Dear Dr K,
I want to form a band and get on stage and play loud music and have lots of screaming fans. The problem is that I don’t really sing or play any instruments, and I don’t know where to get started. Do you know how I can start rocking out?
A lot of young people like you are intent on discovering their musical talent, or lack thereof. Not everyone can make it big, not everyone can draw a crowd. The truly talented musicians are few and far between, and quite often these are the people who aren’t making it big or drawing crowds. Therefore it is important to realise that if you want to make it big as a ‘western music’ band, as they are called, it is not particularly important that you have musical talent; in fact, you are probably better off without it.
So there’s no need to worry if you don’t sing or play an instrument. If you follow these two simple tips, you’ll be on your way to forming the band of your dreams.
Look confident: The next time you go to watch amateur bands perform on stage (at a competition or festival of some sort), try and observe the groups whose performances fall flat. More often than not, you will see that these bands are the ones who look nervous on stage, who get jumpy or sheepish when they make mistakes (and they will make a lot), and who don’t really look like they know what they’re doing. It doesn’t really matter how they sound, you can tell how good they are by how comfortable they look on stage. The lesson to learn from this is the following — even if your untrained, untalented motley crew doesn’t know what it’s doing, don’t let anyone notice it. The first step is to grow out your hair, wear colour-coordinated (black) outfits, buy (preferably expensive and crazy-looking) instruments and equipment, look menacing in general, headbang a lot and make the m/ sign with your fingers every now and then.
Sound unintelligible: Now that you’ve taken care of how you look, it’s time to think about how you sound. The best tools to mask your lack of musical talent are volume and distortion. Just like it’s important to look confident, even if you are the ugliest people on the planet, it’s important to sound confident — and you can convey confidence by blasting your sound at them, even if it’s the most godawful noise in hell. Your audience will only run away if you play soft noise.
All these tricks work best if you choose to form a metal band, specifically a death metal band, where all the instruments drown themselves out in a wall of distortion, and the vocalist needs only to growl or screech. There is no need for singing at all.
No one will notice if your instruments are out of tune (who can hear the notes anyway?) and no one will wonder what your lyrics mean because all they can hear is ‘GGRRRUOOOHHAAA’.
If any of you have trouble staying in time, don’t worry about it, the audience will think it’s a ‘complex time signature’. The end result will possibly sound like a herd of wild animals getting crushed under a train. You will find hordes of angry young headbangers throng your stage to vent their frustration at having grown up in privileged, very well-adjusted families.
I look forward to seeing your band perform soon! I’ll be plugging my ears, though.