Leave the bedroom and start making noise with other people.
In a previous post I said I won’t be reviewing “solo projects”. My rationale behind that is that as both a musician and a consumer of music, I think it is extremely important to be part of a band. I also said I’d explain further in a later post.
Well, that post is this post.
I’d like to start off by stating that I have absolutely nothing against bedroom musicians. I was and, to a smaller extent, still am one. It’s awesome. It’s fun. It’s how you learn new things about composition, recording, editing, mixing… It will also, in all but the most extraneous exceptions (cough Cloudkicker cough), get you absolutely nowhere, especially in the world of post-rock.
I bring up Cloudkicker because for the past seven years they’ve been making awesome instrumental metal albums that overflow easily (and in my case, with open arms) into the realms and listening circles of post-rock. As of this posting (March 2014) Cloudkicker is currently scheduled to be on tour with the progmetal bands TesseracT and Intronaut, arguably two absolute juggernauts in the that genre.
However, Cloudkicker is just one person named Ben Sharp.
In his own words, “My name is Ben Sharp and I have been making music under the banner of Cloudkicker since 2007. I write, record, mix, and master everything at my home in Columbus, Ohio.” Ben is now planning a month long tour that came about through a crazy series of events better explained by the man himself, with Intronaut playing as the rest of Cloudkicker. Pretty freakin’ crazy. And I know I cannot wait to see them live when they pass through the Twin Cities later this year.
However, like I’ve stated before: You are not Cloudkicker. Ben Sharp is an exceptional case, as his output is prolific and of great quality. Seriously, go listen to Beacons. It is crazy good, especially the last track, “Amy, I Love You”. No matter how inspiring Ben’s story is, the likelihood of this happening to you is on par with your odds of getting attacked by a shark while being struck by lightning with the winning Powerball ticket in your pocket in the middle of the Sahara while reading a book titled “Cliché’s of Unlikeliness”. Apologies if that was too subtle.
Another reason is that it’s good to have at least one other person contributing to the creative process. Creating music by yourself typically leads to long periods of stagnation, or worse, an echo chamber. If the only feedback you receive is from yourself, there is no room for growth other than what is brought on by your own criticisms. It creates a feedback loop that stifles creativity and expansion. Believe it or not, it is a good thing when your bassist suggests you try this instead of that (full disclosure: I am not a bassist). He’s looking out for the music, because he doesn’t want to play in a shitty band any more than you do.
Possibly the most important reason for you, personally, is simply that having a band is fun (if you’re in it with the right, like-minded people). The friendships made in bands, even those that don’t work out, can still remain friendships after the fact, and can become positive networking opportunities for your bands yet to come. All of this is provided that you’re not a bitter dick about the break up. Be nice. It’s important. Being nice will get you places.
Everything I’ve stated so far has been from the musician’s standpoint. Which is great. Chances are, that’s you. If you’re actually still engaged in this post I commend you, and encourage you to read further. Because we’ve left out an absolutely enormous aspect of music.
The listener. More specifically, the show-goer.
I, and I’d wager most live music fans, would much rather see a full band, or even two people really good with loopers (I would love to see El Ten Eleven), than just one person on stage. Barring extreme exceptions outside of the singer-songwriter and folk traditions, one man “bands” are not fun to watch. Yes, it’s impressive what one person can do with a Boss RC-300. I’ll be completely honest:
Will I enjoy the music? Probably. Will I stay for the whole show? Possibly. Will I stay engaged the entire time? Probably not. Would I pay to see it? No.
Imagine seeing one person playing “Your Hand In Mine” by Explosions in the Sky, or “Like Herod” by Mogwai on stage with a loop station and drum machine. Pretty impressive. Kid can tap-dance, that’s for sure. Now watch this and this. Tell me which you’d pay $20+ and drive more than an hour away to see.
I’ve made arguments for my point several times over. So there it is: Get a band.
I won’t even listen to any one person projects in this genre that come my way. Not out of hate, but simply because I get bored. The reasoning behind this being that when I listen to something, in this genre especially, I like to imagine hearing it and seeing it live. And knowing that has never happened and never will happen because it only lives in one person’s mind, or in a DAW, or in FLAC format… man… well, that just kills my boner for it. Knowing that such amounts of creativity, passion, and vision (you, I’m talking about your creativity, passion, and vision if you’ve read this far) might never be realized to their fullest potential makes me not want to bother even listening to it in the first place.
This attitude, as it relates to recordings, I’m sure is not universal. But it is not unfounded, nor come to arbitrarily on my part. After so many years of making music by myself in my bedroom, there is just something so much more genuine about an entire band standing behind a piece of music, again, particularly in a niche (and let’s face it, unprofitable) genre such as post-rock. Knowing that each song is a collective effort of several individuals devoted and passionate about delivering one sonic message, rather than the brainchild of one person, makes it that much more resonant.
So there it is. Forming a band is beneficial to both you and the people who might listen to your music.
Go make friends and make noise together.
If you enjoyed reading this piece, you may still absolutely hate something else I’ve written. Better safe than sorry. Click here to see all of my Advice, Stories, and Complaints, and find out whether or not we’re compatible as soulmates.