Your Band’s Image Matter

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Think of a recent band that you like today? Can you remember what they look like? Do you have any interest getting to know the members of the band?
Now think of a band like Guns and Roses or even Motley Crue. I bet you have a pretty good idea what they look like. They’ve also led some very remarkable lives. Some members have even produced books worth reading.
These people have totally embodied what it was to be a rock star. It seems like nowadays bands are trying very hard to be inconspicuous. I bet they can even walk down the street and no one would even give them a second look.
Bands I’ve recently liked this decade were Slipknot, Mudvayne, Alter Bridge, heck even Nickelback (and I’m not ashamed to say it). These guys put an effort to their image.
In the Philippine scene I still have a clear image of how the guys in Wolfgang, Razorback, Slapshock and even Afterimage look like. When they hit the stage you know they’re there to rock your socks off. When they hit the stage you not only hear some amazing music but you’re also treated to an awesome visual experience.
So, what’s my point?

When you get into a band, the main goal is to have a solid group playing music. And you can go on and play some really good music for all I care.
But, when you get hired to play onstage in front of some people, whether there’s only one dude sitting at the bar or a thousand people screaming your name, you have to understand that they’re there for a show. As a performer, it is your responsibility not only to treat them to some really good music but to amuse them with how you look and the way you act onstage.
When AcidRadio was just starting out people were asking me why I’d wear leather pants and have a guitar with a chain strap. My answer: I’m emulating my idol Zakk Wylde. I didn’t have his chops but I had the basic look down.
Those leather pants were a pain to get on and I always needed at least a liter of water somewhere near the stage to keep myself from overheating. You see, leather pants get quite warm when you’re onstage under the hot lights and moving around in them wasn’t that easy as well. They’d always cling to my skin and I’d chafe everywhere. And for those who’re wondering, I was commando the whole time because wearing underwear shows off when you’re wearing something that tight.
And the chain strap? Oohh, that was also a challenge to play with! Imagine carrying a 11 lbs Les Paul and then add at least 5 lbs more of heavy duty chain to your burden. That’s heavy. Now imagine having to play your guitar and moving around while the chains dug into your upper shoulder. It was always painful to play with that strap on but I still did it day in and day out.
The rest of the guys didn’t wear the same extreme clothing I did but they nevertheless had their “working gear” on.
Domz used to wear the same shirt every time we played. It was a black shirt with Sylvester the cat on it. Kino did basically the same thing but he was wearing this black Adidas shirt with white stripes on it. He also primarily wore cargo pants turned into shorts in honor of his idol “DimeBag Darrell”. Kym who was behind the drums for most of the time wore whatever the hell he wanted but he made sure he looked good on and offstage with his wardrobe.
We’ve never really been the type of band that’d stand still onstage so we were always moving around or coming up with absurd rock poses just so the crowd would have something to look at while listening to the music. Out of the four of us, Kym was probably the most entertaining with his antics on the drums. It was a showcase of talent and showmanship.
We also chose bright colored instruments. I had a Tobacco Burst Les Paul while Kino had a Candy Green Fender. Domz had an Auburn/ Cherry Red 5 String Bass. Our instruments were part of the visual experience and meant to catch the eyes of the audience.
When we had to change members because Domz left, we started wearing corporate clothes so that we’d have some sort of uniformity. The reason why we did that was so that Dave (who replaced Domz) wouldn’t look out of place.
The bottom line is: if you’re going onstage, it is your responsibility to entertain the crowd musically and visually. Make a fool of yourself. You’re onstage, you have the mic and the amplifiers. You’re untouchable. You’re basically gods. Be a performer.
Otherwise, why don’t you just pop in your CD and just play it for the crowd through the house speakers.
And when you’re done, thank the crowd and get off as quickly as you can so that the next performers can have their turn.
Just remember: Be rock stars onstage, don’t be an asshole offstage. Talk to people, network, thank them for showing up, have a drink or two. They’re the reason why you’re up there in the first place. If you build a solid connection with these people they’ll eventually become your friends and they’ll turn up at the next gig. If they give you a compliment, thank them. If they say you suck, apologize and practice some more.
If you have to get involved in offstage hijinks, make sure it hurts no one and it’s something worth writing or talking about. These are the memories you’ll take with you for the rest of your life even after the band is gone.
Going back, the current state of the music scene is the reason why I’ve distanced myself from it. No one practices their craft anymore. No one dares to stand out anymore. No one makes fools of themselves anymore. Everyone is scared of being the next “fail” feature on Youtube and Facebook.
There are no real rock stars anymore.


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