So I'm trolling through the "new releases" shelf in the teen department at my library, as I am wont to do, when a small, slim black volume catches my eye. PUNK ROCK Etiquette is the title, and I'm already curious because the words and the fonts, well, they don't really go together well, if you see what I mean. The book is written by Travis Nichols, a cartoonist who posts original comics on his website as well as drawing cartoons for Nickelodeon Magazine.
Travis breaks down potential band members into the following categories: Tortured Poet ("You might have to stop him/her from cutting little thumbholes in his/her long-sleeved shirts"), Guitar/Drum/Other Hero ("Pros: Skills, skills"), Rock Star ("Cons: Potentially a total prick, likely a drunk or druggie, wears sunglasses indoors (and not in an ironic way)"), Techie ("It's good to have one of these people around."), Rich Kid ("Pros: They . . . have money. And maybe even a pool"), Poor Kid ("give a band cred, and they're usually REALLY into music"), Delinquent ("if your band's Delinquent dabbles in anything violent or something that could get YOU in trouble, steer clear"), Whatever (cons: "About as exciting as a sack of doorknobs"). He notes that categories often overlap. E.g., "Tortured Poet/Rock Star: Usually a 'front man.' God, what a dorky term. If it's a guy, he probably wears eyeliner."
Information on starting a band includes pointers such as "Appearances are pretty important", with follow-up tips to help you sort out if a band is any good based on their appearance. (Tip: "If anyone in the band you're about to see is wearing one of their own T-shirts, leave NOW.") There's an entire chapter devoted to recording sessions, with good tips about changing guitar strings and drum heads before recording, as well as tips on what can and cannot be accomplished by the recording tech, another on selling your music, and even one on selling merch. "After CDs/records/tapes, which should come before anything else, the most common forms of band merch are shirts, buttons, and stickers." What follows is a tutorial on how to screen print your own t-shirts, with a reminder NOT TO WEAR YOUR OWN BAND'S SHIRTS.
There are tips on how to act on stage, what not to do to look like a weenie, and on the importance of supporting other bands (particularly touring bands). And there are tips on how to book gigs. And dudes, I've been there - when I was in a rock band in the late 80s, I was in charge of booking gigs for a while, and it can be a hard, hard task to accomplish. I so could've used these tips. And there are tips on booking a tour: how to find places to play, what to pack, where to stay, whether to engage in a "roadmance" or not ("It's a scientific FACT that being on tour makes little hormone bubbles fizzle in your brain that make you want to get your smooch on. Yes, that is the scientific way to put it.") Oh - bottom line on roadmance? After "Don't be a creep! . . . And don't be a trollop. If you go around making out with people every time you put the van in park, you will get a bad rep. Your band will get a bad rep. . . . But if you're available and legal and you meet someone nice, let the roadmance commence."
A must-have for aspiring bands everywhere, or folks who'd like to be in an aspiring band.