No more excuses. Enough hiding in your bedroom, practising through headphones and bantering with an imaginary stadium crowd. Instead, make 2016 that you finally burst onto the music scene and forge your rock ‘n’ roll career in earnest. You’re going to need to join a band, and that usually starts with an audition. Here’s how you get one – and how to ace it when you do…
#10. Find a band
Old-school newspaper classifieds might have brought together classic lineups from Guns N’ Roses to The Pixies, but these days, the fastest way to fish for bandmates is online. Try a website like www.joinmyband.co.uk, where you can sift through scores of hopefuls looking for new recruits in your postcode.
#9. Do your homework
Before you approach a band, turn investigative reporter. Check out their SoundCloud, gauge their popularity on social media, visit forums to establish if they have a following or label interest. Phone the bandleader and feel out his influences and ambitions: this isn’t going to work if you’re out to conquer the black-metal scene and they want to play chart covers at local weddings.
#8. Be prepared
Any band worth joining should give you a demo of their material before the audition. Ask which parts you’ll be expected to play (lead or rhythm guitar, for instance), then practise round the clock until you’ve got them nailed. If you’re auditioning for the drum spot and own a Roland V-Drums kit, a great option is to jam with the material using the module’s MP3-playback feature.
#7. Don’t be late
If you’re late for the audition, the band will assume you’re a flakey egotist who will also leave them hanging at the gig. Get to the venue at least twenty minutes early, giving you time to unpack your gear, settle your nerves, get acquainted with the lineup and warm up your chops before go-time.
#6. Dress like a musician
You wouldn’t attend a job interview in ripped denim – and when you’re auditioning for a band, you shouldn’t turn up in a Halfords uniform, name badge or hairnet. The lineup wants to picture you alongside them onstage, so dress as though this is your debut gig, whether that means studded leather, Savile Row pinstripe or Slipknot-style boilersuit.
#5. Don’t overdo the gear
The band just want to hear how you tackle their material, not watch you channel your inner Matt Bellamy. If you’re auditioning for the guitar spot, just turn up with your axe, amp and key effects, rather than wheeling out a mile-long pedalboard (then realising you’ve left the batteries in the car).
#4. Tune up
So easily forgotten in the heat of the moment, but if the rest of the lineup are tuned down a half-step, the audition will be over as soon as you hit your first teeth-on-edge power chord. Likewise, set your volume levels before you start playing, so you’re not buried in the mix or trampling the vocalist.
#3. Bring personality to your parts
Auditioning is a tightrope. You’re not a robot and no bandleader should demand that you slavishly copy the outgoing musician’s parts note-for-note. On the flipside, be wary of twisting things up too much or you’ll be marked down as a pushy wildcard. A good compromise is to play the first verse and chorus exactly as per the demo, then deviate for the second verse.
#2. Keep playing (no matter what)
The odd bum note is inevitable under the circumstances, and nobody’s going to throw you into the street for missing a backing vocal. The only real cardinal sin is grinding to a halt, putting down your instrument and asking to go again “from the top”. That would get you bottled off at a gig – and it’ll cost you the audition.
#1. Don’t forget the chemistry
A successful band is much more than a musical endeavour. During the audition, weigh up the dynamic between you and the lineup: whether you could drink with them, write with them, travel through the night with their feet in your face. If you sense chemistry, go with your instincts. Likewise, if they niggle you now, you’ll literally be killing each other in a few months…