by Drew Ailes
For some dumb reason, everyone wants to be in a rock band. Probably because it's a good way to avoid gazing into the inescapable black hole of painful loneliness. That and rock & roll kicks ass, and gets you chicks or dudes or money or something.
The problem with rock music (aside from the talentless assholes with money) is that people don't seem to understand what playing it is really like. Effectively convincing people what being in a band "should actually be" would take a number of expensive hallucinogens and months of intense brain deprogramming. Instead of that, we made a list for you to argue with. Here are six common misconceptions that make bands suck.
6. You Deserve to Be Paid, a Lot
Don't rely on the same society that put Dave Matthews Band, Metallica and Eminem on Billboard's "most consecutive studio albums to debut at No. 1" to also pay your bar tabs and rent. In return for not expecting shit, you and your friends get to enjoy the $80 that mysteriously ended up in your jacket pocket after you fell asleep next to a pull-tab booth. Frankly, the only people in the music industry who rightfully deserve to be paid are the people who were screwed over back when it was only unrealistic to make money (rather than nearly impossible, as today). Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth probably can't go back to community college to get a temp job as a metal fabricator. However, the bassist in your unknown alt-country band probably can.
There are no groupies for you. Well, OK, there are potentially "groupies." But the men and women who would be considered "groupies" are the sexual equivalents of fast-food slobs. In the way a fast-food junkie celebrates the cat's birthday with a Big Mac value meal, groupies are just trying to find any excuse to have sex with someone. That flimsy excuse, if you're "lucky," can be the fact that you were simply standing on a stage at a time when other people weren't -- nothing more. While meaningless sex and greasy food are two things to be regularly enjoyed while trashed, rarely do you feel awesome about yourself the next day.
4. Bands Make You Cool
Being in a band generally turns nice people into jaded, bored, reclusive pricks. Or even worse -- egomaniacal assholes. Something about totally failing to achieve expectations or receiving constant attention and affirmation seems to have a negative effect on the average human's brain. It may sound counterintuitive, but being a loser actually makes you a more humble and cooler person, not being in a band.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
Practice doesn't make perfect. Touring and playing for completely unfamiliar crowds makes perfect. Playing through other people's gear because yours is broken makes perfect. Being too drunk to play your own songs makes perfect. Practice makes predictability, and predictability is boring. Do yourself and your band a favor, and in the words of Bill Hicks, "play from the fucking heart."
2. Listening to Criticism
Some kid thinks you stole a riff from a song you've never heard. A guy with a graying goatee wants to talk to you for ten minutes about how your guitar tone could be improved. You noticed a thin woman with glasses and long, straight hair walked out in the middle of your third, slower song. Another person says the delay on the vocals sounds out of place.
What should you change? Probably nothing. It's one thing if you're hearing the same consistent piece of criticism over and over again. It's another thing to pay attention to the ham-fisted and ill-informed advice of someone who likely knows even less than you do. Continue to do things exactly the way you want to and you may actually create something elusive in modern music: something unique.
1. Being in a Band Is Tons of Fun All the Time
Overall, being in a band sucks. You have to deal with broken gear, personal problems, vehicle repairs, unstable employment and unsympathetic bosses, relationship strife, "important" bar owners, opening bands playing hourlong sets, receiving criticism from people dumber than you are, sleeping on pool tables, driving through places like Iowa, watching door money go to sound techs before you. The list goes on. Forever.
Yes, 80 percent of being in a band sucks, but the other 20 percent is so good that it's hard to stop. It's like going to a Chinese buffet -- you waste a lot of effort and some money on numerous things you don't actually enjoy. But eventually, you play a show and find the "Tiger Pork" and it makes you forget about the soggy egg rolls, rubbery calamari and the $40 in late fees you had to pay at your practice space. And that's what making art should be: an escape from the browned lettuce and limp carrots at the salad bar of existence.
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