So you wanna start a band? You saw some sweaty person give it their all at some bar in exchange for a wad of cash and free beer and you thought, “wow I can sweat that much!” Great! I can help. As daunting as it seems, it’s seriously way easy. I’ve created a step-by-step process that ought to do the trick.
Step 1: Find some bandmates
This is step one because it is the easiest of easy steps. There are lots of places you can look: coffee shops in Mile End, loft parties, tam tams, your circle of friends and family, etc. If you really don’t know musicians, I recommend Craigslist. A sample ad might look like this:
“I need a bassist, drummer, lead guitarist and WE ARE GOING TO BE EACH OTHER’S NEW BEST FRIENDS which means we call each other everyday even if it’s to go out and have a drink even it has nothing to do with music BUT WHEN IT’S TIME TO PLAY MUSIC WE FUCKING DO IT if you have a WORK HARD, PLAY LATER ATTITUDE PLEASE CONTACT ME.”
This was a real ad titled “SERIOUS SERIOUS SERIOUS.” If you post anything other than this, you will probably get replies.
Step 2: Think up a sweet name
This step sucks. HARD. This is the worst and most difficult part of starting a band anywhere. You want your name to be relevant to the music you’re playing, yet simple enough for drunk people to understand in a loud room.
A common trick is to name yourself after the song of one of your influences. Or name yourself some weird cool-sounding word in another language. If all else fails go to Wikipedia, hit “random article’, and name your band whatever pops up. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I got “Penny Dreadful”, “Hinduism in Mozambique” and “Bendigo Pioneers” – all decent.
Step 3: Create a bold and sexy image
This is probably the most important step. Your image is what’s going to sell you before your music will, so make it good.
You’ll want to grunge yourself up a bit. Try to look as though you haven’t showered in a couple days, just rolled out of bed, and had sex with someone whose name you’ve forgotten. Facial hair, tattoos and piercings are always good, as are large sunglasses and homemade clothing.
You’ll need lots of narcissistic photos of this look. Find a photographer friend and get them to take your photo somewhere interesting, like a rooftop, hospital, or dumpster. Then spread it around. I want to see your hungover face on the cover of the Mirror by next week.
Step 4: Learn an Instrument
Obviously you need to play something, but you don’t really need to be good at it. Try learning four or five chords on a guitar. That is enough right there to play every pop song. Or get a synth and a beat machine and just mash buttons until it sounds good. You’d be surprised and frightened at how many high-profile bands use this method. If you have been blessed with a singing voice then you don’t even need to learn anything.
Step 5: Define your style
You can make all kinds of weird sounding garbage, call it “indie” and you’ll probably be safe. Try to have a strange combination of instruments like bouzouki, lute, drum pads, piccolo, and Mongolian throat singing. That actually sounds quite good in my head. If you make said band, let me know when you’ve got some shows.
Step 6: Practice
Bummer, I know, but it has to be done. Try to find a studio if you’re loud, or if you’re not just do the same nine songs over and over again in your duplex. The downstairs neighbors will LOVE you. Make sure to crank the bass.
If you’ve followed my steps you should now be the frontman/woman of the next big thing. Congrats! I want my cut; so go out and book some gigs. Get rockin’!
Smith plays in the bands Who by Fire and Slutdrive. You can catch him perform with Who by Fire at Barfly on Sept. 23.