Truth: Good bands aren’t all that hard to find. Your favorite club or pub probably books a decent band or two every weekend, right? Great bands, on the other hand, are a totally different animal and not as thick on the ground. So what’s the difference? What sets a great band apart?
Well, they don’t play musical chairs, for one thing. Band members stick, because they know you have to consistently jam with the same lineup for a good long while to form solid connections with your band mates. It takes time to develop the kind of gut-level rapport that translates into great music and a seamless but always fresh on-stage dynamic.
These musicians love what they do. Each and every member is all about the music and would be if the band didn’t make a dime. Because the music comes first, a great bands generally produce high-test tunes—both original material and maybe their own special twists on the occasional covers.
These guys and gals practice ‘til their ears bleed. No such thing as too many rehearsals in their world. Great bands operate on the assumption that if practice makes perfect, more practice makes better than perfect. Gig or no gig, band members get together at least a couple times week to run through new material and fine-tune old.
Band members know how to mix it up, musically, vocally and instrumentally. Seriously, nothing keeps the music fresh like switching things up every now and then, for grins and giggles and/or to keep Old Man Boredom at bay. Plus, you know the lead singers’ going to get laryngitis at some point. Making sure the bass player can take up the slack, no sweat, is just smart.
These folks consider themselves professionals, and act like it. Everyone shows up on time and ready to perform. Band members are all good with putting money into the collective pot to finance better equipment, produce CDs and maybe manufacture some merch.
Gigs, gigs and more gigs. Live performances are to bands what a whetstone is to your favorite Ginsu knife. They help by showing the musicians what they’re doing right and what they need to work on. Plus, gigs are where bands attract diehard fans and learn how to put out just as hard for an audience of ten as they do for a wall-to-wall sellout crowd.
Great bands are bands that didn’t quit. They started in somebody’s garage and practiced until they got good enough to play school dances and tips-only gigs in Podunk. They pushed the envelope, then pushed it some more, both as musicians and performers. Eventually, they managed to book a few paid appearances, then more and better paid shows, until they finally elbowed their way out of the crowd and across that boundary line between good and great.
You want it all in a nutshell? Great bands are like brother- and sisterhoods, close-knit crews of dedicated professionals who stay together to play together, put the music first, work hard for their money and constantly reach for more, from their band mates and from deep within themselves.