Start a Band

Tips, trials and thoughts about starting and building a band in Australia

Starting a band – past experience

Previous band – Titiksha
We decided we would be an originals band and we had a pair of guitarists. We put an appropriately bad ad in the local classifieds: “Drummer wanted for sh*tty punk band” and only got a single reply. The guy was a great drummer but was really into playing songs he already knew. Mostly covers.

With persistence, we eventually got around this roadblock and found a decent bassist. The next 2 problems ultimately spelled the end for our band. The first was that we weren’t clear on how much everyone needed to spend. The second was that we weren’t flexible enough stylistically.

One of our band members almost never had cash. This meant that if we needed to practice in a rehearsal studio, we’d have to lend him money. If we wanted to get a professional recording done, we had to wait until a friend was doing a project and needed a band. There are ways to do most things in a band on the cheap but sometimes it can slow the progress of the band down.

Musically, we all liked similar enough bands but our songs had to be the perfect mix of styles or we wouldn’t do them. In hindsight we should have been more open to playing bar chords (we had a big thing for riffs) and more willing to give different genres a go. We lost a number of songs and 2 great vocalists due to our stubbornness over musical genre. Of course, this could all be summed up as “musical differences” however beggars can’t be choosers.

The nail in the coffin was around our song writing process which I’ll discuss at a later date.

Current band – Throw Catch
The members of Throw Catch are all quite flexible stylistically and are very willing to play each others songs. Our practice time table is a reasonable mix of flexibility and consistency and everyone is happy with it.

When it comes to spending money, nobody is overly short on cash and we’re willing to spend if absolutely necessary. Put simply, we have money but we’re all a bit tight.

We’re all very busy people but we are all willing to sacrifice other things for the band. Still, it’s difficult to work out when practice will be. Fortunately we’re all tech savvy enough to use an online spreadsheet to show our availability and respond to emails in a timely fashion.

We’ve been together for just under 2 years and have only started gigging recently. At the 1 year mark we played a couple of parties to get some experience with a short set. We now have a 40 minute set that we’re happy with and all very excited about.

Spending 2 years writing songs is a long time and something others could’ve done a lot quicker. Given our busy schedules (including trips overseas that set us back 4 months) 2 years was something we had to work towards. The “party gigs” we played 1 year in really lifted our spirit and proved to us that we were doing something worthwhile.

We learned that it’s important to set milestones. Eg: Let’s do a few 25 minute gigs after 1 year and start doing regular 40 minute gigs after 2.

One thing we aren’t all in agreement on is what happens to songs someone has written if they leave. If we want to keep using the songs, our opinions fall into two camps. Either “permission should be sought” or “it’s fine as long as credit and appropriate royalties are given (if money is earned directly from the song)”. We will be discussing the pros and cons of this as a band and I will go over the points of view in a future post.

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