Please, for the love of God and bacon, WHY can’t we find a LEAD SINGER?

Do we smell funny? Was it the bag of Funyons I ate? Maybe I’m just too demanding…maybe I’m just like my father, too bold. What is going ON here?

I swear, I honestly never thought it would be so incredibly difficult to find a new lead singer for Nonetheless.  Sure, I knew it was a major blow, but I figured we’d be on the hunt for one, maybe two months, It’s been damn-near 6 months since our lead singer left, and we’re still standing around, waiting for someone with a modicum of talent and charisma to come in, prepared to sing, not overstate his/her abilities, and have some dignity and humility. It doesn’t seem unreasonable, but here we sit. We had a guy come in last night to try out for the role, and his visit with us has inspired this li’l posting. In fact, it inspired me to come up with a list of Do Nots (the Do’s are easy) for anyone who wants to audition for a band’s lead singer role.

Do Not Overstate Your Abilities

It’s perfectly alright to tell your prospective band that you’re good and you’re experienced. To a point. There’s a fine line between confident and cocky, and you have to be really careful about not crossing it. For example, it’s ok to tell people what you’re good at, such as “Screaming is my preferred style” or “I’m a pretty good jazz singer”, but if you say things like “I’m 1000 times better than your last lead singer” or “I’m an expert at blues”, it sets the bar pretty damn high, and you better deliver like David Cook on American Idol or you’re going to be laughed at. Additionally, it’s bad form to say “I know I have hit songs; I just need a band to back me up” because it means you’re just looking for a vehicle to get you where you want to go, as opposed to a group of equals with whom to make music. It’s particularly stupid to say “I should’ve had 5 or 6 Grammies by now for my songwriting”, and then pull out your book of lyrics, and present shit like this to the band as evidence of your greatness:

“Hell machine! Hell machine!
Stuck in a bean!
Fleeing the scene!
Bada bada ba! Bada bada ba!”
(That last line was spoken to me, as he read the lyrics out loud, and it was only through great force of will that I didn’t laugh right in the man’s face.)

Now, it’s not that the lyrics themselves are bad (they are, but that’s immaterial). You just can’t go spouting off about your award-worthy songs, and then give this Dr. Seuss on an acid trip version of a bad 80’s nursery rhyme as an example of your work. Additionally, don’t try to impress your inquisitors by telling them about all the radio play you’re getting in Serbia. It’s Serbia, dude. That’s not quite impressive enough to make us sport wood. Basically, just state what you can do, then do it. No more, no less.

Do Not Have A Style Completely Divergent From The Band

Now, we don’t really give a rip about a person’s look or style, in general. We simply ask that the person HAS a look, because it’s important for the lead singer to set the stage for the audience. How the singer presents him/herself is almost as important as how well they can actually sing. With that said, it’s just as important to make sure that whatever style you have somehow connects with the band’s overall image, or you’ll get some huge mismatch. You wouldn’t want someone from Kiss to audition in full makeup for a band like the Beatles, right? Shit wouldn’t work image-wise. When this guy walked in the door, we were immediately stunned because he looked like Blackie Lawless from the 80s band WASP. Here’s a visual:

Blackie

Imagine that, in jeans that probably fit 4 or 5 years ago, with a black t-shirt that was stretched thin over an overly large belly, and heavy eye shadow. But the black wig? It stays. Oh yes it does. This is who walked into our middle-class band. He looked like he had been kidnapped by 1987, and 1989 just paid the ransom to get him released. That style might work great for him…somewhere, but not so much for this band of today’s hard rockers. Also, just don’t ever wear a wig to an audition. Ever. Just…no.

Do Not Trash-Talk The Person You’re Replacing

People leave bands all the time and for various reasons. Any new person coming into a vacancy needs to understand that just because there’s a vacancy, it doesn’t mean the remaining band members have enmity (or “bad feelings” for some of y’all) towards them. Shit happens. In particular, it’s in very poor taste to blindly talk smack about the previous singer’s ability when you don’t know all the details. For example, it’s completely possible that the person you’re talking bad about isn’t the person you’re replacing at all, because it’s entirely possible that the band has more than one vocalist, and the person who did sing the song you’re dissing is the person you’re talking to at the moment. So please – don’t build yourself up by tearing someone else down. It kinda leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouths.

Do Not Insult The Fans

As it happens, sometimes there are people in the room who aren’t in the band when you come to audition. In this case, these people were a couple of friends and fans of the band, and they were there to just kick it with us that night. If you find yourself in a similar situation, make sure that you keep in mind that it’s these people who pay the sometimes expensive cover charge to come see the band perform, and it’s these people who you owe for whatever success you’ve gained. As such, it’s not a very good idea to insult the intelligence of these people when you make statements like: “When I write my songs, I keep it simple, man. I keep it real simple. Most stuff on the radio now is shit anyway, and I can write hits songs like 1-2-3. So I keep it simple. The crowd? They like simple songs, because the complicated stuff goes right over their heads, man. They don’t get it. Why bother putting all that time and effort into making those songs?” The thing is, the fans may just happen to enjoy listening to songs that make them think or emote or react, and to say otherwise, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM, is just plain dumb. Avoid.

Do Not Ask Silly Questions

I’m referring to specific silly questions, like “So have you auditioned anyone better than me?”. There is no good answer to this question. If I say no, then you’ll think you’re the best thing since TiVo, and if I say yes, then I’m an asshole. Just do your thing and hope for the best. Another dumb one to ask is “So do you think I did ok?” The reason this is bad is because (a) if you really did ok, you’d know it – either through your own confidence, or by watching the reaction of the others. And (b) it speaks to insecurity. When I perform, I don’t need someone else to tell me how good or how bad I was. I just know. If you’re asking, then it means you can’t gauge your own performance, which is itself another problem. And certainly don’t ask this same question 5 or 6 times, because that just reeks of desperation.

Now kids, follow these simple guidelines and you’ll do fine at your next audition. And for God’s sake, please cross your fingers and hope we find someone soon before I start smacking people in the head. We have another audition tomorrow night.

I hope he’s big in Serbia.

Peace.

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