Right off the bat, if you’re younger than 25ish and you’re in a band, you can stop reading if you’d like. Go off and have fun but for the love of fuck MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY.
Ok, so, most likely, a large enough demographic of this site remains. You’re a late 20’s or thirtysomething bro who has a band. If your band is actually a “band” then congrats and this article isn’t really for you either but you’ll get some schadenfreude from this post anyway. This is for the bros with bald spots and mortgages and families slugging it out in local clubs and spamming their friends on Facebook.
Maybe you and your bandmates didn’t try hard enough early on to “get signed”, maybe you didn’t spend long enough in committee constructing a solid brand that would resonate with the demographics that have the most disposable income, or maybe you play folk metal. You’re getting older and and no fucking record executive has jogged by your fucking garage to sign you and the rest of the Zack Attack. You haven’t went on a tour that isn’t just “to Jersey and back” or some shit. You play the same bar at least once a month. So…I have a pretty big truth IED for you:
Your band isn’t getting any bigger.
So it seems we’re at a crossroads, dear reader. You can become the guy who just talks about his band, spams everyone on Facebook about his band, and get’s laughed at behind his back by everyone who realizes the Sisyphean loop of sorrow that is “this band’s gonna do the thing, yeah!!” that is the mindset of the oblivious try-hard bummer bro… or you could have fun with it and not be such a lulzy, sad old man.
Bad Luck 13′s first show.
This post comes from personal experience. I, your brave writer, am in a band. We’re called Pandas. We’re not the worst thing you’ve ever heard. We’ve been around for about 5 years and we don’t really have much to show for it. We’re unsigned and we’ve never been on a proper tour. Everything has been DIY but we’ve been able to have the band be self-sustaining so it has really become an outlet for us to have fun and put what we have out there for people to like or not and not get too serious about it. Most of us have full-time 9 to 5-style jobs, one of us is married, some of us are in long-term, serious relationships, so we kinda made our choice, subconsciously or otherwise, at some point that the band wasn’t going to be the pony we bet on. The band is, and has been for a while, a way for 5 dudes who are BFFs to thrust their awkward, pasty frames around on a stage, sweatily attempting skronky jams and hopefully someone will dig it. But, if not, who cares? I’ll go home to the rest of my life that isn’t made up entirely of “we’re gonna be big one day!”
I don’t think I have all the answers but I feel that I can lead by example when it comes to remaining a pleasant individual while frantically gargling the disappointment cum that is the bukkake party of life. So I’m gonna speak on the two main areas of being a bro in a band while also being an older bro:
You Ego vs. Crushing Mediocrity/Obscurity
Here’s a moment of brutal honesty from your pal Jorbam: One of my biggest fears is just being depressingly “OK” at something and just having no one give a fuck ever. Up until Sarge was nice enough to let me prey upon his pre established audience of readers, that was very much the case; I wrote shit and filmed shit that no one besides a few friends consumed out of sheer pity. The democratizing nature of online content makes it so that (without a lot of money for dat advertising) it can be very hard to scream louder than anyone else. I want to entertain people and try and get a few chuckles out of bros as they nod in front their keyboards going: “too right, Jorbam!” I’m like the Rudy of internet pop culture writing. Put me in, coach! I can win them over!
I think being in a small, local band is a good character-building exercise because it strips everything down and shows how you, as a person, deal with weaponized indifference. I’ve driven to a different state to have practice in front of the other bands on the bill and no one else. You have a few choices when faced with something that makes you face your own obscurity in such a blunt manner. You can get super butt-feisty and entitled and angry and post passive-aggressive statuses to your band’s Facebook page or you can just shake your head, chuckle, and then go just play your dumb set and have fun and have a few beers.
I typed “local band” into Google image search and this was the one I chose cuz I need to pad this shit with multimedia yo. Actually, I think what clinched it for this photo is drummer’s way too far apart toms. Whatever works for you, I guess, but I think that shit makes you look like a padawan drummer.
I’ve seen a lot of bands in my time. I’ve seen dudes with ego boxes and synchronized moves and pre-rehearsed, hackneyed stage banter and it’s all fucking hilarious. Not one of the 13 people in this generic rock venue in some depressed, rusted-over, industrial/manufacturing town gives a fuck about your band with a sentence fragment for a name. No one will buy your merch and it’s going to be a long, quiet drive home to get 4 hours of sleepy maybe so you can get up and go to your shit job the next morning. Imagine if you didn’t have these exaggerated expectations of “you’ll sell a ton of merch” or “the promoter will actually do his job and promote” or “suddenly there is gonna be a HUGE demand for an all local/unkown bill on a weeknight”? Imagine if your goal for the night was to try and fuck each other up during a song or try and kick your shoe off into the groin of your rhythm guitar player or try and convince anyone who will listen that your bassit owns his own restaurant called Fuckstain Bellyache’s and that their specality is filling a boot (that the customer brings with them) full of shrimp for a fixed price?
The harder you try, the harder the inevitable will sting. Just sayin’
Ladies vs. Your Band
At a certain point, your band becomes libido poison to the womens. Past a certain age, telling a prospective romantic interest that you’re in a band is like saying “my dick cums expired mayonnaise while my balls sonically emit the audio from the ‘choice’ scene in Sophie’s Choice.” Now, you might think that this would be a bit cold and presumptive of ladies but they have their very valid reasons. Well, ONE reason, really:
“My band is my LIFE, babe.”
I will now make the distinction between when you need to tell a chick “NEXT!” if she get’s shitty about your band and when you need to ctrl-z your life because you are a laughable manchild.
If you’re already on the path that I’ve detailed above: you’re realistic, easy-going, and just kinda having fun with it, and your lady is giving you shit about being a child in a stupid band, it might be time to tell her to fuck the fuck off. Basically, if you could draw comparisons to how your band is like your version of wrenching on a car, starting a fantasy league with your bros, playing some video games, or, fuck, collecting stamps…she needs to calm the fuck down. Your band is a creative outlet and a way for you to have fun with some friends while just kinda “seeing what happens” with it. No harm, no foul.
Now, if you have ever been involved in one of these scenarios:
-”Babe, I HAD to spend our bill money for the month on this rockin’ B. C. Rich Warlock cuz it makes me look super hard on stage! Calm down, bitch! Just work an extra shift at Applebees!”
-“I CAN’T work a full time job cuz what if we get signed?! Can’t you just pick up some overtime? And I’m sooooo sorry that I don’t have a lame dad car like everyone else. I don’t have enough money to own two cars so you’re just going to have to get used to going to Arby’s in the band van!”
-”I know it’s her 4th birthday but Apocalypse of Autumn is only gonna get ONE CHANCE to play this 105.7’s Queef Man and The Jackyl’s Rock Box Presents: Battle of the Bands down at Smeggy Coyotes Bar & Grill! This could be our big break! Our daughter will have other birthdays!”
These are the types of dudes whose band is their life…and what a shitty, lulzy life it is. See, the important thing, as always, is perspective. At some point, you have to accept that your band is closer to a hobby than anything. Your lady shouldn’t tell you what to do with your band as much as you shouldn’t tell her what shoes she thinks are cute as long as your band isn’t the source of a bunch of irresponsible, childish life choices on your part.
Number of g-spots a B.C. Rich Warlock has activated in the history of ever: 0 (this statistic only counts g-spots installed in vaginas that AREN’T attached to 40+ year-old, meth heads with a splotchy, green Iron Maiden tattoo)
I was getting my hair dressed by a hairdresser a while back and we were making the small talk. I’m friends with the guy who used to be the manager at her shop. We grew up playing in bands together and the conversation led to her asking me if I was still in a band/played. I told her “Yeah, I’m in a band called Pandas. We play around here and there and we do ok. We’ve been together a long time. We just kind of ‘weekend warrior’ it though. We’re 5 dumpy dudes just trying to have fun at this point.” This evoked a kind of “melancholy mixed with jealous cheer” from her as she said “See, I wish my boyfriend felt like that! That’s so cool that you can feel that way about your music! They take it so serious!”
I felt super bad for the chick. She came across as a “rock chick” via having “rock chick tattoos,” hair that is of that “it’s kind of ironic that I work at a salon, yet the short, swoopy hair I DO have is bombarded with chemicals/product as if I secretly hate my own hair”, and well…she IS a hairdresser. So I can only assume that her boyfriend’s band is the kind of metal band where more than one dude will be wearing camo shorts and their influences are Lamb of God, Avenged Sevenfold, and like fucking Five Finger Death Punch or some dogshit. She probably has to go to every show at every sad fucking bar lest she get shit for not “supporting him.” I was like: “yeah, well I’ve found that you can’t really take yourself too seriously while playing in front of tens of disinterested people who despise you for being the noise they have to shout over on their night out.” To which she was all like: “Please come have clumsy anal sex with me on my sad, mandatory 30-minute lunch break.” Since I’m too busy promoting rape culture, I hired a Mexican day laborer to act as my proxy. I can assure you that he enjoyed it very much due to his smile, saying the word “America” occasionally, and giving a dual thumbs up with each hand whenever he wasn’t grasping at her sturdy, “I have a job where I stand up most of the day” thighs to find purchase in her proletariat butthole. The portrait I had commissioned of them (by yet another day laborer) sits above my mantle and serves as a reminder of keeping one’s perspective while being in a wildly unpopular band.
Or maybe start a cover band. You’ll actually make money then.
Harshly judge my band here.
Expired mayonnaise here.
Groupons for Fuckstain Bellyache’s here.