What To Do When The Band Breaks Up

When your band breaks up, it’s an opportunity to expand your talent and skills to become an even better musician.

Sammy Hagar Became A More Complete Musician After He Left Montrose
Sammy Hagar Became A More Complete Musician After He Left Montrose

I’ve been playing in live bands for 27 years now and I’ve been through my share of band breakups. By band breakup, I mean either the the group will completely disband or I have quit a band that I felt wasn’t going anywhere. It’s always a bummer when your time in a band comes to an end but it’s also an opportunity to re-examine why you are playing music and what you hope to do with your skills as a musician.

I remember when my first band broke up. I had been playing with Seniors in High School and I was just a Freshman. They all graduated High School and that was pretty much the end of the band. I knew I wanted to keep playing but my skills were extremely limited at the time and I had no clue how to even go about getting into another band. I did know a couple of things though, I knew I had a deep love of music and that I wanted to become a better guitarist. So I immersed myself in the study of music theory and the guitar.   Continue reading “What To Do When The Band Breaks Up”

How To Do A Band Rhythm Check

Red Hot Chili Peppers Catch The Groove

   One of the things that will be an ongoing quest for your live band is your ability to play consistently in the groove. What is a groove? That’s when your band locks into a certain rhythm which defines the overall feel of the song. There’s a rock groove, funk groove, R&B groove, country groove, jazz groove and many other types of grooves. Playing in a groove can also be called “playing in the pocket.” It all comes down to a very simple concept and that is how all the parts being played by your band interlock rhythmically. Today I’m going to tell you about a very simple but very effective way for your live band to do a groove check, or rhythm check if you will. Continue reading “How To Do A Band Rhythm Check”

Getting Along Is More Important Than Musicianship

In Stereo Gets Along

   That’s right, getting along is more important than musicianship. This is band chemistry 101 for all you live musicians out there. I’ve played with some of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever heard and I’ve also seen them not able to function in a band for more than a year. The musicians I play with now are all excellent. Maybe not the best in the world, but excellent players. My two bands have been together for 18 years and 14 years respectively. Let me tell you why we’ve been together for so long.

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Get A Band Prenup

Guns-N-Roses Before Things Went Horribly Wrong

   Okay there’s not really such a thing as a band prenup so I’ll explain what I’m talking about with a couple stories. One of my good friends was in a band and that band needed a P.A. System. No single person in the band had enough money to pay for the P.A. so everybody in the band decided to chip in some money to pay for the P.A. system. Everyone couldn’t chip in the same amount so a couple of the guys put in more money than the rest of the band. After the P.A. was bought and paid for, the only person in the band that could store, transport and setup the P.A. was the person that had contributed the least amount of money in the band. I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, the band eventually broke up and they were left with the dilemma of “who owns the P.A.?” The way it ended up, was the guy that was storing and hauling the P.A. just kept it and moved to a different state, never to be heard from again. So everyone else that had contributed to the P.A. was out everything they had put into it.

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What Is The Typical Band Lineup

The Beatles - 4-piece perfection

   So you’re a musician and you want to become a live performing musician. You want to start a band and you’re not sure what instruments you need to get a functional band together. The beautiful thing about playing in a band is the fact that you’re going to be playing with other people. You won’t be a solo artist anymore when you play in a band. In fact, the definition of band is “An unofficial association of people or groups.” So I guess technically you only need two people to start a band. The first thing you need to decide is what type of music you’re going to be playing. If you decide you want to play hard rock then the lineup requirements will be different than if you are playing bluegrass. How many people you have in your band can really affect your band chemistry as well. Musician’s tend to have large personalities and the more you add, the more interesting and challenging things can become. Let’s take a look at some typical band lineups.

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Choosing A Band Name

Butthole Surfers - Maybe not the best name

   One of the funnest but most difficult things you’ll have to do as a band is decide on a band name. It can be extremely frustrating deciding on a name that everyone in the band agrees on. Instead of agreeing on a name that everyone loves, it almost always comes down to a name that everyone doesn’t hate. So how can you pick a name for your band?

   The first thing you need to do is come up with a list of potential band names. How do you choose band names? There is really no rule as anything could be used as a band name. I would suggest looking at the type of music the band is playing, or the type of people in the band. Is there something that stands out about your band that you want to point out? In my band Shufflin’ Noah we had written a song called 40 Days And 40 Nights so one of the names suggested was Noah. We felt that was too generic so we decided to add the word Shufflin’ to the front of it. That was on a list that included names like Spoon Playin’ Noah, Street Rappin’ Noah as well as a bunch of others. We finally decided on Shufflin’ Noah because we wanted people to dance to our music. Continue reading “Choosing A Band Name”

Putting Together Your Band Demo CD

Make A Live Recording

One of the most important parts of your bands marketing strategy is your Demo CD. The Demo CD is going to be one of your biggest selling points in getting new gigs for your band. I’m going to give you a few tips for putting together a Demo CD that will help sell your band to club owners.

   I was listening to Demo CD’s one night with a club owner who was trying to sift through prospective band for his club. I remember he kept saying things like “Studio recording”, “Studio Effects”, and “Too Produced”. And he would toss those Demo CD’s in the trash. What the guy was looking for was a live representation of how the band would sound when they played in his club.

   So the most important aspect of putting together a successful Demo CD is to make a good live recording of your band. Preferably with a lot of crowd cheering mixed in. Club owners want an accurate snapshot of how you’ll sound playing in their club. They want to hear how you talk to the crowd and how the crowd is reacting to you. So a live CD is the must for getting into clubs.

   If you do want to mix a few studio tracks on your Demo CD that’s okay, but put them at the end. Club owners really don’t care what you sound like in the studio. The best thing to do is have the live demo for the club owners and a studio demo to give to fans at your shows. The studio demos should also have some live tracks at the end because you never know when one of your fans is going to put a Demo CD in the hands of someone who can line gigs up for you.

   There are a couple ways to capture a good live CD. One is to record your show at a club that you regularly play at and hopefully you’ll catch a good night. Another way is to control things a bit more and invite a rowdy crowd of friends to a more controlled environment for recording. I’ve done both and the demo’s we’ve recorded with a crowd of friends has usually turned out better just because the band was more relaxed and interacting easier with the crowd. Remember, the club owners want to hear some stage banter.

   Finally, put your best songs on the Demo CD. Make sure they’re the songs that everybody will know and recognize. If you want to really show off your skills with a highly technical song, only put one on. Also, unless you want to play weddings, only put one slow song on the Disc.

   It’s really excellent practice to record all your live shows because you never know when you’re going to have that perfect gig. You just may get the live recording of a lifetime. So be prepared by having a recorder at the gig recording your show.

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