The best bands never actually exist

I have played in bands almost all of my adult life, perhaps five or six of them have got to the stage of actually performing live in front of people. It's been great fun, but I would like to point out that the very best bands are those that exist only in the minds of their creators. The best bands are entirely theoretical. These magnificent combos are conceived over drinks between prospective bandmates, discussing which of their acquaintances can play which instruments, who looks attractive enough to be a singer, and of course what kind of music they are going...
I have played in bands almost all of my adult life, perhaps five or six of them have got to the stage of actually performing live in front of people.

It's been great fun, but I would like to point out that the very best bands are those that exist only in the minds of their creators. The best bands are entirely theoretical.

These magnificent combos are conceived over drinks between prospective bandmates, discussing which of their acquaintances can play which instruments, who looks attractive enough to be a singer, and of course what kind of music they are going to play.

It's important that all of this happen before even a note of actual music has been played. These bands must exist and thrive entirely on the virtual plane, for as long as possible. This is when creativity is at its zenith, when ideas are entirely fluid and magical.

As the drinks flow, the discussion will move to that other crucial stage in the life of every music collective: choosing a band name.

This is intimately entwined with the type of music you're going to be making. In a sense, it puts a stamp of authenticity on your band idea. Of course, the music doesn't exist as yet, but you can make a good case for music not ever existing in the physical plane anyway.

"Equiliberator would be a great name," might be the suggestion from one band member. "I don't know," might be the response from his bandmate. "That sounds like political hardcore, and we're going to be making Afro-tinged retro funk. How about The Groove Foundation?"

Surely that name will have been used somewhere before. But, ah, maybe not. We could look it up on our phones, but that would ruin the fun. For now, let's be Groove Foundation. If anyone asks, that's us. We play African funk!

There is really nothing more enjoyable than chilling in a bar, sipping on beers with your mate from Groove Foundation and just imagining the killer basslines you're going to play, the festivals you're going to headline and the albums you're going to compile.

The real work of music is less entertaining. Sure, there's music, but it's usually a few minutes of inspiration and then years of playing the same songs over and over again. Rehearsal rooms can be grim, and the interpersonal politics are a bit like being in a marriage with four grumpy men.

But it all starts with that idea. Most creative endeavours do.

If you're serious about your band idea, you're going to have to phone a bunch of people, organise instruments and a rehearsal space, decide on material, practise for months, find venues, do marketing, play shows, then maybe hire a studio and record songs and do it all over again!

Whether that is even worth it is debatable. After all is said and done, half the joy of being in a band lives in the essential knowledge that you are in one.

So there is a lot to be said for not doing anything about those ideas. Maybe start a WhatsApp group, where you share YouTube clips of African funk with each other. Tell people you're in a band. You can even make Groove Foundation T-shirts! If someone asks when you're playing next, say: "We're on hiatus at the moment."

Like a lot of things, the idea of making music is better than the reality. But that idea is precious, so savour it. Then order another beer and savour it some more. There's no need to rush into anything.

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