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Entry date: 9-5-2022 - So You Want to Be in a Band #1 - Self-help and free advice

Dear Friends,


I’ve been dispensing a lot of advice to Liam over the past few months about being in a band and playing music with other people. Considering that I’ve done this for well over 10,000 hours, I am an expert. I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of things one should and should not do when it comes to being in a band.


Now, mind you, as with everything here at Ergonomic Mischief in 2022, this is a first draft. What that might mean as we move forward is that things might pop up in what could be perceived as a strange or weird order. The snoring dogs next to me don’t mind that I’m just rambling, so neither should you, I suppose.


I guess I should start with a question: Why do you want to be in a band?


You really should ask yourself this occasionally, even if you have been doing bands for longer than I have which is approximately thirty-five years now. I ask myself this all the time and you would probably be surprised that my answer changes a lot, even now. Being in a band is hard work, even under the very best of circumstances, so have an honest conversation with yourself about why you want to take this leap.


Initially, I wanted to be in a band because I fell in love with live music as a kid. I had a few opportunities to see band’s play, both big and small, and I just loved it. Watching bands play on TV, too, was always a little mesmerizing for me as far back as I remember and the idea of making music just seemed right.


When I saw my friends making music at an early age, it inspired such strong feelings of jealousy and longing that I had to get my fix. It was all consuming and even though I thought I was playing it cool most of the time, I’m sure I was a bit overbearing. I hope I wasn’t too big of a dork about it.


These are the types of things you must consider when thinking of joining or starting a band:


1. Will it make me a dork, asshole, incompetent, incontinent, broke, insufferable, a gigantic ego driven assclown, or a well-rounded individual striving to build confidence?

2. See number one but be honest.

3. Do I need to do this because it’s who I am? This is good.

4. Do I need to do this because I want attention? This is bad and will probably mean that if you’re bandmates were your friends prior to forming the band, they may not be afterwards.


Another thing you have to take into consideration is what do you offer your potential bandmates. If you are just a singer (and yes, I know, no one is just a singer), what else can you do to be helpful? There are a lot of jobs to be done in a band, even one that hasn’t even considered the idea of booking shows yet or making a recording.


Will you:

1. Make phone calls to help collect band room rent or get people to practice?

2. Help carry gear even though you did buy the PA that never moves from the practice room?

3. Be on time?

4. Share honest thoughts about the music?

5. Never touch the other people’s gear without asking first?

6. Practice your parts?


It’s amazing how many of these simple things are often too difficult for singers and non-singers (i.e., the other peeps) alike. I should probably address the band room rent thing while it’s out in the open.


No one wants to be a bill collector. If you’re band rents a room, take responsibility for your share and have it at the designated collection time. The first of the month is always at the same fucking time, asshole, and it should not be a surprise. If you are reading this and you are offended by it, you are the asshole I am talking about.


This is a small part of being in a band, but an important one. Band rooms cost money. If you’re in a band and have a free place to practice, you better be kicking down some beer or something cool to the person or people letting you practice for free. For a lot of us, we have to rent a room to play in and that rent is often a nice little chunk of change.


When Hillbilly started out, our first room that we rented was $225 per month. I’m guessing that room is over twice that now. We were a three piece, so do the math, but that was a good chunk for me each month in the early 90s. If it is too much for you to carry your weight and pay your share on time, you’re not ready to be in a band.


And that’s okay.


When you get your shit together, start or join a band, but have the respect for everyone in the group to pay your own way before you do. In a couple of bands I’ve been in with people who I thought were even slightly responsible adults, I’ve had to chase them down at rent time to get their share and it sucked. I had a few bandmates over the years who seemed surprised that it was the first of the month.


These were not dumb people, but they seemed to think they could play dumb with me. If you don’t want to pay, then don’t agree to rent a room. Find a band with someone who will let you practice for free. Currently, there are a few places that let you practice hourly but even those cost a little money. If you can’t afford it, talk to your bandmates about it and maybe they’ll carry you for a bit. Eventually, though, they will get sick of you, and you will be out of a band.


See you tomorrow.



This is Tears For Fears. They practiced their instruments and did the work.

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4 Comments


I remember that day. Emily brought me over because she knew you and I would hit it off. I was definitely inspired by what I saw in your bedroom that day. That "Destroyer" cover was so much fun.

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Dolly Renea
Dolly Renea
Sep 05, 2022

I'm making this required reading for MJ.

The mind-blowing thing about the band room fee issue is that it still happens to seasoned musicians who have been playing for decades (ahem...Hoss). Covering another band member's share once in a while because they're going through financial difficulties is okay, but covering 2-3 times in a row with absolutely no explanation or even an ask from that member eventually leads to resentment.


I look forward to reading more posts in this series.

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Resentment kills bands quick. Glad you are sharing this...

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Steve Roberts
Steve Roberts
Sep 05, 2022

I still remember the first time we met. I, as a fellow school ditcher, had elevated ditching to include tunes, and most of my mid day parties included band practice for Victims of Progress. Somehow you caught wind of this and stopped by with a couple friends. After watching us play, I struck up a conversation basically to find out who this guy was in my house. You said you thought we were pretty good, but were really impressed with our cover of the Kinks - Destroyer. I enjoyed the compliment, because getting those guys on the same page felt like herding cats. I asked if you were in a band, you said "No", and then I asked, "Why not?"…

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