So I've managed to find a really, really awesome band on CL. I see below that there are some people with a little frustration about the typical stuff: flakiness, people who can't actually play, people who don't like even remotely the same stuff as you but answer your influence-laden ad anyway, etc. Since I had some success (as well as some failure), I thought I'd share some of my experiences. That's what it's all about, right?
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General band advice:
POST YOUR LOCATION PROMIMENTLY AND REPEATEDLY. This drives me batshit. If you don't have the presence of mind to figure out how to CLICK ON SOME PLACE THAT'S CLOSE TO YOU, you prolly don't deserve a band. I don't know how many emails I've sent, the entire text of which was: Where are you located? It's stupid, and it's a waste of everyone's time.
POST YOUR INFLUENCES. You CAN do this. It is not cheesy. It will get you dozens more and better responses. It lets people know exactly what you're looking for - even if you include Art Blakey, Slayer, and The Powerpuff Girls Theme Song. Anything is better than nothing.
HAVE DEMOS. It's 2002. You _can_ beg or borrow some kind of device to make an mp3, and it will make a world of difference in the quality of responses you get. The more you have, the better off you will be. If you need help making mp3s, email me, and I will help you.
DON'T BE A GOD-DAMNED FLAKE. OK, we've all done it. It's easy to get excited about that perfect looking ad, so excited that you think, heck, driving to Sonoma prolly isn't so bad.. But you know there's no way in hell you're going to lug gear that far, so just don't waste people's time, right?
BE PATIENT. Really. Expect to talk to a bunch of people, and spend a couple of wasted hours here and there. Expect to get rejected a couple of times. It's not a big deal. I prolly tried out with 5 or 6 people/bands before I found one I liked, and then we did the CL thing for a bassist, and tried out 4 or 5 before we found a compatible player. Which leads me to:
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE PEOPLE. Unless you're in one of those cheesedick "theme" bands (which I actually think are worse than good ol' cover bands..) it is, in my experience, really, really important to get along with the people you play music with. It's a primal thing, and even without getting hippie about it, you're gonna spend a lot of time with these people. If you meet people that you just feel good about playing with, join the band and give the music a serious go. Hey, it's advice, take it or leave it.
YOU ARE NOT AS GOOD AS YOU THINK YOU ARE. Or your mom, girlfriend, boyfriend, dog, or that guy who claims he's an A&R rep think you are, either. Have some god-damned humility. The more humility you have, the more likely the really hot cats are to enjoy your company, and, being seasoned, kick-ass musicians who realize that IT'S ABOUT THE PEOPLE, to join your band - in spite of your questionable talent level. It doesn't matter if you're signed, it doesn't matter if you've got Bob Rock himself blowing smoke up your butt - you're really not that good. If you _were_ that good, you'd know enough not to wank off about how damned good you are. Of course, if you LISTED YOUR INFLUENCES and PROVIDED A DEMO, it wouldn't matter quite so much what you said, now would it?
Finding a drummer:
We are in demand. You, as a guitarist, are not. Sorry, but that's just the way it is. You guys get to be the rock-god musical geniuses, and we get to play hard to get. Really, it's a fair shake, I think.
Advice 1: Unless asked, don't ever, ever, ever tell a drummer what to play. You might think you have the greatest drumline ever, but, unless you're also a drummer, I can almost promise it's that same tired boom-pap, boom-boom-pap beat that _every single rock-god musical genius_ guitarist on the planet thinks is the best beat ever. It's not. It's good for about 1 song in 10.
If you're a drummer, it's even worse. Don't even tell the drummer that you play, especially if you're better than they are. It's just demeaning and a bummer for everyone involved. If they're better than you.. well, come on, just shut up about it. If someone wants your musical advice, they'll ask. If it's killing you, be obsequious about it, and expect to get rebuffed.
If you MUST make suggestions, make them in the context of the song. I say all of this because I had one really great, for a while, tryout with a band in Oakland where everything was going great until the rock-god musical genius bassist insisted that I play some stupid bappity-bap tom line for about 4 minutes in a row. After I woke back up, I had to split. Bummer, too, they had good songs and good sound.
If you can't even make it thru a damn tryout without asserting your rock-god musical genius on someone, you _really_ need to do a little self evaluation. Start with, "self, wouldn't I REALLY be happier with a drum machine?" (The answer is yes. Go buy one and leave us alone.)
Advice 2: Unless you're in a jam band, or your drummer really just needs the practice, make some kind of an effort to get song structures down ahead of time. This is good general advice, but not every band works that way. Maybe, actually, this is just a pet peeve of mine. Anyways, the least you can do is ask your drummer if they're bored coming to practices while you all wank around and figure out just how you want to play that chunky F#-E-A progression you've been working on since about 30 seconds before practice.
Good luck, everyone!