"Nothing about starting a band or music creation?"
"Nothing about starting a band and booking shows?"
"That was great but I wanted to see stuff about starting a goth band"
"What about being in a band?"
Ok, ok. I hear you. Let no one say I do not read the comments from various places my articles are shared across the internet. Looks like we are going into part four of three by popular demand.
To be honest I didn't see the relevance of this as getting a band going/getting gigs and starting up a local goth scene from scratch are very different things. But some of the things I discussed in the previous three articles can be applied to that too.
Depending on how long this ends up I may tack some other stuff I have been meaning to cover that is short on the end.
My Band Experience
One reason I didn't want to cover this is my experience with bands in the goth scene is rather limited or unique. But I have been in other bands before too.
To start with I am 40 years old and I have been playing bass guitar since I was 10 (about 8 years formal tuition), guitar since I was 14 (about 6 years formal tuition), drums since I was 13 (formal tuition on and off through the years - a couple of years total) and I have sung most of my life. I was the lead singer of the primary school choir before my voice broke. I didn't get back into singing again until I was about 18 (going from awesome voice to awful voice really kicks you in the nuts) so I focused on instruments in between. Its all served me well as I tend to write music from the perspective of a bass player primarily with an emphasis on rhythm and beat.
In my younger days (Boss Rocket)
My first band experience was playing country music with my dad. He played guitar and sang, I played bass, my sister played drums. Following what dad did on the guitar taught me to play by ear and follow a rhythm guitarist. This was a valuable skill to pick up as it effectively means I can mostly play anything after a couple of goes even if I don't know the song. It may not be exact (I have to listen to the song or get the sheet music to work it out exactly - I hate tablature, it feels like cheating!) but it works in a pinch. If I know the basic chord pattern I can embelish with runs and slides around it. We played at pubs, bowls clubs, family gatherings and even nursing homes.
My next band experience was in the high school band as they were sorely lacking bass players. I started in year 9 when everyone else in the school band was in year 10 or higher. I stayed in the school band all the way through to year 12 where I would have played music at my own graduation if they gave me the chance. But the school band didn't play the graduation that year. As well as the graduation (the big gig for the year) we also did assemblies, community events and school mass - I went to a Catholic school.
When I left school I advertised at a music shop to join a band. I knew bass players were in demand so finding a band was easy. I ended up joining a band who ended up becoming Boss Rocket - a rock and roll party band playing music from The Beatles to 80s to punk, grunge and 90s rock. As we started as a three piece I needed to learn to sing again and get my voice back. I did this by busking in Rundle Mall with a steel string accoustic guitar. It got me the power back in my voice (though I'm pretty out of practice right now). We wrote and played an original song too. It kinda reminded me of a cross between Kiss and Green Day. We used to throw it in mid set as a surprise and people loved it. You haven't seen a mad band crowd until you've seen a tiny dancefloor with 20 people packed on it throwing people on top for crowdsurfing. Fun times. I consider leaving the band a few years later as one of my biggest mistakes as we were getting really good and starting to do gigs for money. Not that the money mattered - we were all in it for the fun and thrill of performing.
That infamous crowdsurfing gig (Boss Rocket)
After this I tried to get a goth band going a couple of times. I had written a heap of songs. For various reasons these attempts fell apart. I was over-protective of letting other people sing my songs for a start. I wrote those songs for me, not to be relegated to a mere bass player while someone else stole my spotlight singing my songs. One project we were looking at doing Cure covers to begin with and they were going pretty well but living at opposite ends of the city made practice difficult. Another one was more in the alt rock vein and I wasn't feeling it then the guitarist accused me of trying to steal his songs! I didn't even like the songs and that was the problem. One project was with an ex-girlfriend who wanted to record some of her music (think along the lines of PJ Harvey and Bjork) so I played bass for her and we even did a live gig. I still have a copy of the CD.
When I was unemployed around 2003 I joined a work for the dole project where we played in a community band for two cycles. Through this I discovered Para West Adult Campus' music program when we did a gig there and went there to study after.
At Para West I learned a lot about PA and sound settings as well as more band experience. One of the bands I was in (Get Lucky) was mostly a jazz/big band type of set up.
Another called Glazed was a rock band and we even entered a local battle of the bands competition. We made the final but lost to the band we beat in the heats who got in with a wildcard. After this they blamed the loss on me as I had a really bad night vocally (I was lead singer and bass player after our lead singer dropped out of the band) and they found another bass player. Then a couple of weeks later they wanted me back and I said no. This is what you get when you drop a professional attitude musician for a stoner buddy who lives down the street.
At Para West one of the subjects I was learning was Audio Visual. In the audio part we were learning audio editing for the first half then video the second. The audio stuff was tying in really well with the music stuff. So I decided why not start recording my own music myself. I only have myself to blame if anything goes wrong and I could use the internet to get my music out there. This was in 2007.
My first music project was Corpulence on the Catwalk. I recorded some songs for it but the first was the one that really made people locally take notice. It even got played on a local radio show (Thanks Judy and Anita). That thrill of hearing your music being played by someone else is hard to describe. Its an honour and a high compliment. The music was basically some of my old songs I had written 10-ish years prior but recorded electronically.
I record using midi synthesis software (Anvil Studio - its freeware) and arrange using Cool Edit (later Adobe Audition but if you want something free Audacity is good) with vocals recorded through a humble desktop microphone via Audacity or Audition. Some would argue that I should upgrade or use something better like Ableton or Reason but the software I use does the job and I really can't be bothered learning new software from scratch.
Around 2009 I started my second music project - Hypnophile. This is the more industrial/experimental/aggrotech sounding project. I originally used the voice synthesiser for vocals as I had recently changed to a new PC and microphone was screwed. I liked the results so I kept using it for a while. Hypnophile's music was all new.
At this point both music projects are still current. In fact I am working on re-mastering and re-releasing it all via youtube as lastfm (where it used to be avauilable for free) deleted it al lwhen it updated a while back. As well as my music projects I also do other remixing/editing for DJing.
As for live gigs? Corpulence on the Catwalk did one with Brilling and Dandelion Wine waaaaaay back in 2008. It was a promo disaster as the event flyers arrived a couple of days before the gig. My performance was ok but I learned not to bering my son to a gig until he was much older (he was only 7 and acted like a little shit most the night) - yay for all ages right?
Thats the last time he wanted me to give him "good eyes" (eyeliner) too (CorpCat)
Hypnophile just played support for SHIV-R at Halloween DecaDanse a week or so ago - my first ever live gig for the project. Here is a clip someone filmed from that gig (cheers Martin) :
Getting The Band Going
Again, like in the DJ, event and local scene articles, these are just ideas and opinions based on my personal experiences and observations. Different places and people will work differently and likely will not agree with me. These are more helpful hints and ideas.
Also again, this isn't just to cover goth. This stuff can be applied to many types of local scenes and subcultures. But what I have to say here is geared more towards goth and industrial subcultures.
As discussed in the scene article (and how I joined Boss Rocket above), its like throwing the flare out. Either you find bands looking for people or advertise for people to join with you. Alternately you can talk with your friends.
This will mean auditions - a bit like applying for a DJ gig with a demo CD except they play live in front of you and maybe jam with you for a few songs. See if things work, what level musically they (or yourself) are at, see if there is any cohesion.
Band practice? You'll need a place for it or a professional practice room. Finding this can be like finding a venue.
Cover band or original music? Starting with covers is a good way to develop the band's cohesion but do you want to stay with that?
As you can see a lot of what I said before can bew applied to this as its all scouting and promo to organise before you even think about performing.
Or you could do what I did once at RvM and throw a song in and sing to it (CorpCat)
Organising A Gig
Like with running a club night and applying to be a DJ you have to look at venues and make proposals for gigs. If you are wanting to get gigs with a promoter you need to show them what you've got.
A demo recording is ideal and with modern tech all you really need is a laptop and some cables. Go to a practice room with a PA, balance everything through the PA, record via a line in with a compressor/limiter (I think thats what its called - you may want to check) so you don't blow your soundcard. Worst case scenario record using the microphone from the laptop not too close to the speakers then clean up any static/background noise in post-production. You could even use the camera to record a clip of you playing and add some theatrics to it. Show them what you've got!
If you are organising the gig and getting other bands to play with you then you are taking on the role of promoter so you would be auditioning them.
A problem you may find is a lack of goth bands in your area. You may need to wait for a more ideal gig to come along (play support for a touring band) or compromise with a mixed line up of similar-ish bands. No point being the only ethereal goth band on a line up of death metal bands but an industrial rock band might do ok.
Again, the stuff I talked about in the previous three articles is easy to apply here.
That damn CorpCat gig scared me off live gigs for a long time!
Why I Gave Up On Forming A Goth Band
I got tired of other people's bullshit. I found people are too hard to rely on so I ended up going solo. I have been in a few bands but anything goth related just didn't work. The problems were either seriousness/commitment related or myself being at a semi-professional level working with amateurs or worse. Good musicians I found didn't want to play goth music and those who did were newbies or didn't even play an instrument.
Another factor was when I was new I discussed the idea with people at the local club. The local elite got wind of it and mocked me for it. At the time I was in Boss Rocket so I just thought screw it - I'll keep my club and live music experiences separate.
In the end when it comes to talking about forming bands and so forth in the goth subculture I don't feel qualified enough to talk about it. Most of my experience lies outside the goth subculture.
Wait, what? You said you weren't in a goth band! (Boss Rocket)
This article is long enough so I'm just going to leave it here. Next time I'll go into some of those issues I mentioned talking about last time.
-Aytakk has been active in the goth scene since the mid 90s both online and in real life. He firmly believes in the old line "if you don't get the joke, you are the joke". As well as this he produces music for a couple of music projects: Corpulence On The Catwalk (goth/darkwave/coldwave) and Hypnophile (aggrotech/power noise). He is also a club DJ and nemesis of DJ Jelly.