Dear Van Hammersmith,
I play bass in a band. My friend (the lead guitarist) and I left the band to join a better band. How do we tell the former band that they suck and we're leaving them for a better one while still remaining friends? On a side note, what would be a good band name for the new band? We play mostly anything.
Thanks, Aaron from the Philippines.
Hey Aaron. I hope you eventually found solutions to these problems during the three years since you send me this letter, but in case you haven't here's what you should do right away.
First, you have to accept that these other guys are going to be pissed. You're basically the villains in this story. Think about it for a minute. You two are wicked good, right? I'll say there are three other members, a chubby drummer, a skinny rhythm guitarist who is trying so hard to grow a mustache, and a singer who could really use some backing vocals while he develops, because he's really still finding his voice as a singer and a performer. So they're not great yet, because they're still learning, but god, they love it and they're trying hard, right?
Now picture this as a movie. There are five of you. You and the lead guitarist, who are obviously good-looking preps, quit the band to start a much better, cooler, more professional sounding band that you have chosen to call "Regulator." The three nerdy losers are left by themselves. They think the band is done for and they'll never have a chance to perform in the state championship for the Battle of the Bands, which is their dream. Also the five thousand dollars of prize money could help the singer's grandpa to save the family farm.
But out of the blue, the guys meet Julie, who they know from school, who is a nerdy academic type but who secretly plays wicked metal guitar. They invite her to join the band, and their first several attempts to play together are hilarious disasters, but then after Julie and the singer start to like each other, everything just clicks, and the band starts sounding super-awesome.
But they still need a bass player! Then Julie introduces Alice, her little sister, who is only fourteen. But Alice plays bass like goddamn Lemmy Kilmister, so they put her in the band, and they make it through locals, and then county, and suddenly there they are at the state battle of the bands championship, and their final opponent is YOU A--HOLES, the bass player and lead guitarists who dumped them to form Regulator.
And you guys act like friendly professionals face-to-face, saying things like way-to-go, but when you're off by yourselves, you guys are totally dicks and don't want to get defeated by the band you quit because they sucked.
You plan to pull the plug on their gear during their set, but a sassy woman like Queen Latifah but not a sellout foils your plan and the dumped kids play an awesome show and win the contest. Then the singer and Julie kiss, and Alice encourages the rhythm player to shave his mustache, and then he gets the girl he likes, and then the chubby drummer and Alice go play video games.
And you guys end up covered in something smelly at the end. Because that's how to make audiences happy these days.
But yeah, they might be pissed and they might see you guys as villains. Buy them beer, if they drink beer. Tell them you guys have an opportunity. Nobody wants to hold anybody else back. But be respectful, and help them out however you can.
As for your band name, I suggest "Regulator." Sounds awesome.
Okay! I hope that was helpful. I'm taking new questions again for a current column at askvanhammersmith.blogspot.com. You can drop by and see what's happening. Also send new questions to vanhammersmith "at" hotmail.com. See you in hell, guitar kids! Also, they saved Grandpa's farm.