I suspect that some rock bands start with diverse-minded musicians getting together and throwing Jello against the wall and seeing where it sticks. “What song do you know?” or “let’s play these popular songs”.
Dirty Garage is not that band. It has a clear vision, direction and song profile. The challenge is how to find musicians that believe in the band profile, yet are empowered to play what they want and to voice their ideas. The answer is that Dirty Garage will have a Constitution, or to bring this back down to earth, a set of guiding principles.
Performers thinking about joining Dirty Garage will have the upfront options to disagree, agree, or suggest revising the guidelines. If they disagree, we’ll shake hands and part ways. Better to discover our incompatibilities before investing time and emotion. If they agree, well… enough said. If they suggest revisions, then let the discussions begin. I know enough to get things started, but Dirty Garage needs to an organic composite of everyone’s ideas, intellect and creativity, if it is truly to someday grow into something great.
That said, and in no particular order (yet), here is the working draft of the Dirty Garage Guidelines thus far…
1. We are not playing for the drunk guy in the back who keeps yelling for Lynyrd Skynrd (yes that was me the other night!). Seriously… if he is your audience, then we are a “disagree”.
2. The intention for Dirty Garage is to be high-energy, danceable, and unique among other bar-bands; focusing on less-complex songs executed with raw-energy, flawless professionalism, fun and ATTITUDE.
3. An initial song-list of 60 Target Songs will be proposed. New or potential band members are invited to sit around the table with the song-list in one hand and a beer in the other to negotiate swapping their songs in and my songs out. If the songs pass the acid test, then I’m on board.
4. Songs suggested for Dirty Garage should pass the following acid test:
• They are, or can be rearranged to be, danceable (defined as roughly 120 +/- BPM)
• They reflect the profile, personality, and ATTITUDE of Dirty Garage, roughly characterized as in-your-face, atypical, high energy, high dance, feel good ROCK N ROLL
• They have, or will be made to have, a hard rock punch. Think, We Gotta Get Outta This Place by The Animals with Jon Bonham on Drums and Curt Cobain on guitar.
• They fit into our fusion of hard rock, garage rock, British invasion and punk/pop/Motown.
• They are NOT typically played by other bar bands.
5. Money will not be immediately forthcoming. In fact, while our goal is bars, casinos and shows, we’ll need to initially survive on faith. If we build it, they will come. I believe there is a following out there waiting for what we have to offer.
6. While rehearsals and performances should always be executed professionally, there is no room in the band for egos, arrogance and condescending to others.
7. Band members are free to create and play their own parts, provided the melody and essence of the songs are preserved.
8. A clap track (drum machine) will be used with all new songs until we’re solid and tight with the tempo, transitions and rhythms.
9. If at any time, personalities begin to clash, we’ll agree to shake hands and move on. The format of Dirty Garage is not for everyone.
10. Many of the songs proposed are “donor songs”, like Pay You Back With Interest by The Hollies. We’ll keep the great melody and hook-line, but rearrange and update the song for a consistent, danceable, harder-edged rhythm, tempo and back-beat throughout. Most other bands don’t play it, but as a song it’s immediately catchy, hum-able, likeable and danceable.
11. Dirty Garage is not for musicians looking for a hobby. It is an ACT. It is an INVESTMENT. It is NOT five (or four) disparate people “phoning in” their performances. It IS older children who still have a rock and roll heart and a desire to perform.
12. Gender, age, race, body type and stage acrobatics are not important. What is important is that Dirty Garage shares a look and an attitude. The band needs to collaboratively define a look and attire that unifies us in the eyes of the audience.
13. As Dirty Harry once said, “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” Dirty Garage doesn’t need virtuosos. Hell, bands like The Germs and The Runaways simply “assigned” some of the members to the instruments they would end up playing. We need SOLID players; players who can execute WITHIN their limitations and do it with feeling and perfection. I’d rather have someone play quarter notes with solidity and dynamics, than to play 32nd notes in a sloppy, unprofessional manner.
I’m sure that anyone that’s read all of the above may be thinking “I’d never wanna be in a band with that anal retentive lunatic” haha! Ironically, the opposite is true. I see myself as a planner and a facilitator. I think that when things get off on the right foot, they tend to make it successfully to the finish line. Peace, love, dove homies… and rock on.