Disclaimer: The Red Zone is a series of articles written with the intent of discussing the life of being in a band. Should you lack a sense of humor or be easily offended by foul language, I suggest you take your faint hearted soul and leave it at the coat-check, because you’re going to need to take this with a grain of salt. If you’re uncomfortable with harsh truths, this is definitely not for you. Now, stop taking yourself so seriously for a second and let’s have a chat…
You want to be in a band. Congratulations, you’ve just bought yourself a one-way ticket to Fuckland. Do you want to know what happens in Fuckland?
That’s right. You get fucked.
If that hasn’t scared you off already, then you might as well buckle up my friend, because you’re in for a bumpy ride.
Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s get one thing straight. No, you will not get laid. No, you will not become famous. And no, you will definitely not make a living from it. As much as the Rock Star Lifestyle is romanticized, most of it’s only an ideal very few musicians ever have the luxury of experiencing. Just like the Bermuda Triangle, that life is a fairy tale that will elude your every move, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you might as well give up right now. You’d have a higher chance at literally shitting a brick than making it in the music industry.
Okay, I lied. You might get laid. That still shouldn’t be your main reason for getting into music. Besides, most women actually have a pretty good “Bullshit Radar”. If that’s your goal, they’ll call you out on it before you even get a chance to stroke your guitar. And no, it’s not an extension of your dick either so put that shit back where it belongs!
Anyway, all digressions and jokes aside, here’s the rules to winning at Band Life.
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1 – Communication Is Key
A band isn’t much different than being in a relationship. There’s always going to be someone on their “period”, and things can quickly escalate out of control. To keep things healthy, you need to be able to talk things out calmly. So before you even think about plugging in, first do yourselves the favor of sitting down and talking about it. Decide what your goals are and establish if everyone’s on the same page. The world’s forever changing as we move forward, and so are you, but you’ll save yourselves a world of frustration down the road if you can make sure your voice is heard.
2 – Your Band, Your Music
Once you’ve decided if you want to play music as a hobby, or gives yourselves a chance to go “pro”, it’s time to choose what kind of god awful music you want to create. Create honest music that you want to hear. There’s no point in saying you want to sound like Bring me the Nutsack, or Park in my Drive. Don’t be one of those shitty copy cat bands. Those spots have already been filled, so don’t be a dickwad and try to follow in someone else’s footsteps. No one’s going to give a shit, especially if you’re just a cheap rip off. Be yourselves, create your own path, and be original. Music becomes a living thing, and a crowd will be able to tell right away if you’re the real deal or just another piece of wannabe scum. Drop the bullshit and be honest.
3 – Goodbye Social Life
Sacrifice. That word is going to become the center of your life. Forget about going out, playing video games, or any of that other garbage. If you’re serious about your craft, you’re going to have to sell your soul to the devil. Your girlfriend’s going to be pissed an awful lot when you’re going to have to ditch your date for band practice. You’ll see your friends a whole lot less. It’ll feel like you’re giving up an awful lot and often times, you won’t even know why. It’s called passion. Follow it and never lose it. Those who have the strength to blindly believe in their goals are those most likely to succeed. Just don’t be a dumbass.
4 – Drop the Attitude
Being in a band is about creating music. Music is about sharing something personal with others, and bringing people together. You’re going to get a chance to meet a ton of people through music, and the more you develop a following, the more you’re going to have people looking up to you. Don’t be an asshole. Go out of your way to talk to people. Go watch the other bands. No one’s perfect, and you can always learn something new. Besides, the music industry is SMALLER than a rat’s turd box. Everyone knows each other. If you get labelled as a dick, you might as well dig a grave for yourself from the get-go. I’m not telling you to go and kiss people’s balls either. No one likes a suck up. If the only thing you’re looking for is favors, you’re about as deceiving as a push-up bra. People aren’t stupid, so don’t act like they are. Be humble and drop the attitude. Your music is good enough to do the talking for you.
5 – Gear Gods
Kids, let me say this as nicely as possible. You’re NOT mother fuckin’ Metallica. You’re not going to be playing Arenas with a wall of cabs behind you anytime soon (if ever). The fact is, you don’t NEED that to tap into Satan’s sweet enticing powers of Rock. Having the best gear isn’t going to make you a God. It’s not going to make your skin flute any bigger, either. If you’re starting out with a combo amp and shoddy beat up guitar, that’s OKAY. Build your way up until you can afford those new toys. At the very least, you’ll feel like you would have earned it. In the mean time, focus on what you’ve got. You can buy gear, but you can’t buy talent.
6 – There’s no ‘I’ in Team
The world’s a pretty big god damn place. With a population of about 7 Billion people, you are as insignificant as my grandma’s fart (may her soul rest in peace). Feed your ego to the sharks because there’s no place for it. Your bandmates are just as important as you are. Don’t try shoving your opinion down everyone’s throat. An opinion is NOT a universal truth. Being a fuckhead is, however. So keep an open mind, and listen to what everyone has to say. Chances are, you probably have a lot more to learn from the world rather than you have to teach it. Unless you’re a fucking genius, in which case, my bad.
7 – There are no Shortcuts
Life isn’t a video game. There’s no passwords. And there’s no god damn shortcuts. You’re just going to have to rough it up and face whatever comes your way. If you think you’re too much of a pussy to do that, you might as well quit right now. You’re going to have a lot of letdowns being in a band, and that means your will and patience will constantly be tested. Most of the time, it’s going to feel like the world is trying to crush you with its 50 million megaton balls. When that happens, there is only one solution:
Quit your bitching, put your war paint on, and punch those balls as hard as you can. Face each obstacle as it comes, and always, always, ALWAYS have a plan. If you can manage to do that, you should be just fine.
So there you have it. The 7 Pillars of Band Life have just been revealed to your very delicate eyes. Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. Who am I, anyway, other than another failed musician that couldn’t hack it? Whether I’m right or wrong though, you’ll find out soon enough (You can thank me later. I also accept checks, just saying…). If I can share one last bit of advice with you before I lose your ADD ass to a cat video, it would be this: HAVE FUN. It’s too easy to get lost in the waves, and they’re only going to drag you further into the deep. So please, have fun in what you do, and never lose sight of that guiding light. As with all things, it’s never about the destination so much as it is about the journey. Take your time, don’t be afraid, and embrace every moment of it.
Now, rub your nipples with a rusty spoon and hope the Gods of Rock bless your journey to Hell. Oh, and don’t take yourself too seriously!
Until next time,
Nabil – The Red Zone