The TLP Network

Sharing the Hate, Spreading the Pain: On Egos, Pt. 2

by on Sep.27, 2007, under Articles, Sharing the Hate

The sharpest blow to your self-worth is seeing someone you respect very dearly fail.

When a band first starts in the scene, they take on a very hungry approach towards gigging, promoting, playing, and simply being. Perhaps this hungry approach comes from the fact that everything they do is still new and fresh. Perhaps this hungry approach comes from the fact that they are not sure what to do, and they are experimenting. Perhaps this hungry approach is simply because they are trying to say, “Hello world, I am here, and you should experience me.”

Over time, the hungry band starts to become full. They start to develop a reputation in town, and start to carry a certain amount of credibility (cred) in the scene. A band will first start to notice this newfound respect when venues start asking them to play, instead of the band begging the venue to let them open. The band will also solidify this feeling of contentment when the social member of the band receives praise from bar patrons and concertgoers about their band from people who probably have never seen them live.

Once a band starts to hear people they do not know, and never met talk about their band, they will develop an ego to some degree. Not only is the band entitled to develop this ego, the development of the ego is expected. If you overhear people you never met talking about your band in casual conversation, that conversation is something to brag about. When you do next becomes important though.

Usually about this time, the band members stop doing certain tasks and efforts that built them up to where they are today. Maybe the first part of the routine to drop is one practice a week. Maybe the first part of the routine to drop is handing out flyers and demos to people in clubs and skate parks. Maybe the first part of the routine to drop is trying to network with other bands. Over time, all three of these parts start to fall out of the routine.

As your stage show becomes sloppy and stale, your audience members start to dwindle. People will not remember your large show where you opened for that touring national, but instead remember that dead show where your guitarist passed out in the back of the bar after your set. Where are you now?

What do you tell people next? Well the usual safe answer is, “We’re recording.” Recording takes time, and means you are taking your band to the next level. Just do not use that excuse on someone who will ask more questions. If there is not constant progress on the recording, or you are ‘waiting for the master copy,’ then you a really are not doing anything to help your band out other than fading.

As the ego starts to crumble, the band will start to flail and grasp at straws. Instead of planning their moves out with precision, they start doing whatever they think will benefit them in the short run. You will go back to booking harder and not smarter, and make many of the mistakes you made when you first started off. However, this time around your mistakes are more painful, because the fun is gone.
Here, the band approaches burning out and losing a member or two. The frustrations of starting over again are not appealing to an existing band. The band itself has grown apart, and they see other newer projects as more appealing.

How do you prevent yourself from walking down this path? There is no simple answer. One answer I have documented time and time again is to never allow your self to become content, and never allow yourself to be anything other than humble towards your fans, and those that support you. Take your compliments with sincerity, and remember a scene exists of many not just one. If you are always trying to better yourself, you will stumble into avenues to reach those goals. If you think you are the best, then someone else will pass you by without you seeing it happen.

Perhaps, this passage is lofty idealism. FthatS! You are not listening or reading enough of my interviews from the past ten years from bands that have made it to headlining second stages at mega festivals, and headlining their own national tours.

Correction, not just my interviews, but also any of the interviews that local magazines conduct in your hometown, or interview shows on television dedicated to musicians and music. Get off your ass and read about the scene you are trying to emulate instead of trying to fit into the one you and six other bar bands have created.

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