Garage Band Days - Revisited
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I was 19 years old; I had been playing the guitar since I was 9 and had played bass a good bit as well. I had been in a few "bands" per say, but we never really played anything. I was ready to get serious and make an attempt to do something meaningful with my musical talent. My older brother also played guitar and sang, so we got together and decided to start a band. We needed another member or two so we put the word out amongst our friends and family. We come from a very musical family, and have quite a few musically inclined friends, so the response was pretty immediate. We had a jam session with our cousin who played guitar and bass, the session went well so we had another bass/guitar player. We decided right away that we would switch back and forth, and actually incorporate the switch into our shows. I would be playing guitar while he played bass and vice versa, we would share instruments so there would always be a hand off of the instruments at certain intervals of our show. We had some really good material worked out after only a few sessions, I think it helped that we were all close and had learned how to play partially by teaching each other over the years. All we needed was a drummer, so we got in contact with another distant relative; we call him our cousin, so we'll leave it at that. We were a band, and right off we all clicked, it was like we had been playing together for years.
The First Gig
We had at the most three practices as a band, though I think it might have been only two; before we played our first gig. It was a private party that was being held by yet another cousin; wow there are a lot of cousins in this story and it doesn't end here. The point is that we had very little experience as a band and only 5 or so songs that we had fairly well worked out. We probably weren't really ready, but we figured it would be friends and family and if nothing else we could get some feed-back about our sound. When we arrived at the party, as expected, it was more like a family reunion than a party. So we visited for a few, then we got busy and set up our equipment. In about fifteen minutes we were doing sound checks and getting ready to play. I don't even remember which song we played, but the gravitation of the party was in our direction almost immediately. We played through our five songs fairly quickly and ended our set, so we could hang-out with everyone. I think it helped that most the attendees were music lovers, like us, but we heard nothing but praise from everyone. We had two more cousins proclaiming that they would be at all our shows, to help us setup and tear down our equipment. They convinced us to play some more, so it became more like a practice than a show at that point, but the crowd didn't seem to mind. We even made up a few songs on the fly which actually turned out to be the highlight of the night. Everyone was hollering and screaming, and claiming that we sounded just like Metallica. By the way, we played fairly heavy rock & roll type music, which we later coined "blues-thrash".
Maybe we didn't make up the term "blues-thrash", or maybe we did; I don't know. I do know that I can't seem to find much on the term and hadn't heard it before we began using it back in the day. I was going to give a year, but decided not to as I don't want to expose too much about my age. To get back to the point, my cousin (the guitar/bass player) had a distinctly blues style of playing, while I had a heavy style, similar to that of Metallica. The two styles went surprisingly well together to create a fairly unique style of music, that just sounded kind of bluesy with an over all heavy thrash ambiance. Hence the term “Blues-Thrash” was born.
Naming the Band
We played as a band for some time without really having a name. We talked a lot about it, but were undecided as to what would fit our style and be agreeable to each of us. I don't really remember what the names we came up with were for sure, other than the one we eventually decided upon. I will get to that in a moment. Now first of all, a band name needs to be available before it can just be claimed and monopolized upon. What I mean is that it should not be trademarked by another band. Even if it is being used by another band that hasn't officially trademarked it, you might want to consider other options, as this could cause some confusion and problems. We did some research on the names that we liked as they came up and found that many of them were already in use so we decided to move on the next option. The internet is a great resource for finding out if the name you want is already taken. If it isn't listed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, just check out Facebook and YouTube and other social media sites to see if there is a band using it. If not, you should be good to go. This may seem a bit backwards as you need ideas before you can do any real research, but I decided to mention trademarks first because of the importance of it through the process. Naming a band is a very important part of defining who you are as a band, so give it a lot of thought. I think it should be a team decision, as being a band is a team effort. The name you decide upon should reflect in some essence what each of the members stand for. It should say something about your music and your style. Of course, naturally it will reflect who you are because you are inventing it, but remember it is your first impression to potential listeners, so it is very important. The name we ultimately decided upon was Wild Wolf, which emphasized that we felt wild and free. We all seemed to have a thing for wolves and nature to some extent, so the name just seemed to fit.
The Bitter Sweet End
We played and wrote music for quite a few years. Though we really enjoyed doing it; work, family, and other obligations just got the best of us after so long. I don't mean that we are bitter about the band eventually breaking up, just that when we get together and reminisce we all feel a bit of remorse for the final outcome. We didn't quite get to the point of success that we envisioned at the start of the journey, but we sure had a lot of fun just being along for the ride. My brother and my cousin (the bass/guitarist) have since formed a contemporary Christian band called Iron Mercy. I will include one of their videos on this Hub as well as one from our old band. Please excuse the poor quality of the Wild Wolf video it was copied from an old VHS-C tape to digital.
If you are thinking about starting a band, make sure you find people that you can get along with whom all have a common vision of where the band is going. It might be a good idea for those people to have some musical talent as well. Put some serious thought and research into the band name you decide upon. If you play covers, that's a good place to start, but I would recommend writing your own music as well, if at all possible. Make the time to practice, and work through each song carefully. Record your practices and review them to get ideas of what to change and what not to change. Have fun and don't expect too much too quick, it takes a long time to establish any measurable success in most cases. Thank you for reading, and have a great day.