Average people donít think the way people in rock bands think, which is to say that people who actually join rock bands arenít average. They are either musical geniuses or absolute nincompoops. Of course I exaggerate. In any case, there ought to be guidelines when interacting with them. Here are a few pointers Iíve drawn up.
A general rule for everyone, if you are only trying to make conversation, never ask someone from a band how much their talent fee is. You donít ask new acquaintances how much their salary is, donít you? Itís the same thing for a band. Unless of course, you are seriously interested in booking them, in which case you should open the topic by asking whom should you talk to regarding band bookings. To be safe, always assume that the band has a manager, or at least a booking agent you need to go through.
Never promise to catch them in one of their gigs if you donít plan to. Never make a suggestion about their songwriting, or band image. Even with the best intentions, musicians have definite ideas about their music and looks so any suggestion you make will come out as lame to them and theyíll never forget the most absurd ideas.
For media people, never ask ďWhy the band name?Ē It is such a clichť question and a dead giveaway that youíve not done any research. Besides, theyíll have encountered that question numerous times in the past that answering it becomes too mechanical and any genuine meaning is lost in the delivery.
For the serious fan, if you want to flatter, ask for an autograph. That never fails. If you want to annoy, ask for an autograph and then frantically declare that you donít have a pen and paper with you and ask shamelessly if he or she has one hidden somewhere in a back pocket. Never ask stupid questions like can I join your band? Or do you have free tickets to your next show? Or can you greet me up on stage? Or can I have your T-shirt?
For the clueless, donít ever refer to a band as aĎcomboí and donít ever ask to hear a sample of the music. If you need to be educated, youíre not the bandís market to begin with so why should they bother. Besides, asking for a sample is absolutely annoying. If the only complete band lineup you can name is of the Beatles, donít attempt a discussion about the band scene. And even if you happen to know more band trivia than someone from a band actually does, heíll hate you for it so better not go in that direction.
Never ask someone from a band to sing in a party in front of everybody. Heíll kill you the moment he has the chance to be alone with you.
For older people, never suggest to the band that their music is way too loud. It canít be otherwise. Period.
For the not too serious fan, if youíre not too sure of the exact identity of the band member you are planning to approach, donít, under any circumstance, dare a guess. One of the worst things you can say is ďHey, arenít you that guy from the (name of a band more famous than his)?Ē
If youíre trying to be cool, donít try and bum a cigarette from a band player unless youíre a band player yourself, in which case, you donít have to ask, just snatch. The cool thing to do would be to offer your own stash. Of course, it should be a premium brand. If you plan to offer your cheap favorites, forget it. Better yet, offer a drink. Cold beer is always a safe bet.
Never try and discuss to a songwriter what you think his song is about. Chances will be your interpretation is way off by miles. Besides, most writers usually donít know themselves what theyíre writing about.
If youíre looking to be a member of a band yourself, never offer to audition. That ainít the way to go. Wait to be invited. In the end, if you really canít stand their guts, just go ahead and set up your own then tell me about it after youíve given up.