How to Form a Modern Band?

The funny thing about rock and roll is that it has its fair share of mythologies.

Form a Modern Band

And while any kind of cultural expression has its hero cycles and creation myths, oftentimes, when it comes to music, these stories and legends often produce more problems than they solve.

It’s easy to see the benefit of such stories. It rallies people together, it gives people something to connect to, it imposes some sort of common identity that people can refer to. No shame in that. It’s pretty straightforward.

But it also creates a lot of problems because when you say that bands can only be formed a certain way or that there are certain motives that make sense while others are suspect, you’re putting possibly unnecessary boundaries in the realm of possibility regarding band formation.

And this really is a big deal because depending on the genre of music you’re playing, this can basically make your band seem fake from the get-go. It’s as if the band was aborted before it was even born. What’s wrong with this picture?

And if you don’t believe me, look up many punk bands as well as alternative music bands that suffered from this problem. Even people who showed up to their shows to support them kind of did it tongue in cheek because they are under the impression that this is fake.

They are under the impression that this is formulaic, contrived and artificial. This is not “real enough” because the people did not meet to produce this band in all the right ways. So a certain mythology had to be constructed to make it legit enough.

The most recent big band example of this is the Smashing Pumpkins. If you think about it, the Smashing Pumpkins is really Billy Corgan. Everybody else is just surplus. Everybody else is just an afterthought.

D’arcy, the bass player? Afterthought. The Japanese dude who played guitar? Afterthought. Because who wrote the music? Who formed the soul of the band? Billy Corrigan. He was basically Smashing Pumpkins.

But that was not a good story because if we were to present that band based on that creation cycle mythology, it will not fit the myth that people have in mind of how things should be because one very important detail is a deal killer. What if I told you that, for the longest time, the Smashing Pumpkins actually employed a drum machine?

That’s right, Billy and James Iha would play with a drum machine. But it didn’t really degrade their music because they sounded awesome because of Billy Corgan’s amazing compositional skills.

But that idea does not fit with how people conceptualize grunge or real rock music, so they had to hire Jimmy Chamberlain, who is actually a jazz drummer, to be their flesh and blood human drummer. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I bring this up because if you are looking to form a modern band, you have to confront these preconceptions of legitimacy and illegitimacy as far as formation is concerned. There are certain scripts that you have to follow, otherwise, there are going to be problems. This really is too bad because truth cannot be put in a formula.

If you’re just a bunch of guys or girls located in many different continents, one person living in Thailand, another person living in Penang, Malaysia, another in Alabang, Metro Manila in the Philippines, and several in Chicago and New York, who says you can’t form a band?

Because thanks to the internet, you can just send musical recordings to each other or play layers on top of each other’s pre-recorded work, synthesize it together, and you have yourself an amazing piece of music that sounds like you recorded it together in the same place at the same time.

So be ready to push against this stereotype. There are many creation myths that really hold back and suck the creative life out of modern bands. You don’t have to play with the old rules because hey, let’s face it, times have changed.