Putting Your Best Foot Forward
You’ve worked hard on your playing and now you want to get a gig. Starting your own band is one way of entering the work force, however; the easiest way to start making money with your guitar is to join an established band that already has a full schedule of gigs. To do this, you will often have to go through an audition; the musicians equivalent of a job interview. There are several things to keep in mind when you’ve got an audition coming up.
This is probably one of the most important things for you to concentrate on. Do your homework! Find out as much as you can about the band you’re auditioning for. Try to get a copy of the band’s songlist and learn as much of the material on the list as possible. Often, you can get a tape from the band leader of some of their songs. This can be a good place to start. The leader may also tell you what songs they would like you to focus on for the audition. Make sure you have those songs down cold. Know all the beginnings and endings, the keys, how many verses, when the solos come up, etc. The main thing is, be strong on the material.
Most band leaders will appreciate someone with strong vocal abilities. If you can sing, you should have something prepared for them at the audition. If you’re only comfortable doing background vocals, make sure you can still demonstrate that for them.
It’s often helpful to go out and see at least one of the bands performances. This gives you a lot of information; the styles of music they play, the way they dress, what their show is like, the personality, etc… This can help you know more about what they are looking for.
Warm up before the audition. Make sure you’re loose and limber so you don’t have to walk in and just start playing cold. Warming up first can help you to show them the shred-master you truly are.
Besides your playing abilities, attitude can be one of the most important things that could land you the job. Most band leaders will want someone who acts professional, confident yet flexible, has a good sense of humor, and someone who has a “positive” personality. Don’t be afraid to smile and joke, that’s good; but at the same time they probably won’t be looking for someone who has a “Where’s the party, Dude!?” attitude. It’s probably best to be somewhere in the middle. The main thing is to be positive. Often, a lesser player will get the gig because he has a great attitude.
A lot of bands won’t necessarily want you to dress for the audition as though your were about ready to step on stage (although some band leaders I’ve known have required that kind of look at an audition), but you should still look clean and well dressed. It may come down to you and another player getting the job, and if he was a slob, whereas you dressed nice/hip/clean/etc., that could be the deciding factor.
Make sure all your gear is working for the audition. Nothing can make you look worse than to show up and spend an hour of the rest of the bands time trying to find a patch cord that will work, or to fix an amp, or to have to run to the store to get a new battery. Have a new set of strings on your guitar so that you get a good tone and so the strings feel good under your fingers. Having good gear that all works perfectly adds a lot to your professional image.
If you haven’t already given the band one, you should try and bring a promo package about yourself. This can provide more positive information on you to help them make their decision. Make sure they have current contact information so that when they do decide to hire you, they can reach you. Have some business cards available and hand them out at the audition. This helps you make sure they have your current phone number, and makes your image that much more professional.
In closing I want to mention to just be relaxed (as much as possible) at your audition. This will help the band see the real you, and will help you do the best job you can.