Leading/fronting a band

November 20, 2012 9:33 PM

Be careful what you wish for! I'm now, for the first time in my life, in the position of fronting a band for which I'm the sole songwriter and I'm wondering what advice you have for me.

I don't really know exactly how it happened but I now have a full band and they're really pretty darn good and we all get on like a house on fire. Our only issue is that we have limited time to rehearse -- about 2.5 hrs a week -- and my songs are very tricky with lots of stops and starts and modulations and so on. On the plus side, everyone's totally into the songs and remarkably ego-less for the moment, and our rehearsals are super-focused. I'm playing rhythm and singing and basically driving everything from schedule to arrangements to... well everything. If I don't make it happen it doesn't happen.

I've never been in this position before. What advice do you have for me in terms of how to treat everyone and keep the whole thing going, and also just the basics of fronting a band live?

Bonus Q: From the limited exposure we've had so far it seems that people really respond to the songs-as-songs... after every performance I've had people coming up and talking to me about that (in fact, that's how I recruited most of the band). What advice do you have for building that kind of word-of-mouth?
posted by unSane (3 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

(one of the things I've found helpful is to do 1-on-1 sessions with the individual bandmembers if they want it... so we can just work on (say) the bass part for the songs we're working on. The only tricky part is that it's a bit hard to suggest it without sounding a bit insulting -- "hey, do you want to work on that guitar part you keep screwing up?" Not as blunt as that but you see what I mean.

It would be WAY easier if I was paying the guys and I have considered it but I think they would be insulted -- they're doing it for fun not bucks and I think autonomy and creativity is part of the deal, as it would be for e.

Part of the quid-pro-quo is that I'm available as a hired gun for anything they want to do).
posted by unSane at 9:37 PM on November 20, 2012

As far as the limited rehearsal time but tricky-ass tunes problem, I guess your making demo recordings wherever possible would be a good idea. Theoretically the guys will have at least some free time here and there to listen to mp3s (or whatever) of you running the tunes.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:39 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the demos have been a godsend and we've been using them. But some guys listen to them more than others. I'll give you an example -- we've been doing Occupy My Heart which everyone is into, but one of the cats is a having a real hard time with the 15/8. It's actually a very, very simple song but the 15/8 is foxing him, which is not unreasonable.

I've offered to do some 1 on 1, and it's not like the guy's not trying (and he is a PHENOMENAL lead guitarist, so it's not really an ability thing -- kt's just that 15/8 is totally alien to him). I don't want to hammer the song into the ground but I feell like we're THAT close to nailing it if he can get his head around it.

I guess I'm looking for strategies to keep everyone engaged when the going gets tough, as it sometimes does.
posted by unSane at 8:04 PM on November 21, 2012

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