It can sometimes feel like everybody who owns an instrument in college wants to be in or start a band. With all these potential bandmates at your disposal, it can still be difficult to find the right people that you’ll work well with. These are the three musicians you’ll want to steer clear of when you’re trying to start a band.
The drummer who always plays his drums
They’re super keen to get started but the problem is that once they start, they’ll never stop. This presents problems early on, first, you won’t be able to hear yourself speak, then you won’t be able to hear yourself think until the only thought left in your head will be “I’m gonna kill that fucking drummer”
Drummers get a bad wrap for being “uneducated” simply because they don’t always know a C major chord from a D minor. But drummers tend to learn music theory that relates to rhythm and can potentially pull you out of that 4/4 beat you didn’t realise you wrote all your songs in. And even if they don’t, good drummers are the bedrock of any band and if they say “one of us is playing out of time,” it’s probably you.
You should ideally listen to all bandmates (though it’s totally natural to rely on some more than others) and it is way too common to see the good drummer’s opinion reduced to a shrug and a nod. But no matter what someone’s role is in a band, there will be a time in practice where two or more people talking about a part of the song that you won’t contribute to and this is where you need to, as Kanye West put it, “just shut the fuck up sometimes.”
This is even more important if someone is talking to you. The key part to communicating in any band is knowing when and how to listen to each other. If you’re talking to a bandmate and they are not only not paying attention but preventing you from talking, then you should not be playing in a band with them. This goes for any band member but it’s especially obvious with drummers simply because they louder than everyone else
The bassist who can get really good weed
Not everyone’s supposed to be the shining star right? Every school team had positions where the “less experienced” kids would go. Maybe that position is where the bassists go… and you know what? He’s a really nice dude and he’s part of the creative process in his own way, he buys the weed for after. He insists that it’s “Cali Kush” but you doubt that. Still, it’s better than the stuff you get from that guy you went to school with. It’s just so awkward talking to that guy.
It’s an easy trap to fall for but when gigs get more serious the first place people look is at the bassist because a good bassist is the difference between a band of friends and a band of musicians. Bass is an important instrument in any half-decent band. If you write five songs and all the bass lines are just a copy-paste of the power chords your guitarist is playing, then your band will look like amateurs no matter how good the rest of the song is. Don’t settle for someone who will just play a simpler version of what the guitarist is doing. It’s fine if they’re new to the instrument as long as they’re keen to improve. No matter what instrument they play, every member of a band should want to get better and feel motivated by the people around them.
The guitarist who wishes it was 1971
There were so many red flags now that you’re looking back. He had a higher than normal tolerance for hair metal and glam rock. There was that one time he said Kurt Cobain was “the last real musician”. But it all came crashing when the bassist tried to play a funky bassline, or the drummer tried to play a jazz beat, or GOD forbid the piano tried to play the lead melody! Then he uttered something along the lines of “I don’t wanna do that, I wanna make Real Music.”
You will soon realise that “Real Music” is broadly defined as any and all music where the guitarist takes the most prominent role. they’ll usually try and get cozy with the singer try to establish “A Keith Richards/Mick Jagger sort of dynamic” and regard the rest of the rhythm section as glorified session musicians. An unhealthy diet of Rock n Roll will make the guitarist not know what the other musicians have to offer, other than what Paul or Ringo did fifty years ago. Wean your Rock Junkies off genres where their first thought isn’t “Oh man! what a sick guitar riff. We should cover this”. Whether it be R&B, Hip Hop, Jazz, or EDM; as long as they can acknowledge that music didn’t “end” when Kurt Cobain died and rock music fell out of the mainstream.
There’s more to being a good band though than finding the right musicians. Check out The 3 Songwriters to Avoid to see what to look out for when it comes to the more creative side of things.