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How to put together a rock band in 5 easy steps.

By Edited Nov 11, 2016 4 5

Rocking out the smart way

What do you do from the start? This is the moment where you think,” Oh my God, I’d love to be in a band!” It happened to me when I went to college. I discovered that my friends were having way more fun than me. What you want to do is look at a few ideas before you do anything.

1. Choosing your Creative Touchstone
You know that you are not going to be good from the start. So how do you make it so that you can get away with not being immediately good? Think about a historical touchstone.
If you want to talk about famous examples, then you have ‘The Rolling Stones’. What did they do? Stole American blues music. They became a cover song band in a new and different way.  ‘The Who’, ‘The Animals’, ‘The Beatles ‘all played American blues songs. They took these simple songs and made them their own. It was new and different, they didn't have to be very good, and all of a sudden, you have an audience for music that seems new to them and is already successful.

What you need to be thinking is, “what do I want to do that has a historical touchstone or some other contextual identifier that can give the audience an easy way to identify me”.
Amy Winehouse is a good example. She uses the historical context of the ‘Motown Sound’ .You don't have to re-invent the wheel, at least not at the beginning. You will end up being original just by being yourself.

2. Choosing your Material
So as a group, choose a few songs that are easy to play that have a consistent historical and successful framework , exactly like The Stones or The Beatles,  All these guys picked a few simple songs and made them their own. What you need in your repertoire is these songs. Your original songs should be complimentary to them.

3. Choosing your Sound
You have got to be able to make the right sounds to express your genre or context.
Who’s in the band? What instruments are they going to play? You need to reflect your chosen musical concept. Less is more usually.  Two member groups are easy to focus, just make sure you can make enough sound to make it interesting.

4. Choosing a Look
You need a look that communicates what the songs and the sound are saying. Get everybody on the same page. Your audience needs to be able to identify you as one thing.
Steal everything if you want. People love it. Consider it re-educating them historically.

5. Choosing Band Members
Obviously, you need a group of people that can execute what it is that you are trying to do.
If you want a pop group, you need a singer that is going to be a communicator. Instrumentalists that can play well enough. To find these people, use your friends, social networks, college music scenes etc. You all need to have a shared purpose and a common interest. It is important to work these things out beforehand. If you don't, it will come back and bite you down the line. Tons of bands have broken up just when they were getting an audience because they never had a common goal or single purpose.

Rehearse and experiment, find out if it’s working, if you and your friends are talented enough. It is surprising how little talent you need if you have a consistent concept and purpose. Rehearse by learning these songs that you have chosen and see if you sound and look ok. Record audio of the practice, film a video of how you look. This will help define and clarify what you are attempting. The better you can clarify and make it totally clear what it is you are doing, the more successful you will be.

It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Good Luck!

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Comments

Jul 31, 2011 12:24am
Phoenix737
Aside from talent, good group chemistry is a must! All the talent in the world won't save a band whose members constantly butt heads. Good article!
Aug 3, 2011 10:44pm
Jerky
I'll second "chemistry". In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's the single most important factor. I'd rather listen to some so-so musicians who have "magic" between them than a bunch of phenoms just playing to hear themselves.
Aug 17, 2011 6:05pm
danmont
Excellent article! Congratulations.
Jan 20, 2013 4:53pm
aguy
I'll add:

"Find someone with a truck"

and

"Find someone with a PA".

Nice.
Oct 31, 2013 9:50pm
BigBlock
Great, refreshing perspective! A common goal is critical to a lasting success.
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