|Dear Van Hammersmith,
I'm kinda screwed right now. I've started a 60s, 70s, and 80s hard rock cover band as a sort of tribute to my uncle who has leukemia. He saved me at birth by giving me his blood so I want to repay him with what he loves: Music. I currently have three people: a bassist who likes pop and alternative rock, a drummer into death metal and the -core stuff, and a rhythm guitar player who's into country. We had a lead guitar player, but he NEVER replied to anything we sent him and never showed up to our first band meet.
At that meet, the guys kinda went "screw the covers" and started jamming on random shit. As vocalist, I was sorta left out and the whole purpose of the band went out the door. Also, I want another guitar player to take over for lead, but one guy says we should be fine with the rhythm guitar player though he can't solo and can only do certain chords. What do you think? Should I lay down the law at the next band meet? It's taken me a few years to come this far to starting a band. As much as I don't want to, I'm willing to take a few more years to start something if I should.
Tyler L from Anaheim
Amazing. Tyler, I answered a question for you in AVH 49. What am I, your guidance counselor? Your therapist? No-- what? Yes? I am? Okay, I'll answer you again, but only because this is somewhat different from the last one.
"Laying down the law" would be pointless, because these guys could move on without you. Tell them what you want to do. Tell them you want to do some covers of some of your uncles favorite songs as a tribute, and I bet they'll go along with it. Pick a few songs they can agree on. Beyond that, if they want to play originals, let them.
I don't want to be insensitive here, but a band can't choose its creative direction based on one band member having a sick uncle. The other guys just won't see it the way you do, and you have to be sensitive to that.
Let me give you a HUGE piece of advice. You're knocking yourself out, and have been for months, on a pointless errand. If you want to really help your uncle, go visit him. Visit him in the hospital, or at his home. Spend time with him. Bring a CD player and just listen to some tunes with him. Believe me, being sick is really, really boring, and having some company is a powerful medicine.
Hanging out with him while he's sick will mean way more to him than spending months trying to form a cover band. But you should stick with the band anyway because being in a band is fun. Fun... fun. Just don't let your "mission" ruin the experience for you just go with the flow and have a good time your uncle would probably be prouder if you guys played good originals than covers anyway boom Van Hammersmith kills it again.
|Hey Van Hammersmith!
I have two friends, one is an amazing drummer, and another is a great bassist. I used to play with them both constantly, but was never in a band with the drummer. Another band with members I'm friends with was looking for a drummer, so I mentioned my drummer friend to them. They happily accepted hm, and the end happily ever after, la-di-da-di-da. Right? Not.
So a month later, they need a stand-in bassist, so I tell my bassist about it, and he fills in for them, and then gets 'accepted', because their current bassist cannot commit. I'm fairly close to the other members of the band, the guitarist, and singer, but I keep feeling that they owe me not just one, but two for pretty much giving them their band. So what should I do? the guitarist has 10,000 dollars worth of recording equipment that he uses for himself and the band, and I'm thinking of asking him about recording my band for free, even though he usually charges other people. Would this be adequate? Thanks a lot!!-
Man, I didn't know where you were going with that for a minute. You know how your eyes involuntarily skip ahead while you're reading? For a second there I thought you were going to ask if your should ask him for $10,000. You know, as a finder's fee. And then I thought you were going to ask if you should ask him for chunks of his expensive equipment. No way, man!
Then I slowed down and read the whole think properly. And yeah, I think it would be okay to ask. You helped him out. You have provided a vital service for your music scene: you connected the dots.
You're the guy I wish I could point to every time some kid in some weird town asks how to find people to play with. You're the guy in a band who knows other bands, and you know musicians looking for bands. You're a "helpful" member of the band. You're a "Really Useful Engine." (I watch a lot of TV. I don't actually have a job.)
So yes, it would be fair of you to ask if your buddy could record your band, and it would be fair to ask him to do it as a favor, because you've done him two favors already. But this is what you need to remember:
Ask nicely, and don't ask for too much. An afternoon. An evening. Don't go nuts and ask him to produce your "concept" double album.
Ask nicely, and remember that while he might actually "owe" you a favor, you will f--k up your friendship if he thinks you think he owes you something. Confused? I'll make it simple. If you tell him he owes you something, consider the friendship tainted.
Ask nicely, and remember he has the right to say no. While you did help him out, you also only did the obvious thing: help your friends. That's what you're supposed to do, and it probably required very little effort on your part. And I'll bet it felt good doing it, which means you've already been paid back with your own feelings. On the other hand, he's invested cash-money in his gear, and probably wants/needs to earn money off recording other bands. So if HE SAYS NO, don't let it ruin your friendship.
So, absolutely, ask him. Just ask nicely. And try not to ruin your friendship. And believe me, I know. I don't have ANY friends anymore, because those jerks all ruined their friendships with me by asking me for favors. Van Hammersmith only helps one guy: Van Hammersmith.
|Dear Van Hammersmith,
I am 14 years old from Greece and I have been playing the guitar for almost a year. I feel ready for a band with my friends. I have found the members and this summer we are starting!
I only have a question about the lyrics. Our genre will be doom/epic metal, which is not so famous in Greece. If we have English lyrics, then we will get some fame over the Internet, but few people will understand us. On the other hand, we could have Greek lyrics and everyone will understand us, but, besides not getting some fame over the Internet, I also think that Greek lyrics and doom/epic metal don't "get along"...
So, what do you suggest we did?
I would suggest writing in English (because from your tone it sounds like that's what you want to do), but also write some songs in Greek for when you perform in Greece. It would be a little weird to be a Greek band playing a gig in Greece and not play a single song with Greek lyrics. That would be a little weird, wouldn't it?
That way you could still sell out by seeking internet fame (like I obviously have), while still maintaining credibility with Greek audiences (also like me).
|Hey Van Hammersmith.
You seem like a pretty charismatic guy (at least through text), so I was wondering: how can I totally rock out on stage? Right now, even playing for a couple friends, I get nervous and either hide behind my (long) hair, or stare at my fretting hand and shuffle in place awkwardly. We're a rock band, not a art-noise-indie band; this crap doesn't fly. I'm basically looking for ways to reduce inhibitions; I used to perform well after smoking pot (a little). Now it makes me really depressed, so I'm straight-edge. And without altered consciousness, I'm a talented but extraordinarily boring lead guitarist.
There are two issues, and the first one is confidence. You get nervous. Why? Because you're worried that the people watching aren't going to think you're cool. But what you've forgotten is that you're not there to seek their approval, because you're better than they are. If you're up there and you're awesome, then the girls will want to sleep with you and the guys will wish they were friends with you. They can't even help it. They might deny it, but they can't help it. So relax and just do whatever you want, because whatever you do, it's going to be cool.
The other issue is that you probably don't dance much, so it's difficult to feel natural when you're "rocking out" on stage. The act feels alien and unfamiliar to you, so the performance looks stilted and awkward. You can't dance worth a shit at the best of times.
You need to practice dancing. This is what bedrooms are for. Turn on your stereo and jump around a bit, and gradually you might feel a little more comfortable with moving your body. You'll be a metal Napoleon Dynamite.
Make sure you get a good stomp going.
|Dear Van Hammersmith
I'm in the process of moving out (I'm 18) and I picked the BEST time to buy pro gear and set up more lessons... right now with my foot out the window (not the door). Yada yada yada my band is different style and we don't get shit done, something something I'm not satisfied with my skill level.... yeah yeah yeah.... minor details. NOW my real question is this. I've recently laid my eyes on a beautiful acoustic guitar and now I'm buying it. Also I can finally afford an all tube amp so I can start to act like a jackass and show of my gear at gigs. Also I owe money and I'm paying off a ticket.
Was this the best time to spend over 2k on musical stuff? Should I push for a full time music career or continue to work (which is what let me buy all that wonderful shit) and keep music on the side like my mom told me (shut up, she's the only sane person left in my house)? Also do you think A BC Rich Warbeast is a cool guitar or just tasteless horny piece of wood (a lot like me at this point)?
What, am I doing product endorsements here? Is BC Rich going to give me a fat bag of cash if I give a huge thumbs up? Are they going to kneecap me because I slag all over their guitars? You want a review, go to the reviews section, man, I'm independent. Like Neil Young. Sponsored by nobody.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've never played a Warbeast.
So you've moved out, and owe a bunch of money, but you have a steady job. You've just bought a bunch of musical equipment, but even that's okay, because you've got a steady job, and you'll be able to work your way out of debt. And your question is whether or not you should quit the steady job to try and become a full-time musician.
Sigh. I can't believe no one has ever told you: don't quit your day job.
Pursue your musical dream, full on, full out, seven nights a week. But don't quit your day job. Drive all the way to Dayton to play a festival, but don't quit your day job.
Do you know when you should quit your day job? When you can say "Hey, I've been making more money from music for the last few years than I have at my day job. I could quit my day job and still live very comfortably, and I'll always be able to return to a steady job if things don't go well with the band."
That's about the only time it makes any sense to quit your day job. This is why I occasionally work a few shifts washing dishes. Sometimes the pay of a professional musician is not quite as regular as you would like. That's my day job.
|Dear Van HalenSmith, |
I'm fifteen and I play guitar, (Pretty well if I do say so myself) and I have a friend who is the same age. But he's a grade below.(My five year old sister will probably pass grade eight before he does.) But he's
an AMAZING drummer! We love jamming and would love to make music for the rest of our lives, but I can't see him dropping out of school.
Oh, and I live on the intersection of absolutely-not-famous-land and you'll-never-be-anything-village. What do I do? Look for a different drummer? Or stick with him? Seriously he is really insane. Help!
I'm sorry, but I'll be f--ked if I can see what the problem with the situation is. You have a best friend who is an amazing drummer, and you two guys love jamming and want to make music together.
And your worry is that your friend will try to finish high school? Dude, how does being in high school prevent him from participating in a band? People in high school are frequently in bands, and they do fine. Why would you want him to quit high school?
And dude, if he really is as stupid as you say he is, it would probably be worth his while to try and finish it, man. Shit, you don't want him to end up unemployed because he didn't get his diploma, do you?
Think about his best interests, long term. And there's nothing stopping you guys from chasing your dreams together. Hell, it sounds like a made-for-television movie.
|who are you. i will hunt you down if you dont tell me. notice how the first is NOT a question, but a demand. i must know your true identity.|
Obviously if you were capable of hunting me down, you would have done that first instead of just asking, so I find your threat hollow. But if we are destined to do battle, then I am prepared to meet your challenge. I will be crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on foot at exactly twelve o'clock noon on Monday, August 8th. I will be wearing a leather jacket and a top hat. Face me if you dare!