So, I constantly get the question, whether it’s in my TikTok comments, or my Instagram DMs of “how do I start a band?” So today I want to go into depth of not only a few ways of starting your first band and finding the right people to play with, but also what you should be looking for in other musicians once you do start to meet some people so that you can potentially avoid some mistakes that I have made over the years.
So let me take you back to the year 2004, when I first started playing in bands. My friend John and I met while being on the same little league basketball team (yes, you can meet bandmates anywhere) and we were both jus starting to learn how to play our instruments. Mine was guitar and he was playing bass at the time. After a couple of months of jamming and learning together, we actually were able to line up a couple of performances at local talent shows and other various events at school and such. I’ll never forget our first show, we played American idiot by Green Day and then used a line from Good Burger (insert Im a dude video) to write a three chord punk song song that sounded like the Ramones. Fast forward a few months and I ended up meeting a kid at school (I think I was in 7th grade at the time) who played drums. And….boom… that was my first band, the three of us were called green Eggs and Mayhem.
So, my first band was started with people that I met both on a sports team I was playing on and in school. But, from there I definitely jammed with a lot of other friends when I was younger and honestly not a lot of them even played anything when we started jamming. If we had a friend that was even remotely interested in the music we liked, we would find a place for them. It’d be like “yo Alex, you like Green Day, wanna play bass?” Or, hey Stephanie, I know you love The Misfits, wanna sing? And a lot of my younger years consisted of just trying to play music with anyone who might be down, which brings me to my first point. IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE TO PLAY WITH, JUST START WITH YOUR FRIENDS. Anyone can learn! Especially when you’re just getting started out.
But, let’s keep it moving because even more importantly here comes the part that I think becomes very important to a lot of y’all that want to start a band. Once I actually had a band up and running and we had a set list of songs we could play, I started doing some research to try to figure out who the other bands in our area were and where they were playing. At the time I used Myspace to find most of the bands, but today you can do the same thing on Instagram, TikTok, Google, or if you have a local venue, just take a peek at who’s playing there. Once I started to do this, it opened up my eyes to how many other people were in my area that played music and were trying to accomplish very similar things as me.
And this brings me to my biggest tip if you are having a hard time finding musicians to play with, (pause) go out to local shows! Put yourself where the musicians are and give yourself an opportunity to meet people. And a lot of people may say “but I don’t how to find local shows” and like I said before it takes a little bit of research. Even if you aren’t in a major city, most small towns have at least a few local bands or one spot where musicians play.
And now, a lot of people will say to me “but I live in the middle of nowhere.” And if that truly is the case and no one in your school is interested in playing music, and there is nowhere to see any live music for hours around you, and no one in your friend group is interested in playing…then that is what the internet is for. Just like I said before, you have to put yourself where the musicians are. If that can’t be a physical place, then there are plenty of places online where they hang out, whether its Discord servers, Facebook groups, online forums, Twitch communities, there are so many musicians out there looking for exactly what you are looking for…guaranteed. And fortunately with home recording becoming so easy, you can actually write and record music with people remotely that may not even live near you.
So, now that we’ve talked about how to find bandmates, whether it’s through your school, your friend group, local shows, or online….let’s talk a little bit about what you should be looking for in a bandmate and some questions you may want to ask people that you are considering starting a project with. Because one thing I can tell you about playing in a band is that if you want to be fulfilled in what you are doing, you not only need to find people, but you need to find the right people.
So, first, consider what you are trying to do. What kind of music do you see yourself playing? Do you want to write your own music, or perform covers, or both? Is this a hobby for you or are you trying to start something a little more serious? Do you want to perform live? How about travel or tour? These are a bunch of questions you should ask yourself before even really starting a band. And quite honestly, you may not have all the answers just yet. I know when I first started playing in bands that I definitely didn’t. It takes time to learn about yourself as a musician for sure, but the more answers you have to these questions, the more you will be able to find people that are like minded. Because when you start playing with someone you can see if they are on the same page as you, which ultimately will help to reduce the amount of conflict within the band down the line. Because if you’re trying to start a pop punk band and you meet a guitar player that only plays Pantera covers…that may not be the right fit for you.
So let’s recap!
Starting a band is a really fun and exciting experience, but it definitely can be difficult when you’re first starting out. If you’re younger and in school, that’s where I would look first. And as I said before, sometimes the people you may end up playing with are already in your friend group even if they don’t play an instrument yet. If they are even kind of interested, they can learn.
But, my biggest tip for a vast majority of musicians, even if you aren’t trying to start a band is to just get out to some local shows. Go meet musicians in your area, see what bands are already playing. Get involved. This is by far the best way to meet like minded people in my opinion. Get to a gig.
And if all else fails, go online. You can find tons of musicians on the internet looking to do exactly what you are. The internet is an awesome place to connect with like minded people.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this, did I miss anything? Is there a better way to start a band than what I mentioned? Also, what should I talk about in the future? I’ll be doing these weekly and hope to get some guests on as well. Drop your thoughts in the comments.
Appreciate ya, cheers!