Six People to Avoid When Starting a Band
All illustrations by Dave Watt
Being in a band is hard. Assembling a band is almost impossible. As anyone who's been through a few bands can tell you, meeting a self-proclaimed "musician" should instill about as much enthusiasm in you as meeting someone who is going to college for a career in law enforcement. You're either about to talk to a caring, compassionate, intelligent person or a psychotic, self-serving demon. By the analogy, you can probably guess which is more common.
Despite the intense joy we all take in watching a singer refuse to take the stage until the drummer changes his silk Western-style shirt, there comes a time we must rise up and take a stand. So furrow your brow and focus as we save your sanity by providing six people to avoid when forming a band.
6. Attractive Tattoo Asshole
We all know this person--the charismatic, almost accidentally fashionable and uncompromising artist who poetically suffers by refusing to adapt to society. And has a shitload of tattoos, for some reason.
Truth be told, Attractive Tattoo Asshole is a great social companion. Their flashy appearance and gregarious nature makes them a constant spectacle. If you've ever wanted to get into a hundred conversations with a hundred people you'll never want to see again, Attractive Tattoo Asshole is your greatest ally.
Unfortunately, the narcissism they've cultivated to protect their fragile egos usually leads to some sort of nuclear friendship fallout as you learn they're the kind of person that will ditch you at the bar to go have sex with one of your friends. In your bed. Eventually, you'll start to wonder how such a struggling artist managed to get thousands of dollars of ink all over their body. That's when you notice you're missing some of your guitar pedals.
5. Americana Reject
I could write a long and articulate passage on the problem with the Americana Reject, but I'm just going to stick to the initial notes I penned when writing up the first draft of this article:
"Boring coffee-drinking ass, hang out in your artisan cocktail bar. Can't even play the accordion. Fedoras suck."
4. Too Punk
Everyone loves to have a good time. Unfortunately, those who suffer from being Too Punk have a tendency to do it by getting hammered and breaking things without worrying about any consequences. Which, I'll admit, is awesome, but good luck getting booked anywhere. Unless you're cool with your band only lasting about a year (which, come to think of it, is about how long we estimate most bands should last anyway), avoid the one-man mosh pit and his fingerless gloves of terror.
3. Art School Know-It-All
You know who has an opinion on absolutely everything related to music? It's the person who spent $40,000 on a degree as useful as majoring in music journalism.
The Art School Know-It-All either has too much money to create substantive and meaningful art or they boldly put it all on the line, delusional enough to believe there's some sort of lucrative career waiting for them. Regardless of which one it is, you're guaranteed hours of conversation on why your favorite band sucks because of the sound of the kick drum on one of their albums.
In the interest of fairness, not everyone who goes to one of these schools fits this archetype. The major exception to the rule is the willfully bankrupt freak that never intended to pay their student loans back anyway- just don't expect them to have practice-space rent.
2. Happy Hipster
Everything's always OK with the Happy Hipster. Armed with a supportive family and wide circle of well-wishing friends, they're perpetually upbeat and encouraging. And it sucks the life out of you. There's something about their lack of misery that diffuses into the rest of the band, like some sort of psychic vampire that thrives as it excretes negativity all over you.
If you don't go insane as they support every single bad idea proposed by your other bandmates, you'll have to contend with their inability to pick up on social cues. Have you ever been really pissed off and then suddenly a song like "Barbie Girl" by Aqua comes on and causes you to punch out your windshield? Maybe not. But understand that having the Happy Hipster in your band puts you eternally an inch away from that exact sort of accidental antagonism.
1. The Truly Talented
While they may not be the only technically skilled person in the band, they possess some sort of supernatural powers, as they're tapped into music on a different level than the rest of us. And it's obvious to everyone.
Typically humble, driven and naturally gifted, their blessings will be their undoing as they attract more attention and in turn, more opportunities. Susceptible to spreading themselves thin, they walk the tightrope as they juggle too many projects at once. If they succeed, they'll run the risk of becoming wildly successful egomaniacs, playfully bouncing around and doing whatever they want. And if they take on more than they can handle and buckle under the pressure, you're likely never to see them again unless you drive out to whatever suburban void they've plummeted down into. Unfortunately, often times the Truly Talented musician is mandatory to make a good band -- so if you find yourself in a band with one of them, do your part to protect them from themselves.
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