There comes a time in life when the dream you dream becomes just a little bit too big to contain in these four walls adorned with posters and gig tickets. When the hours upon hours spent with your headphones on finally encroaches on something real and precious. When you realize that the little few of whatever friends you have actually share an affinity for the same sad maudling pop music you revere. When you FINALLY feel that the 20 bucks per hour you collectively dish out for the rehearsal space is not spent in vain on half-assed renditions of Creep or Where Have All The Bootboys Gone. When you realize there are only so many episodes of 13 Reasons Why you can watch before you feel like slicing yourself.
Yes, the day of reckoning is here. It’s time for you to start a band.
Here are five basic chords.
Now start a band.
Be clear on the primary direction.
This may be at odds with the general idea of being progressive and not limiting yourself on just one style of music to keep your musical palette diverse, but at this early stage being single minded and set in your way actually helps you focus. More often than not you’ll end up looking like a wannabe. But this early on, trust me there is NOTHING wrong with that. You’re always mimicking someone at the start. The real you comes in a little later, and how glorious it will be when this finally happens.
Write, rehearse, repeat.
Now that you’re clear on what path you’ll be taking stylistically, go in the corner with acoustic guitars and get all those songs out of you like your life depended on it. Some of your songs might start to sound the same but never fear, pick the best out of the sound-alikes and repeat the process. Once you’ve got enough songs to fill out a 4 or 5 track EP, break someone’s piggy bank, go to the jamming studio and rehearse the life out of your set. This is pretty much everything you should be doing in the band’s first 2 years of existence, so persevere. You are going to be glad you went through this when the gig organizers come knocking.
Committing to tape (or any other digital format available)
So you’ve rehearsed your set so often that it’s now getting pretty apparent you can play these songs in your sleep; now it’s recording time! A demo is integral for a number of reasons, a) it helps to have an actual audio reference so you don’t forget changes or arrangements and b) these demo tracks can be used to show gig organizers what you’re made of. Back in the Myspace days ALL you had to do to land a gig slot was to have an original song playing on your music player. This concept still holds up in the age of Bandcamp and Soundcloud. And let’s admit it; it’s kind of difficult having to work social media if you’re without a release or a product. Demos don’t need to be super polished, although I wouldn’t recommend you to upload a song you simply recorded with your phone’s sound recorder. If you have the cash, get into a recording studio and do a live take. If you don’t, program your drums with a drum VST and layer all that stuff with a simple interface at home. Anything that floats your boat, anything that gets the stuff out.
By this time probably your demo is gaining traction among the local scenesters. One of these enterprising scenesters probably will have enough sense to approach you to play a gig. Your first gig! For this, I recommend nothing more than committing yourselves to a little bit more practice. Remember, the more you practice the tighter you are; and it’s integral to be tight especially in front of a live audience. No post-production damage control or embellishment to save you here. Remember to promote the gig as if it actually was you organizing, tag the other bands on the bill and socialize. Be punctual on the day, support all the acts, and don’t forget to thank the organizer (or buy him a drink). Networking is key, and this is the time and place to work PR like there’s no tomorrow. Step on stage with confidence. Play the set you’ve rehearsed into the ground as best you can. Don’t feel bad if you mess up. Trust me, no one has it all together on the first try. Some of us STILL don’t have it all together after 15 years of playing LOL.
Get in gear!
Sooner or later you’re going to feel like you’ve outgrown the standard studio gear that has faithfully served you all this while. This is partly to be blamed on the jamming studio guys who couldn’t be arsed to maintain the gear, and this is also due to the fact that you’re on your way to ultimately find yourself and it’s only right that you find yourself on your own terms with your own gear. And so begins your quest for all the Squiers, Epiphones and ZBTs that will be your trusty companions on the long excruciating journey to semi pro stardom.
For great deals on beginner music equipment, do not hesitate to drop by Music Bliss and we’ll give hook you up with your new best friend in no time!