How to Join a Band – 7 Tips to Help You Start Rocking!
So you want to get into a band? Whether you’re looking to join your first band or want to find a new one, here are a few great tips to help you get together with other musicians and start rocking!
Be Polite and Considerate
What? Not practice for 8 hours per day until you can play the entire Van Halen catalogue note for note? NO! I legitimately believe being decent to get along with is the most important thing to getting into and staying in a band. Musicians are notorious for being unreliable and flaky or having a massive ego. Do not be that person. You’re not special because you have amazing gear or listen to super obscure underground indie rock so get over yourself and be willing to work together with others and listen, especially if you’re joining an already established band. Being on time for practice and being considerate of your noise levels are just two of many things which will make you a great person to be in a band with.
2) Be Competent
You don’t need to be a master musician. In fact, you don’t need to be a “musician” at all since there are tons of musical artists nowadays who only know how to play a laptop, or write lyrics, or arrange songs, etc. The most important thing is your attitude, creativity and ability to grow. It’s also important to play with people who are around the same skill level as you. Too easy and you’ll get bored. Too hard and they’ll be frustrated with you. Ideally you want to play with musicians who are slightly better than you since it will push you to improve. Practice on your own and with a metronome if possible. Playing along to your favourite songs is a great way to get the timing and feel of a song ingrained into your head.
One of the most important aspects of any endeavour in life is making sure you get yourself out there. Go out to see some live music and talk with the people in the bands and tell them what you liked about their performance. Most musicians (and people in general) appreciate a genuine compliment and will be more willing to open up to talk to you and find out what you’re all about if you do this. Not manipulative flattery, but real honest feedback. If it comes up, mention that you’re a drummer and you’re looking to join a punk band. If things go well, you can get the person’s contact and start building a network. Do this enough times and you’re almost guaranteed to meet someone who knows someone who is looking for what you have to offer. If you make the right impression, people will know you as the friendly guy who wants to join a band.
4) Post An Ad
Early on in my drumming career I was sick of playing alone in my attic so I decided to go and poster my school with “need a drummer?” ads. I listed my contact info, my influences and a little bit about my personality and ended up being contacted by one of the best bands in town who happened to be looking for a new drummer. Nowadays there are countless online forums and newspapers where you can also post a “drummer for hire” ad. There are always people who are browsing these forums looking for the right match for their musical project.
5) Have Fun and Keep Growing
Your musical journey can feel like work sometimes, especially when you’re unpacking a van full of gear at 2am after a show. It’s all part of the growing process and figuring out what you want from music and from life. As the old cliché goes, the most important thing is to have fun. Learning challenging new pieces of music and pushing your limits can be frustrating at times, but the sense of accomplishment you get from being able to nail something that gave you so much trouble is incredible. If you’re consistently not having fun with your own playing or within a band setting, it’s time for something to change. That requires honestly examining yourself and the situation you’re in and communicating that with yourself and others. If you don’t appreciate that the bass player is always late, you need to voice that to them in a kind way. A lot of musicians tend to be somewhat in their own worlds and can be completely unaware that what they’re doing is annoying you.
6) Work Together and Serve the Song
Sometimes you will get into a band where one or two people will write al the parts for everyone and they don’t need or want any creative output from anyone and want you to just play the part that’s written for you as is. In my experience this approach is very rare, and instead most people are looking forward to getting fresh creative output from the musicians they’re working with. Again, communication is key. Ask about which parts of the song are meant to be as-is and which are open for some improvisation or development. Ultimately it’s rare that the musicians you play with will want you to constantly be the focal point and playing your hardest/fastest/etc all the time, so it’s important that you play what the song requires. A mellow folk tune doesn’t need a thrashy metal guitar solo in it (although that could be really cool if done right). Definitely be sure to bring your own style and ideas to a song, but always ask yourself, “is this helping the song be the best it can be? Am I serving the song?” If you’re unsure, ask your band mates if they prefer it being played this way or that way. If everyone approaches the music in this fashion, pretty soon you’ll have some amazing songs!
7) Stay Sober
I’m not saying to become a complete prude, but too often I’ve seen talented musicians become obsessed with drugs and alcohol to the point where they’re incapable of playing if they’re not high or drunk. It’s nice to let loose and have a few drinks after a great gig, but especially when you’re starting out in a band, you will want to have a clear head to be able to learn and perform the songs properly. Plus, it’s not a sustainable lifestyle to be wasted all the time and, since you love this so much, you want to keep doing it for a while right? Be sure to find a good balance with things for yourself, but I would highly recommend staying sober for all performances and practices.
That’s it! If you like the list or didn’t like it or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading and rock on!