You and your friends are tired of sitting around your room struggling with a couple of guitars and a drumset of empty kegs – you want bigger, better things. In the dorms, it’s not enough to serenade the same girls on your hall at the end of drunken nights – you know they can’t tell the difference between the shrieking in the club and your sultry vocals. It’s time you started a band.
After a month or so of practicing once or twice a week, you and your mates have finally hammered out a decent 45-minute setlist. Your first gig will probably be at a loyal friend’s place, but that won’t happen every weekend. But the blood is in the water and you’re hungry for more.
1 – Look around you: There are so many gigs offered through the University, it would be ridiculous to list them all here. From Live at Leo’s to the U Club to Markley Honors parties, there’s more than enough opportunity for your band to plant the seeds of destiny.
2 – Make a demo: In midst of your fierce University gig schedule, you’ll want to make a demo. After all, the steps of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library didn’t host Nirvana, Iggy Pop and Buddy Guy (they all played at The Blind Pig). Everyone needs a demo, of course. But don’t get hung up on finding the perfect studio, or producing the perfect demo for that matter. A crude recording of your four best – and by best I also mean tightest – songs is sufficient for most bars and low-level gigs.
A single mic in a room with decent acoustics will do just fine.
To snag one of the satellite studios on North Campus, you can befriend a performing arts technology major or take a short class offered by the Music School. You’ll have to provide your own mics, but it’s worth the chance to use a room worth more than your crumbling block on South Campus.
3 – Get your demo to venues: No shit, right? Don’t be afraid to follow up with owners and managers after you drop off your precious piece of music history. People forget about these things, and persistence generally pays off. Understand that if your band is under 21, then your audience will also be under 21, and bars want people to drink their cocktails. Again, persistence.
4 – Keep on practicing: Nothing loses fans and gigs like sloppy playing, no matter how good you think your songs are. Depending on the speed and quality of your band’s song production, try to update your setlist with newer originals and tactful covers whenever possible.
5 – Your first album: One alternative to a high-end studio is recording one of your barn-burning live shows. Prices can range anywhere from $300 to $1,000 and beyond, but nothing beats capturing that raw energy. The plus side is potential venues can now hear how you sound live, when it counts.
6 – Keep in mind: A 45-minute show is a larger chunk of time than you think. Hauling your gear to the gig, setting up, breaking down and getting back home will turn into a two-hour affair almost every time. Constant gigging will only emphasize this life truth. Significant others will just have to cope with your newfound star status.
Starting a band in college can be one of the most rewarding ventures you ever pursue. The appreciative screams from friends and strangers alike as you break half your strings on the set’s last chord will ring in your ears at night. Bands such as Belikos, Nomo and yes, even Tally Hall are prime examples of your peers taking the initiative with balls. They can do it. So can you.
The glory is yours for the taking.
– Be sure to look for regular profiles of student musicians, artists and student groups in upcoming issues of The B-side.