by PATRICK ROBERTSON Section editor
Many children grow up with the dream of being a rock star. Some people actually get to live that dream. When people think of band members, they think of having money, being with beautiful women, and touring all over the world.
What most people do not know is all of the things that happen behind the scenes. There is so much production behind the shows they play, and hours and hours of traveling between shows. Believe it or not there are rules to being a rock star. Every band member has to start out somewhere.
Most people start in their teens when they decide to pick up an instrument and find other people in their area that also want to play in a band. Then they will work on songs together and eventually be able to play a show.
Usually a band member’s first show is their worst as every member is nervous. They make mistakes, do not move very much, and just do not entertain. The first few shows are usually in some small, no-name bar or club, and played to family members. However, as band members continue to play shows, the stage fright disappears, they gain confidence, and more people will show up after getting your name out there.
One of the most important aspects of a band is the chemistry between members. If there is no chemistry, then the band will not work. There will be fighting and everyone will compete against each other.
Nick Broglio, vocalist of the band Sovereign Kings, said, “I’ve experienced bands that don’t have any chemistry and it’s the worst. We lasted only a few months and then broke up. My current band has chemistry. We’re all on the same page, we know how each other write songs. We all get it.”
After a band gains more notoriety, it is up to the band member to spread the word around. They have to tell everyone about their band, share their music for free, and try to make connections in the industry. There are millions of bands that want to make it big, so band members have to work incredibly hard to get noticed.
“[I want to] get Sovereign Kings’ name out there as much as possible, and also I want to write lyrics that people can relate to,” said Broglio.
One of the hardest parts of trying to make it big is never getting paid. Most venues make the bands sell tickets themselves and only pay the bands $50-$100. Split that between band members and you are only making $10-$20 a show.
For me, personally, I absolutely love music. I want to be in a band for the rest of my life and I want to make it big. I experienced the beginning where our first few shows were absolutely horrible. We played to only our parents and I was so nervous I was shaking most of the set. I have also played around 20 shows and only made a few hundred dollars. Plenty of people try to rip you off and take advantage of you, you just have to be smart.
However, there is more to being a band member than just making it big. As Broglio explains, “There probably will be [a certain moment] when the time comes, but for now when people even know who Sovereign Kings are, it makes me really happy. I’ve always had a deep love and passion for music and it’s also a great way to express thoughts and emotions.”
Band members also have to buy a ton of equipment. Guitarists and bassists have to buy guitars, amps, chords, and pedals, which can cost thousands of dollars. Drummers obviously have to buy all of their drums, which again can cost thousands. Singers do not usually have to buy much besides a microphone, but it can be surprisingly expensive.
Furthermore, all members have to pay for studio time to record which, unless you know somebody, can be very expensive. Recording an album with a professional can cost $20,000.
However, some people make it big and get a record company to give them money to record. Signing a record deal can net bands $10,000 and up to record an album, plus checks for each band member.
Getting signed to a record company also means major publicity and touring. Record companies endorse their newest bands all over social media. Then they get their bands tours with other bands, either from their record company or other companies. However, tours are not as glamorous as you would think.
Most bands start out in a van and have a trailer attached to that. They have to share that van with six to eight people. Usually there are four or five band members, although in some cases there can be up to eight with four people taking care of merchandise, ticket sales, and carrying equipment.
That is eight people in one van that all want to listen to different music, have their own space, use or charge their electronics, and other things that do not seem like a big deal until you are in a small space like a van. Moreover, after shows, those bands do not have a tour bus or a bus driver, so they have to take shifts driving overnight to the next show.
If your band can make it through all of that, you can make it to the most luxurious part of touring – a tour bus and a full staff to go with you. That is 11-13 people that handle all of your needs. If you need food and water, they will get it. They tune your guitars, make sure your drums are in the right spots, and do sound check for you. They carry all the equipment, sell all the merchandise, and deal with the venues. All a band member has to do is get out of bed, walk to the stage, play a show, then do whatever he wants until curfew. Yes, even rock stars have a bus call.
Bands get to tour all over the world and be greeted by hundreds of thousands of screaming fans no matter what part of the world they are in. One person who has experienced all of that is Conor Hesse, bassist of I, The Breather:
Why did you want to be in a band? I wanted to be in a band simply because I enjoyed making music and hanging out with my friends, so it all seemed to make sense.
Is it everything you thought it would be? It is definitely not what I thought it would be; much less “luxurious”.
Where is your favorite place to play? I love being in California and playing locally (Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland).
Are all of the stereotypes about sex, drugs, and rock and roll true? The stereotypes are true for the people that seek it.
Do you feel pressure when putting out a new album? I feel more excitement than pressure when putting out a new album, because I am always more confident in the newest product that we release.
The life of a band member is definitely not as luxurious as everyone thinks, but then again, it is much better than sitting in an office.
Did you expect the life of a rock star to be more luxurious?