In my line of blogging, which is entirely voluntary and thus amounts to making a full strength titanium rod for my own back, I have a self-regarding obligation to seek out new bands. At some level this is entirely philanthropic - as our knowledge of the musical universe gets wider it stands to reason that young people will form bands to plug the gaps or utilise the possibilities. John Peel often said that the thing that kept him going on the radio was the idea that in the next mail delivery would be one of the greatest records of all time and he didn't want to miss out on the possibility. Thanks to the international musical relief effort that is the blogosphere and assorted social networking opportunities, this isn't as arduous a task as piling through Myspace after Myspace sounds.
There are, of course, pitfalls and speed bumps to taking band suggestions on trust. It's something I've come to notice more since starting to promote locally too - the more hopeless the band, the more standard the way they write about themselves is. There's a certain lingua franca set in place for the spirited but frankly Libertines-lite, as they often are. Why not play Myspace I-Spy with the following:
- Original songs. Not the concept, the description. "The Partynicers are a four piece Indie/Alternative band playing original songs". Tribute bands aren't so prevalent that anyone attempting to enter the live arena needs to make that clear from the start.
- The word "energetic" brandished as a weapon.
- Describing themselves as "a tight live unit". All bands, even the Pastels, play their songs in time with each other at some stage. "Tight" in this instance is akin to "we all turn up".
- "Well constructed" as something to be proud of. (If they're feeling flash, "distinctive".)
- Referring to their mates and their mates' girlfriends as "a strong fan base". To which, of course, our band's music "gets a crowd going".
- A quote from a chancer local publication or Surface Unsigned that tells you nothing about what the band sound like but is keen to highlight "strong/powerful vocals".
- A sense of pride at their Battle Of The Bands achievements.
- A carefully annotated list of small venues they've played in their region.
- At least one track recorded live, seemingly on a second hand dictaphone.
- At least three of the following in the first five on their sizeable influences list: Kings Of Leon, The Killers, The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, The Clash, The Jam, The Beatles.
- Abruptly not gigging for four months before reappearing with a keyboard player, dropping hints about "our great new sound" in the blog and add a bit about "funky beats" to the biog.
- Disappearing again six months later before changing their name and one of the rhythm section and launching a new Myspace that's black, features YouTube embeds of fractals with no band line-up or biography and has three top friends - Bill Hicks, Voltaire and Brian Wilson.
Simon Tyers is the man behind Sweeping The Nation.