Wish You Were Here: Part One

For all of you loyal CheeseMetalers out there who have been wondering where I’ve been, contrary to the rumours out there, I have not been eaten by wolves. Though try they did. Actually, what I have been doing these past few months is putting a new band together, arranging and writing songs as well as recording a new album of material. (The extended play is out there for your enjoyment on iTunes and the others but I will restrain myself from advertising here on CheeseMetal.)

So, what does it take to create a new band from the ground up? Well since this is a music blog – duh… – I thought it might be of interest to some of you out there how this works.

I’m going to break this down into three parts for all those who are musically inclined to take up the challenge of forming your own band.

First the easy stuff. Spend as long as you can playing whatever instrument you love every day without fail for at least a year and then, if you’re a normal person and not one of those terrifying child prodigies, think about starting the band you dream of.

OK. That’s the easy part. From here on out it gets harder and harder.

Once you have become reasonably skilled at your instrument of choice you need to start playing with others. That sounds fairly easy doesn’t it? Well, not to discourage anyone but, it’s not. You can shred a guitar like Eddie Van Halen or thump a bass like John Entwistle all you like. You can sing like Steve Perry with perfect pitch and insane power and it makes not one tiny bit of difference to anyone. Unless you know how to sing with a band.

Having been in the game for over thirty five years I think I can speak with some authority here.

I’ve met some guitar players that would blow you’re mind but they can’t seem to figure out that playing random numbers of measures of wild guitar solos doesn’t really count for much if you decide to end a measure before the bass and drums come around to the end of the bridge.

Drummers are not much help if they are continuously spending all their time showing off all the cool things they have learned how to do if they are not paying any attention to what is going on with the song’s mood or tempo. Bass players are the worst unfortunately. (I can say that. I am one.) If the bass player isn’t hooking up with the drummer you have a constant battle of the beat going on that infuriates the singer and guitarist in equal measure. (Though they will never admit to agreeing on much of anything usually.)

So, now that you want to play in a band and go out and become millionaires and you are starting to get a tiny idea of what lays ahead, what do you do?

The most important thing of all is to find that first person who understands what you want to do. And no, that’s not just wanting to form a band. What really matters is what kind of music you want to play. Rock, blues, pop, disco, grunge, at this point all you need to know is that you both love the same kind of music and want to create your own version of whatever style you’ve chosen.

Once more, from here it gets harder.

OK. Now there are two of you on the same page but you both play guitars and only one of you really sings. Guess what? Now you need to decide if you need a bass player, a drummer, back-up singers, keyboard player and so on.

After making those decisions, you have to find others that share your vision of what your music should be. For the first year or so you can expect to go through quite a few musicians, some good, some not so good, some great. Most of them will have their own idea of where the music should be going and it’s very unlikely that those visions will be the same. That’s actually a good thing, even with some turmoil and conflict. Those who don’t share your vision will still be bringing talent and ideas to the table that you may not agree with. That’s OK. Just don’t be a fool and be so blind to ignore those ideas and influences. You may not choose to use them right now. Or ever. That’s OK too. But if you are working with a musician who has different ideas than yours at the very least, you’ll learn something if you are paying attention.

About Pete

Pete is a professional-musician-with-a-day-job based in California's Inland Empire, as well as a veteran sound engineer in the studio and for live shows. He's been a lover of classic rock since back when it was known as "rock" and has in more recent years developed a country habit as well.
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