So you’ve been practicing for years and feel that its now time to finally play guitar out of the confines of your bedroom. The next logical step for most guitarists is to join a band.
The first choice that needs to be made is what sort of band do you want to join? An original band or covers band? What style of music do you want to play? Rock, blues, country, funk, pop, metal or jazz? Whatever the style of music, original or covers these tips will help you get ready to rock that band audition.
Searching For a Band
Depending on your location how you search for a band to join will be a bit different. You can search local online classifieds such as Craig’s List, Gumtree or in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia try Melband. Some rehearsal studios and music/guitar shops also have noticeboards for bands looking for players. Black Sabbath was formed from an ad placed in the local music store by Ozzy Osbourne saying “Ozzy Zig Needs A Gig”! You may have to do some online searching but it shouldn’t be too hard to find a list of local bands looking for musicians and guitar players.
Reviewing Ads & Which Bands To Contact
Once you have a list of ads your next decision to make is which bands to contact and ask for an audition.
- Check out what style of music they play and what bands/artists are their influences.
- What is the band’s line up?
- Do they have another guitar player and if so do you want to be in a band with 2 guitars? Some players like to play with another guitarist while others prefer to be the only one.
- See if they have any audio or video samples you can watch and listen to.
- Also is it a new band or are you replacing someone. If so why did the previous guitarist leave? Be careful here as band members may have left due to a clash of personalities or musical issues that may still exist.
How an ad is written will give you an idea of how organised and professional they are. Being professional means that they don’t have to be full time musicians but they should be:
- Organised enough to get the band together.
- Learn the songs before band rehearsal.
- Have some way of arranging gigs.
- Be able to turn up on time to rehearsals and gigs. Many musicians are notorious for being late!
Some ads miss basic information giving you no clue of the music they play or the band line up while others go into great detail. Watch out for “gigs ready and waiting” and “record company interest” and take these statements with a grain of salt 😉
Contacting The Band
If you talk to the band members on the phone see if they are friendly or not. Some musicians can have a bit of an inflated ego placing themselves above others. This may be a problem if you decide to play together. This can be harder to judge via email of course.
Ask about the band history:
- If an existing band how long as it been together, where have they played and if they’ve done any recordings.
- If they’re a new band what do they plan to do in terms of the music (choosing covers tunes or song writing) and gigs/recordings etc.
To arrange the details for the audition ask:
- What songs you have to learn.
- How long the audition will be for.
- Will the whole band will be there. Sometimes you will just meet with one or two band members.
- What gear you need to bring. For most players this will simply be an amp and guitar. However don’t forget effects pedals and possibly charts and a music stand if it a more formal audition that requires reading.
- If the audition is at a hired rehearsal studio ask if you’re expected to chip in for the studio. Some might argue that you shouldn’t have to pay but it’s always good to get clarification on this small issue before you turn up.
- Of course don’t forget to ask where and when to turn up!
So now you’re finally at the audition and meeting the band. Hopefully by now you’ve done your homework on learning the songs for the audition and of course you’ve turned up on time. Some auditions are more relaxed than others and many rock bands just jam on a blues or simple classic rock tune to see how you play. Others may be more formal with several players being tested at the same session one after another. Whatever the case follow these tips:
- Be friendly and approachable.
- Be respectful of the music directions of the other band members with tempo’s, song structure etc.
- Don’t play too loudly.
- Play tastefully for the style of the song/music. Don’t show off by playing too many notes etc.
Finally also remember that an audition is also about you auditioning the band. You will be checking out the band seeing if they musically and personally suit you and your tastes.
Hopefully you will find that you musically and personally fit the band and they decide to choose you and you decide to join. After this the real work begins practicing, rehearsing, getting gigs and recording. Being in a band can be a lot of hard work but it can also be great fun and very rewarding.