We Respectfully Disagree With Jessica Hopper And Explain How To REALLY Start A Band!


While we at The Shit love Jessica Hopper as much as the next Chicago-based big-time rock journalist, we found her response to a recent "Dear Fan Landers" inquiry in The Village Voice to be just a smidge lacking in the relevant information department.  Not wanting to step on any toes, but also wincing at the idea that someone might actually start scouring local clubs and asking the best dancers if they wanted to form a band (?!), we felt a proper response to Karina's question was in order.

Dear Fan
Joining bands that never actually play a show has become a habit of mine. We hang out, decide to start a new band, have earnest conversations about our influences, pick a name, text back and forth about whether to cover "New Radio" or "White Boy" by Bikini Kill, tell each other we have written parts of songs, and then... nothing. Should I just stick to singing into my hairbrush? 

Karina

Dear Karina,

Have you entertained the thought that maybe you just aren't meant to be in a rock band?  I mean, it's not like the world will notice one less band taping posters to light poles in a snow storm.  Also, just imagine all that time you just freed up for meaningful relationships and, well, having a life.

The cold, hard truth is that the music business is a harsh mistress, to put it mildly, and that the term "no one here gets out alive" doesn't just apply to the Jim Morrisons of the music world.  Once you form a band, you go from being a "musician" (notice the quotation marks?) to being a musician (hey, no quotation marks!) and there can be no going back.

That's not a bad thing, necessarily, but when you consider how much energy is expended in the countless hours of rehearsal, lugging equipment from your rehearsal space to the van, then from the van into the club, then from the club back into the van, and, last but not least, from the van back to the rehearsal space.  By the time all is said and done, it will be well after 2AM.  The only thing left to do now is drive home.  Mind you, by then, the streets will be full of drunk drivers coming home from the clubs themselves and there you are risking life and limb just to make it home.  "No One Here Gets Out Alive", indeed.

Okay, if that last bit didn't scare you off entirely, maybe you are "band material" after all.  In that case, the quickest way to form a band isn't to do as Jessica Hopper suggests and to walk up to the best dancers at a show and ask if they want to start a band.  Anybody with two brain cells knows that rockers don't dance.  They rock.  Are Tegan and Sara, or the members of Sleater-Kinney, good dancers?  Who knows?  Nobody's ever seen them dance.  While others were out dancing their asses off, chances are, these now-established musicians were holed up somewhere honing their craft.

The real way to find band members is to go to mid-level rock shows, perhaps those taking place in the middle of the week, and focus on those bands that appear to have been constructed for the sole purpose of playing the show.  This is normally the case for most singer/songwriter situations so if you see "Nick Johnson" listed as the first of three opening acts on a Wednesday night at Reggie's Rock Club, one could safely presume that Nick is a solo artist and, like most other solo artists starting out, has to book any show he can first and worry about finding the musicians to play the show later.

Sure, Nick might be playing his heart out for the crowd, hoping to win over loads of new fans, but what the rest of the band doesn't know is that they are auditioning for you.  After the show, simply walk up and introduce yourself to those musicians who might be a good fit for your "band" (argh, those pesky quotation marks are back).

If nobody has a rehearsal space at-the-ready, you can always rent an hourly room such as those found at Superior St., which provides you with a great PA system and back line (a full drum kit and all the guitar/bass amplification you could possibly need).  All you have to do is plug in your guitars and go!  This ensures that you will have great sound and saves everyone the effort of lugging their amps or drums around town.

Some musicians will work out, and some won't.  The important thing is to stay positive and keep looking.  Sometimes, it only take finding one good musician who might also know other musicians that are available and, before you know it, you are in a BAND (adios, quotation marks, this is the real deal).

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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