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A fistful of tips for Nottingham bands

1 October 09 words: James Finlay

So, you’ve got your mates together, you’ve hacked out a few tunes in a garage in Sneinton, and you’re absolutely gagging to climb to the top of the ladder. But how do you get from here to there?

So, you’ve got your mates together, you’ve hacked out a few tunes in a garage in Sneinton, and you’re absolutely gagging to climb to the top of the ladder of musical recognition in this here town, so you can hang around the back courtyard of The Maze, drinking free beer and getting all sniffy about Guitar Hero with your peers. But how do you get from here to there? If you’d like to know, cock a tab towards the words of James Finlay. His band, Fists, have already done all the things you want to – record deal, rammed-out gigs, slot at Glastonbury - but he was kind enough to offer the following advice for anyfledgling bands who are looking to take the next step…

1. Don’t be afraid to get yourself out there.
Fists spent years languishing in a little music room in our house, worrying that we weren’t good enough to play to anyone. When we finally did, we discovered that people thought we were OK after all (despite being all over the place and having virtually no equipment). The point is; don’t be afraid to try. Baptise yourself in the fire. It’s the only way.

2. Get involved with the local scene.
You know that six degrees of separation thing? Where everyone in the world is only six links away from each other? Well, there’s only about two degrees of separation in Nottingham’s music scene. If you put yourself out there, talk to people and start doing stuff, then you start to become a blip on a map that connects you with other local people who are passionate about similar things. It’s these kinds of associations and the power of word of mouth that will help swell your live audiences.

3. Do It Yourself.
A lot of people bitch about how cliquey the Nottingham music scene is, and how hard it is to get gigs, and how everyone who won’t put on their band is a dick. The answer is simple: do it yourself. Rent a room in a pub, rent a PA, make posters, invite friends and have fun. That way, you get to play cover versions of obscure Suicidal Tendencies records all night long and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Except for maybe leave.

4. It’s worth thinking about money.
Frank Black said that ‘music is Bohemia’, which is true. Music is a beautiful, precious luxury - and making it is expensive and time-consuming. Everything from petrol to plectrums costs money, so try to be sensible with your funds and have an arrangement in place for sharing responsibilities equally. Otherwise you might start to hate each other.

5. Don’t spend too much time spodding online.
Social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook are obviously really useful, but be wary of spending too much time whoring yourself all over the internet and not enough time writing music and improving your skills. 16,000 MySpace ‘friends’ means nothing if none of them ever bother to listen to you.


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