No matter how amazing the musicians are that make up a band, if there's no chemistry, the audience will hear it. No one wants to see a band with two guitarists who are trying to outplay each other, or a bassist who doesn't lock in with the drummer. Sometimes chemistry just happens on the spot, and other times it takes a while to develop. Whether your band is brand new or you're trying to rekindle the chemistry of a band you started years ago, try these tips to tighten up your sound and bring out the best in one another.
1. Play one on one with each bandmate
Oftentimes, when a band starts with two people, those two people have the initial connection that binds the band. That's usually because they have experience playing and writing one on one. If you only have experience playing as a full band, you'll have a strong chemistry as a group, but might not notice the subtleties of each individual member as much.
Make time to practice (or just jam) one on one with each member of your band. Listen intently to each person play without any distractions. Ask about individual techniques, what he or she listens for in a song, and what guides his or her musical decisions. Even if it's just a singer and a drummer, having time to play together will give you a better understanding of the other person's musicality, which will ultimately build stronger chemistry.
2. Discuss the origins of your passion for music
Do you know why the other members of your band started playing music in the first place? When did they decide they wanted to do this professionally? Make time to talk to each member of your band about what got him or her into music in the first place, what keeps the love alive, and where he or she wants to go with music. After you hear them out, tell them about your passion. What drives you?
3. Share your record collections
One of the best parts about being in a band is that everyone's unique musical taste blends into a unique sound. But do you really know what music inspires each member of your band? Maybe you can list off some influences, but have you listened intently to them? Do you know why they love those musicians?
A good way to build chemistry is to share with your bandmates the music that makes you tick – and talk about why it inspires you. Help them understand your inspirations, and do the same for them. If you know who they look up to and you can hear it, you can get a better feeling for who they are as musicians and how you can communicate better with them.
4. See shows together
Do you guys share a common favorite band? Make a trip together to see that band – it's an obvious reason to spend time together, and it will allow you to really dive into what you all love about music. You play shows together, which takes chemistry. But if you can see shows together and enjoy them as audience members, you can share in the enjoyment of live music, which in turn helps you understand how to give your fans a good time at your next show.
5. Spend time together outside of music
You both love everything about music – that's your main connection. Nourish that connection, but don't forget that musicians have lives outside of music, and that's where some of the strongest friendships start. Get pizza together. Go out for some bar hopping. See the new Star Wars. Whatever it might be, do stuff together outside of music and work on understanding each other on a nonmusical level. This will help you really know your bandmates inside and out, creating a strong relationship and chemistry that will help in your music.
Is there a risk of becoming too close? Maybe – sometimes bands break up when it turns into friends fighting over personal stuff outside of the band, which is unfortunate. However, I believe in the value of getting to know your bandmates outside of the practice space, tour van, or studio.
Learn more about being the best bandmate you can be:
- 5 Things You Should Never Say to Your Bandmates
- 14 Rules for Being a Good Bandmate
- 6 Ways to Bond With Your Bandmates Outside of Rehearsal
- 10 Essential Qualities of Great Band Leadership
- 5 Respectful Ways to Let Your Bandmates Know They're Sucking
Sam Friedman is an electronic music producer and singer-songwriter based in Brooklyn, NY. His music blends experimental ambience with indie-driven dance music. In addition to pursuing his own music, he is a New Music Editor for Unrecorded and is passionate about music journalism. Check out his music and follow him on Twitter @nerveleak.