Previously I wrote about how all the instruments in a band are equally important. Especially in the fact that everyone in the band is going for something greater than the individual parts. Another obvious fact of playing is that all musicians are not equally skilled on their instruments. I do believe that no matter how skilled you are on your instrument you need to remember to keep an eye on the ultimate goal of a band which is to create great music, not to simply play a great part. That being said, it would be foolish indeed not to feature your more skilled musicians with more prominent roles in the band.
I used David Lee Roth as an example of out of proportion self-importance so today I’ll use Eddie Van Halen as an example of spotlighting a great player. Eddie is a phenomenal guitarist and the way he is used in Van Halen is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. When you listen to a Van Halenalbum, Eddie’s guitar is front and center as well as the most prominent instrument in the mix. I don’t think that many people would make the argument that Michael Anthony’s bass lines are more interesting to listen to than Eddie’s guitar parts. So rightfully, Eddie is featured more prominently in Van Halen than Michael Anthony. The same can be said for Tony Levin on the Peter Gabriel albums. Tony’s bass is a huge part of the music and he’s mixed front and center a large part of the time. It just makes sense to put your most skilled players higher up in the mix because what they play is usually very interesting to listen to. Another thing you’ll notice is that both Eddie and Tony know when to back off and support the song. They’re both great supporting players as well as spotlight players.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is that if you have really good players, let them shine! Again, don’t let egos get in your way or it will only cause your band to never reach its potential and eventually fall apart. A band is a delicate balance of musicians being aware of their own skills and places in the band as well as respecting the other members skills and places in the band. I wrote an article you should also check out called Surround Yourself With Better Musicians.