Thursday, April 14, 2005

Forty Pearls of Wisdom for the Aspiring Rock Star

For the one or possibly two people who read this, I should mention that recent events (my band's third anniversary, booking a great show and having to cancel because of a double booking) have given me cause to contemplate the lessons learned from having a band and managing it.

1. Start young
2. If you start young, don't give up.
3. If you want to make music your life, don't really fuck around with something like college. It tends to complicate adhering to number 4.
5. Avoid forming a band with people who have already accrued crushing personal debt.
6. Avoid forming a band with people who are in multiple bands.
7. Try to form a band with someone who has a van.
8. Maybe offer to pay part of that guy's insurance.
9. If you have a friend who is organized but doesn't play an instrument, have him do your booking. For some reason, clubs like this more than if you're booking your own band.
10. Avoid forming bands with people who have different views on recreational substance ingestion than you do.
11. If you form a band of "no drugs, no alcohol" types, make sure your music is completely original and groundbreaking, as Christian popular music is usually 6 months behind whatever is cool and trendy
13. Be wary about forming bands with dudes/girls who have serious relationships. Serious relationships may hinder your band down the road.
14. Don't suck. If you do, come to terms with that and figure out how to get better.
15. Be from Hawaii and get Volcom to give you clothes and a record deal. tour often, get chicks to dig you. Being good looking helps.
16. Find a practice space that is not dependent on your buddy getting off work in time to open the garage.
17. Network, but don't be a jerk about it. In other words, don't spam.
18. Educate yourself musically.
19. Don't make a punk band because you like Good Charlotte. We've had enough of you already, when you formed a band and called yourself Good Charlotte.
20. Don't make an emo band. Chances are, you have never listened to Fugazi or Sunny Day Real Estate, and are actually forming a band in the vein of Taking Back the Story of the Yellowcard on Thursday. This inspiration has more in common with 98 Degrees and N'Sync than it does Fugazi.
22. If you decide to "express yourself" via peculiar onstage attire such as makeup or huge pants covered in unnecessary zippers, music might not be for you, but I'm pretty sure the circus is always taking applications.
23. The service industry is the second best and most convenient side job you can have while being in bands. Working at restaurants/bars is also a great way to get laid.
24. Don't give your band a gay name. For examples of gay names, see the DFW metal scene.
25. Play often, but don't oversaturate the market.
26. That friend who's organized enough to do your booking? Be nice to him. Buy him beer/lapdances/hamburgers/etc., because if you piss him off and he quits, you're on your own, and booking your own band can leech all the fun out of it.
27. If you are ugly, chances are a band can raise your chances of getting laid, but you will still be ugly.
28. Onstage, your band must be largely unified in terms of style. Try matching suits, or vintage clothes. I don't know why no one has thought to do this.
29. Don't cite U2 as one of your influences. Citing the Beatles is hard to avoid, but U2 blows.
30. If your website compares you to the famous band or performer you are ripping off, just fucking quit, because either your are not ripping him or her off effectively enough for your fans to realize this, or you think they are stupid, in which case you may have a future in A&R.
31. Don't bore people at after parties about your "art." Especially if you make art in addition to playing in a band. Unless you are named Ray and your band is named the Me-Thinks, in which case, everybody needs to gather 'round.
32. Be nice to people who come to your shows, and be appreciative.
33. B.C. Rich guitars might as well be sold from fantasy knife catalogs. If you buy one, be prepared for the consequences, unless you only plan on playing for your Dungeons & Dragons group.
34. Don't be that guy who goes into guitar center and plays a medley of hotlixxx while trying out instruments. That guy is annoying and is probably a huge douche.
35. If you are that guy, why not just work at Guitar Center?
36. Do you play guitar and wear huge pants? Stop reading this. Your Taco Bell uniform needs to be febreezed before you go to work.
37. If you place an ad in your city's alternative paper that says, "_______ seeking to form heavy groove-oriented band.Inf. incl. TOOL NIRVANA U2 RHCP ZEPPELIN THE BEATLES serious musicians only, no slackers," see numbers 34-36.
38. Cover bands make money. Real bands get laid.
39. It's okay for cover bands to have stupid names. In fact, it's practically a rule.
40. If you show up at a party comprised of local scenesters who are outside your clique (this happens when you are a big-fish-in-a-little-pond/major-label-casualty/pretentious-asshole/etc.), don't pick up one of their acoustic guitars and enthrall your personal entourage with radiohead covers.

This list will be subject to future amendments, because having a local band will always be conducive to endless hassles, setbacks, and headaches.

The Robo-pirate