Start a Band/Join a Band. Part 1

author: Phil Starr date: 02/07/2014 category: the guide to
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Start a Band/Join a Band. Part 1
There are thousands of musicians who never leave the shed. They can practice for hours in their bedrooms, lay down great songs on Cubase and reach astounding levels of technical proficiency. This is intended for those who want to play live and want to form their own band.

My first bit of advice is to be realistic about the people you will be working with and try to understand where they are coming from. Being in a band is a team sport and your personal skills are going to count just as much as your musical ones.

Bands fall into roughly two distinct categories, those with a strong bandleader and those that are more of a joint effort. It works this way because there are essentially two distinct reasons for wanting to play live. There are plenty of us out here who just love to perform, we'll swallow our pride and play just about anything to get up on stage and work an audience. Other people have creative ambitions as their main motivation for playing. If you don't recognise musicians' motivations you are going to spend more time fighting and sulking than playing.

This is over simplifying of course but you should recognise and try to understand the stereotypes. There are jobbing musicians who will just want to turn up and play, they may seem to be reluctant to practice and to lack commitment (they just want to get out in front of an audience) but they won't interrupt proceedings and spend time arguing about trivial details or have tantrums when their ideas aren't taken up. The creatives will do all of these things, because they really care about the music. Bands don't fall out because of the Alex Jameses, it's the Albarns and Coxons, Lennons and McCartneys who struggle. Creative people aren't going to want to play with you unless they have a big input into the music you play. This could either by adding to your songs, adding in their own parts (which you might not like) or by taking over half the set with their own songs (which you also might not like). The only way the jobbing musician can get what they want is to either find a creative or join a cover band, but they don't want a lot of hassle. They are likely to be easy to work with and a lot of fun but the cost of having someone so co-operative is that you will probably have to take all the responsibility for booking practice rooms, finding gigs, setting up PA, developing the sets etc. And you won't be able to pressurise them or they will just move to a band which is more fun. Someone with their own ideas and songs to play is going to be more committed but will have to have a fair say in the decisions, and you will fall out overnight if you can't share. 

Of course in real life people don't fall into neat categories. These are just stereotypes. I'm a jobbing musician but a born organiser. I'm happy to be a bandleader in one band and just go along for the ride in another band. Most of us like a little say though, even if we are playing someone else's music, but for a successful band the mix of personalities is actually slightly more important than the mix of instruments. If you want to get your new band out of the rehearsal room then the first thing is to make sure you understand the people. Oh, and you will need understand yourself.

So, step one is to decide if you still want to take on running your own band or if you want a partner. Or maybe you just want to perform.
More Phil Starr columns:
+ The History of Power Amps The History Of 04/26/2013
+ A Guide To Amplifier Classes The Guide To 02/29/2012
+ What The xxx Is The Sound Engineer Up To Gear Maintenance 12/20/2011
+ A Guide To Live Sound Speakers And Amps Gear Maintenance 02/07/2011
+ Sound Good In The Rehearsal Room Junkyard 08/24/2010
+ Choosing Speakers To Drive Your Cabs Gear Maintenance 02/19/2010
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