Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

My Band Manifesto

On a bit of a whim -- and even though I can't actually start auditioning people or jamming with them until I submit my ''good'' draft of my Dissertation -- I'm starting to reply to people's online band ads.

Musical influences (depends on the song!): Material Issue, Smithereens, Devo, Buddy, Holly, Dan Bern, Jill Sobule, They Might Be Giants, Beat Happening, Ramones, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Sounds vaguely like (depends on the song!): Gye Greene & Tall Guy, Beat Happening, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Violent Femmes (e.g. ''Blister in the Sun'').

Here's what I'm looking for in a band:

I'm 38yo, with a wife and child, so the amount of time I can devote to a band is different than when I was 22... So, I'm thinking getting together once or twice a week -- hopefully twice.

I'm looking to start up a band that's a musical co-operative: everyone is free to contribute songs, and everyone else "supports" the songwriter's song, so that it can be played live. For this to work, everyone would have to enjoy each other's musical styles: they wouldn't have to be identical, just compatible.

Not everyone **has** to contribute songs: if the bassist (or whoever) is happy to come up with basslines for everyone else's songs, then that's great. But if she/he ever **does** come up with a song, then of course she/he can present it to the group.

And, of course, some songs might occur from jams or random inspiration. But -- at least the way I work -- most songs would be mostly worked out by the songwriter when she or he presents it to the group.

In some instances, the songwriter will just the basic structure and the lyrics. In these instances, the bassist gets to come up with a bassline, the drummer comes up with a drum part, etc. Naturally, the songwriter gets veto power over the proposed pieces, if it doesn't suit the intended vibe.

But, in other instances, the songwriter will come in and say ''Sorry, but I have a pretty strong notion of all the parts. I want the bassline like THIS, the lead guitar like THIS, drums like THIS..." In this case, the rest of the band will basically be the ''hired hands'', the studio slaves, the drones. But it doesn't matter, because everyone is willing to do this for everyone else. And of course, they're always free to suggest alternatives -- which the songwriter may take on board, or may knock back. (Hopefully, she/he will at least give it a try, to SEE whether it's an improvement or not.)

I'm expecting that most folks will want to sing lead on their own song. Because of this, it would be awkward for a band member to be only a vocalist/singer, with no other instrument. This doesn't mean that I expect someone with an amazing voice to also be a virtuoso guitarist (or what-not). But just willing to learn, and have a decent amount of physical coordination and timing.

Bonus points if people are multi-instrumentalists. Again, they don't have to be virtuosos -- not even on their ''primary'' instrument -- but it's be nice if they were willing to step over to another instrument on occasion. Four reasons: 1) Because I'd probably be ''the bassist'', but some of the songs I write I can only sing while playing rhythm guitar -- so someone else would have to play bass. 2) It livens things up a bit if people sometimes play other instruments on songs, as everyone has their own approach to an instrument (and the riffs they come up with). 3) I'd get bored only playing bass: I'd like to play other instruments once in a while. 4) Sometimes the live performance of a song can benefit with the singer not being encumbered with also playing an instrument; so, if the guitarist (or bassist, or whoever), wants really get into the performance aspect of the song, it would be good if someone else could pick up their instrumental part.

Skill level: I'm totally open to beginners -- and actually, am a little wary of people with massive amounts of technical skills, as there's a tendency to ''overplay''. The styles of music I tend to enjoy -- and the music I write -- tends towards simplicity (but originality). So, I'd rather have someone who's only been playing a year or two, but has a great sense of phrasing and rhythm and timing and coming up with catchy riffs. Shreddage will come later (if that's what you really want).

Number of people: I'm thinking four or five. More than that and you end up with the awkward situation of trying to find an instrumental role for each person, or they end up bored. You also start getting in to ''coordination costs'' -- e.g. finding two available nights a week within four people's schedules is easier than for seven.

Regarding career trajectory: Pragmatically, no world domination. Instead, we'll aim for being a very well respected local (Brisbane-area) band -- some short hops to Ipswitch, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, etc. Maybe some regional tours, etc.

But due to family and ''day job'' commitments, I'm thinking to primarily go through a web presence, online sales of mp3s and albums (and merchandise), and local gigs. If we're lucky enough to get insane amounts of airplay, our indie label sells our album off to a mega-label, etc. -- o.k., **then** I'd consider taking a leave of absence off work. But at this point, no touring far-and-wide to build up a fan base.

I'd like to make money off this -- although I'm not expecting billions. But a few hundred per bandmember, through album sales, mp3 sales, and merchandise.

No drug users or drunks, please.

Nice people preferred. Wry-ness is fine, but I've found that being around people that are constantly negative and cynical is a drag.

I don't mind politics in the occasional song, but I'd prefer to avoid the cussin' and such: I think there are clever-er ways to make a strong point.

That's probably enough for now. :)



At September 21, 2007 7:59 AM, Blogger Axe Victim said...

Yes, I call this the 'Free your inner Zappa' syndrome GG. I've been trying to do the same for about a year now. It always turns into a bloody band with people's ego's getting in the way. I'm trying it again just now am hopegul of fulfilling your wish list.


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