Attention Potential Band Members

How to find a good band member using usual methods, such as ads in local music magazines, posters in the guitar shops and postings online.

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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

108 comments sorted by best / new / date

    jklsadj;sadjfak
    lol ya, i have a hard time finding people at my high school, because i always wear these two green day shirts, and people instantly assume that i can only play green day and other easy stuff.and people i dont know just assume im on the American Idiot bandwagon, and dont even play guitar.
    lacey_the_crazy
    Great article, 5 stars, easy! About the t-shirt thing...that drives me nuts how people will go out and buy the classic rock tees just cause it's "cool", because now I can't wear my G n'R t-shirt without people figuring I'm just another teeny-bopper chick who raided her dad's closet. Some of us ACTUALLY listen to good music. (Oh and btw..I also have one of those guitar pick necklaces...but I actually play guitar so I suppose it doesn't count as "following the trend"?)
    wanna_lick_me?
    damn i'd sell my soul to the devil to find a decent drummer and bass player to jam with. there some good drummers at my school, but they either like shitty music or are too lazy to get together outside of school to play. The bass players around here just plain suck...i mean im a guitarrist and i can play bass a million times better than any of these deuche bags...
    lessTHANjake
    this Nolan White guy also writes a lot of stuff. i dont know how many articles i've read that were written by him. and suprisingly all of them were good-great keep it up!
    TheTruthIsDead
    Wow, someone else that calls that Metal/Grunge crap Metallirvana. There are too many bands like that in my school. My group put an add in the school paper for a drummer, worst idea ever. Got 3 marching band drummers and a kid that just hit whichever one he felt like. Anyway, that's a good article. So many people get too specific with thier ads that you don't think you would fit. But being an 19th century Dutch art expert always adds bonus points
    cantshreddave
    guitarist, drummer, bassist seek lead singer in Cardiff area (Wales) aged 14-16. Lyric writing ability prefered. Must preferably sound like a cross between Robert Plant, Brian Johnson and Eric Clapton. also, must not have too much of an ego or too many expectations
    prob shuldve sed, email me at moggydave@hotmail.com
    flame843
    People in my school are confused beyond belief when I wear my AC/DC shirt. One kid pointed at my shirt and asked in a serious tone, "Who's he?" I cracked up and walked away.
    DaveGilmour1189
    Whilst were on the subject of fasion at school, what do ya guys think about those guitar pick necklaces i see everyone whereing. I think theyre along the same lines as this t-shirt thing.
    cantshreddave
    whilst we're on the subject..... guitarist, drummer, bassist seek lead singer in Cardiff area (Wales) aged 14-16. Lyric writing ability prefered. Must preferably sound like a cross between Robert Plant, Brian Johnson and Eric Clapton. also, must not have too much of an ego or too many expectations
    Hosscat
    [selloutpunx: One thing I always avoid in ads is people looking to "audition". I feel that unless your band is called 'Guns N Roses' and you are looking for a guitarist, I'm not going to bother "auditioning" myself to people. ] Agree, hate those pretentious shits that want to audition .... look for "come over and jam, mofo" As far as the article, GREAT. This truly is an interesting, well written special interest column.
    kjohnson08
    Pyro128: Once I saw a kid with an ACDC shirt on and ironically enough, in the gym we were working out at, 'Back In Black' was playing. So I asked him the name of the band playing and the poor kid didn't have a clue... Did the same kinda thing to a kid with an Ozzy shirt, asked him to name a single song by Ozzy and the poor guy couldn't come up with one. When I asked him if he ever heard Crazy Train (cause who hasn't) he asked if it was a hip hop song. Damn hip hop artists screwing with classic rock...
    reminds me of this kid in my class. he asked me if i listened to Metallica and i said yeah so i asked him what his favortie song was by them. he walked away and talked to my friend who listens to metallica and he comes back to me and tells me that "One" was his favorite song by them (for the slow ones, he went and asked my friend what a song by Metallica was).
    kirk_tremonti
    true half the ppl in my college wear iron maiden t-shirts coz they think skulls are 'cool'. they actually listen to stuff like bakstreet boys, britney, they dont know shit bout rock music
    NoRegrets
    its really funny how a kid can have a black sabbath t-shirt on and have no idea who it is
    DaveGilmour1189
    about the shirts deal..... it even worse now that some depertment store chains carry them now. I saw at someplace (i think it was either walmart of khol's) they were carring them. Ac-dc, hendrix, rolling stones, led zeppelin, pink floyd. The kids that wear those usually listen to 50 cent. Most REAL rockers at my school were vintage ones their dads got and shoved them in the attic.
    bassmonkey16
    well yeah dont go by the shirts frickin dumb idea lol but hey ur final ad is much better than the first thats for sure lol
    bean-o
    Gotta disagree with the shirt thing, every one at my school wears a band shirt of somekind(half of them are kiss or ac/dc), stopped a kid with a Kiss shirt and asked him to name some of the band members. Points at Paul Stanley and calls him Gene Simmons, then i ask what he plays, and he says hes the singer.
    evening_crow
    When I'm looking for a band member, I'm looking for someone I get along with, someone who knows their instrument, and someone with the same level of commitment as myself. I'm not looking for someone to come in and pull off some classic rock guitar solo to impress me. I see all too much of it around my city. If someone mentions the word 'audition' in their listing, i lose all interest.
    well said.
    mr.Krinkle
    i wish i could find a femail blond bass player for my band..... *sigh* good stuff
    Vinura
    wow..ok...cool....yeah it is quite diferent from the usual artcle....ill give it 4 stars
    thedankle
    (I nick-names these bands ?Metallirvana,? or sometimes ?Nirvantallica?).
    genius!
    JOR METALL
    Dude in my country i cant ****in find anyone which plays guitar eve who play guitar are not interested in real music hope i live somewhere good sometime
    hbk24
    everybody in my school wears disturbed,a7x,bullet for my valentine, ac/dc or some classic rock t-shirt and most of them don't know any songs and i get made fun off and taunted for liking metal and classic rock which shows what they know about the bands they claim to be fans of
    virtussilex
    I like the way you incorporate humor in your article and still manage to be serious about it at some level. Love it you got talent for this
    In Vitro
    Pyro128 wrote: Once I saw a kid with an ACDC shirt on and ironically enough, in the gym we were working out at, 'Back In Black' was playing. So I asked him the name of the band playing and the poor kid didn't have a clue... Did the same kinda thing to a kid with an Ozzy shirt, asked him to name a single song by Ozzy and the poor guy couldn't come up with one. When I asked him if he ever heard Crazy Train (cause who hasn't) he asked if it was a hip hop song.
    I've got nothing against hip hop, but Dear God what is the world coming to?!? lol
    CrossBack7
    Dudewithanaxe wrote: There one kid in my school that really pisses me off.He use to be my friend but not anymore beacuse he follows me like an idol since he knows I play the guitar I like Ac/Dc I have long Hair and talk shit about hip-hop . Well he has an ac/dc t-shirt and he listen to other kind of rock that is like punk or something put i don't really like it. I think one of this days I will beat the crap out of that boy .Thats the only answer I got from my brain since Im kind of a nerd .But I like Metal. And Am probably form a band .Anyway Ill beat that boy up and form a band.And I have an Gibson Sg.I hate Hip-hop And every kind of primitive music .Judas Priest Rocks!!!!
    Nobody's gonna wanna be in your band if you act like that bud. Plus I agree with Alaub1491 up there ^
    alaub1491
    man its a hilarious article but its a bit different for me at my school because im a bassist and my two best friends are a drummer whos been playing for 7 years and a guitarist whos been playing for 5 so it wasnt that hard.
    There one kid in my school that really pisses me off.He use to be my friend but not anymore beacuse he follows me like an idol since he knows I play the guitar I like Ac/Dc I have long Hair and talk shit about hip-hop . Well he has an ac/dc t-shirt and he listen to other kind of rock that is like punk or something put i don't really like it. I think one of this days I will beat the crap out of that boy .Thats the only answer I got from my brain since Im kind of a nerd .But I like Metal. And Am probably form a band .Anyway Ill beat that boy up and form a band.And I have an Gibson Sg.I hate Hip-hop And every kind of primitive music .Judas Priest Rocks!!!!
    ya dude. your messed up. i like both punk and classic and metal and a little hip hop. its okay to like more than one genre of music.
    blacksides
    yeah about the shirts, whenever i wear them, 40 year olds come up and ask me to name songs, so then i end up giving them a complete disocgraphy... it sucks that just cuz everyone else is a poser, i get targeted too
    korgz
    Awesome article, way too keep the wit to this website. Too many people with pointless comments and nothing worth reading. your article is extremely refreshing.
    Dudewithanaxe
    There one kid in my school that really pisses me off.He use to be my friend but not anymore beacuse he follows me like an idol since he knows I play the guitar I like Ac/Dc I have long Hair and talk shit about hip-hop . Well he has an ac/dc t-shirt and he listen to other kind of rock that is like punk or something put i don't really like it. I think one of this days I will beat the crap out of that boy .Thats the only answer I got from my brain since Im kind of a nerd .But I like Metal. And Am probably form a band .Anyway Ill beat that boy up and form a band.And I have an Gibson Sg.I hate Hip-hop And every kind of primitive music .Judas Priest Rocks!!!!
    loserkid013
    I feel your pain. I'm on a never ending quest for a drummer. Soon I'll have to buy one off ebay...
    agentforte
    You should check out http://bandmaking.ca This should help people find band members easier, you can search for people based on practically anything, and you will be able to listen to their music to easily find someone that fits your style. Good luck!!
    Newbie Rocker
    Good article I am thinking of maybe starting band after I learn a bit more (Fanf*ckingtastic Timing.
    GibsonSg12
    hahah, i know those yu-gi-oh dorks who wear like ac/dc and sabbath hendrix, and all other classic rock and dont even know a song pisses me off the most. ive been listenin to rock since i was like 4 seriously, and i have a bunch of shirts and those yu-gi-oh dorks come up and tell me to name a single zeppelin song...i tell them the whole damn ZOSO cd.
    JHguitarman22
    the reason so many kids wear ac/dc shirts and sabbath and what not is cuz at hot topic theres your linkin park and bullshit like that on the wall right next to the ac/dc and the kids prolly think ac/dc some band that deals with electricy and buy the shirt cuz they thought they heard of this band before
    HeyStoopid
    I love AC/DC, but in all honesty the classic AC/DC t-shirt has become part of a fashion trend now, and it pisses me off immensely.
    Same thing with most all classic rock shirts But Great article!
    tearjerkerrhcp
    really long kinda point less ne one with commen sence wouldnt need this..sry im in a critic mood haha its was an on article but it didnt really help with any thing....
    NilsNiiils
    Hey, pretty good article... Gotta follow these rules when seeking new guitarists
    Brendan DEwald
    I had to move from South africa where i had 4 bands and we were actually good then to australia and it was hopless i could not find a single band and recently i got as band together but we dont clicks as well as i did as the bands in south africa so it is hard finding the right band members and good article
    lprophetsN8
    selloutpunx: One thing I always avoid in ads is people looking to "audition". I feel that unless your band is called 'Guns N Roses' and you are looking for a guitarist, I'm not going to bother "auditioning" myself to people. When I'm looking for a band member, I'm looking for someone I get along with, someone who knows their instrument, and someone with the same level of commitment as myself. I'm not looking for someone to come in and pull off some classic rock guitar solo to impress me. I see all too much of it around my city. If someone mentions the word 'audition' in their listing, i lose all interest. that is the single most intelligent thing ive ever read on this site.