No Pictures Please, We’re Just Hanging Out

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Being on stage in a band is one of the coolest things. There are the fans, the lights, the cameras and all the other things that go along with being in a band (like the clothes, the funny stuff that happens back stage, being in a magazine, etc.). There’s no doubt that it can be glamorous at times and a lot fun but one of the most important things is the band itself and that means getting along with your band mates.

It’s really exciting and ultra-cool when you first start talking with some friends about playing in a band together but after the honeymoon is over and you start to really get it going, you realize there’s a lot of stuff going on about how you feel about things and other people. Like, for example, you’re singing and playing guitar and the bass player just isn’t doing what you want her/him to. They’re always late, aren’t ready for anything and always have excuses for why they can’t do something like properly learn a song, won’t post on Facebook to help promote or there’s always a reason why they can’t play a show (like, umm…I think I have a date that night). You want to scream, “What is your problem?”

OK, freeze! Before you blow up and everyone ends up hating each other, just take a second and breathe. You’re playing in a band to have fun and to try to become something special. When you go see a band you like, you want them to be everything you believe them to be or are like what you want to become (ex. world famous). So back to you when you’re at your point of “blowing up,” it’s OK to stop rehearsal to ask that person sincerely what is going on with them or if they’re having a problem (“Hey, are you all right?”). If everything is fine it’s also OK to nicely tell them what you want them to do. You may find out that they’re having a really bad day because they got an F on a test, lost a job or their favorite great aunt died. You may also find out they’re legitimately having trouble with a song because they can’t clearly hear what should be played and it’s not obvious. Lastly, they might have honestly not known what you wanted them to do.

When things get really sticky, it’s a good idea to take a quick break, like five minutes or something, and then get back to it. Whether you’re the band leader or not, you’re in this together and, as much as you feel that you don’t need “so and so,” one important lesson you learn from experience is that you can’t do it all yourself. You actually do need other people to help you and therefore you have to get along well enough to work together.

It helps a lot to just know a little bit about different personality types because you deal with each differently. From “Alpha” types to those with a more nurturing nature, you come to learn that some people work best under pressure or under deadlines while others are slow to learn but then really know their stuff once they do.

In addition, you should want to hang out with your band mates sometimes because spending a lot of time with people you don’t like is a real drag. Go out for coffee or to see another band and just hang out, you’ll get to know each other a lot better (“I didn’t know you liked Thai food, I do too.”). I’m not talking about being together all the time because time away is good too but one of the best things is to learn how to work through issues when they come up because they will.

After a blow up, is it better to talk through it right then and there while the issue is fresh or to let a little time pass so everyone can cool off? Finally, saying “I’m sorry, I was wrong” goes a looooong way and can make a band friendship much stronger and long lasting.

So when a fan comes up wanting to take a picture while you’re having some quality band time, you can say, “No pictures please, we’re just hanging out.”

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Steve McKinley is the bass player for Joel Kosche (of Collective Soul) in his solo band and for the Led Zeppelin tribute Led Zeppelified. He’s been part of the Atlanta music scene for years playing in bands (i.e. Julius Pleaser, Sid Vicious Experience, Pretty Vacant et al) and has recorded and toured throughout the Southeast. His songs have been played on the radio, he has appeared on television and is an ASCAP member. With his electronics skills and experience, he runs Atlanta Tube Amp and Steve McKinley Electronics and is an Instructor on JamPlay.com. He roots for Atlanta United, works on cars and drinks his coffee strong, hot and black. He can be found on his sites, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin. www.atlantatubeamp www.tubescreamermods.com

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