Once you found all the musicians needed for your music production, your next step would be to put this into teamwork. Think of it as a big melting pot for ideas and creativity to come together and deliver the most unique sound possible. To achieve this, and to get your team “gelled”, you will need to take a few extra steps.
The main methods to build chemistry with your band members are to spend time together outside of the band room as a band, spend one on one time together with different members (with or without instruments), by practicing- and perform together, and by having enough time apart.
This is not too hard to achieve as beginners, because you spend plenty of time together to become better, but once you are more experienced you might not have all the time to focus on the personal aspects. Let’s take a closer look at some of the above-mentioned elements and how you can use the time together productively.
Spending Time Outside of the Band Room
In most of the bands I’ve played in, the members are also friends outside of their musical commitments. During the first week of practice, I got invited to do something completely random, not even musically related. I remember being invited to Ten-Pin Bowling, Sushi dinners, Go Cart racing, and even visiting an adventure park or sports match together.
These band dates were so meaningful that they reflected upon our live performances as well. The vibe in the band room behind the stage was so pleasant and festive because you get to see your friends again. It’s as if the jokes and fun continue where they stopped since you saw each other again last time. This is worth gold, also to your audience. They can immediately feel the fresh blast of friendship and brotherhood (or sisterhood) in the band.
There have also been times when we had an argument or disagreement (which is also normal since everyone wants the best for the band) or also broken hearts. Obviously, this reflects a bit differently on stage, and then my friends in the audience would ask me if everything was ok between us.
We as humans thrive on social support and feeling accepted. That is normal. Our goal is to find mutual respect within the band and also outside of music. Spending time as friends increase our mutual respect and love for each other. This can clearly be seen on stage.
By the way, don’t miss the article I wrote about 7 Tips For Productive Band Practice here. It might add some guidance to optimizing your time together in the band room.
Spending One-On-One Time With Bandmembers
Most bands actually start this way by making music together because of being friends in general. People that grow up together or attended the same schools already understand and know each others’ backgrounds. This makes the chemistry already pleasant. The focus in such a case should be balancing the time together as a band to prevent cliques from forming. Many bands also have siblings or married couples playing together and this goal is automatically achieved.
In the case of a new member joining, it is normal to start with some one-on-one instrument practice to prepare for your shows. It might also be good to go for dinner or drinks together and talk about different things as well. Find out what you might have in common.
While I was playing for one band, we needed a drummer. It turns out that the drummer we got, was also even a better bassist than I was. Obviously, I felt a little bit threatened by his amazing skills and musical knowledge, but I was not going to step back. I decided to see how I can use his skills to my advantage. One day he spoke about how often he went to the movies, and I also like to take time out from the daily rush once in a while and watch a good movie. Since then we went together on a weekly basis.
This improved our relationship and mutual respect so much, that we both learned from each other to keep the best interest of the band at the center.
Practicing and Performing Together as a Unit
This one may sound like the easiest and most logical element of them all, but it also has its stumbling stones to roll away. Having session musos for your gigs is also important, but it is crucial for the absent member not to feel excluded. It’s as if the absent member needs a little bit more love than the rest of the band. The chemistry with a session artist is also not the same, and mainly purely professional. Your music might still sound great, but the performance chemistry is perhaps not quite the same.
With experience, the band will gel on stage and become the best unit it can be.
My tip is to reflect after performances. Listen to your members and ask them what went well and what could be improved. It’s not easy to be a frontman, and a good frontman usually comes from experience and feedback in a respected environment.
Spending plenty of time together is wonderful for chemistry, but one can not ignore that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.
You might get to a point where a short holiday might be a good thing for the band. Too much time together can also have the opposite effect on what we would like to achieve. This is normally after a tour or a series of gigs. The phase between recording and releasing is also a good time for a quick break.
As a band leader, you would want your members to feel loved during their breaks. If you have any saved funds, it would be a nice touch to give the members a little bonus for their efforts during the performance season to enjoy during the break phase.
Conclusion about Band Chemistry
- Band chemistry is about mutual respect, bonding, and adapting.
- Keep the “What is the best for the band” question at the center of discussions.
- Have regular reflection about what the band currently needs.
- Do we have enough time together?
- Do we have enough time apart?
- A cash bonus as a token of appreciation.
I hope that this will be helpful for your band in the future! I also wrote an article about Band Rehearsal Etiquette which would also help to improve your Band Chemistry.
Play your heart out!