They/you don’t. But you’re right in that It’s good that they’re out there doing it. Because without all the terribleness, we’d have no standard by which to judge that which is good, eh? Terrible bands maintain the musical equilibrium and entropy in the universe while keeping the scales of quality perpetually tipped towards the side of shitty.
The laws of probability suggest that if you’re reading this, you’re in a band and your band is terrible, though you’re most likely completely unaware. Blame your friends and family for not being as honest with you as I am right now. But, as I said before, just because your music is awful doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be playing it. Here are some tips for your awful band:
1. Pick a terrible name.
The best terrible band names are ones catered specifically for unique search-engine results. It’s not the '70s anymore. You can’t just name your band Journey, Yes, the Eagles or Wire and expect anyone to ever be able to find you. Take a cue from the likes of Here We Go Magic, I Believe in Hotpants and ... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and cram as many keywords into your band name as possible. For added terribleness, include a really arbitrary number (30 Odd Foot of Grunts), name (Framing Hanley) or place (Kingston Springs).
Unconventional spelling and punctuation of some sort will help a ton (tUnE-yArDs, Limp Bizkit, Puddle of Mudd, fun.), and nothing explains how fresh and contemporary you really are by referencing any book or movie less than 10-15 years old.
2. Play as a two-piece.
It sounds great at practice. Why not on stage? It’s different, it’s free form, and you can’t be held down by some low-end, thumping square. And don’t let the likes of JEFF the Brotherhood, Chrome Pony and Mystery Twins discourage you. You can most definitely be as terrible as Local H.
3. Write lots of songs and play all of them at every show.
How is anyone going to get what your band is about if they haven’t had an opportunity to absorb everything it is you have to offer? Start with your catchiest stuff so you can win the audience over before you delve into your lesser works.
4. Find a gimmick.
Contrary to popular belief, gimmickry and creativity are mutually exclusive. Your gimmick does not have to be clever to qualify as a gimmick. You can go as far as being a bunch of white kids pretending to be hardcore gangster rappers, or maybe you just always wear sunglasses onstage. Gimmicks aren’t rocket science, but rocket science can also be a gimmick.
5. Talk about your band.
Who’s going to talk about your band if you don’t do it first? In fact, never not be talking about your band. Chances are, it’s going to come up in conversation anyway, so don’t waste any time because it’s going to take a minute to explain your sound. We all wish it were as easy as slapping some convenient Pitchfork-approved label like “post-ska revival metalcore twee pop” and call it a day, but your band isn’t classified so conveniently.
6. Get feedback.
After the show, ask your friends what they thought of your set. If they take one to three seconds to spit out “Yeah, dude!” — you’re doing it right.
7. Pay to play.
Put your money where your mouth is, dude. Everybody knows any band worth seeing will drop a couple hundo to get onstage. And don’t underestimate your friends’ support. Just because they saw you for free at last week’s open mic, doesn’t mean they want to buy a $10 advance ticket to see you play across the street.
8. Sign up for a “battle of the bands.”
You know, they play music at football games, but when do we ever get football at music events? They both involve gear, practice and an audience, right? Well, the closest you’re gonna get is injecting some of that cutthroat competition into your art, where it’s long belonged. Sign up for every band battle, show ‘em you're a tiger, show ‘em what you can do.
9. Social media is your best friend.
Make a Facebook page. Invite every friend of every member to “like” it. Once they do, throw up a couple updates a day so they know what you’re up to. Use your twitter feed to let everyone know how practice went. And just because someone lives several states away doesn’t mean they too shouldn’t get an invite to your first local show.
10. Talk about what your songs are about.
It kind of goes without saying, but your songs should be personal and mean something to you, and you should preface each performance with an explanation about that meaning. Don’t limit this to shows. Find a way to segue normal conversations into these topics so that you can talk about your song meanings, the fact that you wrote said songs and if you have time, an onomatopoeia-riddled description of the song’s aesthetic from beginning to end.