My new band got together for our first rehearsal. We didn’t have anything specific picked to play since this was the first time we’ve gotten together. We were feeling each out musically. I’m lucky that I’ve either played with each of these guys in old bands or in the studio. I have never played with them in this configuration. I wanted to get back to having a band full of friends first and not so much a business partnership like Poprocks and the Matt Poss band was. Even though I was friends with the people in these bands, we weren’t the type of friends that hung out and just enjoyed each other’s company. Even on the road. Conversations were kept to cracking jokes, and small talk. We were partners. If I was having a cookout I wouldn’t call these guys and vice versa. They would be welcome of course but they wouldn’t come anyway. What we all had in common music and a business together, along with respect.
After my tenure with the Matt Poss Band, I thought about what I was going to do next. I looked for my niche in the music scene here and I found it in a simple straight ahead Rock ‘n Roll band. Heavy on the pop side. I made a business plan to follow. I need a vehicle to sell my music and so do a few of the other members. So we’ll do about 1/3 original music from our upcoming album and the rest covers until we build our following and can slip more original music. My eye is making this a concert act, not a bar band. We’ll be a concert act that plays bars now and then. Four of the guys are writers. So we pick the material from what we have written and write new stuff that fits the band. Just because we write it doesn’t mean it’ll fit. That is fine. People can only listen to so many songs they don’t know, so slipping our stuff in between well known songs is the only way to do it. I have my niche defined and can describe what we do. The Finks are a rock n roll revival. Heavy on boogies and dance music with killer vocals and amazing guitarists. We’ll play boom-chuck, boom-chuck. The rhythm that makes white people dance. Ha!
The Finks. A Rock n Roll Revival
Isaiah Edwards – Vocalist and acoustic guitar
Tommy Dunn – Guitarist
Chris Taylor – Guitarist
Chris Schaff – Drums
George Ozier – Keyboards and Vocals
Yours truly, Sammy Roan on bass.
Playing Original and Covers that all meet a certain criteria:
- Dance speed. Nothing mid-tempo. Either it’s a fast song or a slow song.
- Pop songs in both original and covers. Easy to sing along with. Great melody.
- If the song has clever lyrics it is given a higher priority
- If the song has simple lyrics, they will be given a high priority. For example: I got a gal named Bonie Maronie, Land of 1000 dances, Gloria… We might not choose these but they will be in this vein.
- Songs about girls, cars, and partying.
- Songs that we can arrange to sound like the Finks are playing it and not the Finks trying to sound like the record. We are a concert act. We play covers our own way but easily recognizable. My video today will show an example of making a song fit the artist and not the other way around.
That is it as far as music. The next is image. Most of us are old enough that we can’t play rockstar so we’ll come off as Hipsters (hipster doofuses more than likely), This isn’t much of a stretch for these guys. Except Ike and Tommy who are young enough to pull it off. Just look hip. Ask yourself before picking your stage clothes “Is this Swanky?” Ha! But it’s true. This is the kind of band you could wear a fez and it wouldn’t be out of place.
Speaking of fezzes, I want one from Fez-O-Rama. If you’re feeling generous buy one for us. I’ll happily wear it onstage and make you the fez sponsor. In fact that goes for all of us. Sponsor a fez and we’ll MAKE A MATCHING DONATION of the price to the Make a Wish Foundation. In your name. We’ll take it off the top of the night’s pay. Plus we’ll make you a gold member of our “I’m a Fink Too” email list. You’ll get a few extra things, like free posters, tickets, download live shows or hear early demos. We’ll make it special for you.
We’ll play to our strengths. We don’t have a strong front man. Ike, who is an incredible singer, will get really good at by the time it’s all said and done but he’s not one to yell “Come on party people!” so we’ll just run all songs with no time between them. We’ll add sing alongs and shtick as we rehearse and some will just naturally come to the show. Remember we are “Entertainers” We do it with music mainly, but we can’t take ourselves so seriously that we can’t include the crowd. We’ll be the band you will make sure you don’t miss. A good time is what we’re about. With that good time you’ll dance, sing, be surprised, laughing with and at us sometimes, and you’re gonna hear some great music played by some of the best players around and a sound of their own. We won’t be able to be reproduced by another band. If you want a party kick-ass rock n roll show who will you call? The only one around. The Finks.
Now I have a plan to focus on. We all agreed to the same plan. Now no one will bring up a song that doesn’t fit and have their feeling hurt when you say “I love Iron Maiden too, but do they really fit?”
I made a CD of fifteen songs. Schaff and Taylor both live over an hour and a half away so rehearsals will be tough. We’ll have to work on a lot in a short period of time. We “practice” at home. We come to “rehearsal” ready to play what we have learned and work out the kinks there. That is the difference between Practice and Rehearsal.
The CD’s are all the same. We start learning song number 1, then 2, 3, etc. This way we have all learned the same songs at the same time. If the bass player only learned the first nine songs, while everyone else learned twelve, we have at least learned the same songs and can run through one through nine easily. We take the time away from learning a song at rehearsal and put it into brainstorming how we can work the songs together, tweak the songs and show, or make it into a show piece. We work on the show at rehearsal. Making the music the best it can be is number-one, but a close second is the show. Knowing our stuff when we come in can turn a rehearsal into an hour and a half instead of three hours trying to learn and get a song down.
One thing we have thought about to make things run smoother is that it’s the digital age. The lyrics to covers are online. The guitarists can email or text “which harmony part do you want me to play?” or “What part are you going to play on the keys so I can play something else?” Knowing the tiny parts will save time in rehearsal.
We are pros. We show up on time with our tunes learned. The point is this. Rehearsal begins to suck after the band has been together for a bit. Keeping rehearsal to a minimum and not wasting someone’s time by making them wait on you will make things easier and it’ll stop a complaint that may grow into a full blown argument. You don’t want to be the weak link. When we get there, we tune up and catch up with each other, maybe have a beer or a smoke before getting down to business.
We do drink during rehearsal and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. If it’s an excuse to get drunk then once again you are wasting other’s time. Don’t be that guy. Save it for when you decide to go out afterwards. This band is a beer drinking band and some are 4:20 friendly. If it’s affecting your playing then once again you are being a pain in the ass and the guy slowing things down. So watch it.
While working up the show we’ll also have a professional photo shoot. We’ll have a website being constructed, we’ll have promo packs made up that look better than what the big rock stars use. I make these for booking agents, as packets to send to major record companies, and just to use for booking purposes. Hit me up to talk about making one for your band. Make a great impression with the pack and a buyer will be able to tell that you are pros and will need to be paid better than the jokers he had the night before. Start that hype machine. Talk to your friends about the band. Get people excited about hearing you. Getting in on the ground floor and watch a band rise on the ladder of success. They’ll be taking you with them.
By the time we are ready to book this band we’ll have all of our ducks in a row. We’ll be able to have great looking promo to book with. An album to promote. A great sounding studio recording for a demo. A group of people that want to hear us. Then we come on strong with a look, a sound and a non-stop show that hits you with a left and a right to the head with great songs.
When we spread out we’ll contact all the media and let them know we are coming so they can play a song of ours on the radio, give interviews on radio and the paper, possibly an acoustic song or two on a morning show. This is how you build a crowd in a new market. Let your friends and fans in those areas know you are going to be there and pull in all favors the first time in.
With a working attitude like that your band could be playing opening gigs after one rehearsal. Amazing but true.
This has nothing to do with the tips on running a band but I want to say a few personal views on this past week. Last Friday was the school shooting in Newtown, CT. My heart goes out to all of Newtown. A whole town in mourning. I took a break from working Tuesday and flipped on the TV. The Dr. Phil Show was on and he was interviewing, as he said “the youngest witness” For rating this asshole exploited this little girl of seven years old. She told her story and Dr. Phil did his caring imitation. I’m as liberal as they come and thing live and let live. Who am I to judge? But this blatant exploiting of a child pissed me off so much that I wrote down the sponsors of the show.
I wrote an open letter and sent it to the sponsors and people who advertized, telling them they should be ashamed for what they have done and I will not mention them in the blog if the make a donation to the Missing and Exploited Children Charity. Well it of course fell on deaf ears, all except one.
Shelby Motors of Champaign, IL. They are independently owned and have a budget that allows them to advertize on TV but they have no idea when it runs. I had sent the letter to them also because I saw their ad during the show.
Ms. Jennifer Shelby, the owner, wrote me back immediately. She explained not knowing when the ad would run and would never have supported a show where they exploited anyone. I told her I understood and was happy to let her off the hook. The next day I got a receipt in the mail showing a donation to The Missing and Exploited Children organization. She didn’t have to. I explained that I wasn’t upset with her since she had no idea. She did it anyway. I don’t know her at all but I will stop and meet her sometime and give her a sincere hug. Her caring attitude and loving heart made a difference to a child that day. I feel horrible for mis-placing blame on her but she didn’t donate out of guilt. She did it simply because Ms. Shelby cares about the world we live in and understands sometimes people have to rely on the kindness of strangers. She is a friend of mine now. I brag about her to my friends and have recommended her to a friend just this morning that were looking for a new car. I will shop with her. I will send anyone I know her way. She has character and sometimes I hang my head low in shame for being part of the human race and the coldness and hate we see much too often. People like her make me proud to be part of the human race.
There is always a ying and a yang, a positive and a negative. For all the tragedy I have seen in my life. The Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, 7/7 in England, Columbine Shootings, New Orleans underwater, Hurricane Sandy, for every prick who caused these tragedies, there is always a flood of people rushing to help in any way they can. Ms. Shelby is one that I personally know of, who helped without wanting credit or a pat on the back. Well you have more than that from me. You have my complete respect as a generous business owner and as a generous and caring woman. You are a hero to a kid somewhere today Jennifer. What more could you ask for?
These businesses didn’t care enough to even reply. If they did it was a form letter. Toy’s R Us even lied to me. They said they don’t have email. I said you mean you have to send letters back and forth. They’ll call me in 7 to 9 business days. I asked them if they had phones or if they needed to run to the pay-phone across the street? I’m an asshole too remember.
- Toys r Us (they hung up on me after sending me a form letter that never addressed my concern.)
- Arm & Hammer
- International Delight
- Milo’s Kitchen Dog Treats,
- Steak and Shake
- H.H. Gregg
- Feeding America.org
- Palmer’s Baby Oil
Here is an example of making the song fit the band and not the other way around;