Ask Van Hammersmith. Part 61

author: Van Hammersmith date: 10/05/2011 category: junkyard
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Hey VHS, What's the most badass summer job to get to earn money for a badass new guitar? -SGH
Summer job? You mean for next summer, right? If you're of legal age, then being a janitor at the strip club would be a valuable experience. You'd get a cut of the tip money, you'd meet interesting unsavory characters to put in your novel, and most important of all, you'd get to see that the beauties you fantasize about are human too, and that they get tired and smelly and grumpy, and that they make a mess in the bathroom and are crazy victims of their own emotions. It would be a great way to smash some illusions about or ideas of "beauty." Plus, you'd get to look at boobies while you're learning this lesson. If you're not old enough to work the stink-hut, just get anything where you're getting some fresh air, without getting too badly eaten by the bugs. I guess that's not too much help in October, but hell, another summer is always on the way, right? In the meantime, you can always busk, right? Just get some fingerless gloves to keep your hands halfway warm, get your crappy old guitar and get out on the street corner downtown. Even if yo suck you can get pity money.
Dear Van Hammersmith, I've got a "band" with me on lead guitar, a rhythm guitarist, and an incredibly talented female singer. I'm just wondering, when we get to the point of playing gigs (when we actually have a drummer and bassist), what do we do about mics for vocals at gigs? Do we use our own with some kind of speaker, or use the venues' stuff? I know that makes me sound like an idiot, but better to look like an idiot to you than to the people managing the venue. Keep up the awesome column, JB
Actually JB, it won't make you sound like an idiot to ask the managers of a venue what equipment you'll need. Something simple like, "Will we need our own mics, or sound equipment or anything like that?" It depends what kind of place you're playing. If you're playing a room with no sound setup at all, then you'll have to rent some stuff if you don't have it. Mics, stands, a P.A. systems and a few monitors, and you should be covered, depending of the size of the place you're playing. With bars or other music venues, they might have something on hand. You won't know until you ask.
Dear Van Hammersmith, I'm not a shredder, or heavy metal virtuoso by any means. I play, for the most part, music that is a lot more mellow than that. I was wondering if you could suggest some complicated slow rock or something awesome along those lines that would challenge me more. Thanks. Almighty Hammersmith, lend me your ears.
Dude, just learn songs you like. Learn songs by your favorite artists. There must be artists in your genre that you think enough of to learn a few of their tunes, right? See I could tell you a bunch of songs that you should learn (like every song off "Live...In The Raw" from W.A.S.P.), but you might not like that kind of music. Maybe you're more of a Leonard Cohen guy. Learn some Leonard Cohen, I might say, but then you go and check Len and and you just can't get into it. So forget it, man. Just learn songs you like. If they are two hard, find other songs by the same artist that are a bit easier and start there.
Hey Van Hammersmith Me and my two buddies are recently trying to start up a band (me guitarist another guy guitarist and a singer). We plan on having our first practice soon and I was just wondering what are some good songs to learn with this setup. We are all very open to music and can play most songs. Thanks, Trent
Guh, what the hell, man? Twice in a row? Dudes, just learn the songs you like! I presume you guys talked about what music you like before you agreed to get together, right? Pick some songs you all like that fall within your range of abilities and try them out. Maybe they're work for you. But if you still can't think of anything, just play some songs from The Kinks. Those guys sound good no matter what genre you usually play.
Hello there Mr. VH, I have been playing guitar for about two years. My technical skill is pretty good. My skill is often disregarded though, because of my lack of knowledge of music theory and my complete disregard for it. I don't even know my chords, being a self-taught guitarist. Now, enough of my lame life story, here's my real question: How do I convince my friends (who are in a band) that I'm good enough to play with them? Their lead guitarist is pretty much a god, but he lives in another city, so he's not around much anymore. Their rhythm guitarist is someone who I'm pretty much on the same level with.. He has embraced the idea of adding a third guitarist to the band, and I want to join mostly to contribute to their success, write songs with them and overall, just to be in a band. But how do I convince the rest of the members to think the same way? Without actually explicitly saying so. Much thanks in advance, J.D.
Don't think it's unusual or anything if members of a band are resistant to the idea of adding a third guitarist. It's a pretty unnecessary addition. And yeah, if buddy from out of town quits, then they might be more receptive to your begging to be a member. But otherwise, they might see you as a weird, desperate sycophant trying to attach your sucker pads onto their pale underbellies. You might want to think about what you're doing. From your point of view, you want a place in the band, and you think you're good enough to play. From their point of view, they aren't looking for a guitarist. They're not hiring. So I guess you guys won't be seeing eye to eye. And maybe they will let you join, but if it was me, I'd stop asking, at least until they need a guitarist. I'd focus instead on finding someone else interested in playing. It sucks that you might have to meet new people instead of playing with your friends, but there are advantages to meeting new people. Sometimes they know chicks. And they might play in your band, too. If that seems too intimidating, you might just cool it for a while and tell everyone that you've got a new band, even if you don't. Make up a name, draw gig posters for made-up shows in faraway towns, pretend things are going really well. That might be fun for a while.
Dear Van Hammersmith, How do you come up with good band names? I am playing for a band which doses not have a name yet and none of us can come up with any names. Do you have any suggestions? We play stuff like AC/DC and Motley Crue. Your help with this will be much appreciated. - Navid Ansari.
I agonized for a long time over what to tell you, N-Pac. otherwise I would have answered this one a month ago. I mean, what formula could there be? What simple play of words can make a name sound good or bad? There are clever names and stupid names, but there wasn't always a way to tell why a name sounded good or bad. And then I realized that it was rarely the name itself that makes it sound cool, but my perception of whether or not the band the name represented was cool. If a band sucks, people will think the name is stupid. They'll think everything about the band is stupid. If, however, your show is completely superpimp, your name will sound clever. Unless of course the name you choose really is just plain stupid. Don't try to get too clever, is all I can suggest. No puns. "The Beatles." Ugh. I get it. "Beat." Like, music beat, Beatles. So clever. Just awful. How stupid does "Pink Floyd" sound? "Cheap Trick"? "Simple Minds"? "Men Without Hats"? Don't worry. Just try to pick something that doesn't sound too stupid and focus on your sound. A great name can't make you succeed. Just pick something and work on putting on a great show. And don't call yourselves "The Rainbow Butt Monkeys." That's not a winning name. It's been proven.
More Van Hammersmith columns:
+ Ask Van Hammersmith: Legacy Songs Artists' Discussions 01/09/2014
+ Ask Van Hammersmith: How to Dump a Band Fiction 01/06/2014
+ Ask Van Hammersmith: Band of Equals Fiction 12/24/2013
+ Ask Van Hammersmith. Part 62 (Final) Junkyard 10/12/2011
+ Ask Van Hammersmith. Part 60 Junkyard 09/28/2011
+ Ask Van Hammersmith. Part 59 Junkyard 09/21/2011
+ view all
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