herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

20 myths about starting a band in Dublin…

Hozier
Hozier
The Script playing at Whelans, part of the Arthur's Day celebrations in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
Ex-Oasis singer Liam Gallagher hinted on Twitter that he might have buried the hatchet with brother Noel
Hozier with Taylor Swift
Busking on Grafton Street
Spinal Tap

So, you’ve only gone and started a band. Good for you. But it’s tough out there, folks.

It won’t be easy, getting your music heard, or surviving life on the road with your mates. World domination takes time. In fact, most of, if not everything, you’ve heard about the glamorous side of the music industry, is a lie. Luckily, we’re here to help. There are plenty of myths out there about signing up to a life of rock ‘n’ roll merriment, and we’ve decided to bust every one of them (well, the important ones, at least). Tune up, plug in and do your best to avoid the following pitfalls. Or else. Oh, and a simple thank-you in the album notes will suffice…

 

1. Bigger = Better

Right, so you’ve got your usual guitar, bass and drums set-up down. But what you’re really going for is ‘epic’. So, why not add some keys, brass, electronics, viola and triangle to the mix? I’ll tell you why – because the bigger the band, the trickier it is for everyone to book time off work and tour the country. And that’s just the beginning of your problems. Yep, song writing royalties. Good luck with that one if your band features more members than a Sunday morning astro-turf squad. Keep it at four or five heads, and you should be grand.

2. There’s always free booze…

Yeah, maybe a bottle of Buckfast and a ‘free’ tray of Coors Light. Newsflash: nothing is ever free. Someone has to pay for that ‘rider’ (a list of backstage requests and demands), and in the end, it’s probably going to be you.

3. Fame and fortune is but one catchy tune away…

Just ask Hozier. No, seriously, it doesn’t work for everyone. You need a strong catalogue - don’t put all your efforts into one song. Oh, and break-up anthems don’t always work. Sometimes, they’re just embarrassing.

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Hozier with Taylor Swift

Hozier and Taylor Swift

4. Writing songs is easy…

Yeah, if that were true, we wouldn’t be wasting our time drawing up lists now, would we?

5. The band name isn’t important…

Correction: The band name is incredibly important. We’re 99 per cent sure that, if given a second chance, Ham Sandwich would have tried that little bit harder.

6. Whelan’s is the Big-Time

ScriptWhelans.jpg
The Script playing at Whelans, part of the Arthur's Day celebrations in Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins

The Script playing in Whelan's

Well then, by that logic, so is the Roisin Dubh. Whelan’s is a cracking place; an iconic venue, in fact, and it’ll be a massive achievement if your band manages to acquire a headline spot at the renowned Wexford Street haunt. But do not get complacent. Onwards and upwards, people.

7. Forming a band with your siblings is a good idea…

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Ex-Oasis singer Liam Gallagher hinted on Twitter that he might have buried the hatchet with brother Noel

Liam and Noel Gallagher

No. No, it’s not. The Bee Gees got lucky. The Haim sisters appear to be handling things nicely. But look at what happened to Oasis. Even Kings of Leon (three brothers and a cousin) have had their problems. We tried it ourselves, you know. Take it from someone who almost threw a bass guitar at his twin brother after, um, creative differences got in the way: starting a band with your family is only going to result in tears. You’re already too close; you know all the (wrong) buttons to push - it won’t end well. And the mammy will never forgive you.

8. Chicks and dudes dig musicians…

Yeah, um, it does help in that department. But only for a while. You gotta have something to back it up. A personality, for a start.

9. One good review can change everything…

One good review changes nothing. Oh, and one bad review doesn’t matter. Unless you decide to go to town on the poor scribe whose critical analysis of your band’s last gig was, in your humble opinion, completely wide of the mark. That sort of stuff will only lead to a ropey reputation. A thick skin is required if you’re to last in this game.

10. Busking is how all the greats were discovered…

Busking is an awful lot of hard work. It’s not for everyone. Plus, there’s the territorial war to think of. Oh yes, sometimes it’s more competitive out on the streets than it is in the clubs.

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Busking on Grafton Street

Busking on Grafton Street

11. The Irish music community is really, really nice…

Okay, so that is sort of true. Everyone looks out for each other, and we gotta say, it’s quite admirable. But what is it they say about nice guys? Oh yeah - they finish last. Do try to stand out a little. You can make as many friends as you want, but remember, it’s your band versus the world. Never forget that.

12. Releasing albums at the end of the year is the best way to get noticed…

What, because nobody else is doing it? Uh, there’s a reason for that. Releasing albums at the end of the year is the absolute worst way to get noticed. The critics are already in reflective mode, and they’ll be that way until mid-January at the latest. Wait it out. Be patient. Pick your moment carefully. You only get one shot at this. Unless you’re Kodaline.

13. Shyness is the new showing off…

Whatever, dude. Nobody ever made it big by staring at their feet on stage. You think it makes you look enigmatic? Wrong. It makes you look terrified. And boring. Talk to the audience - if you make ‘em laugh, you’re on to a winner.

14. Showing off is the path to superstardom…

Yes, but you don’t wanna be too cocky, either. Jeez, this music lark is fairly complicated, isn’t it?

15. Falsetto is the key to success…

There’s a big difference between singing in a high-pitched voice and mastering the art of falsetto. Too many guys have crashed and burned with this one. Be careful out there.

16. Longer songs lead to memorable gigs…

Jaysus, lads, keep it under four minutes. We all have homes to go to…

17. Epic website bios are the way to go…

True…if you’re signed to a major label and your last record conquered the world. Until then, keep it simple. And avoid the word ‘indie.’ The only thing that means is that you’re an independent band. There is no such thing as an ‘indie’ sound.

18. Touring is glamorous…

SpinalTap.jpg
Spinal Tap

Spinal Tap: Touring took its toll

Do we even need to go there? It’s not. It’s long, arduous, you spend most of your time driving, rehearsing and sleeping before and after shows, and you’ll have to get used to the stench of each other’s sweat, not to mention the distinctive taste of dodgy petrol station sandwiches and Berocca. But hey, it’ll be worth it in the end, right? Oh, and backstage areas smell like feet.

19. Being your own boss rules…

Good luck with your accounts, so. You know you’re going to have to draw straws at the end of the night to decide who gets to inquire about the money. Here’s a tip: hire a manager.

20. You’re going to make loads of dough…

You’re going to make sweet f***-all in your first year. Do you want to earn a fistful of cash by playing music? Then join a covers band. You gotta be in this game for the right reasons. Most of the time, success means breaking even, and not everyone is in a position to give up the day job after one tour. Stick it out. Learn to celebrate the minor achievements. Like surviving a week on petrol station sandwiches.

(Bonus Point) Playing music is the best job in the world…

Actually, it really is. We just wanted to finish on a positive note. For those about to rock, we salute you. Now, best of luck out there…

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