chap-6

So, now you’ve done a smattering of gigs in your local area. You’ve recorded yourself a demo on a shoestring budget (nothing), which you’ve subsequently floated upon the math rock stock market (the internet). Hey, you’ve even had yourself some pretty nice comments.

‘URALOoSER91’ put ‘Mint stuff guyz. I dig’, and ‘redpinksword’ put ‘u got da tabs pls???’ which you hope is so that they can learn the song, and not burn them in protest outside their local church. Either way, you definitely do not have tabs.

Now it’s inevitable that somehow word is going to get around at your workplace that you are in a band. But how can this happen?

Well, it can happen in various ways:

  • You forgot you’d added Barry from Accounts on Facebook after the staff Christmas party, and he’s seen the advert you posted for your gig in Aldershot with ‘Instant Churchill’, ‘Gland Canyon’ and ‘Clitorisk’ next Tuesday. Along with that ill-advised rant about Trevor from HR being a ‘selfish bitter alcoholic dick blister with a face like he’s been bobbing for chips in a deep fat fryer’.
  • You mentioned in passing to Jill in HR, whilst making a coffee, that you have a gig in Aldershot tomorrow so may need to leave at 4:30pm, instead of 5pm.
  • You turned up at 10:23am still pissed, with eyes like two pickled onions after drinking half a bottle of Jacobite and 5 cans of Sainsbury’s Basic lager at your gig in Aldershot last night. But you have yourself a perfect and reasonable excuse for your tardiness: “The electricity went out at home, and you had to wait for British Gas (?) to come round and plumb in a new wire to the big wire box under the stairs”.
  • You told the entire office you were in a band.

Are you prepared for the question “what kind of a band are you in? Is it rock, emo, soul, punk?”

Are you? Because believe me, this can be hard. Remember, a lot of these people have a very narrow range of bands that they’ve actually heard of. Despite Graeme in Payroll saying that musically he likes “a bit of everything”, he really means “The Killers through to Kings of Leon”, and not, as you’d hoped, “Napalm Death right through to Venetian Snares”.

“Firstly, I would definitely not mention the words ‘math rock’. That will only complicate matters.”

So, you need to approach this calmly. There’s no point in reeling off 15 bands you sound like that no-one has heard of, and three people think you are making up. Although, if you are feeling particularly “twatty”, then this is a fun time to make-up band names. (“yeah, we sound like ‘Tranquilizer Minelli’ from Luxembourg, and have been likened to ‘L for Leather’ from Armenia, and we sometimes get likened to the amazing band from St. Kitts & Nevis: ‘Uterus Abbot’).

Firstly, I would definitely not mention the words “math rock”. That will only complicate matters. I suggest mentioning your band is instrumental. This is for sure going to blow a few minds.

“Instrumental?! No vocals?!? No lyrics?! But what about the lovely lyrics?!?! Adele has lovely lyrics?!?!? And she is worth more than entire countries!!!!”

Stay calm and tranquil. Just mention that your band is complicated and that vocals probably wouldn’t fit. You don’t really have verses and choruses after all. By now the room should be stunned. They think you’re fucking with them. How could a band have no vocals? That’s not a band, that’s a theme tune. And verses and chourses are the lifeblood of a song?!? The structure! Won’t somebody think of the structure!

Ok, now perhaps add that it is “heavy and pretty noisy”. “Yes Paula, heavier than the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Hard-Fi”. You’ve now undoubtedly lost around 43% of your audience. And the remaining 57% still have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.

Don’t attempt to play your colleagues any of your music. I tried that once. It didn’t go well. Plus, having a name like You Slut! meant it was not the most advisable thing to type into a Google search whilst at work. This is about the time you’ll use the words “math rock” for the first time. You may as well have plucked two random words out of the dictionary for all they know: “Spatula Finance”, “Nebula Indulgence” or “Satsuma Crimes” – incidentally, all good band names that could be used when explaining similar-sounding artists.

“Don’t attempt to play your colleagues any of your music. I tried that once. It didn’t go well.”

Remember, you can always use chapter one of this book for help in explaining what math rock is. But saying that it is music that doesn’t follow the usual timing constraints of a pop song might just be suffice.

The thing you have to remember here is that this is likely to be the one and only time these people will ever hear the term “math rock” in their lives. So they don’t need you to explain the difference between 4/4 and 15/9 in great mind-numbing detail. You’re not going to convert them. They don’t need converting. Leave them to the Church of McFlyology. Meanwhile, you can study the readings of the Adebisi Shank Bible.

So, it seems like you may never be able to explain what kind of band you’re in. And even if you could they’d fucking hate it anyway.

All you know now is that none of your work colleagues will ever be attending one of your gigs – even if their paltry lives depended upon it. Unless you happen to be performing a terribly ill-advised show at a nearby Wetherspoon’s on a Saturday night after payday. They may also now consider you (more of) a strange dickhead.

Just tell people they wouldn’t like it. Saves loads of time.

Sage advice. Some things are better left unsaid. Next time, Daz has got an important one for you: a how-to on recording your first math rock album. While you wait, you can check out a recorded math rock album by You Slut! on bandcamp.