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So Ya Wanna Start A Band?, part 3

John Welch
Feb 14, 2016


Understand that you will have to work in order to succeed and you have to be entertaining. I recently read two books (I do work in the library) that address this well: Nothin’ to Lose: the Making of KISS by Ken Sharp and Van Halen rising : how a Southern California backyard party band saved heavy metal by Greg Renoff. Both of these books are good reads that illustrate how these two dinosaur bands (that we take for granted) had to overcome their limitations and find success through their entertaining live shows.

Both of these bands were perceived as weak by record companies (and rejected). Why were they able to have such successful careers? KISS sprung from a plan that many saw as cartoonish and they were hampered by generally uninspiring songs. Their key to success was that they would play anywhere and anywhere. Even if no one was there, they played as though there was a full house. They worked hard to have a show; they didn’t just stand there and play. Similarly, Van Halen was seen to have an untalented vocalist (David Lee Roth) but it was a combination of his shameless showmanship and the band’s willingness to work that was able to propel the band to success.

I cannot count the number of musically talented people that I have seen perform that apparently give no thought to the idea of entertainment. Often, these same people give up before learning that lesson because they are unwilling to work and fail. It is vastly unrealistic to expect to be worshipped for your (often self-perceived) talent; that attitude sets one up for failure. Go see other bands perform and learn lessons from them (both good and bad). Take a tip from these books and apply it to your own musical goals.