Soooooo, you wanna be a rock star huh??
My 1st question to you, my little shred head is what the F**k for?
We all see the pictures of the parties, the babes, the groupies…. the after parties, then the after – after parties, the limos, the red carpets, the awards…. now give your bloody head a shake and let’s get back to reality!
Let’s start with my story, cos why the hell would I surmise and pontificate on another’s path? Each person has his own path and a way to get “there”.
Young Danno is 14 and decides he wants to rip guitar – not just play it – rip it. I blame Angus Young. The first concert I attended was AC/DC Back in Black, and EVERYTHING changed after that show.
I not only wanted to be the best on my block, but the best in my school – hell the best in town, who’s kidding whom?? Hours upon hours upon hours of practise starts it up. Playing with pals and then eventually pissing off your pals cos they can’t keep up, or are not on your same path.
Speaking of goals, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a 5 piece band with the same goals; dedication and commitment level?? If at this age you are playing to show off in front of a few pals and girls, get a li’l loaded, hey man that’s fun, but it won’t get you anywhere near where you wanna be – even if you think that’s the “right way” cos that’s what you see and hear about. This is the time that you notice playing a guitar pretty well will get you the girls…and the parties. I’m far from a saint but trust me when I tell you that your playing will suck after several beers and whatever else…even though u look great in front of a mirror or your pals.
Young Danno is now 18 and decides that’s it – must get outta small town and move to the big smoke-
Where the hell is that red carpet anyways????
Danno is now 20 and has bitchin hair to go with the chops….but has pissed off a few more new found pals by firing this guy and that guy. Classified ads after ads, auditions, open jam nights, meeting people that talk the talk…it’s nerve wracking and very frustrating. There will be many who will to try take you away from your goal. You will now also note that all the characters seem to be musicians and wanna-be musicians. I often wondered, sitting in my shithole apartment; What the hell am I doing here? Where’s the babes and limos damnit? Hell, where’s my band??
Walking into a cool, happening rock bar in the scene is awesome; until you realise that everyone in there is a killer player. It can be a very daunting experience. “Get on that stage boy and show me what you got” it’s man-up time. Nerves are fine and totally normal; but if they get the best of you – you’re toast!
Danno then plays a local guitar battle and does alright- makes it to the finals after surviving a few elimination rounds. Then a bassist wins the whole thing!!!!??? Damm that lad could rip; everybody’s jaw was on the ground. Years later, I wonder what ever happened to that guy??
Danno is now early 20’s and feels he has met the right guys. Singer has the chops, the hair, and loads of snarl. A 5 piece metal band. A team comprised of 5 guys on the same path is a force to be reckoned with. Shows upon shows…and then inevitably, it starts….. This guy’s gotta go; then that guy…but the core remains. Release a demo, just like everyone else, the $500 4 song demo tape that yes, of course we pay for.
People are digging the band, shows are getting bigger. We released a self-financed album, which was not done much in early 90’s…cost me $12,000!! A few years later, released another album, and again it’s self-financed. It cost us $10,000. More touring follows. We could have spent way less; no way… we recorded at Metalworks!! Wanna be taken seriously?? Walk the walk!!
We get a few recording offers, management offers, agent offers….and every one of them are geared to you making little or no money for the life of that band. God help you if you sign something that ties you up longer. I’ve spoken to many full-blown rock stars, playing in front of a crowd of 1000 plus…who couldn’t even buy a pack of smokes and a few beers after the show. 1st time you witness that, it is mind blowing!
I once spoke to a very well known singer, who I will not name, who has sold millions of albums. He was playing a sold-out show at
Imagine playing in front of 15 000 people and not getting paid for it? You may say, “Hell that’s cool – 15 000 people?!!?”. Sadly, most musicians take this route. They’re so excited to play for a big crowd that the money issue, although disappointing, doesn’t stop them. Trust me when I tell you, there is no easy way out of a bad contract. A bad contract can cheat the band out of large sums of money that they will never be able to recoup. On top of that, getting OUT of the contract is going to cost more money that you don’t have…and the kicker? The Snake who conned you into the shitty deal will be fighting you with the money he made off you.
First off, let’s understand and put it out there, that a full time job doing all this is very tough to maintain. I did it from time to time, but got fired from several decent paying jobs due to being late. After playing a show on a Thursday night, unloading gear etc…you are lucky to be home by 5 am …. 7am rise and shine cowboy, it’s off to work!! That will only last for so long.
Now let’s do some math…… I haven’t even discussed gear bought and rentals over the years.. I figure that I’ve dished out minimum $75,000 on albums, gear, van rentals, hotels and all the other costs that you must incur to stay on the road…and that figure doesn’t include lost work wages and living off your girl or parents.
Years of rooming with people to try to get by on minimum income is tricky and will slowly drive you nuts…..and watch out when an artist gets too much idle time on his hands!!! By now, if you are not a chronic alcoholic and/or drug addict – you’re still ahead of the game. How many suicides and overdosed rockers will it take before people realise this might be the worst career choice out there!!
I wonder what the odds are of a young hockey star making in to the NHL; 1 in 100,000 ?? I’ll bet you music’s odds are worse than that!
This is not for the faint of heart. If you are not extremely confident in yourself and your gift – do yourself a favor and choose another path. Be prepared to fire a good friend and lose that friend if he’s not pulling his weight. In a band, you are only as strong as the weakest link. A band is a business; if you do not treat it as a business you’re out of business. It’s a relationship; imagine having 4 wives and being in a rental van driving 500 miles to your next gig. Trust me, it ain’t always as fun as you might think it is. If you are headstrong and cannot see yourself doing anything else; welcome aboard but tread lightly. Ask questions to those who have “made it”. Be cool with all the bands you play with, and be respectful as much as possible, chances are they are playing for a few beers. Play as many shows as possible – in front of people you don’t know – this is where you will find if you have “it” or not. For the love of God, keep your ego in check! Record yourself as much as possible – you will learn what works and most importantly what doesn’t- the tape NEVER lies!
You do not need a deal to make it. Wanna make money and control your own destiny?? Indie music is thriving. It’s a business so treat it as such.
Almost 20 years after my 1st album was released, I get emails from fans and collectors from all over the world looking for my albums. It’s priceless and an honor, and that cannot be bought. Being a part of the scene is earned; it is not given to you. And yes, the parties truly rock!
This can keep going on and might have a part 2 – but it will have to wait; I gotta run and get to my practise on time and then wake up 4 hours later for work!
To find out more about Danno, click HERE