songs into the first set, you suddenly find yourself
mentally plotting the overthrow of the other
guitarist, who insists on repeatedly blasting
improvised fills straight through the lead vocals. It
wouldn't be so bad if he hadn't already turned his
Fender Twin up to "Stun" in order to match
the seismic attack of the bass player, who's been
rendered totally clueless because of monitor trouble.
As far as the drummer is concerned, that's still no
excuse for playing out of time, and the two of them
have been fighting over tempos since the first
hours later, when the gig finally ends, the tension
could be cut with a knife. You quickly pack up your
gear, vowing never again to stand in the same room
with this band of tone-deaf, egomaniacal tossers.
it that a group of otherwise well-balanced, mature
music makers can suddenly degenerate into an unruly,
uncompromising pack of thugs the second the show
starts? Is it a matter of fighting for the spotlight?
Fear of forgetting some tricky changes? Pent-up
frustration with a drummer who still doesn't know all
the intros after three years on the job?
fact is, not everyone's cut out to be a cog in a
musical machine. Ask any worthwhile solo artist why
they don't work in a band anymore and you'll hear
phrases like "big ego," "totally
you get the picture.
Unfortunately, the Used Instruments section of the
classifieds is daily proof that many bands expire
much too quickly; not because of musical
incompetence, but personal incompatibility.
your band's marriage is on the rocks, you and your
cohorts should consider adopting some of the
following coping mechanisms in order to keep things
on track. Ultimately, it's a matter of playing ball
or playing all alone. After all, where would the
world be today if Keith really had thrown Mick out
the window way back when?
Rushing to a gig is a sure-fire way to create bad
vibes, which tend to show up in a performance. It's
not hard to see why players who arrive on time would
be resentful of bandmates showing up late. Being at
the venue ahead of schedule allows for valuable
downtime to relax, check out the gear, and go over
cues and rough spots. It also goes a long way to
beating the pre-flight nerves. But if one member of
the team is late, it blows everybody's cool
(including the club owner's). Plus, how are you going
to have fun when you've just spent an hour driving
like a maniac, followed by seven minutes of
frantically wiring up equipment?
the early side, especially if the gig is a good
distance away. Over estimate on drive time and allow
an extra 20 minutes for your own setup before
to the beat
What's food got to do with it? Try downing two
Whoppers and large fries and then see how much you
feel like playing afterwards. Many performers treat
the gig like an athletic event. Don't overeat. Don't
be a drunken dope.
you got everything?
Anyone's who's ever had to make a mad dash to find a
9-volt battery knows all too well about the hazards
of poor packing. A simple inventory check before you
hit the road can save you tons of aggravation in the
long run. By the same token, make careful note of all
materials you went through during a gig, like cables,
strings, picks, etc; and replace them immediately.
change the programme
Spontaneity might work for some, but generally
speaking most of us do much better with a little
organization. Draw up a set list and make sure
everyone has a copy. Agree ahead of time how the set
might change according to crowd reaction. Agree ahead
of time on encores. Don't indulge your ego by
throwing in fills when they haven't been there in
it down, and maintain steady volume
Turning up to 11 might work for Nigel Tufnel, but you
can still get that extra push over the cliff without
engaging in volume warfare night after night. Be
respectful to your bandmates, as well as your
audience. Blend, don't blast. You're going to incur
the wrath not only of your band but of the soundman if you keep
changing your volume. Set your rhythm and lead
volumes ahead of time. Listen to the soundman, he
knows the room best. Remember that it sounds
different to you than it does to the crowd.
The audience is a little thin, the bar's got five TVs
tuned to the football and there's a drunk at the back
who calls for "Skynyrd!" in five-minute
intervals. Do you think that looking bored and
playing lousy is really going to make things any
better? You're playing, they're paying, so get happy!
to the set list.
Be the band member who keeps everything together, not
the primadonna who makes trouble. Do the job you came
there to do. If the situation is bad, grin and bear
it, just don't book the place again.
to the plan.
Your band mates are expecting you to play what you
played in rehearsal. Don't throw everyone for a loop
by adding fills all over the place or taking extra
solo choruses unless everyone has agreed to keep the
play between numbers.
You'll have your chance to shine in the song. Warm up ahead of time,
and let everyone know you're ready for the next tune
by shutting up. Keep an eye out for trouble. If your
bass player breaks a string or your drummer cracks a
drumhead, they're going to need your support. Watch
for trouble, and think about how you can help cover
them until the tune is over.
grimace every time another band member makes a
mistake. It kills the energy, and the crowd sees it.
Don't get distracted being an entertainer, be a
musician first. Your first responsibility is the
music, so don't comb your hair and flirt with the
audience when the band is ready to start another
number. Recover from your own errors. You hit three
clams in your first solo, and then missed the
entrance to the bridge. Keep going! You'll make fewer
errors when you're in a good state of mind.
that everything in a band, like any democratic
situation, is cause-and-effect. Instead of throwing a
small tantrum over some petty musical grievance,
shrug it off and move on. Fights between Richards and
Jagger or Daltrey and Townshend might be legendary,
but 99% of them happened offstage. There's an awful
lot of emotion and ego on any stage, and it's up to
each player to keep them in check. Be a pro and let
the music flow.
number one killer of bands is the wrong attitude.
There seems to be three common problems:
Personality clashes or lack of conviction.
2) The desire
for album deals or more live gigs.
3) The need
for better songs, performances, and/or
the right attitude can usually make or break a band.
If a musician is copping out all the time, chances
are they're going to get booted out, or worse the
band breaks up. The attitude to find common ground in
a band situation is crucial to band success.
Listening to the opinions of other band members is
vital. If someone says, "Maybe the lead break
would be better this way", don't take it as a
personal attack. Instead, view it as opinion, take it
to heart, and go through with what he or she says at
least once or twice on the guitar. Who knows, their
ideas could be better, which leads to better songs!
So, be a musician in your band and speak your mind on
how a track should be. But listen to others opinions