Oh bloody hell, bands. In you come with your albums and live shows and your fun times and we lap it all up and assume it will last forever and then one day you, just like that, you’re gone.
The latest band to call it a day is the wonderful Cats & Cats & Cats. It takes a special kind of band to leave you with a memory of when you first heard them, but I can still distinctly recall lying on the floor of my crappy little bedsit with my headphones on (oh hi, indie cliche) listening to Splutterheart for the first time. It blew me away then and has done every time since. It’s genuinely one of the most interesting and adventurous pieces of music these ears have heard.
ANYWAY I could happily waffle on for hours about my love for the band and why you should invest your time in them but this probably isn’t the time or place, so I’ll stick to the facts;
– The band play a farewell UK show TOMORROW at The Bull & Gate, full details here
– They also play a few European dates throughout the rest of the month, details here
– As a goodbye present, the band release a ‘best of’ collection called Catsalogue which you can pre-order here
Cats & Cats & Cats have played a big role in GFP’s brief history. They gave us one of their limited edition porcelain album cases to giveaway as a prize when most people would barely even give us an interview and then we had the pleasure of putting them on in Bristol, where they played as if their lives depended on it, to me, big jeff and about 20 other people.
We wanted to commemorate them in some little way, so here is Bencats ’10 tips for being in an unsuccesful band’. Goodbye Cats & Cats & Cats and thanks for the memories.
10 Tips For Being In An Unsuccessful Band
My uncle works for Bemuso, a website dedicated to helping independent bands to understand how they can be successful in an industry dominated by idiotic major label shenanigans. I’ve written an article on how to be unsuccessful in such an industry. Being in an unsuccessful band on the brink of splitting up I felt like this was the only advice I could offer. Most of the points in this list are things we actually did over our 7 year musical lifespan, hope they help/hinder:
1. Get too niche
Everyone likes bands that are easy to pigeon-hole; journalists have an easier time, fans know what to call what they like, heck being in a band is probably a dream if your genre is well defined (especially if there’s a formula for songwriting too). We can’t have this, what you need to do is become indescribable. You shouldn’t be able to define yourselves in less than three paragraphs, remember to name-check bands that no one has heard of and put the suffix –core onto something FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.
E.g. Like a psycho-indie champ-core version of The Flying Trombone Sisters before they dropped the terramaphone solos…
2. Become radio un-friendly
I’m not talking about swearing or making sex noises, it’s surprisingly easy to audibly offend people these days. I do it on a daily basis in my office. But even if it is easy here’s some things you should avoid:
3 minutes 30 seconds: How’re you going to build up those 3 chords in that short space of time?
Love songs: If you have to write about anything people can relate to make sure it’s wrapped in metaphor or in a made up language.
No crappy rhyming couplets: People love this rubbish.
Alone/on my own (hello Nickelback)
Hour/shower (hello Avril)
Ghost/most/toast/news (you know who)
America/America (Alright Johnny)
Your songs should ideally be 20 minute instrumentals based on the plight of the red squirrel, named something unpronounceable and recorded through an inverse gramophone.
3. Choose a band-name that 50% of people will instantly hate
It’s even better if it can be spelt different ways as this makes searching for any music or information about you online a lot more exhaustive. Having to try several different combinations of ampersands, exclamation marks, numerics and abbreviations is enough to make anyone give up on you forever. We’ve found another great trick is to name yourself after something which will someday become a phenomenon on youtube, searching for our band will have you trudging through hilarious videos of cute cats for at least 5 days. Factor in mis-spellings and you’re practically atlantis.
Good work these bands: Women, !!!, Godspeed you! Black Emperor, Dananananaykroyd.
4. Blow the budget
So you’ve got enough money to record something. You’re already doing something wrong. Don’t worry though you can always spend that on something stupid. We got rid of our hard earned cash by; recording in converted lightships, buying personalised mini buses (and toasting them with Sainsbury’s brand Cava when they broke down), only printing onto ethical t-shirts (sub article: Want to be unsuccessful? Get ethical) and releasing our records in overblown casing with maps or 24 page colour booklets. I’ve heard that bands are releasing albums on cassettes, a good start but I’m waiting on the floppy disks.
5. Tour to places no one wants you to
Nothing advertises your lack of success to a town more than travelling hundreds of miles to get there only for no one to come and see you. If you do find people are coming to your shows you should alienate them with new material or just play the same songs at different speeds. When playing live never engage with the audience, don’t mention any websites or merchandise – these things shouldn’t exist.
6. Be happy
No one likes a band that enjoys what they’re doing, if you look at any popular music it would seem that being a musician is simply a way of getting to pose grumpily for the rest of your life.
Here’s a picture of Razorlight having a right laugh with a hat:
Here’s a picture of us at a funeral:
Have a great time and be content at your (very low) level of success. It’ll make people think you’re fine where you are and that you obviously lack ambition.
7. Lack ambition
Ambition will only make you moody which in turn will make you successful, see above.
8. Stop being cool
This means no wearing sun glasses, throwing televisions out of windows or being a prick. These things are likely to make other people want to hang around with you and may lead to becoming successful. You can stop doing drugs too, for some reason the popular opinion still stands that doing drugs is cool, when actually it makes you boring and talking about all the drugs you’ve done makes you boringest – boring is cool apparently. Don’t be boring.
9. Never stop recruiting band members
The phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” is the same with music, especially if the cooks have no prior musical ability. When you all fit onstage without hitting each other repeatedly with your instruments you know you need that trebleglock soloist. Same goes with a car, if there’s a seat free fill it with another musician. Not only does this make doing your live sound only possible by an omnipotent being (I have proof that our soundman is one), it also means that any money you do make has you cutting the pennies into eighths.
10. Split up
Just put out a greatest hits? Split up!
So there you have it. If, for some reason, you would quite like to become successful, just reverse these tips and you’ll soon be headlining Wembley stadium. But I probably won’t like your music.
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