One of the most important issues that, most likely, draw the least attention, is the following. What path should we follow as a band? How close should we stick to our influences? Are we fit to be pioneers? Is it worthy to be a pioneer? Should we just copy what we like to hear?
These are a number of questions – and probably even more than the aforementioned – that each one can answer for himself, when some deeper personal wanderings can provide certain directions. But when it is applied to a group of people, and each member has its own musical education, how can this be manageable?
My dear friend, this is something that should not stay in the fine print. This is the start of the game, right after the assembly of the team, the first excitement, the beers and the laughs that will pretty much follow the gathering of the “family”. Some people are coming together in order to create something. Pay attention… To create! Not just to reproduce! Of course, reproducing music is not bad itself, at the end of the day, everyone is free to express himself as they see fit…but, statistically, reproduction of music will not get you far…
I would like to share the quote of a well-known artist of the scene. His name is Chris Barnes and his band are Six Feet Under…
“You always need hard work! There are no shortcuts and if you want to sound like someone else you have already failed…”
Clearly, you have been influenced, like all of us, from the music you listen TOO. The way you play, your preferences, are based mainly on what you like to hear. This is not irrational, on the contrary. However, you will have to find a way to let your own personal element surface. Is something like this easy? HELL NO! It is, though, the foundation to start working on your own material and, if anything else, hopefully someone one day will listen to your music and say “these are definitely So And So”. To make this possible, of course, a collective endeavour is needed. It takes a lot of homework from the whole team, a lot of attention and it is self-evident that some will have to accept the fact that they will need to review ideas one way or another, some of which they had for granted. We are talking about two very basic things. Musical Specialty. Musical Identity.
Now a new question emerges: “Why should I do that?” Why should I go through all this ordeal, since I don’t really care? I just want to play music!”. I will answer as a SIMPLE listener: “Why should I listen to you, who remind me of something else, and not listen to that something else directly?” If you do not have anything new to offer, why should I even bother? This last part, I have heard it spoken publicly!
Composition is not just music, it includes lyrics. The same things apply there too… You can easily “copy” someone, but sooner or later this will lead you to a dead end and, most importantly, expose you. “No personality!” That will be the description of everything you will release.
But what happens with the practical side of things? What about the opinion that “everything has already been played…everything has already been composed…the guitar has only 24 frets…the notes are 7…” and all these nice things? I will tell you what. I have been hearing the same thing for the last 30 years at least, since I first picked up a bass guitar. And before me and before everyone else, the same thing had been heard on every corner of the earth, in every culture. But I never saw creation stop! Since the very first note was played in the history of humanity until today, the possibility for someone to make something new had always been there, as soon as there was the will to do it. There are uncountable opportunities out there, if only someone wants to explore the paths, spend time and lose the attitude “oh, lets go man, what are you looking for…”. And keep in mind a very important fact! In our days, there is the luxury of having so much more valuable information in the palm of your hand than what was available a few years ago and the choice to utilize it accordingly, so it should not scare you! YES, it is difficult. But it pays out to “introduce yourself”. It pays out more than trying to sound like the band you like to listen at home or the club you drink your beer in…the car, next to your girlfriend…
Give it everything you have got, along with your team and make a dent in the universe! Your own dent!
Until the next time we talk about the most important thing in a band’s life, The Rehearsal, think of what I said. Let your imagination run wild and try, even with minimum success – as we have already said, experience is not something you are born with – to create your “coolest” musical theme.
Text: Savvas Betinis
Translation/Rendering in English: Theodoros Apergis