Being A Band Slut

Let's get one thing clear from the start. I am not a band slut. I am not one of those guys who joins a band one week and leaves for another a month or so later. That's never been my thing. For me, music is based on personal relationships. The more intimate they get, the more interesting the music that gets produced. I'm more likely to stick it out with people who need time to improve. I'm more likely to want to play with friends than try to fit into some hotshot outfit where personal politics take priority. I'm not interested in trying to be a star.

Maybe using the term 'band slut' is over-dramatizing things a tad. I guess I simply associate playing music with friendships, not career decisions. I'm sure some of you know where I'm coming from.

But those of you out there that are serious about becoming session players, solo artists or joining a pro outfit might want to be 'band sluts'. If you want to go somewhere successful, you may have to leave the stoner bassist behind ('Billy got kicked out of music school. That's kinda why we fired him'). You may need to leave the band for a better one or one that you're more comfortable with. You'll have to be calculating about the decisions you make.

But you'll have to be. You want to go somewhere with your craft, don't you?

Sounds a bit mean-spirited doesn't it? Welcome to life and a dose of reality. Most successful guitarists learn their chops in a combination of forgotten outfits before they get any recognition or reach a certain level of ability. Playing with as many people as possible exposes you to new techniques, ideas and experiences. Think of it in terms of extending your vocabulary. And, of course, you may discover things about yourself that you never realized. Maybe that metalhead from within will reveal itself.

Let's take a quick look at what I'm on about. Remember Rhode Island Red & The Roosters? Probably not. It was Clapton's first band. EC went on to Casey Jones & The Engineers (remember them?), The Yardbirds (now we're getting somewhere), Cream (everything is beginning to click musically), John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Blind Faith and Derek & The Dominos.

David Bowie was just as promiscuous in the 1960s as well. Davie Jones & The Kings Bees (who?) and The Mannish Boys (not very good) being the more notable of a few early experiments.

And, as most people know, Hendrix learnt his chops on the chitlin circuit in the early 60s with the likes of Sam Cooke, James Brown and Little Richard. Little Richard still claims Hendrix's flamboyant fashions were inspired by him. He's probably right.

So, what's the upshot of this rant? If you're serious about playing professionally, get out there and play with as many people as possible. You'll learn a lot along the way. Books and tutors are great, but real-life experience is where it's at.

Remember it's not always a case of how good or talented you are which determines how far you go in this industry. It's often a matter of not letting go of your ambitions and working damned hard to get to where you want to be.

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