-Here’s a copy of the article I wrote for BAND PRIMER in the August 2009 Edition of Fourth Coast Entertainment Magazine. Past articles are also on this blog.
SO YOU WANT TO JOIN A BAND -Part 2- More Tips & The Audition
-Last month we talked about things you can do to get ready to join a cover band. Let me add a few things and then we’ll get to audition day.
-1st, get a COMPLETE list of the songs that they want you to play. Simple right? Unfortunately, common sense is not always so common w/ bands. There’s nothing like showing up to an audition & finding out the band was really hoping that you knew a song that you were unaware of.
-After you get the complete list, you need to find out what key the band has their instruments tuned to and/ or if certain songs are in certain tunings. Many bands tune to what is known as “standard tuning”, but they also use alternative tunings. My Band, CAROLINE BLUE, for ex. tunes down a 1/2 step to Eb. An audition will end real quick if the band is in standard tuning and you learned everything in Eb tuning (unless you’re able to transpose on the fly-always a “fun” thing to do). Singers are not exempt from this. a 1/2 step may not seem like much, but it’s enough to make you sound like crap when playing with others. A lot of modern music is in drop tunings so it’s very important to know about this. A band playing in tune is a happy band.
-Make sure to learn one song at a time. You can do a quick overview if you’d like initially, but it’s better to play 3 songs great than 8 songs mediocre. Having said that, if you can get most or all the songs down before the audition, go for it. Any band that has been around for awhile has gone thru it’s share of disappointing auditions. Coming in and exceeding what they expect will really make an impression.
-Also remember that while the band is auditioning you to join them, you are also auditioning them. You could play great only to find out the band isn’t great-or worse! Ideally you always want to be around players who are as good, if not better, than you are. Sometimes, though, you may have good reasons to join a group that isn’t ideal. Don’t join a band that’s horrible-but if they’re not bad and show a lot of potential-it’s ok to join up. Just make sure to keep checking to see how things are improving. If things are stagnant-or getting worse-get out of there.
-At the audition, be as pro as you can. After the gear is set up & warmed up (DON’T set your amp on 10 and blast everyone!) , let them pick the songs & go thru them.It’s their band, let them call the shots. Be courteous & easy going. DON’T be a braggart and start talking about how great you are, what you’ve done in the past, how great your gear is, name dropping, etc. You might as well be telling them “Kick me out now!” When it’s done,they might tell you right there & then how you did or offer to tell you later. Tell them thanks & let them make the 1st move. if they want you, they’ll tell you. A good sign is when, right there, they want to talk more about the band’s inner workings and stuff. A bad sign is when you’re done playing & everyone has to leave right away. You can do a follow up within a week, but if you haven’t heard a thing after that, move on-the band probably has.
-One final tip, if you can, bring a recording device to the audition. Recording yourself is a great way to spot your mistakes and help you improve your playing/performance. Recording yourself is a great habit to develop.