If you are thinking of starting your own band, congratulations! We’re all looking forward to listening to what you have to sing or strum into being. But like with everything, there are certain things you cannot overlook if you expect to be anywhere close to successful. Given that new bands tend to have, more often than not, unenviably short shelf lives, trying to work the following things into the process of creating the band might help. And before you ask, yes I did ask actual musicians about it.
Know your sound : This means that before you start looking for the guitarist/vocalist/drummer/bassist, you should be sure about what it is you want to play. I’m not talking about just the genre (and you should be willing to experiment with that ), but the tone, the message and the thematic continuity. A band builds itself a following not merely by the quality of its cadence, but also by its commitment to some kind of artistic singularity. That’s pretty much the reason why The Smiths do not play bubblegum pop and Iggy Azalea isn’t doing opera.
Pick the right people : Seriously, don’t being your friend in as the drummer just because he is your friend. Unless he/she actually plays an instrument or sings, they have no business in the band. If you have to teach someone to identify G sharp or A minor, you are never going to get anywhere. The chances that your “chill” friend is secretly a musical prodigy is very low. So, don’t risk it.
Know your bandmates : Its important to make sure that people you will be playing are expecting and intent on giving the same amount of effort that you are. The drummer can’t be able to jam one day a week while the bassist is slogging for four days. Before you guys actually decide to start making together, make sure that its actually practical for exactly those people to work together. Similarly, the aesthetic and artistic inclination of the members should be in agreement. Just because the guitarist can rival John Mayer does not mean that the vocalist should have to abandon his growl. Find the right people.
Find your space : I mean this literally. Have a place to jam that you can use for hours, because you will need endless practise to get a new song into audible shape, and you can’t expect to use your room to play thunderous bass in, especially if its midnight.
Have patience : If your first single gets played on MTV Indies, we rejoice for you. But if you’re in the game to make money and have groupies, stop, turn around and leave. No one wants to hear your preen about yourself. There should be only one reason to be in a band, and that is to create music is good. Often, it takes time to find the right sound and some more time to find the listeners for that sound. So, if you are not willing to have faith and keep working towards that singular goal, then you are wasting everyone’s time.
Experiment : I know I said that you should possess some form of thematic unity, but there is a difference between knowing your lane and just playing the same solo over and over again with a few chords astray. If you think the band can do what Opeth did with Heritage, do it! By all means, go a little crazy when in your creative space.
Originality : Its normal to start off by emulating the sound of bands/people you really like. I know it can be tempting to want to sound like Cream or The White Stripes ( Why wouldn’t people listen to more of that, am I right? ) But you can’t sound like a cover band all your life, so create something that only you can offer. Otherwise, you’re going to get boring real soon. Everyone has youtube, and everyone will just listen to whoever it is you are trying to sound like.
Stay grounded : If the vocalist is all about his/her magnificence while on or off stage, its not going to work. And that stays true for every member. Its quite possible that one of you is better at their craft than the others, but you are still part of a unit, and you can’t ever downplay that. Pull your head out of the clouds, and give everyone their due credit.
Trial-and-error : The first band you form may not work. Or the second. Or the fourth. But you have to jam with people for a few times before making the decision to create a band. Don’t drop out of school and invest all your time in people you have played with four times. As with all good things, take your time. Don’t commit to a project unless you feel like it’s a good fit where your craft will actually mean something.
Name : Here’s the deal. Most band names don’t matter. What does Porcupine Tree really mean, anyway? Don’t spend months trying to come up with a cool name unless it really resonates with you. Just make something up as you go. People tend to think a band with cool music has a cool name, whatever it be.