Attention Potential Band Members

author: Nolan Whyte date: 04/12/2005 category: general music
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I'll soon be moving to a new city, and when I get there, obsessive guitarist that I am, I'll immediately have to start looking for guys to jam with. I hate this process. I'm sure everyone does. Those of us who just happen to have tons of friends who are musicians are lucky, and at times I even envy young rock gods who are still in high school. It seems to be easy to find other musicians within a school environment, and since you're forced to spent time with such a huge number of people, you can usually figure out who's interested in music (if you see a fifteen year old kid wearing a Hendrix t-shirt, chances are he might be interested in guitars, etc, etc). Those of you in high school may disagree with me about this. For really old guys like me, it's sometimes hard to remember the days of youth with any accuracy. Likely, I'll be using the usual methods of finding band members, such as ads in local music magazines, posters in the guitar shops and posting online to assemble my supreme army of rock geniuses. I've been thinking about how to word an ad, and it crossed my mind to be completely honest. However, if I was completely and absolutely honest in my ad, it would probably sound something like this: Completely talentless prick of a bass-player seeks guitarist and drummer to make him sound good for me-me-me focused ego-project. Potential applicants should be phenomenally talented, but humble and willing to do whatever they're told. Applicants should also have impeccable hygiene, but also should not be bothered if I don't shower once during a three-week tour in a cramped van with no air conditioning. Applicants should be willing to do whatever it takes to make me rich and famous. Remember: I can only go as high as you can lift me. See below for seemingly endless list of influences. After giving the subject a little more thought, it occurred to me that such complete honesty might actually discourage people from responding to the ad. Perhaps a better tactic would be using a less-is-more approach, and let people find the rest out in their own time. Maybe something like: Bass-player seeks guitarist and drummer for rock/punk project. Looking at a music magazine in my current city, I've noticed that most ads mention specifics about what they want their ideal player to be like. For example: dedicated, experienced, hard-working, talented, no time-wasters, etc, etc. Imagine someone reading the ad and saying, Oh shit, they want someone talented. That's not me. Or even: I won't respond to this one. I'm a total time-waster. Once again, listings like this seem to be focused on discouraging people from responding. I think I would rather want to encourage people to contact me than scare them off. I think my ad will say Enthusiasm more important than experience. I would rather have too many people calling than too few. Several ads that I see also mention specifics about what type of human they want. For example: Wanted: Female bass player, 18-24, blonde preferred. I can understand wanting to find a band member who appeals to your own sense of aesthetics, but mentioning things like that seem to be too exclusionary. Could you imagine someone listing an ad that reads: Rhythm guitarist needed: slender red-headed Asian female with large breasts preferred. It would sound more like a fetishist placing a personals ad that someone looking for a player. It seems a little too extreme for me. My ad will allow anyone to reply, not considering their gender, age, or anything else. Of course, when you write an ad like this you want to list what type of music you like, so that people who respond will be interested in playing the same stuff. However, many ads I see are frustratingly vague, or just exasperating or ridiculous. One guy posted an ad saying he likes Nineties music. Well that's great, except that Nine Inch Nails was playing in the nineties, and so were The Spice Girls. Were you influenced by both? What would that band sound like? Hmmm. Crap, I imagine. The worst I ever saw was a poster a friend of mine put up when I was at university. The four guys in his band needed to find a lead singer. To list their influences, they had each member list every band he really liked or had ever been influenced by. Their final list, from Abba to Zappa, contained almost sixty acts. They put every one on their poster. Who would even bother to read through the whole list? And if you did, how could you possibly get an idea of what the band sounds like? After all, it was almost a sure thing that their band sounded exactly like every other metal/grunge rip-off crap-fest that comes out of that city (I nick-names these bands Metallirvana, or sometimes Nirvantallica). The only way the poster could have been less helpful is if it stated: Band seeks lead singer. Influences include small-engine repair, animal husbandry and nineteenth century Dutch painting. I think what I need to do for my ad is determine the difference between bands I like, bands that have influenced me, and bands I want my band to sound like. For example: Do I like Ministry? Yes, very much. Have they influenced me as a musician? Yes, they have. Do I want my band to sound like Ministry? No, definitely not. So, should I mention them in my ad? No, definitely not. In fact, I think I'll skip the word influence altogether. Maybe I'll just say think, as in Think Ramones, Stooges, Husker Du. If people want more information, they can bloody well call and talk to me. No one is going to get another bit of detail without picking up the phone. So that will be it: Bass player seeks guitarist and drummer for rock/punk project. Enthusiasm more important than experience. Think Ramones, Stooges, Husker Du. Call Nolan, 555-5555. Not too flashy, but short and sweet. That should get the talentless time-wasters calling me. -Nolan Whyte
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