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How to Be the Band Nobody Wants to Play with — Ever Again (in 10 Easy Steps)

My band, the Gnarly Shredderz, is one of the greatest bands of all time. We’re so awesome, in fact, that bands on the same bill as us never ask my group to play another show with them because they know they just can’t keep up. We just end up embarrassing them with our insanely interesting songs and wild, passionate stage presence.

If you want to get to our level — which might honestly be impossible — here are 10 steps that will transform you into the band nobody wants to play with ever again.

1. Never Do Your Own Promotion

Most promoters who book the Gnarly Shredderz want us to spend weeks advertising the show online, inviting people, and doing all sorts of other lame BS. Why should musicians have to promote? I’m not a promoter. I’m the lead singer and lead guitarist of the sickest band in America right now, bro! If the venue can’t figure out a way to get people in the door, that’s on them! Musicians are musicians, and that’s all you need to succeed.

Venues and bookers will ask us not to play shows in the area for a few weeks before the show, and we say we won’t. But here’s a little secret: we always do. They say it’s important to make sure to get the best crowd. They’re just looking after themselves; they can’t tell us what to do.

Who cares if the other bands asked you to do the same? You have to get your music out there. Your band is way more important than any one gig, so you don’t really need to keep your word when bands ask you to block out a date. The real music fans out there, and the truly cool venues in gentrifying areas, don’t care about how many people you draw — it’s all about the music.

Besides, caring about draw makes you a sellout.

2. Don’t Coordinate Marketing Efforts with Other Bands

I don’t want to have to reach out to the other bands either. What could I possibly talk to them about? Sure, we could share each other’s music over our respective social media accounts so the fans will be excited about the whole bill, and coordinating posts can be helpful, but that’s nerd stuff. My social followers only care about me, not someone else.

I’m an artist anyway. I’m just above all that.

+ Read more on Flypaper: “4 Easy Things You Should Be Doing at Every Live Show”

3. Load In Last Minute

Most venues will have a load-in time — a time when the lesser bands drop off their gear backstage and do their soundcheck. If your band is half as amazing as mine, the other bands probably aren’t going to mind if you load in after the show starts. They know they’re only there to warm up the crowd. We’re the main attraction.

When the Gnarly Shredderz set up, we take our sweet time. We have a very specific sound, and it takes time to dial it in. We don’t really think about the audience or the other bands when we’re doing this. When we’re onstage, it’s our stage.

4. Skip Soundcheck

The problem with soundcheck is that soundchecking is boring! Why should I have to show up hours before the show even starts? We just do ours before our set. Sure, it might interrupt the flow of the show, but it’s a small price to pay to see the Gnarly Shredderz.

Soundchecks are for chumps.

5. Miss the Other Bands’ Sets

First off, let me say that you’re under no obligation to watch the other bands. I’m sorry that I don’t want to watch your weak band. I didn’t I agree to watch anyone, and I’m on a tour with new support acts every night. How could I possibly have enough interest in them all?

I do, however, expect you to watch my band. You guys could learn a lot, and I’ll be upset if I don’t see you cheering for us in the crowd.

6. Drink… a Lot

Get drunk. It’s what rock stars do, and if you’re going to play a rock-star set, then it’s probably a great idea to do a bunch of shots while you’re hanging out backstage. I mean, Slash was constantly wasted, and he could really rip it! Your bandmates will understand that if you start making mistakes it’s because of the alcohol, not you, and they’ll be cool with it.

+ Learn more on Soundfly: Thinking of taking your show on the road? Learn how to book, manage, and promote DIY tours with our free course Touring on a Shoestring!

7. Hit on All the Women

If a girl is hanging out with the band, she’s probably just there to sell merch or is someone’s girlfriend. There’s really no need to talk to her unless you want to hit on her, which is why she’s really there. And if that woman is in the band, even if she’s the lead singer, she probably isn’t the band leader or the person who does the booking. Women aren’t real musicians anyway.

8. Ignore Sound Engineers

The people who run sound at shows are just musician wannabes. They don’t know what you want or need. Sure, they may get a clearer representation of what the audience is hearing, but they’re dumb, and you don’t need to listen to them. If they give you an attitude, don’t be afraid to get confrontational — they have no power, and you’ll probably never see them again.

I’ve been told many so times that my 100-watt Marshall stack is “way too loud for this venue.” You wanna know what that makes me think? That if you don’t like a tinnitus-inducing rock show, you’re a dweeb. Your show should be as loud as you can possibly make it. If your amp sounds good in your practice space, it’ll sound good anywhere!

+ Read more on Flypaper: “5 Steps to Getting ‘Gig Ready'”

9. Forget Your Filter Onstage

What I love to do onstage is tease the other bands a bit and point out what I didn’t like about their sets. It’s good for them because it shows them how they need to improve. It’s all in good fun, and they always understand. It’s a win-win because it not only improves their act, but it also makes us look great to the audience.

If someone in your band — hint: it’s always the bass player — messes up his or her part, feel free to yell at him or her onstage. If you don’t call that person out, how is he or she gonna learn, right?

10. Don’t Tip the Bartender

Everyone knows you’re a struggling musician, so if you decide you don’t want to tip your bartenders, I’m sure they’ll understand. They got to see your band for free, so they kind of owe you when you really think about it.

Alright, that’s all the knowledge I’m going to let you in on for now. You do all these things, and you won’t even need to practice to become an enormous international megastar. Oh, and you’re welcome.

Learn how to actually play a decent show, get along with other bands, and make serious contacts in our popular, free course on band leadership, Building a Better Band

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Evan Zwisler
Evan Zwisler

Evan Zwisler is a NYC-based musician who is most notably known for his work with The Values as a songwriter and guitarist. He is an active member of the Brooklyn music scene, throwing fundraisers and organizing compilations for Planned Parenthood and the Anti-Violence Project. He started playing music in the underground punk scene of Shanghai with various local bands when he was in high school before going to California for college and finally moving to New York in 2012.

  • Einelorelei

    I can think of a couple bands I’ve seen pull that stuff. It was quite cringe worthy.

    • Jeremy Royal Edit

      haha, amazing. any stories you wanna tell?

    • Lüke Hellwÿck

      Thankyou for spelling “cringeworthy” properly and not just typing “cringe”.