Bob Craypoe (also known as R. L. Crepeau) is a musician, writer, webmaster, 3D artist, and creator of the Punksters comic strip series.
I have been in good band situations and bad band situations, and there are some big differences in how things are done and how things work. From my experience, I have noticed that there are certain impediments to becoming a good, solid, functional band. Without the removal of those various obstacles, progress will not be made. But what is really the ideal band situation anyway? Allow me to define that first.
The Ideal or Perfect Band Situation
In a perfect world, your band situation would be ideal. So, for the sake of argument, let’s just say that you do live in a perfect world and you are therefore in the ideal band situation.
Everyone Gets Along and Agrees on Everything
In the ideal band situation, every band member not only gets along wonderfully but they all love the same music and never argue about what type of songs they want to perform. They also agree on the type of venues they want to play and on the overall direction they want to go. They all have professional attitudes, show up on time to both rehearsals and shows. When they perform, they perform as a tight unit consisting of people that are totally in sync with one another.
Everyone Is Well-Equipped
The band has all of the equipment needed to perform the type of venues they are currently performing at. It’s all top notch equipment that provides a great quality of sound, at adequate volume levels. Each band member has his own equipment that he needs to perform and produce a good quality sound.
No Conflicting Schedules or Transportation Issues
Everyone in the band has the ideal work schedule and there are absolutely no scheduling conflicts that would interfere with either rehearsals or gigs. Each band member has his own reliable transportation, a driver's license, and the means to transport his own equipment to wherever it needs to go. The band members all live within close proximity to one another, so getting together is that much easier to do.
All Burdens Are Shared
All of the various burdens are shared with each band member contributing to the overall good of the band. One member may handle the bookings and another one may design, print, and distribute the fliers. Another member may do the website updates and handle the online promotion, along with the social networking part of online promotion. Everyone contributes in his own way and they all work together as a team.
All Members Are True Professionals
Each member of the band is a true professional and conducts himself as such. That means that they each learn their parts, they all show up on time and they all have the necessary skills and abilities needed to do what has to be done. They are all courteous to the people they meet at their shows, whether they are members of the audience or the people working at the venue and they never get too drunk to play or so drunk that they make fools of themselves. They are just true professionals in every sense of the word.
There Is Pure Chemistry
The band has amazing chemistry. Each member can sense what the others are going to do and immediately respond accordingly. They are a unit consisting of musicians whose abilities complement each other. They are the perfect fit for one another. It is one of those situations where they are more than just the sum of their parts. They are not just 1+1+1+1=4, they are more like 10x10x10x10=10,000. They multiply each other’s potential because they are not just great individually but, since they complement each other so well and work together so well, they multiply their overall potential because they are the perfect fit.
Now what I have just listed above represents what would be the ideal band situation in a perfect world. But we all know that we don’t live in a perfect world and not everything is ideal. So if we choose not to delude ourselves into thinking that we live in a perfect world, we are forced to recognize reality and operate within the confines of the real world.
So knowing that you will probably not be in a perfect or “ideal” band situation, we should look more towards being realistic and shoot for being in a good or maybe even a great band situation. That will probably be the closest we will ever get to the “ideal” or perfect situation. But even a good to great situation still has its various potential obstacles.
There are some obstacles that may interfere with a band’s potential for success and unless they are dealt with, you may end up running into the same problems over and over again because they are never resolved. So what are those obstacles, anyway? I’m glad you asked.
The Various Obstacles You May Face
When I think of what the potential obstacles to a band’s success are, certain issues spring up in my mind first. I think of what were the most common problems I have faced as a result of my years of experience in a variety of band situations. I have been a part of a duo, a trio as well as a full band. I have seen certain problems over and over again and can spot many of them right away, even in their early stages.
The most common problems or obstacles are unreliable band members, scheduling conflicts, inability or difficulty getting along with each other, creative differences, and disagreements on the band’s direction. Often, you may have a little bit of each of these problems but they are not to a level of severity that would prevent you from moving forward. However, any one of those things, if severe enough, could actually be something that would destroy a band.
Unreliable Band Members
When I refer to unreliable band members, it’s usually involving one of two things. For instance, one band member may be unreliable when it comes to learning the material he is supposed to learn. Another band member may have a problem with punctuality and shows up late to gigs and rehearsals. Those are the two most common forms of unreliability that I have been unfortunate enough to have had to deal with on a number of occasions.
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Scheduling conflicts can be a serious matter as well. This usually involves the members of the band not having work schedules that are similar. One member may work nights. The rest of the band may work days. Someone may work weekends while the others do not. I have seen bands break up over scheduling conflicts. But often, they tolerate the conflicts for a while, and then eventually someone in the band grows tired of it. In some cases, the person whose schedule is the least in synch with the others either leaves the band or gets fired from the band. Scheduling conflicts make it hard for the band to get together for rehearsals and it makes it hard to book gigs.
Problems Getting Along With Each Other
Some people just can’t get along with others. They just happen to rub people the wrong way. Sometimes they rub their bandmates the wrong way. They may also have drug or alcohol problems and those alone can cause major conflicts within a band. I have seen some nice people turn into some real jerks after a few drinks. It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t drink all of the time but many of those people do. Sometimes their playing or performance suffers from it as well.
The creative differences may just stem from disagreements regarding the type of songs or material you may each want to play. Often, the members of the band will start out doing songs that they all pretty much enjoy performing. Then, as they try to add more material to their set list, the conflicts start. It’s a shame too because you have already put in some time working together and time is an investment. It’s a sad turn of events when you suddenly discover that maybe you each had a different idea as to what type of band you wanted to be.
Disagreements on the Band's Direction
There are a number of directions a band could take. Some bands may only want to perform and have no interest in recording. Some bands may prefer to do more recording than performing. There may be conflicts over who will be the lead singer for a given song or any number of issues that may cause a conflict. But regardless as to what the various issues you may be facing as a band, they need to be prevented or dealt with if they have not been prevented. So how do you do that? I’m glad you asked.
Prevention Is the Key
Basically, it all starts in the beginning stages of putting a band together. The one thing you need to think about when putting a band together is what you want from the band situation. You each have to start out with that same mindset and have to set goals related to what type of situation you are looking to be in. Then you need to find like-minded individuals or are competent, professional in attitude and, hopefully, experienced.
You, yourself, should put down on paper what you want from a band situation. That should include the type of music you want to play, whether or not you plan on doing all covers, all originals, or a mix of both, as well as what the original to cover ratio should be. Then you need to decide how often you plan or would like to play out and if you intend to do some recording or not. You need to know what you want first and foremost, from a band situation.
Next, you need to find like-minded individuals. You need to go down that list of priorities I just referred to and see if each and every person you add to the mix will agree with what you want. You also need to make sure that they have the ability to make it to rehearsals and shows on time and with the necessary equipment. You may want to make sure they have a little experience playing out. People who have already played out for paid gigs already know what it takes to get to that point and have already proven that they are capable of doing it.
You should really only start a band with people who have schedules that accommodate the situation. If all of you have the same working hours, then you should generally not have any issues getting together to rehearse and scheduling gigs will be a lot easier to do. The whole idea is to make sure that the most common problems are less likely to occur before you even pick up your instruments to play together.
Dealing With the Obstacles When They Appear
Now, I just mentioned above that prevention is the key but sometimes we are not able to prevent certain issues or we don’t see them coming in advance. So that basically means that we will have to deal with those nasty issues once they rear their ugly heads. So how do you do that?
Tardiness can be a big issue. Maybe one of the guys shows up late all of the time. That just can’t be tolerated. Hey, he could be the best musician in the world, but if he can’t show up to gigs on time, you might not get a chance to play at certain venues again. The venue owners might not give you another chance if the first time you play there, you start later than the agreed-upon starting time. So that great musician just ruined the situation for the rest of the band. Punctuality matters. It matters for both rehearsals as well as gigs. And if you have someone who can’t show up on time, he needs to be warned and if warnings are not heeded, he needs to go. It doesn’t matter how good he is or if he’s your friend. He needs to go.
So maybe the problem is someone not learning the material. Well, the same rules basically apply to that guy too. He needs to be warned about learning the material and if he still does not learn it, he needs to go. You see, a person will only jerk you around to the extent that you allow him to. If you allow him to do it over and over again, well that’s on you. that’s your stupidity. I know that’s blunt but it’s true.
Hey, I have allowed people to jerk me around in the past, and some of those people I allowed to jerk me around over and over again and, guess what. We never got anywhere. So my patients achieved nothing. Once I got rid of the unreliable dead weight, then and only then did progress start to be made.
I know it may seem as if I might be unreasonable to some extent because you might think that I am not a tolerant person. But the fact is, you need to think of it like it is a job. Think about your job. Does your boss expect you to show up every day and on time? Of course, he does. Does he expect you to know what you are doing? You betcha. So if you want to be in a band that does paid gigs, then you need to act like a professional. You learn what you need to learn, you show up on time and you do what you need to do. You also expect that from everyone else in the band and if someone can’t meet those basic expectations, they need to be fired just like how your boss on your job would fire you.
As far as scheduling conflicts go, everyone needs to be on the same basic schedule in order for things to work out the best. It also helps if the people in the band have a stable work history. If someone constantly gets fired or quits his jobs, then obviously his schedule is likely to change and it just may change to a schedule that is incompatible with the rest of the band. So job stability may be another thing you look for if you want a band situation that will be long-lasting.
Just a Few Items of Consideration
So I have basically outlined a few items of consideration for when you want to put a band together. I have listed some of the various impediments to having a great band situation and have given you some ideas as to how to prevent them and how to deal with them should they occur. I’m trying to help you here. I can only give you some advice, but the rest is up to you.
© 2020 Bob Craypoe