July 4, 2004
To Start A Band?
book identifies five roles within every band
July 4, 2004
to Start a Band? Read this book first
Denver Post Staff Writer
weeks ago, Curious Yellow lost its bass and guitar players. Frontman
Adam Lancaster wasn’t even notified.
The guys just stopped showing up, and later, drummer Gregg Rosenthal
got an instant message informing him they wanted to drop out and start
their own thing.
‘We had no idea it was coming; it just came as such a shock to
us,” said Lancaster, founder of the Denver-based band.
This isn’t the first time a member has left Curious Yellow. It’s
the seventh, In fact, Lancaster is the only original member left.
Mark Bliesener feels his pain. Although losing members is common in
the evolution of a band, Bliesener, a Denver- based music consultant,
insists there are ways to avoid the unnecessary drama.
He is the co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting
a Band,” one of the latest additions to the popular series of how-to
“It’s a great education on how to run a small business,” Bliesener
said. ‘We’re just trying to help people save some time and money.”
Bliesener, who wrote the book with Denver resident and freelance writer
Steve Knopper, draws on more than a decade of his own experience
playing in bands.
The book offers advice on everything from deciding what kind
of music a band should play to dealing with club owners and landing
Bliesener also hopes his book will save aspiring musicians some aggravation,
noting that the music biz is fraught with headaches.
Tips on avoiding such pitfalls as ego clashes might seem like
common sense, but it’s easier said than done, Curious Yellow,
founded in 2001, learned the hard way.
“Every person we had in Curious Yellow has always been committed
from the start,” said Lancaster. “But once we stayed together... problems
surfaced. (It’s) stuff you just learn to deal with along the way.”
One piece of advice in the book that Lancaster wishes he brought up
earlier with the band is the importance of having a leader,
“The reality is, we aren’t all equal - we’re equal in that we all
want the band to be successful, but we can’t have four leads,” Lancaster
said, “We’re going to let people know earlier on that if they
have a problem with our set-up, then it’s not going to work.’
“It’s all about having a common goal.” Bliesener said,‘Bands
are not democratic. To be successful, there should be a leader and
each member should play a different role.”
The book identifies five roles within a band: the leader, the talent,
the arranger, the friend and the comedian, The talent often possesses
an “innate musical or show-business sense,” while the comedian
is always around to lighten up the mood.
Every band needs a peacemaker, so the role of the friend is making
sure everyone gets along, A person who is more into the logistical
work - booking gigs, setting up transportation and publicity-should
assume the role of the arranger. All members fall under the guidance
of the leader, who is responsible for a band’s overall musical vision.
Although the book touches on how to avoid getting stiffed by club
owners, Bliesener points out that exposure is sometimes more important
than money, Curious Yellow took that gamble from the beghming.
“A lot of small clubs don’t do contracts, so we’ve been stiffed a
couple of times,” Lancaster said, “They just told us, if we didn’t
like the way they did things, then they’d find another band.”
Because much of the advice is taken from lessons Bliesener learned
in his roles as concert promoter, independent publicist and personal
manaqer, the book features practical tips -- gleaned from his observations,
- One of his rules: Never bring a date to band rehearsals. Fans of
“This Is Spinal Tap” will un
Bliesener says reading the book will help a band get on its feet but
notes that it doesn't guarantee success. Ultimately, he says, it’s
all about the band’s ability to write good songs.
“There are many bands out there that don’t have it,” he said. “In
the beginning, some bands can succeed with their image, but the life
of a band will be determined by good writing.”
And after looking over the advice from the book, Lancaster says that
while it’s helpful, he would recommend a band just go out there
to experience everything firsthand.
‘You don’t know anything unttil you do it yourself,’ Lancaster
said. “Whatever success or
failure I face, I know it’s on my’ own merit, I didn’t burn on anyone
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