The Time Machines

1 – You MUST make sure the nominal formation of your proto-punk band is before the formation of the Sex Pistols in 1975. A ‘legendary’ initial formation in the early 70s is ideal, but even if the drummer once talked about being in a band with the singer in High School in late 1974, that could be enough. Also, the band needs to be called ‘The’ something.

2 – Play up your distinctive local origins. For example, if you are from London, say you are from Lewisham. If some of you are black, Jewish, Hispanic, etc, make a big deal of this. If all of you are white, put ambiguous but slightly racist overtones in some of your song lyrics which you can later deny.

3 – You need an association with another semi-famous indie performer. If you are stuck, walk up to Jonathan Richman and ask him if he wants to form a band. When he says no, you can say you had artistic differences, and you moved on.

4 – Write some songs. You only need a few decent tunes, the rest can all be filler or covers of American blues tracks. Optionally, you can spread a rumor that several of your originals were co-written by Bowie, Iggy Pop or David Byrne. If they say you are lying, tell them they were too out of it to remember.

5 – Pick an ‘unusual’ instrument choice: lots of feedback, hamonica, sax, one finger keyboard playing, violin, distorted flute, etc. If all else fails just have no bass player.

6 – Don’t play too fast. Remember this type of music is primarily designed for people in their thirties and forties, in the early 21st century. It should be basically be mid-tempo driving rock so they can nod along from their computer chairs. Also: either play perfectly in tune, or at least a quarter-tone out of tune.

7 – Pick an option for stage gimmick: wearing suits and ties in a sloppy way, wearing silly hats, facing the wrong way, drummer up front, eating unusual things, setting fires, etc.

8 – Play some hastily organized shows in front of at least 50 people. You must make sure these are anarchic in some way. Venue fires are excellent (see #7) , as is being kicked off stage by the venue manager. Ideally there should also be some kind of crowd violence as well. Regular fights between the lead singer and journalists or members of other bands are the best. But if all you have is some drunk lady throwing a doughnut at your bass player, make sure it goes down in the annals.

9 – Record an album, and possibly a single and / or EP as well. Make sure the album cover is t-shirt worthy. Then, do demos for a second album that never gets properly recorded (these can be rubbish). Also, get a hanger-on to record inaudible bootlegs for the rarities CD.

10 – You will need film footage for YouTube. Blagging you way onto a TV variety show and playing an ‘outrageous’ performance of your second best song is the best option. You can also get your hanger-on to record shaky super-8 footage from the side of the stage. Make sure there are a few people up the front, yelling.

11 – Break up and get on with life. Preferably the break-up should appear acrimonious, and related to drug and alcohol issues, even if you are all perfectly fine and still like each other. Several members need to go on to other, less successful projects. (This will not be difficult.) Also, one of you needs to have an arty-sounding  career in film making or whatever. The rest of you can all be van drivers.

12. Return to the present time. Your band will have several fan sites, and a Wikipedia entry which is mostly wrong. Someone will have re-released your album digitally, and there will be about five thousand suburbanite men in their thirties who claim you were the best band ever, and who argue heatedly on the internet about your output.  Also, quite a few impressionable 15 year old kids will buy your albums and claim to like them.

You still won’t get any money but now you can turn up at show and say you were there when it really mattered.

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3 thoughts on “The Time Machines

  1. 13. Be taut enough to fit into tight leather trousers without demonstrating any visible backside (note: you will cease to have this option by about age thirty, unless you are Iggy Pop).

    I laughed very hard at 6 and had a near tea-snorted-through-nose incident at 7 (also at 11, although I had swallowed the tea by that point).

  2. I am working so hard on # 13 but the weight just won’t come off!

    Damn skinny boys with their impossible legs. They create false standards for the rest of us.

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