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So Ya Wanna Start A Band?

John Welch
Jul 23, 2015


Who am I? I love, listen to, and play music. Yes, I make money with it, too.

So ya wanna be in a band? There are several basic things to think about along the way:

  1. What do you want to accomplish? You’ll need different approaches if you want to jam as opposed to making a living. Focus is important as are the aims of the others that you will have to deal with. Nothing will happen according to a preset schedule but it is always helpful to have a goal and keep it in mind.
  2. Can you play or sing? Will you play or sing? The second is more important than the first. It is vital that you find out before you invest a lot of time or resources in something that you aren’t going to follow through on. I’ve scored lots of good equipment from people that THOUGHT they were going to do something.
  3. What about your playing partners? It is FAR more important to find ones who will actually show up. Many times I have met someone who talks a good band; learn to see through this. Showing up and doing one’s part is far greater than being talented. You should try to find people with common goals, skills, and tastes.
  4. Start with the basics: Learn how songs work by learning the songs of the bands that you like the best. Work them up as a group. Have forty or fifty ready to play. By all means write but understand that it is a craft that has to be learned and not everything will be a success. I knew a guy who was scheduling studio time for a demo before he had a band, fully written songs, or even basic playing skills. Avoid wasting everyone’s time this way.
  5. Understand that there is a financial investment involved. You do not need Marshall stacks and a 30,000 watt PA system but you cannot use a bedroom/practice rig for gigs. Well cared for and decent equipment will last for years.
  6. Be prepared to practice a lot. It can be boring and tedious. Tough noogies, you’ve got to do it.
  7. People drink and do other things. This cannot be the purpose of being in a band. It will be worse than being a drag (read any band biography—we’ll talk about this later).
  8. Also be prepared for people to NOT WORSHIP YOU. Sometimes, I’ve played with artists who could not understand why the world did not acknowledge their talent. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.
  9. Remember that it has to be about THE BAND, not about the individual.

Sounds like I’m down on the whole playing in a band thing, doesn’t it? Well actually I love it. I hope to play until I physically cannot do it anymore. Things would’ve been far better for me if someone had told me stuff like this before I started. Agree? Disagree? Let me know online or in person (I’m at the Reference Desk in the library).

John Welch
Reference Specialist
jwelch@columbiacountyga.gov