Between the Velvet Lies

Hi, my name’s Greg DiPasquale. I play in bands. I’ve been doing it for a while (Seplophile, Herod, Sons of Azrael). You wanna be in a band too? Well if I may be so bold, before you jump into band world I’d like to share some advice that I’ve learned both from my own experience and fuck ups and by watching other people’s experience and fuck ups. This’ll be primarily for the younger folk just getting into the game or the older folk late to the party, so if you’re a battle scarred band vet these might already be no brainers for you. Now bear in mind that my word is clearly not law, but I’d like to think if you’re looking for advice, you could do much worse, so read on, or fuck off.

1. Know who you are as a musician? Great, now figure out who you aren’t. Failure and ultimately success are in the details, and pushing yourself to be something you’re not, or even something you’re not ready to be YET, is a bad idea. Same with who you choose to be in a band with. Want blast beats? Don’t settle for a drummer that can’t or won’t blast. Want fast riffs? Don’t get a guitarist that only listens to Sleep (I’ve yet to meet this guitarist, but someday I will, and we will argue, boy will we argue), etc, you get the point. Stay the course, work on your abilities as a musician/songwriter and get the players and lineup you want, or a close as you can before you hit the gas pedal.

1a) Make sure you have a spot to jam. A secure, decently priced rehearsal space to keep your gear in is much more pragmatic than having to haul shit from week to week while trying to figure out who’s house you’re going to practice at next. It sucks. Do stuff that doesn’t suck.

2. Know what you want and what you wish to accomplish with your band. Want to play one show a month in your local shithole with your friends and do a demo occasionally? Make sure you’re in a band with people who want the same. Likewise if you wanna push your shit hard into label/album/tour territory. Half measures are half as effective as full ones(duh). Whichever direction you’re going make sure everyone you’re with is in the car or else you’ll end up back tracking to satisfy their tardiness. Whatever you do, always aim to do the very best you can. No shit right?

3. If you’re joining a band in progress, respect their process already in place. If you come in and expect everything to blow up and change because of your mere presence then yeah you’re driven, yeah you’re ambitious, yeah you’re confident, but you’re also kind of a cunt. The first 3 things are essential, but the 4th thing will kill you. Don’t be a cunt. Earn your place and respect in the band and watch your ideas and suggestions gain weight faster than being a fucking whiner does. Be a team player, not a band slayer.

4. Songs? Check. Lineup? Check. Name? Check. Tight set? Check. So with that in mind I’m sure you think you’re ready for the first show that sniffs you out huh? WRONG! Take a step back, pull an L.D. and curb that enthusiasm, think for a second, and respect your creation. If you are a thrash metal band, and want to be known as such, don’t take a 2 am, 20 min time slot playing a show with modern rock bands as the opportunity to debut your shit. MAKE A FUCKING IMPACT!! Yeah I know you’re stoked to hit the stage but do it right and smart. If you want a steak you go to the Chophouse, not fucking McDonald’s. Find your people, then play for them. They will give you the proper once over, and if you’re not dicks, a scene to be a part of. Rightly, or wrongly, you’re often judged by the company you keep, so know, or learn your demographic, then attack. Be an earthquake, not a pothole.

4a) Also, when you get to the point of doing shows, have some sort of demo ready for public consumption, lots of bars have shit for a p.a. and this will give people a clearer vision of what your sound is (vision of sound, I’m a genius). Also, if they like you they’ll pass around to others and maintain an interest themselves. Remember, in sight, in mind.

5. Grab a spoon/fork/spork and get ready to eat some shit. You’re not going to be a big fucking deal right away. It’s ok, and as long as you don’t act like you should be, people will be more likely to help rectify that situation, so be cool. If you’re a chode people won’t hesitate to bury you, or worse, ignore you. These are the breaks, everyone goes through it and will serve to show how much, or little, you and everyone else wants it. So to recap, shit eating = character building. Only the toughest survive and this is a “business” that’s not for the weak willed. Man, or women, up and get ready for battle.

6.  Know your worth, don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right. Trust yourself and the people you work with. The moment you sell yourself, your vision, or your band short, you weaken the foundation. Always think things through and remember you don’t HAVE to say “yes” to everything, and that you CAN say “no” occasionally. In fact, at times it can help to be unfuckable until the very moment that you decide to put out, it’ll add importance and impact to lots of things you do. This kind of goes hand in hand with point #4.

7. Lastly, have fun. Cliche as it is, it’s why we all started playing music. No one likes being in the company of misery. Negativity and pessimism at any level is band cancer and if it’s you fuck off, if it’s someone else, remove them. Snarl on stage, smile off of it. Always remember there’s someone not playing that wants to be, and that at one point that person was you. so appreciate what you have, whatever it may be.

So, there you go- a few tips that you can take or leave, love or hate, but through my eyes, it’s how I see it. Ultimately there’s no better teacher than experience as everything I know came from that school like I eluded to earlier. Think of my advice as advanced notes for future lessons. Thanks for reading, and thanks to The Metal for letting me share. NOW GET BACK TO WORK!!


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