes, stops and then repeats the exercise.
ANYWAY , my advice is about practice. No matter how Lo-fi or loose or jangling you want your band to sound, you need to practice and practice well. I'd say keep your practices fairly well organised, make sure you've got time to go over everything you've done once more before you finish and make sure everyone in the band has a chance to say if they think anything can be improved. It is NO FUN to be in a band without being allowed to air your opinion on the tunes.
Even if you're not writing the songs per se, you've got to go up on stage and play too, so don't accept that "I have to SING so I'm the ultimate target for criticism" B/S. It's no harm to go over a verse with slightly different idea for a drum fill or guitar part, it takes 30 seconds and might turn a decent song into a great one. And if it doesn't improve it, play it like you did before.
If you're writing your own material, try to write everything that occurs to you down in one form or another, you never know when half an idea you wrote down during practice 3 months ago may come in handy during a dry spell of writing.
I think that the people saying "make sure you're having fun" are acting only with the best intentions but I'd like to add that sometimes going over a song 10 times until you can play it the way you all want to isn't all THAT fun. But it's a hell of a lot more fun than making a dingbat of yourself on a stage because you can't play your own songs.
Also, practice rooms can be pretty pricey if you're not all working so finding a garage/room above a pub/basement or bedroom where you can practice informally for as long as you want might mean you can save some money for recording later on. If you can't, there are a few practice rooms who have freebie slots during otherwise quiet slots. Just ring and ask.
Either way, the funnest part of being in a band is playing music that you all love, playing it the way you like it and maybe getting some other people who like it to come see you and make some noise with you. All of it works most smoothly and you're going to find it easier to relax on stage when you're practised and confident. Bear in mind that, should you not be practised enough for your first gig, you're going to put people off coming to gig #2.
If i can offer a morsel of advice, it comes in the shape of being fair................. don't expect the members with full time jobs to subsidise rehearsals, it causes friction.
So pay your own way and everyone is happy
Do not 'just get out there and start playing live.' Rehearse until your fingers bleed. Once a week does not cut it. Find somewhere to stay setup and get in there 5 nights a week. Grow a big pair of balls and throw yourself in 100%. If you will not put your own time and money into a project then why would/should anybody else? If nobody likes what you come up with you are either amazing and ahead of your time or you are shit. If you are shit then quit. Please quit.
Advice for new members in established bands:
If you come in to a band, don't start throwing your weight around. Yes, you may have had tonnes of experience and whatnot, so pitching in and having input is often welcomed. But telling the band that the songs they've been playing for years, that they and their followers like, ineeds changing, doesn't go down well. Putting your own stamp on your parts is fine, but "I think you ought to change the chords in the chorus to this and change the key that the song is in" type stuff really grates. It's always tempting to ovr compensate and be as pro active as you can, but nothing helps everyone gel like knowing where and when your exuberance will work.
I wouldn't be where I am today without your advice Simon
My advice would be,
be picky about what you put online.
Realize the internet is probably the easiest and most effective way right now for labels & bookers to hear your music.
Get a good quality video done, invest in some professional recordings, get a graphic designer to take care of your branding. Look the part, write to bloggers & websites and if you can afford it invest in a PR to do it for you.
Take ever single opportunity early on, and keep your chin up.
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