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So You Wanna Start a Band? Part 4

John Welch
Sep 13, 2018


An important thing that one should consider in joining, forming or perpetuating a band is the question of one’s role. There can be several facets to this: sonic, business, leadership and direction. All too often I’ve seen bands eventually fail because of endless stress over conflicting roles. Many times purpose is only found after the group has begun to mature; although sometimes, these things can be outlined at the outset. Always know that acceptance of a role carries with it responsibility; conversely, acceptance of another’s role requires respecting their decisions. In one group that I have been associated with, I made it clear that I just wanted to play, I did not want to make business decisions. Consequently, I found myself having to accept choices that I would not necessarily have made. This worked out for the best for all concerned.

Another type of role that one must find in a band is their “sonic space.” Each instrument should not tread on the others in the group; everything should stack up and support an overall band sound. If all that you want to hear is your own voice or instrument, then you should probably go solo. Think about it: we’ve all heard bands that sound like mush. Ask yourself: What is the problem? Is it too many of the same instruments? Is the bass player playing lead guitar? Often the source of sonic discord is a lack of discipline about one’s place.

We all like the idea of democracy in a band but someone has to move things forward. I do believe that we should accept input from others but too much “committee think” will result in less than stellar results. Most good songwriting is the result of individual or duo creativity. I personally dislike music that seems to me to have been created by several people (think: Nashville ).  I prefer the music  that is the product of the rogues.

Finally, roles can shift or evolve over the life of a band and they can eventually cause the dissolution of a group. That can be awful (the Beatles) but it can foster other good things (Wings, The Plastic Ono Band, All Things must Pass). Accept what comes naturally in roles within your band and move forward from there.