Finding Band Members #2

Here’s a little story before we continue looking at finding band members. When my band had been going for about 4 years, we had a mini-crisis.

>We were about to go on a short tour, when all of a sudden we found ourselves without a bass-player. Well, for whatever reason, in my neck of the woods, bass-players weren’t very common (surprise surprise).

After several fruitless enquiries to friends etc, I put up advertisements at some of the local music stores. That proved a futile exercise. So I got a list of all the professional bass-players in the city and neighbouring areas, from the Union. I began calling them. This was not to ask them to come and play, but to ask them to put the word out with their students. Within two days, such a student called me in response. And he played with the band ever since.

BandBay’s Marketplace is easier, by the way….

Experience shows that the final band line-up is more often than not the result of an organic process. It has to be, in a way: although you need to know where you are going with your music, and so this affects the line up as we discusssed in Part 1, bands that are “put” together rarely work in the medium-to-long term, because – well, at least, for this one reason. The phenomenon of a band requires something more than a handful of people who can play instruments or sing. A band is more than the sum of its parts.

Groove, and polish, the on-stage vibe that makes a live show so much more than the playing of music, comes from time together. Time to sort out difficulties, knowing the other guys, and so forth. A joint experience, basically, is what I am saying. It’s no different from team work in a sports context. You get to ‘know’ what the others will do, and you can rely on that – so you can get on with the task of delivering your best.

If you haven’t done so already, watch “The Commitments” for a pretty much realistic representation of how things can change and develop. Example: no sooner have you found that keyboardist you were looking for, when suddenly her father takes a work-transfer and next thing she’s moved out of town. It can also happen that someone gets irritated with someone else – for personal or musical reasons – to such an extent that it causes that “someone” to leave; or, get fired.

That’s part of the dynamic. Don’t stress, and don’t give up! The thing to remember is that a point in time will arrive when things gel insofar as the band membership is concerned. You will sense the chemistry when things work; no-one grates too much, and the wave-length is all the same.

Once this happens (and only you will know it) I suggest you should not try and change. Resist the temptation to allow the guitarist’s new girlfriend to come and do, say, percussion. Only look for an additional guitarist, or another back-up/harmony vocalist, if it is really necessary for your sound, and so on.

On this score you must also bear this in mind. Leaving aside the inter-personal issues, and dynamics which invariably will occur, the fact remains that the more band members there are, so the difficulties expand. For example, it is a lot easier to coordinate four diaries, in order to arrange band rehearsals, than it is six, believe me. The more members, the bigger your band practice room must be. As things develop, and gigs start happening, transport becomes an issue to deal with – and you will need more equipment, for one.

But those are logistical features. What is much more important is what you sound like – and, here, I am talking polish, how ‘tight’ the unit plays. Do not skoff at this. People don’t wanna go to a club to hear a band – or, more so, hire a band – which sounds as if it is practising, or should be!! Polish comes from practice, together.  And finding band members who are compatible makes practising together so much more productive and enjoyable!