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  #1  
Old 07-30-2010, 10:09 AM
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Default Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

We're conducting auditions for a new guitarist over the next few weeks. Much to our surprise, we've attracted some quality applicants. It's a while since I've been in this situation. Any tips or horror stories?
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Old 07-30-2010, 10:23 AM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

Do you really need a guitarist? :P
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Old 07-30-2010, 10:36 AM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

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Originally Posted by Swiss Matthias View Post
Do you really need a guitarist? :P
Hmmm, you have a point. What do you recommend Swissy, a brace of yodelers going through a bank of Marshall 4x12's?
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:11 AM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
We're conducting auditions for a new guitarist over the next few weeks. Much to our surprise, we've attracted some quality applicants. It's a while since I've been in this situation. Any tips or horror stories?
Its a gigging band, right Andy? Make sure you guys share the same sense of humor.

EDIIT- + 1, Swiss!

...
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:20 AM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
We're conducting auditions for a new guitarist over the next few weeks. Much to our surprise, we've attracted some quality applicants. It's a while since I've been in this situation. Any tips or horror stories?
Andy this is in no way a judgement, but could I ask why anyone cold auditions these days? Isn't it best to go see some guitarists play some gigs, find out what people think about the ones you like, then invite them to a practice?

I've just never understood interviewing guys like this. In fact I think rock bands are the only ones who still do this open door audition stuff. Am I right? Even the classical guys will pretend to have an audition but most times will have already selected their guy weeks in advance.

Jazz and reading gigs for example are acquired almost entirely word of mouth. Again it's not a judgement, only an alien concept to me where I am curious enough to want to know more.
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:24 AM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

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Even the classical guys will pretend to have an audition but most times will have already selected their guy weeks in advance.
Oh this makes me laugh. We've done this at Uni for our society. 90% of the time, the auditions are totally neutral and fair, but we had a Big Band conductor we all hated. So we pretty much rigged the process and the panel. The look on his arrogant little face when he didn't get it was absolutely worth it...

Apologies for the aside, but I chuckled.
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:25 AM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

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Hmmm, you have a point. What do you recommend Swissy, a brace of yodelers going through a bank of Marshall 4x12's?
Yes, that sounds nice! Or, even better: An Alphorn!!
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:30 AM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

To be serious: I'd pick one who is tight and grooves, fits your group musically as well as "socially" - as a human being - and one who doesn't want to run his own show on stage (or at the rehearsal space).
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:59 AM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

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Originally Posted by mattsmith View Post
Andy this is in no way a judgement, but could I ask why anyone cold auditions these days? Isn't it best to go see some guitarists play some gigs, find out what people think about the ones you like, then invite them to a practice?

I've just never understood interviewing guys like this. In fact I think rock bands are the only ones who still do this open door audition stuff. Am I right? Even the classical guys will pretend to have an audition but most times will have already selected their guy weeks in advance.

Jazz and reading gigs for example are acquired almost entirely word of mouth. Again it's not a judgement, only an alien concept to me where I am curious enough to want to know more.
Actually Matt, the auditions aren't exactly cold. One guy is known to us. Another two have submitted some of their previous live & studio stuff, so we have at least some idea of their capability. We're replacing a guitarist who was seriously talented in a couple of specific areas. We're not after a 1-1 replacement, but we do want someone with a bit of edge to their playing. We're down to these three guys out of more than 20 who've applied.

Context is also a consideration for us. Our band is based in a very rural area. Our nearest significant gigging scene/muso pool is 100 miles away, so choice is somewhat limited, hence my surprise at getting so many quality applicants. Additionally, our band has been gigging for less than a year, so exposure is limited. Interestingly, quite a few of the applicants have seen our shows.

Ultimately, these auditions serve as an opportunity to test for band fit. Is the vibe right, do we get on with each other, do we share the same goals, etc. Each guy will get a full 3 hours session, arranged across different evenings, plus they've had the chance to work on our set list for a few weeks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swiss Matthias View Post
To be serious: I'd pick one who is tight and grooves, fits your group musically as well as "socially" - as a human being - and one who doesn't want to run his own show on stage (or at the rehearsal space).
Exactly! We already know these guys can play. It's the fit thing we're testing at these auditions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mediocrefunkybeat View Post
Oh this makes me laugh. We've done this at Uni for our society. 90% of the time, the auditions are totally neutral and fair, but we had a Big Band conductor we all hated. So we pretty much rigged the process and the panel. The look on his arrogant little face when he didn't get it was absolutely worth it...

Apologies for the aside, but I chuckled.
No apology necessary. I'm liking the story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aydee View Post
Its a gigging band, right Andy? Make sure you guys share the same sense of humor.

EDIIT- + 1, Swiss!

...
That'll be warped then!
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Old 07-30-2010, 10:47 PM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

I think Matt Smith hit on a good point.

I've been on both sides of the audition process numerous times, and overall, what a waste of time!

I get that 20 years ago, we had no choice. All you can do is interview someone over the phone, and then if you get a vibe, meet up in person, maybe you jam, or maybe it's just listen to a tape. But the tapes were always awful, because no one had access to decent recording gear without spending a ton of money. And 90% of the time, meeting someone in person was a totally different experience than what you expected based on the phone conversation.

These days, everyone can have a website/myspace/whatever page you can go check out their pictures, hear their playing, and get a decent sense of their musicianship. From there, I think the next part is just seeing if their is some chemistry, and is this the person you want to spent a lot of time with. Much like a date, it doesn't have to be perfect experience, but is their a spark.

I think too many people focus on well does so-and-so play the songs 100% correctly the first time. Which, I get if it's a name artist, and they just had Josh Freese or whomever do their album, and now they need a drummer to replicate the parts for the tour, but those people are paying for that perfection, and it's more of a job than a band.

But in most cases, you should know the person can play based on what you've seen. You know they'll get it, be it rehearsal # 1 or #3, the focus should be on is this the person you want to be gigging with, not if they nailed every single note cold. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying who cares is they show up unprepared, or don't know any of the songs, just some people seem to ignore every other factor in favor of perfection.

I remember one band I was in (pre-internet era) we needed a bass player, and after the 1st few auditions, I realized I didn't even care if the guy could be perfect (we were playing prog rock, so the music was rather complex) what I cared about was the person willing to work with us, and were they someone we wanted to work with.

When I read Mick Fleetwood's autobiography, he said he never auditioned anyone for Fleetwood Mac. When he needed a new guitar player, he heard Lindsey Buckingham's playing on a record, and said "I want him in my band". No formal audition, no worries about if Lindsey could play the past material, it was was "I know you can play, come bring that skill and create something new with me". And of course, Lindsey said, if you want me, you have to hire Stevie Nicks too, and so he did, and the rest is history.

Music history is full of such stories. Which seems to be a much more organic way to do things than just the cattle call and formal audition so many bands engage in.

Rant off.

Anyhow, KIS, it seems you're already ahead of the game here, so that's not directed at you so much as it's my general feelings about the audition process.
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  #11  
Old 07-30-2010, 10:49 PM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

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Originally Posted by Swiss Matthias View Post
Do you really need a guitarist? :P
Haha...LOL.

I taught myself guitar just for this reasoning. I originally got into loops, sequencing and programming so I could avoid having to need a keyboardist.
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:01 PM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

Avoid people with ankle monitoring bracelets (just about anyone you'll find on Craigslist).
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Old 07-31-2010, 01:05 PM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

Not that I have any experience in auditioning anyone...but don't I get the feeling that maybe getting a guitar player that knows their place would be helpful?

...and accordion players can really get people moving with an impressive solo if you ask me.
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Old 08-07-2010, 07:06 PM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

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Originally Posted by mattsmith View Post
Andy this is in no way a judgement, but could I ask why anyone cold auditions these days? Isn't it best to go see some guitarists play some gigs, find out what people think about the ones you like, then invite them to a practice?

I've just never understood interviewing guys like this. In fact I think rock bands are the only ones who still do this open door audition stuff. Am I right? Even the classical guys will pretend to have an audition but most times will have already selected their guy weeks in advance.

Jazz and reading gigs for example are acquired almost entirely word of mouth. Again it's not a judgement, only an alien concept to me where I am curious enough to want to know more.
Cold auditions show how the applicant will handle stress. Its worked for me in the past, but we are a rock band.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:22 AM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

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Cold auditions show how the applicant will handle stress. Its worked for me in the past, but we are a rock band.
Good point, & one that escaped me. We do try to make the guys feel at home as much as possible though.
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:51 PM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

Cold auditions also enable you to hire someone new who hasn't gigged a lot yet. I know I typically don't want to bias the process against those folks. There are enough blocks otherwise for people trying to get their foot in the door, and not just in the music industry--people who might be very talented but just haven't had a chance yet. Someone has to give them a start.

Last edited by BrewBillfold; 08-09-2010 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 08-12-2010, 09:40 PM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

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Cold auditions also enable you to hire someone new who hasn't gigged a lot yet. I know I typically don't want to bias the process against those folks. There are enough blocks otherwise for people trying to get their foot in the door, and not just in the music industry--people who might be very talented but just haven't had a chance yet. Someone has to give them a start.
Totally true. Some people have just made music at home with their buddies for years and never even thought of making music seriously. Those are the most creative and cool sounding guitarist. they aren't corrupted by endless lessons and led zeppelin covers. (Which in my opinion can turn a good guitarist into an old one)
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Old 08-13-2010, 01:41 AM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member. Do's, don'ts, horror stories?

my experiences tell me to tell you...
It can be the Funniest, frustrating, boring, exciting, dull, madening, hillarious, times of your entire life.
A must for any musician!
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Old 09-01-2010, 08:33 PM
VinPearl VinPearl is offline
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Default Auditioning a new band member Dos donts horror stories

Hey everyone, whats up? лечение прыщей на голове
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Old 09-01-2010, 11:13 PM
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Default Re: Auditioning a new band member Dos donts horror stories

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Hey everyone, whats up? My name is Peter and Im new here. Im from Lynnwood, where are you guys from?
Hi Peter, welcome to the forum. There's an "introduce yourself" thread, there you can officially tell us all about yourself! :)
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