Random tips on playing in a band from an accidental band player who has learned most of his lessons the hard way:
Tip no. 65
If you want to learn to play an instrument, the best way to do that is by joining a band. Especially if youíre like me, an average guy, who doesnít have the natural talent nor the patience and the dedication to learn an instrument well. Just dive in and jam even if you know only four chords. When youíve got an instrument slung over your back and youíre in front of a live audience, youíll quickly discover that you actually have to sound good and that the rock and roll poses you practiced only half mattered. Necessity is one damn strong motivator.
Tip No. 129
Never wait until you are totally ready before joining a band. If you already have a band, never wait until you are totally ready to play gigs. What Iíve learned all these long years is that you never really are. Go ahead and just do it.
Tip No. 9
If you make a mistake on stage, donít show it. Donít smile or appear embarrassed. If your bandmate screws up his part, donít look at him disapprovingly. Donít react. Just try to recover and keep playing. The thing Iíve learned after years of playing is that most listeners wonít know at all from listening that youíve made a mistake. The average pair of ears donít know shit about syncopation, flats and sharps or muted notes. So donít cue them in on it. In many cases, half of them will be too drunk to notice anyway.
Tip No. 18
Before playing your first song, always tune your guitars using a tuner. Donít do it by ear. No pair of ears is better than a decent tuner.
Tip No. 68
If youíre the vocalist, donít eat salted peanuts before a show.
Tip No. 82
Never plagiarize. Youíll never get away with it.
Tip No. 77
If youíre a vocalist, you should know about King To Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa. If you donít already, ask about it from a Chinese drugstore. It could save your life one day. Or at least your next gig.
Tip No. 3
No matter what anyone says about ultimately, whatís important is your music; Iíll say this for the record: looks count. If you think you may be just a rock band playing your own stuff, you should learn that essentially, a gig is still a show, and when in show business, presentation is everything. So take some effort to look good. Even if the look you want to achieve is that of someone who doesnít care about his looks, youíve still got to put some effort to it. Some might want to show up wearing shirts that look vintage and undersized but you should take care that the shirt doesnít actually look shrunken and used. Itís a delicate balance. Learn it and master it.
Tip No. 1
Practice. Youíll never play a perfect set, believe me, but practice anyway.
Tip No. 92
Before a gig, especially a major one, learn to set positive instead of negative goals. Instead of declaring what you donít want to happen like I hope I donít mess up my lead or I hope I donít crack my high notes, set specific and realistic goals that you can actually do something about. Some examples would be: I want the audience to see that Iím loose and confident out there, or I should move around more and have fun on stage. Donít focus on the pitfalls you want to avoid. Think instead about the heights you want to scale. Instead of setting a floor you donít want to go under, set a ceiling you want to surpass. Negative goals make you worry. Positive goals make you want. With negative goals, you canít wait to get off stage. With positive goals on the other hand, you canít wait to get on.
Tip No. 99
Always unload before going up on stage. Take a quick backstage trip to the urinal a few minutes before call time. Youíll regret not having done so when you feel the need to pee halfway through a long set. The audience might not know the difference from your contorted face whether youíre deep into the emotions of the song or that youíre actually just struggling to hold your bladder, but you will!