What advice can you give someone just starting a band? - Anonymous
Thanks for writing Anonymous! Not sure why you just didn't give your name though, not a super incriminating question, unless I'm missing something :)
I'll start my advice to you with the best piece of advice I've ever received. This nugget of wisdom was passed on to me on my wedding day, along with slews other advise, but I refer back to this constantly. Here it is... "The best advice I have for you Chris, is Don't listen to anyone else's advice."
I love it! Especially on your wedding day, when everyone is putting in their two cents on what makes a happy marriage. You just gotta take a step back and figure that everyone's marriage is going to be different, and there's no "one size fits all" method for making it work. I think this is the best advice I could pass on to anyone starting a band for the first time.
Back in my day when Fallstar was starting out, all I heard was how labels were becoming obsolete and their time of ruling the world was coming to an imminent close. Stupid. But back then bands were getting huge off this new thing called Myspace, and the internet showed promise of making all indy dreams come true. Then it was touring, "To make it as a band you need to tour 8-10 months out of the year". So we toured like crazy for 2 years, went broke, trashed 2 vans, and then sold our touring rig. Not sure how much that really helped us as a band, but I know for sure we weren't touring on the best possible music we could have been making.
So it's hard for me to answer that question in a direct pathway to success, because bands make it because of various different factors, and I can't predict the proper way for you to go about it. BUT... Here's a couple things to keep in mind on your journey.
1. Write good songs.
It can be easy to get caught up with trends, and appearances, but at the end of the day your music is what makes you. Learn to write well. Play along with albums you love and learn their structures, tunings, and styles. Then write a million songs. They will suck at first, but try and have fun with it. I record into the voice memo app all day on my phone, constantly searching for a melody or riff that sticks. Song writing is a skill. Like a muscle, you have to exercise it and the skill gets stronger. I've written and forgotten more songs than I remember, and there's still lots of room for improvement.
You also gotta figure out how you write best. If there's too many members that wanna write, or a conflict in direction of the music, then consider splitting off or dropping some members. That maybe sounds harsh, but we wasted lots of time trying to cater to everyone in the bands creative input. If you really wanna make the best music, you gotta go with the best songs, if one dude is writing all the best stuff, go with that until the other members writing skills improve.
Times change and it's pretty hard to predict trends, but there's one trend that doesn't change, "It's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know." Play locally as much as you can and get plugged into your scene. Get to know everyone. Watch other bands sets. Be nice. Force yourself to get to know everyone, get phone numbers. There is prolly someone who you should meet locally that can help you out with shows, recordings, tours, ect... The more people that know, like and believe in your music the better. Also be reaching out with your social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Duh right? But this is something I wish we did early on. You can reach out to anyone and bug them about your music. Letting people know you exist is so smart. Maybe it will be 3 years down the road until that A&R actually takes you seriously, but at least it shows persistence.
You know... the older I get the more simple my goals with art seem to get. I'm to the point where all I want my art to communicate is love,
light, and joy into the world. I see how powerful positive energy is in the world, and even if few ears hear the music we're making, I know
that to make a change in consciousness of an individual for the better, is of the highest form of goodness. That gets me stoked. Starting a
band gives you the power to do this very thing and it's something to consider as well.
Anyways... That's my attempt at advice. I'm still learning stuff all the time, and by no means am I an expert. Thanks for asking and we're always open for answers! P.S. forgot to mention... Always tour with a dog(or animal of the sort.) and releasing your record on cassette tapes is (not)cool!