To start at the beginning, I love going to bookstores and I always go to the music section. Biographies, music theory, and dozens of books on the history of punk, I love’em all. One day I noticed Bandalism which was none of those things and all of them. It calls itself The Rock Band Survival Guide, it’s a charming, humorous but sincere, book about how and why we love putting together and being in bands. I read it a dozen times and loaned it to everybody I could. All of Caught Off Guard and no one read it. Towelie read it when we were room-mates. And I loaned to my buddy Curtis when we were constantly trying to get a project going and he still had it when he moved last year, the cunt. But now I’ve got a new copy, supposedly the last, from Amazon and life is good.
It identifies the types of bands and band-mates that will suit your particular delusions of grandeur, from the point of view of a true fan who loves the classic stories and dislike the bland reactions of the internet age.
I enjoy opening it when everything about musician life feels too serious. I read tons of blogs and such about the bottom rung we’re all on. Amongst my fellow scenesters I talk to regularly some just complain about bandmates and the state of the industry, while others go on about their Plan. Everybody’s got themselves a plan. And the plan is always a passionless commitment to being nice, professional, image-conscious, and worrying about your “Brand”. In the old days you got the fans and then the industry took notice but now everyone seems to assume that if you’re a well-enough run business the industry somehow gives you fans after.
Anyway back to Bandalism. It has a quiz section for the personalities in your band. With outcomes like:
- The Natural Leader
- The Artist
- The Lairy Mad For It Lunatic (I had to google the word Lairy. damn brits)
- The Quiet One
- The Cool One
- The Backseat Driver
- The Moody
- The Enthusiastic Amateur
- The Hustler
- The Self Destructive Genius
First me, ALASTAIR The Artist.
I’m creative, not always practical, a dreamer, and a bit moody. I’m always upset with someone in the band even if it’s myself. I think about concepts and use the word Thematic a lot, I re-write lyrics whenever I feel like it, I’ve planned the album sequence a few hundred times and I think everything – from the name to what my mates wear – is in service of my self-proclaimed vision. I’ll spend six hours closed in a room to come out with a three minute song.
CARLA is The Enthusiastic Amateur.
Everything’s about fun and indulging any passing whim. She’s the punkest of us all, and she doesn’t hesitate to heckle sucky bands (which I love – see my comments above about bands fearfully trying to nice their way to the middle). Exactly the type to suggest a Beatles sing-a-long to solve the problem of a broken down van. After a show at Vern’s Clint started telling her about her bass tone, she just laughed. “I don’t care how it sounds.” or another gem of her fairy-like persona was when we reminded her about our recording plans and she told us she thought she had dreamed the conversation. She just likes to play and yell and get things in her bloodstream, she brings a lot of youthful rock n’ roll spirit to the band.
ROB is The Quiet One.
Being in a band isn’t life or death for Rob. He’s calm, pleasant, unrockstar-like in any way. Still a fun drunk, though and he still cares about the band. If we ever made any serious money he’d be the one to come out the other side with a sensible house while the rest just had loads of gear and a few drug habits. It’s nice to have someone who will with the band, not use it as a vessel for their ego (like the rest of us). Seriously, I love him for so quickly adapting to my lack of concern for musical mathematics and rhythmic symmetry and a propensity for describing everything by “Feel.”
TOWELIE is The Moody One.
Sometimes cold, one-word replies to everything, sometimes long proclamations and grand visions. Sometimes diligent, sometimes lackadaisical. Towelie never tips his hand about what his priorities really are. We’ve been working towards our own band together for a long time, since the day we met really, and it’s because we share the same vision of what a great band is; visceral, not-too-polished, fun, sincere, self-aware, and always looking to do something new or different. He and I are the most likely to argue and the least likely to quit or give up on something once we’ve started on it.
If you watch Hard Core Logo (my favourite rock n roll movie) I’m Joe Dick and he’s Billy Talent. And actually Carla’s a good John Oxenburger and Rob can be Pipe. Makes sense to me.
If you see a copy of Bandalism anywhere, buy it. Or if you have a kindle it’s available as an e-book. And if you want to borrow it too fucking bad, this time it’s not going anywhere but I’d love to do the test with anybody.