Let’s form a band?

Cornerhouse Programme Coordinator Christina Millare relives her time in a band…

The As Easy As One, Two, Three? Music Industry Panels continue this Thursday with Breaking The Band. An event, which aims to uncover the myth behind nasty band break ups, band dynamics and the notion of ‘success’.

Being in a band myself not so long ago, there is a strong personal element in my wanting to help organise these music panel events. The band I was in, An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump, survived for a mere 18 months, during which time the band worked through a string of managers almost as regularly as one changes socks. As a band our expectations were high (and rightfully so). We believed in what we were creating but thinking back as a trio of highly spirited (perhaps even highly strung?) and opinionated people we probably weren’t always the easiest to appease.

We got the opportunity to play with some amazing bands we admired and in many thrilling cities around the UK and Europe. Soon after forming we quit our day jobs and fell head first into what would soon result into a heady 18 months of writing music, gigging, late nights and towards the end, stormy in-band politics. Already well into my mid-twenties my parents saw this spontaneous life change as a ‘phase’ and also a disappointment with many of our conversations turning to ’Why can’t you get a proper job?’ followed by, ‘You’re too old for this!’. For 18 months the band and I lived practically hand to mouth, living off our meager band fees from playing at least 3 live shows a week with days reserved for rehearsing and writing. When I wasn’t thinking about my growing credit card bills, life was relatively bliss. One magazine even described us as one of the hardest working bands around at that time. At first we didn’t care that we had no money, as we loved playing live and writing music. As clichéd as it sounds, the music was what mattered first and foremost but in the end my own increasing monetary unease got the better of me. Like many bands I was chasing the dream of one day being signed and thereby (so the story usually goes) sufficiently funded. Quitting the day job was a big mistake but once this realisation hit home, the band and I were exhausted both physically and with each other.

Sure at times the band was difficult and included some hair-raising moments but I wouldn’t change my experience for the world. In hindsight the band was a truly exhilarating period of my life and the difficulties within the group always arose out of our passion for our music – unfortunately almost at the expense of our friendship! I am thankful to say that after a somewhat turbulent working relationship with both my band mates, I still have two of the most incredible friends. Overall forming the band gave us the opportunity to realise a pipe dream (even if it was for a short period of time),  meet some interesting characters, work with some truly inspiring musicians and producers and most importantly gave us the luxury and space to think of nothing but what we loved doing – making music.

So if even after my tale you still fancy yourself as a rock star in the making check out Chris Stanley’s top tips for band survival here. And join in the conversation this Thur 17 Nov for our music panel Breaking the Band.