All The Bands That Never Got Big
I bet each of you remembers a band from your school days. Either you played in it yourself, or friends were in a group you went to see. I remember a lot of bands.
For every band that gets rich and famous, there are tens of thousands who disappear before they've even made a record. That's an incredible pity because many of them are really good.
Most bands are still formed by kids who go to school together. Never again in your life, you have so much free time and so much energy as in these years. Young people try out, want to express themselves, and dream of a career as rock stars.
Only very few of them really become rock stars. But that's okay because playing in a band still changes the rest of your life.
You learn to work with others because you have to rehearse. You learn to organize because you have to get gigs and transport equipment for the concerts.
Playing in a band is at least as suitable for kids as doing sports or learning a foreign language - except that a band is much cooler than anything else.
We were five guys and formed a punk band when I was about sixteen years old.
Four of us couldn't play an instrument. One of us was already pretty good on the electric guitar at that time. We arranged for one of us to buy a bass, one of us a guitar and one of us a drum set. The fifth one had to buy a microphone and a vocal amplifier.
We begged our parents and did some jobs to earn money for the instruments.
I was supposed to be the rhythm guitarist.
After we all had our instruments, everyone practiced on their own, and after a few weeks, we started rehearsing together. At first, we played in the bass player's garage, but that soon stopped because the neighbors complained.
Before we had found a real rehearsal room, we sometimes met in the drummer's basement and sometimes in the basement of the second guitarist.
We started to write our own songs. Because we had decided to play German punk, we didn't have to be very good at it. A few real chords were enough. The rest of the songs consisted of power chords that you could grasp with two fingers.
Only our first guitarist, who really could play guitar, played impressive guitar solos so that the songs didn't sound so dilettante.
Our rehearsals were actually more parties than real rehearsals. We drank more beer than we practiced. (In Germany it is legal to drink beer at the age of sixteen). Nevertheless, we managed to work on the songs.
When we had written a dozen songs and mastered them, we looked for ways to perform.
We played youth centers, schools, small clubs, pubs.
With time we mastered our instruments better, and we switched to Westcoast-Punk with English lyrics. Our idols were bands like Bad Religion or NOFX. Our fanbase grew, and our gigs got bigger.
We changed our band name from the German "Entartete Kunst" to "Yellow Snow." After a while, we changed our name again and were called "C-Breeze."
But eventually, we ended up like most school bands. You know the one from "Summer of 69" by Brian Adams: Jimmy quit, Jody got married ... that's pretty much how it went for us.
First, the bass player got out. We fought with him. For him, a new bass player came in. Next thing I knew, I left the band. I'd just started university, and I didn't have time to rehearse anymore.
Maybe I would be a rock star today if I had stayed in the band. But it is not very likely.
The other bands of our friends
At our school and in our extended circle of acquaintances, many bands were founded at that time. It often happened that we organized gigs together with the other groups. We visited each other in our rehearsal rooms, and we borrowed equipment from each other.
These were rock bands, pop groups, dark wave bands, and other punk bands.
I still remember many band names from back then. "Diarrhea," "Axel S.," "No-Lobes," "Black Ribbon," "Brando," "Past Perfect," ... the list was endless.
None of these bands survived for more than three years. But everyone from back then still remembers their music, their performances and the people who played in these bands.
There were legendary concerts, close and unconditional friendships, and also a lot of drama. Some bands produced a CD, and others recorded music cassettes.
It was a creative, wild, and free time back then.
What has remained from that time
Today my guitars hang on the wall in my study. Sometimes I think about picking them up again and writing another song. But then I don't do it.
I decided to become a writer, and today I can make a living out of it. So in a way, I became a rock star after all. I reach people all over the world with my words, and my books have sold over two hundred thousand copies in Germany to date.
I am no longer sad that I have not become a musician. But it would be sad if I had never tried.
Buy your children instruments and support them when they want to make music. You don't have to like the music they make, but you should appreciate it if your children want to be creative.
Do you remember the bands from your school days? Did you play in a band yourself? What did you experience back then? Tell me about it in the comments. I am very curious about it.