What's your recipe for success for weekend warrior bands?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by mtmartin71, Dec 2, 2012.


  1. mtmartin71

    mtmartin71 Silver Supporting Member

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    I may be Captain Obvious here, but it is extremely hard to find that magic combination of committed individuals, with some talent, to only want to take on music as a part-time endeavor. My cover band of 4+ years is about to go on hiatus to reinvent itself...or maybe fold for good. Who knows. We had our first gig in 3 months with our new singer and not a one of our fans liked him...no smiles, no connection to the crowd, forced crowd interaction, bad mic technique...just didn't come off well. We've got no desire to try and get motivated for 10-1:30a set ups/tear downs for that so we all agreed to let the new guy know we're going on hiatus and he's free to go after other opportunities.

    After 10 years of doing the live scene as a weekend warrior, my sense is that the following are the key ingredients you must have for ANY band to be successful.

    1) A true leader...someone who rules the roost and makes the final say...the band is their baby. I think band democracies work for some period of time but inevitably you need a person to dictate direction, marketing, etc. 2) you need a "show" or an experience that people want to connect with. You can't just be 3 or 4 guys on stage slinging songs unless you're so good and tight that people can't help but be wowed. Even then, the band of average musicians with a highly entertaining show trumps the band with amazingly talented players but boring stage presence...IMHO.

    My current band does not have 1). It's a democracy of three and we keep bringing in singers that haven't completely meshed. We're tight as musicians as far as timing, feel, and flow. People can feel that and comment on it. Even our most recent singer said he could tell right away that we had a good pocket. Our last singer (prior to the guy we just gigged with) gave us some of 2) and that took us to our greatest heights. He had allergy issues in CO that he couldn't seem to solve and our drummer lost patience and so it kind of became him or the singer. The singer went.

    I guess the challenge I see with weekend warrior bands is that the most talented people typically are playing music full-time or it's their life in some way. It seems very hard to find a person who's very talented at singing and performing who only wants to do it 2-3 times a month at most. Interested in the experiences of those who have put together successful, long-lived weekend warrior bands...covers or originals. Now that we're taking a hiatus, it would be good to have some thought into how to approach things if we try to create something new. We three (guitar (me), drums, bass) are all tight as musicians and friends. My worry is we've formed this "shield" that is preventing us to really bring in the right person.
     
  2. armadillo66

    armadillo66 Member

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    Great bands are Benevolent dictatorships, we make group decisions, but usually one of us takes a particular booking under our wing and runs with it for the advertising, dealing with the venue operator, etc

    Gear tone & volume, playing dynamics really make a difference. Having your sound from each instrument and vocals come out at a little different hertz range really helps keep from everything washing out in the mix

    Make up your set list so you mix things up, don't fall into a rut of genre or key choices, too many songs in one key makes everything sound the same

    99% of the time on stage, LESS IS MORE, no noodling, learn your part, stick to it, keep it simple and well executed

    Going back and listening to practice and live recordings, this stuff is noticable
     
  3. Alister

    Alister Member

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    To paraphrase Tolstoy, every unhappy band is unhappy in its own way.

    But:
    I think you put your finger on the essence of the problem you're asking about.

    I suspect you're going to get 19 pages of responses from weekend band types before this thread is through -- probably arguing amongst themselves and pronouncing how often a band needs to practice, how much "showmanship" matters, with a scattering of wisdom about "the drummer problem," or "the singer problem," and so on.

    I did this for 35 years, give and take, with brief zeniths in the "higher" realms of music as well, but your quote above, as i say, is the flaw at the center of weekend/cover bands, generally.
     
  4. stevel

    stevel Member

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    Agree wholeheartedly, and worth stickying in my opinion.

    Steve
     
  5. DrumBob

    DrumBob Gold Supporting Member

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    This is all good advice, especially the first paragraph about the band being a benevolent dictatorship. I am the benevolent dictator. I talk to the guys, ask them their opinions, we discuss everything, then I make a decision. I try to bring in new songs they want to do, and I don't ask them to drive 75 miles each way for $75. I don't berate them onstage for mistakes, I keep their best interests in mind at all times, and try to be tactful.

    I make up the setlists, keep things fresh and varied, and run them by my other guitar player, who does most of the lead singing. He might make some suggestions about song order, and I always follow his cues. Easy enough. He has to sing the songs!

    It's all about treating people right when you're a leader and running the band like a business.
     
  6. mtmartin71

    mtmartin71 Silver Supporting Member

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    Good comments so far. What's funny is I'm actually feeling relieved that we're taking a hiatus. I lost my Mom this year to ovarian cancer and my uncle (her brother) followed three months later. At 43, I'm the oldest living member of my Mom's family. Weird. Combine that craziness with the fact that playing cover 10-1:30a in the morning was starting to feel like a job, even just doing it 2-3 times a month, and it's easy to see why I'm ready for a little break.

    The drummer, bassist and I all want to keep playing at some point. I had a thought...maybe the next time out we go do something different and audition to back someone else vs. trying to find someone to bring into our little mix. Maybe look for an originals act. It doesn't change the dynamic that we're still weekend warriors and doing this as a hobby, but it does change things up so we're not trying to crank the same songs or same thing with some other "guy" that we found on Craig's List.
     
  7. loudboy

    loudboy Supporting Member

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    As a guy who's been playing/running sound for weekend warrior bands for 35+ years, I've found one thing to be almost 100% true:

    You've got to have a "buzz" right out of the gate.

    It's really hard to build one gradually. Some bands just have a thing, and everyone responds to it.

    Popular material doesn't hurt.

    Musicianship doesn't have a lot to do with it, I've seen some immensely popular local acts who weren't very good at all. Many others that were amazing players.

    I've also seen the same thing with unpopular bands, so it doesn't really matter, as far as I can tell.

    One thing that does help is to use professional production, right from the start. Good PA/lights will make any band sound their best, and will eventually pay for itself, in both higher-paying gigs and less bother-ation and stress for the band.
     

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