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Entry date: 9-17-2022 - Being in a band does not always work - Self-help for self-starters

Dear Friends,

I got a check the other day from BMI for television placements for songs by The Father Figures. It wasn’t for very much money, so don’t be looking for me to buy you a beer anytime soon, but it was a nice surprise. It’s the second such check I’ve received for this type of thing, and I could certainly get used to it.

It made me think of all the things I wrote about last week regarding being in a band. I certainly could not have gotten a check in the mail without the other people in the bands doing their part, too, and it made me realize there is yet another piece to this story. If you want to be in a band, you should go into it with an idea of who you want to be in the band.

My first band was a situation where I inserted myself into a band that was already doing their thing. I took a garage (well, above the garage) rock and roll band and turned it into a punk band. I liked the songs they were playing and thought I could add some edgy vocals to it and voila: Instant punk band. We were not very good, of course, but it was a first band for most of us, I think, and it was what it was.

When I was looking to start the next things, I tried to make bands with friends. Steve and I joined forces with a couple of dudes, one of which had been in the Yuma band, Vic Morrow’s Head, and tried to do something. It lasted for a handful of practices. The most memorable thing was doing a Germs cover. It was fun, though, and I wish Steve and I could have done a proper band.

I screwed it up by moving to California and then when I got home, he moved to California a bit later and that was that. We also tried to loosely form a band with our buddy, Chris, called Your Mother, but that never got out of the discussion stage. We were going to practice in this little Quonset hut that was out behind the place we called “The Neat House” and we didn’t even take gear out there.

(This reminds me that I should probably write about this time in my life…The Neat House was kinda fucked up)

When I lived in California, I really wanted to find a band, but I had nothing to bring to the table. I didn’t even own a microphone. My friend out there, Jim, was a solo musician, and we talked about trying to start something a few times, but he and I were not on the same musical page, which brings me to this piece of advice:

If you are going to start a band with friends, make sure you are on the same page.

I have touched on this a bit and have really harped on the idea of having open communication within your band, I know, but it is very important. It’s important to everything in life, true, but when you are playing music with friends and there is a goal in mind of taking it to the level of playing out, you need to be on the same page.

It’s fun to play music with your friends. Casual music is great fun, a lot of the time, and when something great happens, you can decide if you want to make it a bit (or a lot) more than casual. That’s kind of what happened with The Father Figures. Bobby and I were talking about music one day online and he shared a song with me, and I said, “That’s good, but we could do better.” From there, we started talking about jamming and finding a guitar player and he suggested that we ask Michael.

The rest is history, of course, and it has worked out really well, but in the beginning, we were just getting together as friends to have some fun. When Michael mentioned that he might like to play some music for his 50th birthday, Bobby and I were very game for that and the next thing you know, we are renting a practice room at 11th and Van Buren. It can happen like that for you, too.

We did a lot of talking, though, and we honored our friendship, first, always. One thing to remember, dear reader and potential member of a band, when you play music with someone, you are going to disagree with them and sometimes, you disagree a lot. Can this be overcome? Certainly, but it takes some maturity and listening and understanding.

In 1992, I started a project with a few friends that lasted for a few months of practices. The trouble there was that we weren’t talking about things realistically. The other main proponent of the band was also a singer, my buddy Shelton, and he and I never really worked through how we were going to share vocal duties. We each brought some of our friends to the situation to round it out. My old drummer, Steve A, from Religious Skid was involved, as was my buddy, Chris, on guitar, and Shelton brought in a bass player, Cean, and we had some decent jams going, but no real vision.

Eventually, we just got frustrated with the whole thing and people stopped showing up to jam. I have to believe some of that was due to Shelton and I not knowing how to sit down and come up with a cohesive plan. The one good thing that came out of that, outside of the fun we had together, was that I played bass for a couple of jams because Cean didn’t make it. It showed me that I really did want to be a bass player.

Looking back, could we have done something cool with the guys involved? I have no idea. I am not super great at sharing the vocal spotlight. I realize this about myself, and I am way more mature about these things now than I was then. I don’t mind not being the singer at all, but I don’t know if I could have been a co-lead singer in those days. I’d like to think, though, that if we would have just sat down and tried to figure it out, we could have come up with something that might have made it out of the shed and into a club for at least a show.

That’s usually the real goal.

See you tomorrow.

Stole this from the internet, but it's pretty good. Commuicate!

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Steve Roberts
Steve Roberts
Sep 17, 2022

Enjoy that check. Casey gets about a buck & a half for writing Amoeba. Quarterly. So, a decent taco a year. You forgot we did a good job covering The Todd Killings by Angry Samoans. We also did one practice in the 'above the garage' space, and the other Tom said my beats were "too complicated" to play along with, which was my fault because Sversvold & I were kinda competing for best triplets, but I was briefly in Your Mother. That came out wrong.

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Damn. I forgot about The Todd Killings.

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