Being In A Band In Your Teens

Following on from starting guitar in tour teens, here are some tips on being in a band.

Ultimate Guitar

Following on from my last article (Starting Guitar In Your Teens), which seems to have been a good sucess, I have decided to risk my reputation on this site by writing another article, this time about starting a band. Some of these tips may apply yo all ages, but since I ain't got to 30 yet, I'm not in a position if they do or not.

I bit about my band history. I have been in three bands, one where I played drums and did one gig at my school without practicing, another where I seem to have gone through everything possible in a band, and the third one which I have just started now. These tips are based on my sucesses and failures and the lessons I have learnt from them.

01. Don't Look Too Far For Bandmates

There appear to be loads of articles on recruiting bandmates on this site, but I've found that when your young and confounded to school for 6 hours a day, stick to the people within it. Starting a band with friends in the same school as you is much easier then being in a band with people outside your school, particularly if they live on the other side of town. Of course I'm sure loads of people can get around this, but if you can't, don't bother trying.

02. Your Bassist Doesn't Have To Be Good

Seriously. O.K. having a good bass player is great if you can get one, I mean, why not? But don't go being picky about your bassist. As long as they've got half a brain, do what you tell them and keep time, you'll be fine.

03. Your Drummer Should Be Good

Unless your band will do purely White Stripes covers, your drummer should be good. A riff will sound ten times better once you got a drummer wiv an inovative beat behind it. There are so many drummers which can't keep time, so keep a good eye out. Also, it's likely you will practice at the drummer's place, or a specially designated practice venue, so make sure they are open to visitors and don't have a schedule which will get in the way of practising.

04. Your Singer Can Be Anything

If your singers good, let his ahhhhs and his ooooohs ring out above everyone else. If he's crap, drown him out, at least slightly. Noone wants to hear a crap singer, particularly if he/she ( I just realised I'm being slightly sexist) is the focal point.

05. Do Not Practice Somewhere Near Crowds Of Outsiders

Lets face it, being in a band at 14/15 is cool, particularly if your good. Also, most teenagers run out of stuff to do. If you try and practice, say, in school at lunch time, you will be constantly be interupted, and his is one of the most annoying things ever. And one of the most difficult things ever is telling your friends to fuck off, so be somewhere locked or isolated.

06. Get Every Gig You Can

At this level, you are not a superstar. More often than not you will be asking o play, not being asked to play. If you think that you are too good for a gig, people will shun you and word will spread that your not worth asking etc. Get as many gigs as possible (within reason), so you can build up a reputation and get more gigs, maybe get some cash, record, and have fun.

07. Have Contacts

Advertise your band, get hold of possible organisers and it helps to have someone in your band who knows someone who knows someone etc, eventually getting you a few gigs.

08. Don't Trust Anyone

If you've got a good song which gets a good reaction, don't teach anyone how to play it, write it down and copyright it. There are articles on copyright on this site.

09. Don't Get An Ego

My second and most sucessful band was great. But my frontman had the biggest ego. After playing one gig he thought we were the greatest, took all the solos off me and has now taken all the money after he insisted on keeping it. In short, know your bandmates back to front, another reason to be in a band with friends. Even tough this guy was my friend, I didn't know him and he turned out to be a right dick to be in a band with. Be careful with who/what your dealing with.

10. If Your Not Happy, Leave

Even if your the biggest band in your town, you must realise that you started a band to have fun right? If your not happy, tell your bandmates and give them an ultimatum, saying unless they do this, that and the other, you will leave. That being said, a band is a team, so you can't have everything your own way. Keep a good balance. You will be respected too if you leave a band which looks like it's getting somewhere.

So there you have it, I could go on, but I have other things to do with my life. Also sorry bout some of the spelling and grammer etc. I hope this will help teens with starting a band.

-Dave Morris, Cardiff, Wales

280 comments sorted by best / new / date

    excellent article, bro. I definitely agree with only grouping with friends. and ...first?
    well, I' ve been out of high school for a couple of years and i'm trying to write and compose music seriously now with my band. And my BIGGEST problem is teaching my singer(s), yes we have 2, my songs. It kills me how both of them are partly tone-deaf, and neither is very rhythmic. However, they have good stage presence and have a lot of energy. Though it takes forver they eventually learn the songs. I agree with the bassist part. My bassist isn't the best but i think it matter a lot if you are able to work together, he feels my music and knows what to do with it. My other guitarist and I can't work together for shit, he can completely ruin my songs at some points cause he just wants to add in some kind of Joe Satriani solo when that's not the type of music we're playing. it's sad to say but he will be leaving us after our next show. My drummer plays very intesely and has sooo much talent if he'd only practice more.
    i don't think that this article was at all thought out. from the sounds of it this article came from the point of view from someone who is heavily influenced by modern mainstream rock(nirvana, green day, blink 182, etc.) and did not even bother to consider other genres of music when writing this article. yes, if you're planning to start a pop-punk type band, many of these things are true(except for the singer part: i don't care what kind of music you play, if your vocalist is crap, then you will be crap. this was true for my previous band, who had a total of about 8 real fans. you're better off with no singer at all than a bad one.). but say you plan to start a funk, R&B, or jazz group instead. in any one of those type of bands, a bassist who knows what he/she is doing is absolutely ESSENTIAL as is every other member of the band. however, you are right that at that point in life(which i am sort of still at myself), you cannot be picky about finding the best players on any given instrument, and good singers are particularly hard to seek out. sometimes having someone in your band who isn't very good is just a reality that you will have to deal with in high school. but i have learned, as a bassist myself, that a good drummer is absolutely necessary. he/she at the least needs to be able to keep good time and have a decent variety of beats they can pull out. otherwise, your band will fall apart and you will look like a joke(this happened at my old band's first gig with our original drummer; he was ousted soon after). but overall, not a bad article, if maybe from a single-minded point of view. peace.
    As a 11th grade novice guitarist (started playing in December)-turned-n00b bassist (started in March), I've found that my experiences echo what this article is saying. As long as the bassist is capable enough to play along with the rhythm and somewhat harmonious with the guitarist, they can usually just wing a bassline and come up with their own competent bassline for a song (I've done this with some Incubus songs, for example) that sounds just as good. As for the other things, it would be a lot easier to get some practice in (we're averaging about one session a month) if we all went to the same school, and we definately need a new singer... I didn't even realize it was possible to make Rage Against the Machine's vocals sound worse, but apparently it is... >_>
    Yeah, good article man. I do agree with what every1 has said about the importance of a good singer though. Good general advice otherwise
    If two or member of a band hav a big ego it wont work. They will just get pissed off with each other. I much as i hate to say it, the best formation for a band is a frontman wiv a big ego, and the rest willing to do exactly as he says (not true for everything)
    some of the stuff in here i disagree with but some is good. Oh ya, try spell check before you post.
    Vere nice article... however the only problem with being in a band with some good friends is if... well let me say that in my band our drummer is not so good, because we decided we were going to be in a band before any of us could really play any instruments, but the rhythm guitarist and myself (lead guitar, vocals) have become "good" guitarists now but he's still trailing behind. See we can't really let him go because he's a mate. See my problem?
    P Bassist 9
    I'm not in a band yet, but *** the part about the shitty bassist. That is pretty much shit. I'm pretty good at bass. Bass solos kick ass too.
    I'm going to be honest-I would like to kill you. "You're bassist doesn't have to be good"???.. what the hell do you know? Maybe for you little pop/punk farts who for some reason think Mark Hoppus is good. Is there a reason that all of these genre bands sound the same? Oh yea, because their bass playing sucks and is not heard. Write some original music and learn how to play the guitar dammit. Fool.
    Hey im in a band that could be considered a traitor to my guitar friends... but anyway Im in a band with 1 other person... Thats right a band with 2 people. I play guitar and keyboard for it and we use fruity loops and end up with quite professional sounding stuff. Yeah and its not coz we dont want a drummer or bassist but yeah we cant find one in this damn town. anyway we can add the bass from the keyboards effects and add drums by computer. It can be considered cheatin and i accept it if u call me a cheat but im just happy the music i write is actually going somewhere. Not relevant at all but i just really wanted to say it.
    doing the band thing is tough, i started one with my 2 best friends that i never fought with, and we all agree we liked eachother more before the band got started.
    well i think the bassist can be just some dumb ass kid... he could, if you really wanna ***o off your listeners... hahaha... just foolin... nice article though... just as long as he can play... what matters is you make good music togther...
    It almost impossible to start a band in my school. There is about 400 people in my grade. There are 3 drummers, 2 bassist, and just about everyone else "plays" guitar. Everyone sucks except for a couple of the guitarist.
    a singer cant be just anything, if you wanna play rock and you get a singer who can only sing soprano chior(sp?) stuff, it sucks (this happened to me)
    I am a bassist and I agree with what you said about the Bassist, He CAN suck but its better to have a good one. Started Jamming with my current (and Only) band right after picking up bass, and I have improved greatly since, most of it because I can play with a drummer so much. So if he sucks, he may get better, and most can pump out the chord root decently, even though I have risen above this.
    My band is quite good we've got an awesome drummer, a classically trained singer (no we are not an opera or orchestra she is just an awesome singer who could sing opera if she wanted), me (i play guitar/bass an ma drummer keeps sayin im gud but we have a shit guitar player. You said nothing bout the guitarist, although i spose most people reading this will be guitarists. Although the need for a good drummer is great you cant do a lot with a good singer, drummer an bass player without some rhythm. this means basically make sure your guitarist has some sense of rhythm or is a good soloist, or else you may get gigs but you'll get booed off stage. Good article 4*.
    High school bands are great for fun but usually wont turn out. Just have fun. Professional bands can't get by unless everyone is really good, but school bands can get away weith Average players. Just dont try and be professional or to be too good, just try and learn and improve.
    your article would be useful for people who are still green in music. i just have a couple of comments:neglecting to get a good bassist is a sign of weakness, and your singer cannot be "anything" you have to get one which suits your style; this is to avoid "musical differences". do not get every gig you can, some gigs may lead to bad publicity. finally, if you're not happy stay a while, if things don't start looking good then leave.
    gd article, my band is the most important thing in my life if im going to anything with my life itl b wiff the fcukking guitar in hand
    well, anyways. i think that was one of the best, most informative articles i have ever read.
    question: i've been told that a singer/guitarist is bad since then the singer/guitarist is too preoccupied to do guitar or singing well but thats what i'm tryin to do... should we find another singer or guitarist?
    if ur askin me, then it really depends some ppl have the abolity to play guitar well and sing good at the same time, however others dont. if either guitar playing or singing standards drop too much cos ur struggling wiv both, then drop one, if not, then keep it, its easier to be in a smaller band because less people are ther to disagree, thth being sed sum lager bands mean a greater input in musical ideas and originality
    shuldve made myself more clear, if ur bassist isnt good, its not the end of the worl unless u have specific ideas for him, helps for him to be a les claypool though and once again, y are people so prejudiced on this ite, none of u know me, or others who write articles, yet u say u h8 sum1 hu u never met on the basis of one article, thats shallower then a moderatlely sized puddle after a short spring shower
    ahh, and a little add here...our bassist sucks too, i just work with him a little harder on it all, the bass player does not have to be as good as drummer or guitarist for some styles of music ie. pop punk, or punk in general.
    yea it was a pretty good article i'm surprised but the bass part was a little sorta i think the bass player should have some skill
    one thing i saw that you missed out on, make sure that you and your bandmates agree on the musical direction of the band. if your guitarist is into death metal and your lead singer only wants to do beatles covers, you will have a problem. at least be willing to compromise. maybe mix up some beatles covers with some death metal songs (i am not sure this would work, most people going to death metal concerts don't like the beatles... you have to know your audience too.) , or maybe put a metalic sound to an old beatles song. basically just make sure you will be able to agree on what to play. i hear u 100%. its the exact same thing in my band; we're the "school pep band" officially (thats not our name, i mean the school just lets us play at basketball games n stuff, but we dont get paid). Anyway, as u can tell by my name, im into the old stuff; AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, u get the idea. but, our drummer (hes the one that started the band; im only there because im the only guitar player in our school of 400 people) is into the new punk emo shit. he likes 80's rock, but he doesnt like to play that publically. i had to learn two blikn 182 songs (GOD HELP ME!), so we butt heads all the time. oh yea, good article.
    nice article. but i disagree with you when you said that a not-so-good bassist will do. as a bassist im so hurt. lol just kidding.
    haha, i liked that one And I also agree with everything you said mr.lame Well lets go to the topic; You had great advices and Im a lazy guy, so I wont type more *5stars* (and by the f*cking way, dont flame my ass because my nick is Benjiboy, its not becuz of the guy from GoodCharlotte My name is Benjamin) Funk out
    Ataris212: Nexxus:HERES NEXXUS'S ADVICE FOR BEING IN A BAND IN YOUR TEENS GET FUCKING DRUNK, HAVE FUN! DONT TAKE MUSIC SERIOUSLY AT ALL JUST HAVE FUN WITH SOME OTHER KIDS... music gets serious after you get outta high school... dont try and create a stellar band in high school because other people tend not to have the maturity... and you shouldnt either... i had a blast just getting drunk and playing my guitar out of time with other people... lol [POSTED: 18 May 2005 - 11:59]| idiot.
    lol this made me laugh for ages
    oh great article by the way, some good advice in here but as someone posted before it's mostly common sense. i think i'll recommend this to my band members... 4 stars
    bass is pretty important if you ask me. Without bass a band sucks. Every band needs some good bass solos or so.
    i like this article an on egos there's this kid who thinks he's the best guitarist ever and if you dont own a Gibson you must suck my band's bassist is awesome, and so is my drummer... question: i've been told that a singer/guitarist is bad since then the singer/guitarist is too preoccupied to do guitar or singing well but thats what i'm tryin to do... should we find another singer or guitarist?
    drummer needs to be good bassist needs to be consistant guitarist needs to be imaginative singer needs to have his/her own sound wether that be good or bad as long as they have confidence and are not afraid to take the reigns live then your fine.
    Not a bad article, I agree with the advice for the most part. My only disagreement is, that the singer has got to good! Being confident and original and all that crap only goes so far. If you don't have a good voice, I personally dont want to hear you.
    Not a particularly bad article...some good points. plus you raised a lot of hell wit that bassist comment. Three stars. can't underappreciate any member of the band. Having a crappy bassist is about as bad as having a crappy drummer-the only reason a bad drummer will be more noticeable is because a bass line can be masked by the guitars...Drums, however, are difficult to ignore. Especially if they aren't in time.
    being in a band with friends can destroy a friendship so know what you are getting into or you will have much more to deal with.
    There's this open mic thing at my school and I have had people ask me to play. The only things are that 1) my band isn't complete (we need a drummer and singer) and 2) I could get up there and just bull s*** a solo, but if I go on stage, I really want to play. I mean, not play this soft rock power chord crap I hear everyone else play, I mean go up a leave my mark as a musician, play something that leaves people speechless. So, at least I have some fans. (That hopefully won't turn their back on me). Next year I hope to have a band together and some material ready for open mic. Maybe my "fans" won't be harsh on me for not playing this year.
    BlackboxBassman: i don't care what kind of music you play, if your vocalist is crap, then you will be crap.
    man, bob dylans voice SUCKS, but hes got some good stuff. [jimi hendrix covered one of his songs, if that helps persuade you]