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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Stay Tuned:The Band

How to form a band. Well it’s no problem really. What do you need? Maybe Jimi Hendrix on guitar, Murdoc on bass, a drummer with a drum set that fills a room andthe drummer said he wasn’t sure if he could make it. No problem.  a lead singer with a presence twice that size.

Ah, well Who needs drums? You were going for more of an acoustic sound anyways. Didn’t the kid with the ukulele say he could beatbox? Close enough. Speaking of ukulele, that’s kind of like bass right? Turns out Murdoc wasn’t available.

Starting a band is easy — as long as you don’t have expectations. And why would you have any of those? You only have, oh, your entire life to build up any preconceived notions.

It’s really simpler than you think. There is only one ingredient necessary for making a band: people. As in two or more people who can stand each other long enough to pump out a song. This might sound like a pretty low standard. It’s not.

There are a few ways a band can form. Sometimes a jam sesh will go startlingly well and everyone will simultaneously realize that you’re all on to something. This, however, is rare, and waiting for it to happen isn’t a particularly strategic move. That is why I personally prefer the “joking” method.This refers to when you know some people who play instruments who you talk to on a regular basis, and you continuously suggest that you form a band. It starts out as a joke.

“Hey, we should start a band or something!”

“Haha, hell yeah!”

“Hey, but what if we start a band?”

“Heh yeah, we’d be awesome!”

“So band practice soon?”

“Oh, for sure.”

“Hey, so band practice this Saturday?”

“Oh yeah, looking forward to it, haha!”

“No, for real though.”

Whether it’s the carefully crafted subtlety of this method or fate, I can vouch that I, at least, have had a one hundred percent success rate. Of course, I’ve only tried it once, but really it only needs to work once. How many bands do you want to form anyways?

Band practice can reveal a number of important things about the band. First tip: if they don’t show up, take the hint. There’s no point trying to make music with someone who isn’t really interested. It’s like a one-sided conversation — a level down from small talk.

Another important criteria of a well-functioning band member is how well they can take criticism. Perhaps you haven’t put much thought into how to tell someone that they are playing too loud or out of key. Perhaps you won’t need to. On the other hand you might have to spend a good five minutes strategically plotting how to bring up these issues without receiving a blank look and a passive aggressive shrug. This really isn’t the best use of anyone’s time.

That is why there have to be two sides to band relationships: personal and collegial. You can’t form a band without any personal connection. Music is one of those mediums that will reflect the chemistry between the people making it. It is a blend, of course, of chemistry and effort.

Some people go into a relationship looking for their soul mate. When they find out that their partner isn’t a perfect match, they figure it’s time to move on to someone else. People often do the same with music. It’s a habit we all need to break. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for true love. It is tempting to believe that your soul mate will one day be delivered to you in perfect condition. Reality check: relationships take work. They take compromise on both sides and a willingness to cooperate. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t work out perfectly for the first practices. Think of them as awkward dates that could totally get better with time.

However, most people who have tried to form bands will inevitably reach the question: Do I want this band to include all my friends? Or do I want it to be good? In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to choose, but it is a valid question. Do you want to have a fun activity to do with friends or do you want to perform knowing that you have perfected your show as best you can?

Let me be clear, both options are wonderful. The most important part is that you give it a shot. A few tips: love who you play with and play what you love, don’t let ego get in the way of music, and if you’re going to have a trumpet player, please find out if they’re good, preferably before the performance. But more on that later.

Hey we should totally start a band or something! Contact ELLY OLTERSDORF at eroltersdorf@ucdavis.edu.