Choose Band Members That Are Right for You

Happy band performing on stage
More dedication on the “front end” of choosing a band member will make for more success on the “back end” of performing -says Mark Baxter

Choosing the right band members is crucial for singers. You can flip a switch on a guitar for a different sound, but a singer doesn’t have that luxury.

It’s simple: your band should be built around your voice.

Unfortunately, that seems egomaniacal to young musicians and so bands tend to fail and fail and fail until they stumble onto a sound that compliments what their singer does naturally.

Maroon Five is a perfect example. They struggled for years as a grunge band.

The Steps You Need to Take

Now let’s say you’ve narrowed down what sounds compliment your personality and voice (i.e. you can’t compete with a Marshall stack but hearing a jazz piano makes you want to hit somebody!).

Your next task is to find musicians that play that way without being asked to.

Some musicians will say anything to get into a band, just like some guys will say anything to girls to get into … well, you know.

So females looking beyond a one-night stand learn to “interview” potential mates by getting them to talk about themselves — and so should you.

There’s no better indicator of someone’s future than learning about their past.

I got tired of my bands exploding because of personality and musical conflicts so I took a whole year to hand pick my last group.

First and foremost was the way each guy played.

A Lesson from the Rolling Stones

I used my voice as the gauge. Key question: did I feel like a powerful singer when we jammed?

If so, the next step was to go out and have a beer (or a burger). If the guy wasn’t somebody I could hang with outside of music then I knew the chemistry wouldn’t be there on stage or in the studio.

I learned this from the Rolling Stones. They obviously had the pick of the litter when selecting a second guitarist.

The reason they snipped Ron Wood away from Rod Stewart is because they knew they could live with the guy. They had been drinking buddies for years!

It’s tempting if someone is a friend (or owns a van) to look past a musical mismatch, but it will only make you feel like a second-rate singer.

On the other hand, singing with someone whose playing compliments your voice will make you feel like you can take on the world.

And that, my friend, is the only way you actually can take on the world!

Written By
Mark Baxter has worked as a coach with Aerosmith, Journey, Goo Goo Dolls — and many others. He is the author of The Rock-n-Roll Singer’s Survival Manual, creator of The Singer’s Toolbox instructional DVD, Sing Like an Idol instructional CD. Mark operates vocal studios in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and online via Skype.