Consistency Is The Key
By Bronson Herrmuth - 03/27/2008 - 02:03 PM EDT
©2006 By Bronson Herrmuth
Trying out new gear for the first time at a live show or a recording session is a huge mistake. 99 out of 100 times it will backfire on you. You don't have to be a gambler to figure out these are not good odds. The consistency of your show, of your sound, is one of the biggest factors that separates the amateur from the professional. Having the ability and the experience to deliver a high quality performance each and every time you do it. Experimenting with your sound at the wrong time and place can set you up for a very inconsistent performance. This at the expense of your band mates, fellow musicians, your fans, and all brought on by your own choice, is just not a good thing.
Go with what has proven itself to work. Once you have created and refined your sound, be real careful about messing with it. If it's not broke, no point in trying to fix it. I can tell you this with certainty because I have made this mistake more than once early in my career. Many more times than that I have been directly affected by other musicians finding this out the hard way. Also some of the most embarrassing times of my career and all because someone in the band decided to try out a new gadget or toy at everyone else's expense.
Playing music with other people is all about listening and interacting musically. The more you do it with the same people playing the same instruments the same way, you can develop your own distinctive sound. At the same time you come to expect certain tones, inflections, effects that blend and work together every time you play that particular song coming from each member. When all of the sudden someones sound is totally different, every ones sound has taken a turn. Usually for the worst has been my experience. I suggest you don't let it happen to you. If you see it coming from across the stage, I advise you to do your best to head it off at the pass.
Case in point: Not long ago I was hired to put together a band for a new artist who had relocated to Nashville. In doing so I held auditions, hired and assembled a six piece group of some of Nashville's finest. Since this artist had dates already on the books, we immediately went from the audition mode to intense rehearsals, working up his show and memorizing original songs. Two weeks later we headed to Virginia to open up for The Amazing Rhthym Aces at an outdoor festival. I was on this trip as band leader playing fiddle and harmonica
for the show.
We arrived the the night before, so we woke up in our hotel rooms with several hours to kill before heading to the concert for load in and sound check. One our new band members decided to use this time to pursue one of the most popular pastimes of musicians on the road. A trip to the local music store. When he got back he was carrying a sack which contained over $200 of new software for his lap top and his instrument. Brand new, super duper, the world's greatest software, designed to allow his instrument to sound like 100 different instruments at the same time. Software I might add, to make his instrument sound completely different than it had at any point during out 2 weeks of rehearsals. Different than he had sounded standing beside him, working up double leads, unison licks, etc., different than he had sounded any other time in his life. All based on software he had never used before, still in the box. The very best part was that he was ecstatic about having it to be able to use it that very night, at our first show together, in front of thousands of people.
Needless to say that didn't happen. As bandleader, and the producer who had hired him, I vetoed this decision to bring an unknown in to our show. I chose to not even open the door to the potential catastrophe I felt surely would have happened. No offense intended to this musician in relating this story to you. There's just no reason to buck the odds when it comes to your sound and to your show. Nothing wrong with upgrading your gear or your instruments, but only when done properly and then well rehearsed. There are way too many other unknowns you will have to conquer to give the folks a first class show no matter your genre. Stick with what works and you will be glad you did come show time. Consistency is the key and going for that each and every time you perform is the only way you will ever achieve that goal. Save the experimenting for the rehearsal hall and make sure it works before you break it out in the studio or on stage.
And oh yeah, buy plenty of new cords and batteries. Always carry spare cords you know work and replace batteries often to avoid your whole show being ruined at any given moment, because it will happen to you, if you don't. Anticipate problems and then it's no big deal when they pop up. Be prepared, be consistent, take no prisoners, and have an Awesome show!
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