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Audition sage-like advice (really long)


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Due to the recent thread about finding people to play with and stuff, I thought this was highly applicable. Read and learn from Mr. Bryan Beller.

 

On Your MarkGet SetAudition!

Bass Player Magazine Feature Article

by Bryan Beller

Published March, 1997

 

So youre sitting at home, watching the latest rerun of American Bandstand and marveling at that ageless wonder, Dick Clark, when the phone rings. Its your best buddy, and hes given your name to the famous and highly respected musician Joe Flow (insert your idol of choice here). Mr. Flow just happens to be going on tour very soon, your pal tells you, and hell be needing a bassist. The next thing you know, youre talking to Joe Flows manager, and shes getting your address so she can send you a tape of Joe Flows Greatest Hits. But then, after shes done telling you which of Mr. Flows favorites to learn, she utters the following five words: Good luck at the ... audition. And all of a sudden you cant move your fingers (let alone your arms), and youre wondering if youre good enough even to hang out with Joe Flows second cousin, never mind embarrassing yourself by actually playing with him.

 

Okay, that may have been a little melodramatic, but you get the idea. Maybe the call you get wont be for Joe Flow, but instead for some local cover band that rakes in a thousand bucks a night. Or maybe for an original project just getting off the ground, with management and major-label interest. It could even be a huge, nationally known act. Each of these scenarios would likely lead to some sort of audition, and unfortunately, theres something about the concept of the word audition that turns many well-adjusted, mature musicians into quivering mounds of Spam. This terrible phenomenon must be stopped.

 

Ive been there. Ive won some auditions, and Ive lost some as well. But all the while, Ive been lucky enough to obtain a certain amount of knowledge and experience about the audition process, and I certainly dont mind sharing it with you. So, without further ado, here they are: Bryan Bellers Official Audition Tips and Tricks. (Insert sound of very faint, sparse clapping here.)

 

Be Prepared

 

It turns out those Boy Scouts were onto something after all. The preparation factor is the one thing over which you have control, and it will make you feel more confident than anything else. When I say be prepared, Im referring to the material on the audition tape--the stuff on Joe Flows Greatest Hits. Theres nothing like walking into an audition and thinking you probably know the material better than the artist himself (or herself). Heres how I get there:

 

If you already know the songs on the tape (maybe because you own all of your prospective employers albums), youre ahead of the game. But most likely you wont. Now, think about this for a second wouldnt it be easier if you were as familiar with the audition tunes as you were with your favorite Led Zeppelin or Metallica songs? Of course. Would you care to guess how many times youve listened to your favorite record? Over 200, maybe? The least you can do is listen to the whole audition tape five times before even trying to learn a note of it. I usually give it six or seven listens--time permitting, of course. (Three listens back-to-back will get you through quite nicely if you have only one day to learn a bunch of stuff.) Ive found that listening to music in the car helps me to focus, and it also helps me to resist picking up my bass before Ive completed the getting-to-know-you ritual of Becoming One With The Tape. I guarantee that if you listen to it a few times youll pick up the material much faster than if you start trying to learn it the second you get the tape.

 

Another part of being prepared is knowing the artist. Chances are, if you listen closely to a few of Joe Flows songs, youll hear patterns that repeat in his songwriting, melody, rhythm even bass lines. Get it? A good way to learn about the artist is to listen to some of his previously recorded work, which may not necessarily be included in the audition. Of course, this is relevant only if the artist in question actually has previously recorded work--but assuming thats true, learning one or two extra songs could only help your cause. It shows youre committed to his music, and it helps you to understand his mindset. Youll also learn about the person whom he thought was good enough to record for him in the first place.

 

Heres a case in point: When I was referred for an audition with Dweezil and Ahmet Zappas band, Z, I was sent a tape containing an entire albums worth of material. (The album was later released on the Barking Pumpkin label as Shampoohorn.) The person who sent it told me not all of the tracks would be part of the live set, and he hinted to me which tunes I might be able to skip over, one of them being the title track. I found it strange that the title track wouldnt be included in the set for a tour promoting an album of the same name, so I gave it a listen. Quickly I understood why: it was a five-and-a-half-minute instrumental quagmire, with lick after difficult lick and barely any repeating sections. But I figured, What the hell--I had two whole weeks, so I might as well just go ahead and learn it, as well as the rest of the album. And I did. The song Shampoohorn took me almost six hours to learn--but in the process, I was able to detect patterns Dweezil used in writing some of his more complex material, and these patterns enabled me to learn other tracks faster than I would have otherwise. More important, it helped me to get inside the head of Scott Thunes, Frank Zappas bass player during the 1980s and the only bassist Dweezil had ever recorded with. [Ed. Note: Thunes was featured in March 97.] In the process I began to understand why Scott held the gig for so long. (The reach and depth of his musical genius is far too huge a topic even to consider discussing here.)

 

The payoff came five days before the audition, when Dweezil informed me I would need to learn two more songs. The next day, I received the two-song tape and gave it a listen. To my intense horror, the song marked Purple Guitar on the label was a nine-minute instrumental nightmare, complete with seemingly impossible licks and a maze-like form, which I had to memorize in roughly 72 hours. So, after a short prayer and the requisite three back-to-back listens, I dove in. Then I noticed something: there were some striking similarities to Shampoohorn, in terms of both the structure and the bass line, and there were blessed moments when I actually could feel where the song was headed while I was learning it. Seven hours later I was dancing around my apartment in triumph, pumping my fist in the air like a big, happy, idiot jock. Thats how good being prepared can make you feel. Shampoohorn was never called during the audition, but Purple Guitar was--in fact, it was the centerpiece of the whole ordeal. I felt like a good little Boy Scout at that moment.

 

Just a few more words on being prepared: After you feel comfortable enough to play the songs all the way through, and the audition is only a few days away, start practicing as if its the real thing. How? First of all, dont always play the songs in the same order. Maybe the temperamental Mr. Flow will feel like starting with the last song on your tape. If youve fallen into the habit of using the first tune as your warm-up song, being called upon to play a more difficult song first (combined with the anxiety of playing the first song of the audition) might well lead to the gorgeous sound of your right hand hitting all four strings at once. This we cannot have--so treat every song as if it might be called first. After all, to quote a deodorant commercial, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

 

Now, when you get to the point where you know the material cold and its just a matter of execution, dont stop if you screw up. If you should happen to make a stupid little mistake during the audition, youre not going to be able to rewind the tape and play the section over again; you have to stay on the horse and keep riding. (More on the reaction to a mistake situation later.) Also, play the songs without long breaks in between--and, whatever order you choose, play all of the material back to back, as if someone were calling out tunes to you. If you arent satisfied with your performance at the audition, you wont be able to play a certain song over again--so youd better get used to that feeling. Finally, practice your last few run-throughs standing up. This is especially important for technically challenging gigs, since getting up and down the neck is easier when youre sitting than when youre standing. Remember, Joe Flow wants to see what it will be like to be onstage with you, and that means you cant just stand there and gaze wide-eyed at your neck the whole time--youll have to move around a little and get into it. Im not saying you need to jump around your room with your dick out (or the Courtney Love-style female equivalent). Its just that if youre playing Joes material standing up for the very first time at the audition, thats just another variable we can do without.

 

I think were ready to head over to the rehearsal studio now . . . .

 

Dont Be a Sound Nazi

 

Everyones had to endure the following hell: Your band is rehearsing, trying to get a set together, and theres this one guy who just cant quite get his sound. He wont stop screwing around with his EQ, or his pedals, or his drums, and hes making all of this horrifying noise in between songs. Now imagine youre Joe Flow, and the first thing he sees out of you is the ten minutes it takes for you to get your sound happening. Get the picture? All rooms sound different, and your bass sound will differ accordingly. If your rig is acting weird in a way only you would ever notice, ignore it and get on with the audition. There are a lot of things about bass sound that only bassists notice--so dont let that annoying 220Hz overtone destroy the momentum of the audition.

 

Of course, artists all have their own vision of what they want in a bass sound, and it may very well be different from what you think is the ultimate in low-end coolness. So Mr. Flow may want you to adjust your EQ, or roll off some low end (God forbid), or perhaps change your sound completely. If he says nothing, super--but if he asks for something different, I suggest you aim to please. Remember, youre hoping to be paid to work for him. (When you write your own stuff and get a touring budget, thats when you can force your every sonic whim onto your hired bandmates.) By this point you should have listened to the artists recordings and adjusted your sound to be at least in the same ballpark with them. It might not be wise to show up for a jazz-fusion audition with a beat-up P-Bass going through an SVT--nor would it be swift to try filling the open bass slot in Green Day by pounding out those neo-punk tunes on your fretless Warwick 5-string through a smooth-sounding Eden rig simply for the sake of retaining your sound. I think you know what I mean; be yourself, but tailor your sound for the situation at hand. Bring more than one bass if you need to. More of your signature sound comes straight from your hands than you realize, and a professional artist will be able to hear your sound and style no matter what gear youre using.

 

Thats a good thing to remember if Joe Flow tells you, Dont worry about bringing your gear--weve got the killer [name of your least-favorite amplifier company here] rig all set up and ready to go. Of course, what he means is he doesnt want to have to wait for each candidate to set up and take down his own rig. At this point, you just have to pray you can at least hear yourself; consider anything else a bonus.

 

Trust Your Ability

 

Youve been a good Boy Scout. Youve listened to the songs over and over again. Youve practiced them in different sequences, and even standing up. But Joe Flow doesnt want to start with the first song on the tape, or even any song on the tape instead, he just wants to jam for a bit. Whoa! You werent expecting this, and now your whole equilibrium is officially off-kilter. Youre silently berating Mr. Flow in your head: How is this possible? Was it not enough that I broke up with my girlfriend and lost my job so I could spend all day and night learning these songs for you? Now you want to start with a jam? Why have you done this to me?

 

Ill tell you why: Because he wants to see how you think on your feet. He wants to hear how well you listen to him, and how well you can lock in with the drummer. He wants to hear you improvise. Most important, he wants to hear you and your musical voice--not just some guy simply going through the motions of muscle memory. Sure, hell get around to calling those tunes you sweated night and day over, and hell be impressed when he sees you know them better than he does--but first he wants to jam. This is when you have to trust yourself and be yourself. Theres a reason youre at this audition: its because someone referred you, and it wouldnt have happened if your friend didnt think you could cut the gig. I dont mean to make this sound like a pep talk, but at these moments, its very important to feel comfortable with simply playing what you feel. You dont need to be overly impressive, or something youre not just to fit what you might think is the bill just trust your ability. Play your favorite grooves, your favorite licks, and get comfortable. Thats exactly what Joe Flows trying to do, too: to get comfortable with you.

 

Youre probably craving a real-life example after all of that touchy-feely crap. Well, I recently auditioned for guitarist Steve Vai, and the tape he sent was a bitch. Really tough stuff--the kind of music so challenging that, by the third listen, I was thinking about going to medical school just to save myself the embarrassment of screwing up in front of Steve Vai. But, many tough hours and hard calluses later, I had the stuff down cold. Id practiced the audition set so many times it was as if a CD player were stuck on repeat in my brain, and the only way to stop the damn thing was finally to play the songs at the audition. And when he said he first wanted to jam, it took everything I had to calm down enough just to lay down a groove while he started to get comfortable with me. But before you knew it, the drummer and I (with whom Id never played before) were locking in, grooving, making eye contact, and Steve was tearing the room in half. All of the nervous tension flew right out of my fingers as I leaned into the groove and trusted myself to play at the level I felt I was capable of. And that helped me to loosen up for the prepared material. Most important, I got to be myself. We eventually did play the tough stuff from the tape--but some of the best musical moments of the entire audition occurred during that first jam.

 

I realize this isnt always easy. If its your first audition, you could be nervous, so you might tend to play it safe. Thats okay; in an unfamiliar musical setting, its better to be a bit conservative but solid than spectacular and dropping beats all over the place. But if you can get yourself to trust your instincts and abilities, the artist will notice, and thats the biggest plus you can possibly have. Lots of musicians can be perfectly prepared (all the more reason for you to be just as prepared as they are), but no one else can have your musical voice. And your voice cant shine through unless you can trust your ability.

 

Ears

 

You dont need to be some perfect-pitch freak to win points with your ears. You just need to be able to listen. Almost always, certain sections of the songs you spent hours learning will be changed for the live arrangement, and the artist will usually say something like this: You know that solo during the fade-out? Well, well bring the dynamics way down at the beginning, well extend it, and then well end it like this . . . . Extended solos and/or outros are a gift; they give you the opportunity to stretch out and react musically with the band over a groove you already know well. More important, you can use them to show the artist you can adapt, simply by listening. When you arrive at the new live arrangement section of the song, it wont help your cause to have your eyes fixed firmly upon the neck of your bass. Feel the new section coming, look up, make eye contact, and let him know you can hear what the new section means--whether its a change in dynamics, an extended solo, a new ending, or whatever. In this case, using your ears doesnt necessarily mean being able to pick up difficult licks faster than a speeding bullet. Instead, you can use them to demonstrate your ability to hear a song as a living, breathing musical entity, and to adapt to changes within that song without killing its vibe. (Did I just use the word vibe? Somebody please shoot me.)

 

Were not done with those Dumbo-sized appendages of yours yet. The artist might ask, Can you change the feel of this section--like, make it more melodic, but not too busy? Ugh. This is where the guesswork begins. Most likely, the first thing you come up with will earn you this sort of response: Well, thats kind of it, but ... not really. How about trying fewer notes, but with a stronger sense of rhythm? Being able to decipher what an artist is looking for--even when he cant totally articulate it himself--is the mark of a true pro. Who cares if Mr. Flow doesnt like the first four musical options you present? Listen to the song, use your ears, be yourself, keep trying--and when you least expect it, youll hear, Thats it! Play it just like that! It might be the line you like the least, but who cares? Youve just used your ears to satisfy the artist, and you want him to pay you. Remember, its his music, so play that weird-sounding melodic-yet-not-too-busy bass line and smile wide.

 

A few months ago I began playing with a singer/songwriter named Janet Robin, whose material is what you might call eclectic pop. The song structures on the tape were very simple, as were the bass lines; it was all about hearing the song. When I got together with her the first time, we didnt even make it through the first tune before she asked, Can you play a little less? I didnt think I was overplaying, but I smiled and attempted to be obedient. It still wasnt enough. Less, she said. Against my instincts, and maybe just to prove a point, the next time I played nothing but quarter-note and half-note roots. And you know what? The song came to life. She knew what she wanted--it was just a matter of using my ears to hear the message and translate it onto the fretboard without letting my ego get in the way. Which reminds me, we need to talk about . . .

 

Attitude

 

A good attitude isnt just about having a pleasant personality (although I wouldnt exactly recommend calling Joe Flow an ignorant prick to his face). Its about conveying a sense of confidence, and acting as if you actually belong on the same stage with Joe--even if you really think you deserve nothing better than to be the house bassist at Bobs Chicken Ranch. If you think that way, youll play that way, and Mr. Flow will know. One of the least-discussed parts of the audition process is this: During much of the time you assume Joe is hanging on your every brilliantly played note, he may instead be thinking, How will I feel being onstage with this guy? Will he crack when the lights go down? Does he look confident? Do we look right together? If youre just standing there, with cement blocks for feet, your neck all tensed up and your head looking like it might explode Scanners-style at any moment, chances are you wont look right standing next to anybody except for the owner of Bobs Chicken Ranch.

 

One time you cannot allow yourself to go into Chicken Ranch mode is just after youve made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes; only computers can play music flawlessly, and until they can manage to groove, the demand for human bassists will never cease--mistakes and all. You will make at least one mistake during your audition, and the artist will probably notice. You will want to scream, I SUCK! and crack your bass in half over your knee. But you wont, because that would reveal a bad attitude. The best thing to do if you make a mistake is nothing. Just keep on going as if it never happened. That way, if the artist didnt notice, then guess what? It never did happen. But if you spend all of the time in between songs talking about that mistake you made, and how you never made that mistake before, and youre such an idiot because you played it perfectly in your room a million times, what conclusion do you think Mr. Flow will draw about your ability to handle pressure? Thats right--back to the Chicken Ranch you go.

 

Lets get back to the Vai audition. I was halfway through the set and I was feeling confident, having already played some of the harder material and a couple of improvised jams, when Steve announced he wanted to solo over a groove in 13/16. Playing in 13 isnt one of my strong suits, but I strapped on my ears, opened them as wide as I could, pointed them in the direction of the drummer, and off we went. Almost immediately, the drummer started messing around with the beat, turning it around every which way you can (I quickly learned there are a million different ways to phrase a bar of 13), and I knew I was in for it. For two whole minutes, I pretended to know where the one was, making the Im grooving face, trying not to go Chicken Ranch on myself. Okay, I wasnt totally lost, but I did lose the one more than once and wasnt very musical overall. But after it was over, all I did was look at Steve and shrug, with a smirk on my face that read, Yeah, that didnt go too well ... next? I certainly wasnt thrilled with myself, but I wasnt about to let a little thing like that destroy the whole atmosphere of the audition. Thats what I mean by attitude. Sometime or another, somewhere on tour, a mistake will happen onstage--and the artist wants to make sure youll still have a pulse afterwards.

 

Sometimes youre being auditioned when you dont even know it. Huh? Maybe youve gotten this type of call before: Hi, we got your name from (so-and-so), and we really need a bassist for a gig this weekend. Our regular guy cant make it its really cool material can you do it? These people dont have time to audition you formally. Theyre willing to trust the person who referred you and start rehearsing with you right away. But that doesnt mean they wont be checking you out, seeing if they feel comfortable with you, wondering if you might be able to fill in again, or maybe even become their permanent bassist. In this case, the first couple of rehearsals and the first gig are all one big audition, and theres no reason you cant approach it the very same way. Be prepared. Trust your ability. Maybe--just maybe--their regular bassist will end up going on the road with the New Kids On The Block, and youll dazzle them and become their regular bassist, and at one of their gigs some big-shot producer will see you and just have to use you on an album hes doing for Mariah Carey. Stranger things have happened in this business. If you only knew how I met the guy who got me my first gig in L.A. . . . .

 

I wouldnt dare sully the pages of this respectable magazine with that story--but I will tell you this: I was subbing in Mike Keneallys band for several gigs before I knew he was auditioning me. Talk about being prepared--Id already learned his entire live set before he even asked me to play with him. But Id learned the songs only off the record; when he finally asked me to play a gig with him, and we had our one and only rehearsal, I felt like a little baby deer in the headlights of a Mack truck. Straight back to the Chicken Ranch! All of the live arrangements were totally different. There were huge sections of the show that were completely improvised, right down to the key and the time signature. I went into safe mode, playing conservatively and trying mostly not to trip up. My attitude sucked. My musical voice was totally suffocated. It wasnt until the third time I filled in that I finally opened up my ears, soaked in what was going on around me, leapt into the breach, and trusted the ability of my voice to be heard--no matter how weird it might sound in the context of Keneallys experimental music. A couple of days after that gig, Mike took me aside and mentioned he was interested in making me his full-time bass player. Only then did I realize hed been auditioning me the entire time.

 

So if youre prepared, youre not a sound nazi, you use your ears, and you have the right attitude, then you can trust your ability and theres nothing you cant do, right? Well, not always. Up until now, weve talked about the things you have control over. Unfortunately, you cant control every variable of an audition. There are these annoying little things called intangibles--and they can have a significant impact, either for you or against you. What are intangibles? The first one Ill mention is the most important: politics. You know how the old saying goes: its not what you know, its who you bl er, I mean, who you know. If youre just as good as another bassist who just happens to be best friends with the guitar player, well, you know what might happen. Maybe youre best friends with the drummer whos already got the gig; it can work both ways. Another hateful intangible is image. Its entirely possible for you either to gain or to lose a gig simply because somebodys twerp-like manager decided long ago the bassist for his beloved star-to-be will just have to have pink, spiked hair, or a kilt around his or her waist, or big pectoral muscles. Or, maybe Joe Flow has heard your musical voice loud and clear, and hes decided that although youre perfectly capable of cutting the gig, your particular musical personality is not what he had in mind for his music.

 

You can control absolutely none of these factors, so dont even think about them until after the audition is over. All you can do is prepare as thoroughly as possible, make it clear to Mr. Flow that youre up to the job by playing your ass off at the audition, and leave the decision in his hands. Even if a meager, nit-picking intangible is what keeps you from getting a particular gig, youve still shown Joe you can flat-out play, and that youre a pro whos ready for work. From then on, hell have your name--and when someone calls him looking for a bassist, maybe hell refer you to his buddy, Jimmy Flew, at which point the whole process starts all over again. And if an intangible contributes to you actually getting a gig, more power to you. Either way, intangibles dont matter if you arent prepared for the job in the first place.

 

The Big Phone Call

 

Nothing can compare to the exhilarating feeling of receiving that magic phone call--the one where you find out your musical voice has been heard and embraced by your new employer. Conversely, few things suck harder than that other kind of phone call.

 

I hope some of the things that have helped me in the past will help you in that most difficult of endeavors: a career in music. Thats assuming you truly want to make a living by going on tour, and you look forward to the prospect of being holed up in some hotel room in God knows where, where the only thing the 1950s-era Zenith TV can receive is a rerun of American Bandstand. I personally wouldnt trade it for anything in the world. It sure beats the hell out of Bobs Chicken Ranch.

 

So until next time: so long, be well, and good luck at the audition.

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Wow Bump, that was a long but worthwhile read. Pro, for hire musicians seem to have a lot to live up to. I'd never be good (or confident) enough to even think about that sort of work. Plus, I prefer being there from the start and having a say in what's going on. Great read tho'!!

 

CupMcMali...this monkey's gone to heaven :freak:

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Man... my last audition was very similar to this (and I'm hardly a 'pro'), even though it wasn't exactly and audition as much as it was me getting referred by Beller and then having to live up to that referral... I was nervous, but I did 90% of what Beller talks about in this article without having even read it before hand.

 

I think ultimately, an audition comes down to being confident in yourself and your playing; no matter how far above your head you've gotten yourself into. :)

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This article was my bible when I started scrounging for gigs in NYC...words of wisdom to live by...especially if you read his memoir of auditioning for Z as a companion piece!

 

Can you imagine...Keneally being quietly hostile towards you the whole time while watching your every finger movement like a hawk? I'd have a heart attack...especially if you've heard "Purple Guitar!"

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Originally posted by BenLoy:

This article was my bible when I started scrounging for gigs in NYC...words of wisdom to live by...especially if you read his memoir of auditioning for Z as a companion piece!

 

Can you imagine...Keneally being quietly hostile towards you the whole time while watching your every finger movement like a hawk? I'd have a heart attack...especially if you've heard "Purple Guitar!"

I'm quite confident that I would have spontaneously combusted. "No 'Purple Guitar' for me thanks, I'm driving" :D
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Auditions are funny.

 

My band has auditioned a bunch of bassists... remember, we've replaced five of them in 8 years, so we've seen at least 30 in this process.

 

The guys who got the gig with us have all had something going for them:

1. Bassist #1 simply could NOT play out of time or unfunkily. He was a regular fire hydrant of bass stability. Unfortunately, he was also sort of abusive to our singer and a semi-nutcase. He left town and joined a bizarre religious sect. No shit. We got over him.

 

2. Bassist #2 was not such a great player in most respects, but he had heart and was a totally loveable guy. He eventually got WAYY into drinking and cocaine. We had to ditch him. We were sad. We got over him.

 

3. Bassist #3 was a guy who roadied for us and learned our songs by watching #2 on the road. He was not a seriously great player, but he worked hard to get the parts right, and once he had them, he never forgot. He was an incredibly sweet guy with a great heart. Everyone -- from club owners to random audience members -- loved him. He eventually had to quit playing in order to go back to school. We still talk and hang out sometimes. We love this kid. It was hard to get over him. I still kinda miss having him around all the time.

 

4. Bassist #4 was by far the most accomplished overall musician we ever had playing bass. He had perfect time, wrote great hooks, sang back-ups and could perform his ass off. He's really flaky and (unbeknownst to us) kind of a pervert. He quit playing with us because he wanted to join a band with major label dreams. He's on my shit list now. (Tom knows why.) I miss his playing and musical input, but I don't miss his flaky attitude and sorry ass. We got over him.

 

5. Bassist #5 (Marky) is our man now... He says he's "the fifth and final bassist" for the band. I would agree. Aside from #3, he's my fave. Why? He's not the most amazing player, but he's damn good. He took the time to learn the music from the CD I gave him and made a "cheat sheet" for his audition. He's experienced, and he WANTED the gig badly, but (more importantly) he's a good person. He's level-headed, smart and a true friend.

 

What of the others we auditioned? Well... we looked at a bunch of people. Some wanted to take our music in a progressive direction. No fucking way was that gonna happen. Some just wanted to lay back and play root notes. While that's fine in some bands, we wanted a player who would get in the mix and make shit happen. Some wanted to make the band into some kinda throwback. While we like older music, we don't want to be a '70s revival band. Some were total beginners who just couldn't hack the material. And some people were a mish mosh of all of the above. Auditioning people is hellish.

 

Ultimately, #5 got the gig because he's a good man and similar-minded enough to be willing to make himself fit the band without compromising his own tastes or musical directions. Not to mention he plays like a man possessed and makes us laugh until our balls ache.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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damn good article! Thanks for posting it!

 

I can sure relate to each and every point made in it, including the more painful ones where you wait for the call, hoping you're performance was what they were looking for, and still you don't get the job........and the nerves and the desire to "crack the bass over my knee" when I've goofed.

 

Probably the biggest enemy I have is myself, because I constantly shoot myself down and am overly critical.

 

What I've found most interesting about auditioning and performing is the need, effort and demand put upon one to dissolve one's own musician's arrogance.....

 

You know...it's like you have spent X number of years working on your playing, know who and what you want to play your music about, and dislike anyone or anything that threatens to barge in and force you to play some "idiotic pop crap" you think is "beneath you". This, I found, applies to me directly, much to my embarassment, and I suspect it applies to so many others as well.

 

But when you HAVE to learn these songs for covers, when the job depends on it, then you have to take yourself apart and fix yourself before you can even conceive of handling songs you're prejudiced against.

 

To take yourself apart means to look within yourself, to look at how you relate to others and how you may or may not respect other people's musical tastes and preferences.

 

And when you start to acknowledge you have to do that, you realize you're not only doing that for the musical tastes of the audience but for alot of other aspects of what it takes to relate to people other than those who only like the same stuff you like, and what you're offering to others as a musical servant.

 

It's a very humbling experience, very educational and eventually you realize the reason why you love to play music; it's to reach out and touch others, to share with them the love you feel for music, and you begin to open yourself, begin to really listening to what the band members and the audience needs, and they soon begin to listen to you as well once they realize that you really give a damn about them and it's not just an ego trip you're taking.

 

In other words, you're discovering that you're playing music because you really are in love it, not merely for the $$ or like some robot or something......certainly not for the damned pop or rock culture of it, not for some popularity contest, but because it's who you are, and you can relate directly to it.

 

Marshall McLuhan once said (I paraphrase it here) "Where the whole person is involved, there is no work". That's what playing music is like, because it draws from your every pore, your every cell, and no part of you feels left out, ignored or neglected.

 

I met a famous First Nations musical artist last month when she played my home town....Susan Aglukark.

 

And as an artist and a performer she related to me how it's been about falling in love with not only music but in reaching out to others, in making that connection. Like any love, there is plenty of pain involved, but the pain is worth it if your heart is in the right place.

 

That's the beauty of humanity and playing for others, and I'm constantly having to rediscover it.

 

Great article! Anything that makes me think and look hard at why I do this has gotta be good!!

 

Thanks again!

Beware the lollipop of mediocrity; one lick and you suck forever.
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