Are you a musician? Is your band having issues? Our new advice columnist, who we’re going to call Fan Landers (a.k.a. Jessica Hopper), is ready to give you Real Talk about any problems your musical outfit might be having—whether professional, practical, or sartorial. Send your problems to sotc at villagevoice dot com; confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.
I’m having problems becoming famous like Sonic Youth. What should I do?
—Unfamous, Not Infamous
It’s hard to diagnose the nature of your unfame without being able to pinpoint what’s holding you back. Maybe you’re shitty and unknown; maybe you’re genius and unknown. Are you in Yeasayer and you just wish you were way more famous? I will just have to go with a broad solution: fake it until you make it. You are going to act important and hope people fall for it.
Does your band have anything—anything—going on at all? Issue a press release about it: “UNFAMOUS REVEALS TRACK LISTING.” The key word is “reveal”. “Unveil” your album art or a t-shirt design, but “Reveal” dates, track listings, sundry album details; maybe even “unleash” a first single. This is the lingua franca of the post-Pitchfork musicblogescape. If no one actually knows about your band, all the better; it will give people a chance to feel like they discovered you.
Open up a thesaurus, keep your hyperbole in check, and pace yourself in releasing the information. Tease out your album release for a solid six months and it’ll give the appearance that there’s an audience salivating over its release. Blast email these releases to local press and every music-related site you can get an email address for—they just might fall for it and give your news some traction.
I’m a single 40-year-old male who just started rocking in a band again after 10 years off. The other three members of the band are about five years younger than me, and one is married with a two-year-old daughter. We haven’t played a show yet, but have been practicing almost once a week for eight months now. However, when we schedule a practice, one member usually can’t make it and it’s quite frustrating. The problem stems from the availability of our drummer—the one with the kid. His wife is a Neurology resident at a hospital and her schedule is very inconsistent. Our drummer will basically let us know only one day in advance that he can practice the next day. This is obviously problematic due to the fact that people tend to make plans. When I started the band, I wanted to take it seriously and practice twice a week. Ultimately, I want to make a good showing and to do that we need to be good. This happens with practice and commitment. This means all four dudes need to show up!
I feel like the band is turning into some part-time hobby/excuse to drink beer away from the family, like ice fishing or something. Should I just come to grips that you can’t be a serious band after a certain age or ditch these amateurs?
—The Lone Pro
As a 40-year-old bachelor, a band is probably the right place for you to be right now. AOf course you can be old and serious about your band! Look at Stephen Stills, for example—he is both very old and very serious. That said, you need to do a few things if you are going to next-level this band and at least start playing shows regularly. Have a little sit-down with your drummer—you are going to be merciful and kind to him because if his wife is a resident, this dude is essentially single-dadding it, and I bet you $13.50 that the two band practices a month he gets to are the only times he gets to go out and cut loose (if you don’t count the occasional Friday night Target run with two beers in him). Tell him that you like playing with him, but you want to be serious and practice often and you know that is an impossible demand given his real life. You are going to propose that he give you a call when he is down to jam once a month. Or ask if he’d play on your solo demo recordings/ironic metal album. Think of it as the band practice version of NSA post-breakup sex. Plus, you can spare a night a month to throw back some beers with this dude in the practice space and jam out whatever Pavement songs you can remember.
After you have gotten real with him, you need to get real with yourself. You have been out of the game for a decade—how much of this “serious band” talk is being fueled by nostalgia for being 25? Do you truly have the stamina and drive for two practices a week and 2:30 a.m. load-outs and playing first of four on a Monday for free? If your answer is yes, you need to take two steps. One, assess if the rest of the aged members of your band have adult commitments on the horizon: a fiancé(e), a dissertation, potential kids. Boot them now if they do and replace them with people who are absolutely no older than 26. They will have the energy, free time and ignorance you need in order to get a new band off the ground. The bonus? You can re-invigorate yourself with their cool, youthful ideas like some old-ass vampire. Bon Chance!
Got a problem? Ask Fan Landers (a.k.a. Jessica Hopper) at sotc at villagevoice dot com.