© 2001 Peter Stevens

How to be a good student band

Forming the Band

When forming a student band it is important to take into consideration your style of music such that everyone will come and listen too you without writing your off as populist. Therefore it is vital to describe your style of music as funky acid jazz. Everybody likes jazz, the 'acid' gives immediate credibility amongst musicians and the word funk suggests that people can dance and enjoy your music.

Now the description is organised it's vital to get some band members, firstly you need drummer. Obviously you should pick the drummer with the largest drum kit because clearly he'll be the best. To supplement the drummer percussion or a drum machine is needed - clearly to create a full drum sound you must hit more than four things at once. Moving on to the rythmn section you need a bass, preferably someone who swops between a double bass and an electric bass. The tonal difference will be very important to some of your songs.

It's now important to choose some guitarists, important points are the size of the amplifier and the number of strange sounds on the effects pedals. Don't believe any salesman in music shops, always buy the cheaper pedals with the most sounds. Detractors - whom you didn't allow into you band - will claim that the sound quality suffers but they are just jealous because they don't have your quality guitar pedal sniffing ability. Anyone who doesn't fully appreciate the sonic quality of the extra flashing lights is clearly misguided.

Your keyboard player will want to have lots of strange atmospheric effects, when asked for advice always choose the most honky tonk sound you can find. Strange people who like classical music will claim that it sounds out of tune but thats only because they are boring and don't appreciate acid funk trip hop jazz. It's vital to use settings that are best appreciated in stereo - or quadraphonic. This will give the people running the gig an interesting challenge which they will relish and enjoy. This will help in gaining second bookings.

Vocals will be an important part of the band. This provides a focal point for people to watch. Therefore the best looking candidate should be chosen, preferably one beautiful person of each sex. This will double your audience. Do not underestimate the effect of skimpy clothing - it has a mind focusing effect on vocalists making it easier for them to sing difficult harmonies.

A horn section is a necessary addition to the band. Here the philosophy is simple. The more horn players the better. Remember, the best advertising is word of mouth and most horn players have a big mouth. Other bands will jealously claim that your sound is cluttered, this is only jealous bitching because they don't have as many friends as you do. It is also important to have one brass soloist who uses a variety of innovative Jimi Hendrix style feedback effects, this will increase your credibility with the 'acid' jazz onlookers and provide a brief respite for you from being in the limelight.

Writing Songs

When writing songs it is terribly important to remember your jazz heritage and that every member of the band should have at least one solo per song. If the audience fail to clap each solo or your band is particularly large you should repeat solos until every member of the band is happy they have had enough fame and adulation.

The sound check

The sound check will usually be organised for some ridiculous time - two hours before the gig. This is an ideal opportunity for you to have your first full rehearsal where every band member can make turn up. Once your band is warmed up you should do a trial run through of each song. Various 'techies' will wander around with cables and microphones making odd noises through the PA. Occasionally they may ask individual instruments to play one at a time. If you feel your rehearsal is going very well, you make take time out to humour them. If they ask your opinion on how their instrument sounds, good comments to make are 'it sounds a bit loud in the middle' and 'can you take the reverb out mate'.

If you are lucky you may get to play a gig which has monitoring. Remember here that the purpose of the technicians is to create the perfect sound in the monitors for you. There will be dissension amongst members of the band over the which instrument who should be loudest. Obviously you should be the loudest since you are the organiser of the band. It is important to point out several times during the gig that your instrument needs turning up to compensate for the volume competition that the guitarist and the bass player will be having.

When your rehearsal has finished you can leave the stage and head to the bar for a few drinks before your gig. It is vital to make sure everyone is fully lubricated before the gig. Tequila slammers are ideal. You may expect the Venue to give you a bar tab and you should invite all of the early audience to have a free drink on your tab.

The gig

During the gig you can expect forgetful members of your band to loose track of what they are doing. As a result it is perfectly acceptable to have a last minute discussion between songs checking that every member of the band knows in what order the solos come. Your band should be so large this will undoubtedly be the first opportunity to talk to all of them at the same time. Guitarists who will not be included in this discussion should take the opportunity to plug things in and tune their guitars. It is not necessary to turn the volume down during this process.

It is traditional to play an encore at the end of your gig. If you wish you may repeat songs that you played earlier. After all, some of the crowd probably came in late and missed them the first time anyway. You need not pay attention to the venues curfew, that's only for run-of-the-mill bands, not elite musicians like yourself.

The post gig party

Once you have completed playing, you should take the portable instruments with you back to someones room where you will have a post gig party. If you are lucky a number of people from the audience will follow you. It is fully recommended to relieve the best parts of the gig in your drunken state. You may like to include improvised run through's of songs and highlights of the best horn solos. Nearby residents will not mind this.

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