Ask Van Hammersmith. Part 62 (Final)

author: Van Hammersmith date: 10/12/2011 category: junkyard

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Living proof that lonely, depressed alcoholics can become advice columninsts. And so my friends, I present a final installment of AsK Van Hammersmith. You may ask "why stop now, with so many questions left unanswered?" And I answer, "Sorry, I'm not taking any more questions. Ask somebody else." Seriously though, this experience has been a joy for me, and if I didn't actually help anyone with my flippant, mocking, poorly thought out, frequently off-topic and usually late answers, then I hope that I at least gave a few of you some good giggles. That's what the Hammer is all about: the giggly-times. As for those of you who asked questions and did not yet receive answers, just look deep inside yourself and ask, "What would Van Hammersmith tell me to do?" Also, you should probably re-read the old columns, because I probably answered your question already at some point. They all do get kind of "samey" after a while. As for the actual unanswered questions themselves, I'm going to hang onto them. If I ever do something like this again, I'll use your old problems as my starting point. That's right-- I'm going to use you people, just like you've been using me all this time. So your problems might finally get their answers, except they will be years late, instead of only several months late like everybody else. And who knows? I might take this column up again. But I don't expect to. You see, I've got the inside track on a sales job at a local carpet store. What? Did you think I was finally going to get my big break and have a "hit record?" Fat chance, man. I'll keep playing the bars downtown on the weekends, but I've got bills to pay. Do we have time for one last letter? We do? Terrific. One more time, for my homies.
Hey Van Hammersmith, I have been wanting to start a band for three years now. The only musician I know is a bass player. He says it's also his dream to be in a band but I feel as if he doesn't have the same drive or work ethic as I do. What I want to know is if I should wait a few years to meet new people and maybe find another person who is interested in joining a band (I'm only 15), or should I record some stuff by myself (with some bass tracks done by my friend). Kids at my age seem like they have very little of an idea of what they want to do with their lives, while I know I want to have a career as a musician in a band. At the moment, I really just want to get my music out to the world but I feel like I can't do it alone. Thanks a lot, Steve.
Steve, you don't have to do it alone. Van Hammersmith is here with you. If the only musician you know is a bass player who says he wants to play, then play with him. You get no bonus points for waiting to start later. Play, practice, try things with your buddy, and if he's not serious, who cares? Your options are him or nobody, right? So play with whoever you can for the time being. As you grow up you'll meet lots more players, and you'll have opportunities to play with lots of different people. Never be afraid to play with any of them. Give people a chance. And you're right, kids your age often have little idea of what they want to do with their lives. The same holds true for most grown-ups. In fact, most people get jobs that bore them, because they recognize the need to "support their families," or "have a better life." Pursue your dreams. When it's clear your dreams aren't going to earn you any serious moolah, convert your dreams into hobbies and get a damn job. And if the whole "career as a musician in a band" doesn't work out, I might be able to get you an interview at Fred's Fine Flooring. Fred's great; he lets us smoke in the back, even though he keep all of his weird chemicals back there. Super-casual guy. Really, my dreams are all starting to come true. Sigh. But get out there and play. Learn songs all the way through, and learn to sing and play at the same time (it will impress chicks, even if you sing badly). Play with guys who know different styles from your usual guys. Avoid people who say they play but never want to actually jam. And when you finally meet some cool players who want to start a band: Always be honest and clear about what you want. Also be honest about what you're willing to do. Show up on time, and be prepared to work during band time. Don't try to do your math homework during practice. Turn off your cell phone during jam sessions. Nobody wants to hear "Whoa, stop playing everybody, it's Hot Brandy." When you're feeling lonely, practice your guitar. When you're feeling happy, or angry, practice your guitar. When she dumps you (and she will), write a song. When you meet the next one, write two songs. Repeat until your album is ready. Try to remember, even if you're a better player, that doesn't mean you're a better person. Avoid things that seem like they might be addictive or self-destructive, and avoid people who are really into those theings. Their careers will be short. And remember, music scenes are made of people, and people talk. Make friends, not enemies, don't be a back-stabber, and when you happen to be sitting in on a vicious gossip session, try to keep quiet and just smile politely. Or get up and play a game of pool. We play guitar because we love music, whether we are just playing two-chord songs in our bedrooms, or slashing away on a stage. Money is gone fast, but friends and memories last. Be well, my friends. My screaming air-guitars will fly you home tonight.
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 61 Junkyard 10/05/2011
+ Ask Van Hammersmith. Part 60 Junkyard 09/28/2011
+ Ask Van Hammersmith. Part 59 Junkyard 09/21/2011
+ view all
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