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Your secrets for making a band cohese?

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  • Your secrets for making a band cohese?

    I know each one of you has felt the unpleasant feeling of playing in a rock ensemble in which the different players are not "on the same page of music", as it were.

    The drummer who can't swing or play any rhythm other than a polka. The guitarist who wants to solo throughout the song.... through a phase-shifter. The guitarist who comes in stoned after a weekend of partying to his Zeppelin records.... and everything he plays is....secondhand Zeppelin. The prima donna singer who's pouting 'cause her boyfriend is in the group and he slept with another girl last week, and even worse, she chipped a nail and her cat's sick. The saxophonist who's ashamed to be playing rock because he also gigs with a jazz band he reckons is much classier. The bassist who is too proud to learn the chords before taking off on his quasi-Jamerson flights. The two male members who dislike each other, each trying to outshine the other...

    These are the times which try men's souls.

    What are your secrets/hints for getting all the musicians thinking together, working together to get tight, to put real feeling into the music, to commit fully to the group? Does every band require a Hitler at the helm?
    Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


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  • #2
    Great question.

    One thing I've done to get everyone hypnotized by the groove they'll be laying down is to set up a complimentery machine shaker groove and have the band play in a loop on that same little groove for 20 minutes. No changes, just a chord cycle and minimal shifts. 8 bar loop maybe, repeated.

    Everybody knows there's no hurry now... we're not recording... this is for nothing... other... than... this...
    G R O O V E.

    That can really get a group feeling things together. And nothing matters but that...

    Then try it alternating a sung verse and a soloist and just the groove back to the sung verse, etc. You find yourself getting over yourself pretty quick. And it's the quickest way to feel like you're on drugs without taking them.
    __________
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    Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
    Jesus

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    • #3
      I was going to say, drop them into a live fire zone with no food and pick them up a couple weeks later :-)
      Dean Roddey
      Chairman/CTO, Charmed Quark Systems, LTD

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      • #4
        I've never found there's a way to force chemistry. If people aren't on the same page musically it's not really something that can be "taught." It seems that some people think they can put a group of really versatile musicians together and chart out some stuff for them and they'll sound like a band. But 9 times out of 10, they won't.

        The best way to make a band sound like a band is to find people who are all on the same page in the first place, or close enough to it.
        What The...?
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        • #5
          I think you need, in some form or other, a musical director. Unofficial, quasi-, even rotating. I'm not sayng you need a Ricky Ricardo.

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          • #6
            My tip: find musicians that are better than they think they are and avoid musicians who are the opposite.

            Robert
            My friends have big houses and new cars. I own music equipment.

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            • #7
              Brian Eno gets disparate musicians together, paints a sort of picture in their mind ("Try and imagine these enormous robots doing this bizarre funky dance, and play music that they might dance to"), which seems to work quite well - then again, he's working with top-notch musicians, regardless of how "dissimilar" they might be in orientation from each other.

              I like to get people grooving, just playing music, creating things on the spot. They may change their playing some while listening, but they are still in their "comfort zone". This works quite well also, although you get a lot of two-chord jams or blues progressions, for obvious reasons. But not always. If you get two people who are laying down a groove, and someone else doing something ambient, or quite tribal or different, it leads a lot of people down a different path. They may be fairly simple jams, but they're also potentially very interesting and creative.

              Or if you have songs, or a sort of framework for the songs, you can play the song, but not be really tight with the reins, and let people ferret out what they should play. The main thing, of course, is to try and get everyone to interact organically, naturally playing together.

              And this probably goes without saying, but setting up the room so everyone can really hear each other well is very important.

              The most important thing, of course, is that everyone *listens* to each other and doesn't play a bunch of jack-off solos or play super busy and loud. If you have people who don't listen and play really busy and loud and solo all the time, there's not a whole lot you can do other than going over and unplugging their amp.
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              • #8
                I basically agree with Lee, its mostly a matter of having the right combination of players. Getting the right combination of players is mostly a matter of having a clear vision from the beginning and making sure that the members buy into it from the beginning. If you just bring your friends into the band it will be harder compared to recruiting via other means. When you audition, and during each members probationary period, watch for hidden agendas. Generally you don't want players whose goal is to change the band in some way.

                There is nothing wrong with a band of players from diverse backgrounds with somewhat different preferences, as long as they all respect each other and the premise of he band.
                "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."- George Orwell

                My music: http://www.oranjproductions.com

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                • #9
                  Many movie directors say that the bulk of their work is casting. If they get the casting right, everything else falls into place.
                  Dean Roddey
                  Chairman/CTO, Charmed Quark Systems, LTD

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                  • #10
                    Whoa...when I first saw this, I thought it said "Your secrets for making band clothes."
                    linwood

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                    • #12
                      Many movie directors say that the bulk of their work is casting. If they get the casting right, everything else falls into place.


                      Yes exactly. The players might be somewhat musically disparate from each other a la Eno, but Eno is still "casting" - there's no doubt he hand picks certain individuals that he has in mind whom he thinks would paint a particular picture together well.
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                      • #13
                        Doesn't Eno actually kind of glom onto bands who already have demonstrated chemistry? I mean, really. Talking Heads, U2, even James (yech)? When he puts his Monkees or Menudo together, and they rock, call me...

                        ...It's not hard to say, "I think Bernie Worrell and Adrian Belew would fit nicely with this band." Well, Duh...

                        Color me a wee bit unimpressed with Brian Eno, the producer. His early solo albums are pretty cool.

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                        • #14
                          But back to the question, casting aside, there are certainly ways to encourage and promote chemistry amongst the cats you are stuck with. I find a deck of cards with various, how shall I say, oblique strategies works great...

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                          • #15
                            --Do something exactly opposite the way you did it yesterday. This is how I got that great reverse guitar effect on "Castles Made of Sand."

                            --Go get a pizza. This is how I got that great pizza.

                            --Do the dishes. This is why my third album has that oft noted aqueous character and squeaky clean guitar tones.

                            --Have sex with the bass player. This only worked when I was in Talking Heads.

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