chap-4

Firstly, I should say that I was 50% responsible for the name You Slut! (Shortened from the original, far less offensive name ‘You Slut Motherfucker!’). So quite honestly, I am no font of knowledge on the subject of naming your new band.

So maybe go with something that sounds fucking cool, or strangely mysterious, or completely LMOFL hilarious, or plain offensive. That pretty much covers every math rock band name in existence.

My only tip here is, come up with a name that won’t cause your grandma to choke on her brussels sprouts during Christmas dinner, or a name so offensive that it requires a disclaimer, meaning you have to sincerely apologize for your poor choice before telling anybody what it is.

I was once stood in the middle of a busy office I worked in when the moment I’d always dreaded arrived:

“I hear you’re in a band! What’s your band called?”

The whole place fell deathly silent. Beady eyes were focused on me, and me only. I completely ‘deafed out’.

I felt like I was in one of those dreams you have where you’re late for an exam in a subject you’ve never taken, and that obviously you’ve not revised for. And for some reason you’ve made an appalling fashion error and find yourself only wearing a shirt that, if you pull forward covers your cock and balls, but leaves your arse flapping in the wind. But if you pull the shirt back, it only covers your arse, leaving the old big three exposed. And now to top it off you’re holding a handful of your teeth so you’re doubly uncovered. A Guide to Math Rock | Shirt Only

I stood there for a second and then I mumbled an old band name I was in years ago, and scuttled off. Luckily for everyone I‘d remembered to wear trousers that day. No shirt though.

So with all that embarrassment fresh in your mind, let me have a think of a math rock band name for you…

‘Testicular Dancer’. There, I’ve saved you a job.

So you need to get your new name out there, along with some of your brand-spanking new music for people to stream or download. But it’s important to get it heard by the right people in the right places. You wouldn’t walk into a Catholic Church with a rucksack full of free condoms to give away.

If you can get yourself some half-decent demos done cheaply then that’d be an absolutely grand start. Problem is, you’re working 20 hours a week at Lidl and living in the box room at your parents’ house. And the money you do make goes predominantly on stubby beers and PS4 games. Still, this makes you by far the richest musician in the band by about £200-a-week.

Fear not. You can record a rehearsal pretty easily using a laptop, GarageBand and a cheap but effective USB microphone. It’ll probably sound more ‘Argos Dictaphone’ and less Quincy Jones, but that won’t matter. It is supposed to be a demonstration of your songs, not the finalised product after all.

“Try adding some Phil Collins gated reverb to the drums. Actually don’t do that. It sounds fucking terrible.”

If you record your parts individually (maybe drums and bass together to keep time, or if you’re feeling really brave, to a click track, which will be covered in painstaking detail in ‘Recording Your First Math Rock Album’ chapter later), you can then try recording the guitars (and any other instruments) separately,that way you can always mix it for levels afterwards. It’ll sound less messy.

Try adding some Phil Collins gated reverb to the drums. Actually don’t do that. It sounds fucking terrible.

The alternative to the above is laying down the parts at home and then recording the drums in your practice room. Though that would almost definitely require a click track to keep it all in time.

Keep the demo down to 2-4 songs. You don’t want to give away your complete debut album immediately. That should be a nice introduction to what you’re all about.

I would definitely avoid shelling out your hard-earned dollars on a professional recording studio at this stage. I’m of the opinion that it’s massively beneficial to gig the songs for a while before laying them down. It gives them time to develop, and they will become immeasurably tighter the more you play them on a live stage. That’s true of any music, but especially accurate of math rock.

So, you have a couple of demos recorded and mixed. There might perhaps be few minor mistakes in there. The guitarist has missed that note, or the drummer hit the rim instead of the actual snare. But it doesn’t matter hugely. Unless you’ve literally completed messed up, had a blazing, increasingly personal row mid-song, and left the guitarist alone to test his new delay pedal for 25 minutes.

I wouldn’t spend hours making these. Just make them sound as good as you possibly can with the equipment you have at your disposal. You can be as DIY as you want with how you release this early stuff.

Having them in a downloadable and streamable format is a must, and I shall discuss that in further detail in a moment. But, you can always pop them onto a limited run of CDs with some basic artwork to flog cheaply at your gigs, if you fancy. Or if you’re feeling particularly hipster, then you can release the thing on cassette, mini-disc or homing pigeon. It’s your choice.

I’d definitely suggest making a BandCamp and SoundCloud page to upload your music to. You can make them downloadable for a price, or for free – It’s entirely up to you. I’d propose, depending on how many songs you’ve recorded, that you make one of the downloadable for free and the others available by stream.
Or possibly make it so that you can only buy the demo in one go and not individually?

A Guide to Math Rock | The WoodsMake sure you have some images of the band prepared ready to upload to your pages. You can get pretty great quality photos on your smartphone these days, so long gone are the days you’d have wait at Snappy Snaps for your film to develop, desperately hoping that when you opened the back of your camera in broad daylight that it didn’t exposure the entire fucking roll.

Try not to make the photos too cheesy. I’m thinking your drummer looking into the middle distance whilst holding his drumsticks in the woods might be a little too much, or any of you holding your respective instruments in the woods. Just avoid the woods. Or taking your instruments to unnatural places.

Use your imagination. You’ve made some math rock songs for god’s sake, so I think you’re capable of taking a band photo. If you’re not then just cram into a photobooth and pull stupid faces. Job done.

Our first photoshoot involved horseplay. Literally. We found a horse and had photos with it. Sad to think that horse has long since passed and we’ve collectively put on about 15 stone.

Also, try and make a logo for the band name. Probably avoid Microsoft Word fonts though, as, on the whole, they will make your band look like a disappointing event from a school newsletter. But in all seriousness, having a good logo is worth a bit of extra hard work, as this can be used on all your gig posters, future releases and press releases. People will then get used to seeing your logo and can associate it with your music. Don’t make the thing unreadable though – like those black metal ones. They look like someone has vomited a box of half-digested mint matchsticks and then inverted the image.

Once you have uploaded your music, then I recommend you make yourself a Facebook band page, a YouTube channel, a band Twitter account (linked to your Facebook) and a band Gmail address. Also get yourself set-up on Last.fm (a great way to monitor how many plays you’ve had online).

“We found out via Twitter that we were one of Biffy Clyro’s drummer’s (Ben Johnston) favourite bands. Unfortunately, we found this out five years too late… Shame, I always fancied playing the O2 Arena.”

Social media really is a superb outlet for bands. Sites like Twitter and Facebook can help get your songs spread far and wide, through shares and likes. We found out via Twitter that we were one of Biffy Clyro’s drummer’s (Ben Johnston) favourite bands. Unfortunately, we found this out five years too late. The original tweet was posted in 2011, and we first saw it in 2016. Shame, I always fancied playing the O2 Arena.

Get your band, songs and individual members registered to the PRS. This means you will get a tiny bit of extra pocket money if/when your songs get played in public – whether that’s on radio or live. It costs a little to join, but it’s worth it.

Upload your demo with an image, preferably of the spontaneous artwork you’ve created for your demo, onto your YouTube channel, and ensure you attach as many relevant tags as possible, so that people searching for “noisy instrumental crazy guitar based heavy discordant 15/8 spazzy mental complicated math rock” may stumble across you by happy accident.

Also make sure you hyperlink in the description to your other pages (Facebook, BandCamp, SoundCloud etc) with a little bit about you. If you’re feeling really adventurous and have spare time coming out of your pulmonary glands, then you can try and make an accompanying video to your songs. Think Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’. Or ‘Dancing in the Street’ by B & J.

Be warned about upload quality. I’ve uploaded my own music to YouTube in the past and thought it’d be instant 1080p excellence. But it ended up sounding like Pacman farting down an empty one-litre Sprite bottle. Make sure you upload at the highest quality available to you.

Post the video around on the math rock/instrumental/post rock Facebook pages I spoke of in the earlier chapter. Make sure there is a link to where you can download it and your Facebook/Twitter page. You want to gain followers and fans of your music a quickly as you can.

If you have any gig dates then make sure they’re advertised. Just don’t embed them on the video. It’d be annoying if every time you listened to a song it informed you at the end that the band is playing a show in 2008 at the Wolf & Gall Bladder in Wrexham.

I really wouldn’t spam other bands with your music. They will almost certainly not listen to it, and probably delete from their page/minds. Also, don’t send it to your favourite math rock labels yet. Wait until you get your album fully finished and then approach them. If your stuff is good then hopefully you’ll be on their radar anyway, and they might just attend some of your future gigs.

If your demos are great then hopefully people will share them about and the right people will hear them.

Finally, I wouldn’t bother sending your demo to Polydor Records pleading for a record deal that might literally ruin your life, and leave you in debt for your remaining years on this planet (not that a label like that would sign a spazzy math rock band). They will toss your CD onto an enormous pile of crap and set it alight using your bullshit letter and then dance around the glowing embers, chanting sea shanties, in only their underwear. Probably.

We at Fecking Bahamas do not endorse the statements made herein about Phil Collin’s choice of drum reverb. We do endorse sticking around for next time, when Daz explains how your first few gigs will be. Of course, while you wait, you can always check out You Slut! via bandcamp.