A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Bands: Do You Want To Know What It Is Like?

This one gig forever lives in my memory.

After slugging it out in our regional area, we finally had a decent buzz to get a show in the City. Now this venue is renowned for its metal and rock nights so people of those genres always ventured to it. However, it’s location was a deadest nightmare. Without being able to stop in front of the venue due to it being a no stopping zone, our only option was to find a parking station which was a decent 10 minute walk. The venue was basically at the corner of two main streets in and out of the city.

So yippee we had a gig in the city. Great.

We drove two hours to get there. Double Great.

We parked at a parking station that charged us $52 dollars. Triple Great.

We walked for 10 minutes, carrying amps, guitars and drums. Quadruple Great.

We played the show. We got it filmed via the venue and paid an extra $150 for it. Multi-Great x Five.

I never had an image in my head that music was a way to meet chicks and travel the world. My image was one of writing and playing. However on this day, I really needed to reassess the whole playing live part in my life. As this wasn’t fun anymore. And the reason why it wasn’t fun is that the venues just didn’t respect music. Having a venue in the middle of the city with no loading dock for musicians shows that disrespect.

All the years of hard work doesn’t prepare you for the crap you need to deal with in relation to venues and other bands.

It doesn’t prepare you for the sense of elitism between genres. Our style was Progressive Metal. The other bands on the bill were Death Metal bands. Having a chorus that soared melodically was frowned upon because the singer could actually sing. The other bands just screamed and growled their way through.

The years of practicing and writing do not prepare you for the realities of the music business. To me the big one is the sense that bands just can’t get along. Because the odds of success are so rare no one wants to give an inch just in case that inch was their chance at making it. It got to the point where fans of one band were told to wait outside while the other bands played, just in case some magic record label rep was in the audience and saw people having a good time.

I started to see band members from other bands admonish their fans for enjoying our performance. I started to see hostility around start times and set times between bands. For example, the opening band started late but didn’t cut their set which meant the second band got squeezed.

We played one show in Melbourne where there was a management company and a record label A&R dude there. We had no idea that they would be there. Even if we did, I do not believe that it would have changed our performance. Musically we delivered a killer set. Vocally I could never tell, because on stage I couldn’t even hear the vocalist. The in-house monitors just didn’t cut it.

After the show, the Record Label A&R rep and the management team introduced themselves, we went and had dinner and they said that they are interested in the band but a few things need to change.

“The singer was off-key the whole night”, said the prospective manager.

They mentioned that right in front of the singer.

Then they mentioned that they had a singer from another band that would be a perfect fit for our style. Again they said this right in front of our current singer. It was their way of destabilising the band and getting their own guy in.

I said a flat-out NO.

I said that we will fork out the cash to get proper ear monitors for the current singer and work on that as the on stage monitors just don’t deliver when it comes to independent bands.

The drummer looked at me with dagger eyes. This was his chance to make it and I was getting in the way because I stood up for the singer. But the drummer didn’t do anything about his animosity towards me because I was the songwriter in the band. And this upset the drummer to the nth degree.

But this is a reality. There are always people there, ready to push their own agenda. In this case, the manager and the label wanted to push their vocalist into the band that I formed. The drummer and the bass player were happy for it to happen. But for me, it didn’t sit well.

So what happened after that?

Within four months I had left the band because the arguments of holding each other back got to the point of fisticuffs.

They then got a fill in guitarist and within six months they burned everything that I built up over the last two years down to the ground.

And that’s what its like to be in a band.

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