Long Form

So You Want To Be In A Band

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Okay so now you’ve decided to be in a band. You’ve rounded up some mutual friends and now just finished your first jamming session. Have you wondered how are you going to last together in the band? There are a lot of factors involved, but at this starting point there is one thing you should really look out for – chemistry.

What is this elusive chemistry? The best I can describe about it is that you guys click together as a band musically. You know what is the next note the guitarist will play, you know what the drummer’s next beat in the chorus is going to be like…and you react to it. The music flows instinctively. Everyone’s happy playing music, everyone is grooving to it. Sounds easy right?

Which brings me to my next point: it might sound easy but to solidly build chemistry you need more than jam time. You need some ‘bro time’. No really, I’m not joking. Being in a band is like a marriage indeed, except that it’s a polygamous one. There’s a lot of give and take and you will encounter some serious relationship issues. You’re going to go through good times and some rough periods.  You have to work and understand what makes your bandmates tick. Know their preferences and attitudes inside out. That takes a lot of effort and time to do, which is why I use marriage as a metaphor.

It is important that you do this so that you can discover who you want to be with throughout this crazy journey. Given a choice between a musical genius and an average friendly joe, you are better off with the latter anytime. You can build the musical chemistry with the average joe, but you sure are going to be angry and mad all the time with a stuck-up guy. And that’s not healthy for you and for the band.

How do you do ‘bro time’? Spending time together outside the studio is the easiest way to build that rapport. Just hanging out talking music, checking out shows as a band, maybe even play futsal. Basically you should try doing things that are non-musical in nature. I once had the experience of trying to piece together a band, but we never got far because our interaction was just during the jamming sessions. Once out, all of us never made the effort to hang out and get to know each other well. Needless to say we never went beyond our first gig.

What happens if you feel there’s no chemistry when playing music together? There’s only two ways about it – slug it out or just quit. It takes time to build one. It is very rare to find that chemistry at first jam, so you need to spend some time to work on this aspect. If it’s gone on too long though, don’t be afraid to quit the band. Better to spend time on other worthy pursuits than flogging a dead horse.

That’s all for now. For the next one, I hope to be able to shed some light about band agreements and why you should be doing one if your music is getting some decent amount of money. Cheers!

By Amir Shazlan

(Amir Shazlan is in the midst of writing more inspired instructionals. The nitty-gritty things that no one ever told you about, mistakes made and problems encountered, good things that we all should emulate ..all this from an insider’s view.)