It can be hard sometimes to reconcile the different tastes of your band — you might want to play nothing but elaborate guitar riffs while your drummer may have an unhealthy obsession with jazz.
Other band members might be moving towards using more electronica or dance samples, even over your concerns. It can become difficult to write songs and get work done on stage when a band’s moving in different directions.
How, then, might you try to blend your band’s varying tastes?
Talk About It
First, create the time to talk about musical problems, and see whether they can be resolved; it may be the case that a band member has had a long harboured interest in one particular genre or style, and thinks that it would work well in a set. Think about how strengths can be improved through diversity, rather than just refusing to entertain the idea that a new musical direction might be a good thing.
Try Experimenting with Different Styles
It’s worth having a go at playing different styles, or even combining them into what you’re already playing – blues and rock guitar gives you a lot of scope to experiment, while adding in some acoustic or classical pieces may not mean having to drastically overhaul your style. At the same time, you can try to find a way of allowing a band member to indulge in their jazz obsession, which is admittedly harder to get working around other styles.
Try Things Out Live
Often the best way to see whether an audience will respond to different musical styles, playing live will be the acid test as to whether something can be incorporated into your act. See whether playing a new version of a song will work for you, and whether or not it’s something that upsets the style of the rest of the music that you’re playing; a negative audience reaction might be an indicator that a new musical direction isn’t right for the band.
Make the Most of Your Differences
Try to work together to make the most of your differences; look at other bands and performers to get a sense of how musicians can reinvent themselves in productive ways. David Bowie is one example of this. See what works, and see what kind of common interests you have across music. It’s unlikely that an established band is completely on different pages from each other, so attempt to find some kind of compromise.
Try Other Collaborations
Your band members may have friends that can help you to try out new musical styles – this may be as simple as adding in a piano or another instrument, or putting in samples. Again, the most important thing to focus on is keeping an open mind, as well as recognizing when things don’t click when rehearsing or playing live. Collaborations can also be a particularly effective way of freshening things up for other band members.
Sometimes creative differences can’t be overcome, so accept defeat when it is a problem; in some cases, it can be much better for a band member to move onto another project that they’re more interested in. Not letting this happen can make it harder to maintain focus within a band, and can mean that musical differences can quickly become personal if they’re not dealt with in a responsible way.
Punk rock band member Rob thinks everyone should learn to play the electric guitar and create new styles of music. He can be found blogging about the challenges that musicians face today from forming a band to signing your first contract.