Music Guide 2012: How to (and how not to) start a band in Pittsburgh | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Music Guide 2012: How to (and how not to) start a band in Pittsburgh

Please follow our advice to the letter; it'll make you famous.

Earlier this year, Time ran a piece in its Entrepreneurial Insights column by a pair of brothers in a Brooklyn-based band called Two Lights; in it, the two estimated that the grand total they (and their parents) had sunk into trying to make it as an indie band was about $100,000.

It was, of course, a little silly, and some of the costs were questionable. "Lost wages" based on the time spent working on music? Face it, Two Lights: If you weren't playing songs with those 20 hours, you'd probably be smoking pot and watching M*A*S*H reruns. And $500 a month for voice lessons for an "indie rock" band? This is the genre popularized by J. Mascis and Stephen Malkmus, guys!

But the overarching point, underneath the whiny itemizations, is that there's a lot to consider when you're starting a band. It's like a puppy, or a baby: It seems like cute fun at first, then quickly starts to grow into something less manageable.

You can, of course, quit your band a lot more easily than you can quit your puppy or your baby, but we don't want you to. That's why we put together this handy guide to starting a band. From finding bandmates to booking tour dates, we've got advice from some local pros (and advice we just made up).

If you're looking to start a band, please follow our advice to the letter; it'll make you famous. If you're not — give a look anyway. Perhaps you'll gain a greater appreciation for the music scene around you. Or at least you'll find new ways to come up with potential names for your fake band.

Finding Bandmates: Some Dos and Don'ts

Do start a band with people you meet at school or work. After interacting with them on a day-to-day basis, you should have a sense of whether they're reliable, and if you can get along with them.

Don't start a band with that guy you met at your pot dealer's house.

Do be open to different musical backgrounds. Not everyone in your band needs to have a music-school degree. In fact, you're probably better off if they don't.

Don't be offended if 80 percent of the people who express interest in jamming flake out on you.

If you need a drummer: Do look for the person using their index fingers to play drum solos on the bar.

Don't recruit the guy playing acoustic guitar on the lawn outside the freshman dorms. (We mean as a drummer, but on second thought: Do yourself a favor and don't recruit that dude for anything.)

Do post a call for band members on Craigslist.

Don't complain in said post about things not working out in the past, for the same reason you don't want to complain about that in an online dating profile: Most people will assume that you're the problem.

Do list some of your influences in the ad (e.g., "Like Modern Lovers, The Minutemen, Roky Erickson and the Aliens").

Don't list every band you've ever liked (e.g., "Mainly inspired by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Zombies, Ani DiFranco, Mott the Hoople, early Black Sabbath, later Black Sabbath, some of Ozzy's early-'90s solo stuff, Depeche Mode, De La Soul, Can, P.M. Dawn, Maurice Ravel, Kanye, Corrosion of Conformity, This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb, Kate Bush, ELO, Jethro Tull, The Swamp Rats").

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