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What do you look for in an audition?


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A friend of mine recently told me that he auditioned for a pretty busy full time cover band, and that they had just phoned and offered him the job. He told me that as happy as he was they liked his playing, there was just some weird vibe(nothing musical or playing wise) that ran throughout the session he really could'nt put his finger on, which is making him think twice about taking the work as it is a major commitment.


His comments got me thinking has anyone else experienced this? Taken the gig only to find out that your first instincts were right?


This message has been edited by mrthirsty on 07-23-2001 at 04:29 PM

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Well... yeah that has happened. Although it's also happened that you can take the gig and everything's perfectly all right. Auditions are tough on all parties. Maybe your friend's audition followed a bunch of guys who totally sucked and they were getting weary and jaded about it. I know when I'm holding auditions, I have a hard time striking the right balance between being friendly to everybody, and trying to be professional so that I don't inspire any possible false hopes. I mean what if you really like somebody and you act all excited and he thinks maybe he's got the gig, and then the next guy turns out to be even better? So it's best not to be too palzy-walzy. But some people have a tough time "holding back" their feelings and they come off weird.


Then again, they might just be weird. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif Just because your friend takes the gig doesn't mean he's stuck with it if he ends up thinking it sucks. He should probably just accept the gig and see how it goes, and make up his mind later. It's impossible to tell from an audition, for either side, how well you can really work together on a long term basis.



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The difference between an audition and a gig is night and day, sometimes. Don't let your friend carry this feeling with him into the rest of the relationship or he might be making a self-fulfilling prophesy. We auditioned for a new lead-guitar player after being burned by one that was pretty tough on us emotionally. It would not surprise me if that mind-set filtered down to the audition in some way. They guy we asked to play out front took the gig, but it wouldn't surprise me if the audition is the topic of conversation while we set up sometime...
I can't complain, but sometimes I still do... --Joe Walsh
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Well put Lee! I also told my friend that sometimes through casual conversation with the members you are auditioning for you can find out what players have spent time in that project in the past(who knows you might know them, it's happened to me) and get their take on things.


I also had a weird audition once, the old drummer showed up to collect his gear at the rehearsal space not knowing that was the night his band was trying out drummers, there was a no mistaking a weird vibe there.... http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/eek.gif

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I suppose to some extent it also depends what you're wanting / expecting when you get to the audition.


Some guys NEED the audition. NEED the job, for financial reasons, pay the bills, etc. I always think that makes it tough, as sometimes you become so concerned about getting it that it's hard to relax, hence easier for a mistake to happen. But hey, if landing the job means paying the rent or mortgage, it's hard NOT to think about that. And maybe try too hard.


For me, attitude and philosphies, and that 'spark' (whatever THAT means) is everything. If we don't click in those areas, and in personality, there's no point in even troubling ourselves in getting together to play an audition. Having gone through this scenario just a short while back, I can empathize with your friend. However, I had spent several hours on the phone with the lead guitarist prior to my ever setting up equipment with the band. To satisfy myself that we were on the same page, as I don't want to jump from band to band to band at this point. I wanted to find some guys with the same goals and objectives that I have. I also asked enough questions and was honest enough with them to know that my style fit the criteria they were looking for. And we seemed to think quite a bit alike. Even more so now that we've been together for a while.


My philosophy when I arrived was that I'm going to audition them just the same as they're auditioning me. So I was a bit more relaxed about it. I didn't have to worry about landing the position, or what they were going to think of me or my style, as we'd already been over that. It really, for me anyway, took a LOT of pressure off. But again, I wasn't trying to land the position to pay rent. I was looking for some specific goals and direction for myself and the band I joined.


This approached worked well for me, and almost from the first warm up song we played, we began working on stuff for the band. The audition was really more just to confirm what we'd talked about on the phone. You know, can they play, or are they just talkers? Can *I* play, or am I just a braggart? That kind of thing. Because it does happen, and anybody who's been around bands and the local scene for any length of time has most likely had it happen to them. But it went as well as planned. Not a real tight sound, of course. 'Cause I hadn't heard any of their original material before. But for the most part, you can feel if you're meshing, IMHO anyway.


Perhaps someone else would benefit from it as well. Talk it over first, in person, by phone or whatever, and find out if there's any 'spark' there at all. If you seem to mesh in any form. Otherwise, why bother dragging equipment all over the countryside?


Just my thoughts.



If you always do what you've always done, you'll always have what you've always had.
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There are auditions for sessions and there are auditions for bands. Since you're talking about a band.....


I tend to treat band auditions like first dates. You go, you're friendly, you chat a bit and show you have a sense of humor and you're a good guy (or girl) to be around. Playing is the easy part... you do your thing and they'll dig it or not. But you also need to stop thinking of yourself as being under the microscope. While playing, be aware of what they are doing as much as what you are doing. What people tend to forget during auditions is that you need to audition them as much as they are auditioning you.


Afterward, feel the vibe. I usually know as I head out the door whether I got the gig or not, and also, whether or not I want it.


If I get a call and they say they want me, I say, "okay, cool... I dig what you guys have going on. Let's get together and practice and see how it comes together. After the first gig we can see if this is something we both want to continue with." This approach can be touchy. If your convinced you want the gig, you can say yes. But if you're uncertain, this is a great approach. In most cases they'll appreciate the honesty, and they'll feel your confidence (and if they've called you, they want you). As far as them backing out, it's usually not going to happen.


So back to the 'first date' metaphors: I see the audition as a first date, I see rehearsals as subsequent dates, I see the first gig together as first time having sex (you can tell a *lot* from the first gig). By then I know if this is something I want to put my energy toward. Patience and restraining your excitement are key.


Also, ask others who know about the band what they think, if they know of any weird personality red flags. Most of my auditions come from word of mouth so I usually know what I'm getting into beforehand and so do they.


btw, getting signed is getting married... for better and for worse. http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/smile.gif

Just for the record.
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I've turned down bands that I've auditioned with strictly over the "bad vibe" and/or members dissing me at the audition. When the call to offer me the gig, I stay professional and politely tell them that "I'm no longer interested; thank you." I don't have time to deal with serious head trips or egos anymore. I didn't use to do this, but after many life experiences, I slowly began to learn how to deal with this stuff.


Sometimes you don't see the problem until you are already in the band. I've been in two situations with national acts where I was unable to resolve the problems I was having with the band. I would work on it from my end, but when it was clear that the people who were causing the discourse had no intention of changing or even trying to work on things ... I immediately started looking for another band. As soon as I scored another gig, I gave my one month notice.


Life is too short to put up with problems if people are unwilling to work things through. I was on tour (long story) and the guitar player and I quit on the road ... it got THAT BAD. Maybe I'll share the story sometime; it's a doosie.


Please notice that I said that I split "only after our differences were unreconcilable." I don't run from problems, but there must come a point where you are willing to throw in the towel if you don't feel things are moving forward.


If you ever find the "perfect" band (one without problems) ... don't join. As soon as you become a member ... you'll make it imperfect. LOL


Being in a successful band / group is 80% relationship and getting along; and 20% music. At least that's been my experience.





Bart Elliott


Drummer Cafe - community drum & percussion forum
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Hey, Bart:

I totally agree!

Usually I first have a phone meeting. Then I have a face to face meeting. If I like the personality and vibe, then we may play together to see if the chemistry is right.


If you cannot get along with the people, then the greatest of players will suck in front of a crowd. It is kind of like knowing when two folks in a relationship should not be together! http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/biggrin.gif You just know!


If they are more interested in drinking, swearing, or there is any evidence of drugs, the audition is over ... or will not even happen.

I have more important things to do than put up with folks that have egos ... or worse ... chemically enhanced egos!!



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Hey Bart! I had a similar experience as yours, guitar player and I left a band right in the middle of a cruise ship contract, it was one of the most frustrating situations I've ever had to deal with!


Thanks to everyone for their insight, just goes to show what a great and intelligent board this is! http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/cool.gif

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