"some music was meant to stay underground..."

OpEd

Reasons Why Your Band Sucks And Will Never Make It

Photo of All That Remains

Band Photo: All That Remains (?)

When I browse around for unsigned bands, it's hard to find one that I like. Mostly since most unsigned bands lack a record deal for a reason. It's that your band just plain sucks horses. There are exceptions and there are bands who never get a record deal who deserved one but most of the time, most bands just suck too much to ever go anywhere.

Here are the main reasons why I've hated nearly all unsigned music that I've listened to.

1. You Lack A Gimmick

I keep confusing you for other bands. Not another band. Other bands. Plural. You're influenced too much by a genre over specific artists and as a result, there is nothing that differentiates you from 3000 other bands all doing the same thing. You are generic. You are what people who hate your genre think that your genre sounds like.

Do something that nobody else is doing. Do not hop on a bandwagon. Do not follow trends. By the time that labels pick up on a trend, it's too late and they're looking for the next trend. If you form a year after the current trend started, then you're already dated. It's okay to be influenced by other artists but stop being a carbon copy.

What is the wildest, craziest thing that you can either put in your songs or do on stage? Do that. Do something that only you would ever do.

2. All Your Songs Sound The Same

All your songs are verse-chorus-verse or alternately you've abandoned song structure but cannot write songs that build upon each moment. The key to good songwriting is being memorable. Make it something that gets stuck in your head. Not just the opening riff, the whole song. They key is making each song have multiple moments that listeners can enjoy.

Also, if you have more than one guitarist, place solos in your songs, preferably not after the second chorus in every song. Don't be predictable but don't be afraid to mix up your songwriting a bit and experiment with unconventional song structures.

3. Your Production Sucks

If your album sounds like Emperor's “Wrath of the Tyrant” or Darkthrone's “Transylvanian Hunger” and you aren't playing black metal, you're doing something wrong. Even if you are playing black metal, if the raw production doesn't add to the atmosphere, you're still doing it wrong. Specifically, you don't know how to record, mix or master an album and you're getting too much guitar feedback. You need to hire a record producer to help you record since you clearly don't know the first thing about how to record in a studio.

Self-production may save on costs but you will never be able to shift enough copies for a record label to take notice and anyone at a label probably deleted your album halfway through listening. If you actually want to get signed and bring your music to a new audience, you need to invest in an actual producer which means saving up for it. If your album sounds like static then you clearly aren't big enough to tour yet so you're probably working day jobs to save up to record anyway. Your new record can wait a few months to spare us all the pain of having to listen to 8 unlistenable tracks before your follow up 1-3 years later.

4. Inability To Play Your Instruments

Emmure already made binary-core a thing. They're the only band who can get away with not being able to play their instruments and even they grasp time signatures. You cannot play music except for possibly some country-western stuff unless you can keep time. Practice with a metronome, preferably one that'll also let you practice with uncommon time signatures.

A good guitarist or bassist should be able to play decent riffs that compose more than three power chords. I'm not asking you to be Ben Weinman, I'm just asking for you to pull off some decent riffs with a decent level of proficiency.

And when it comes to breakdowns, those should be used for dramatic effect. If breakdowns are the exception rather than the rule and all you play are breakdowns, then you become boring to listen to. Yeah, you're heavy. You're brutal. Your music sounds harsh. I get it. That doesn't mean that you aren't just chugging on chords instead of playing actual riffs.

As for drums. Blast beats are cool but if that's all that you do, you are boring to listen to. A drummer should be able to keep time while still doing drum fills within that time signature.

5. Reliance On Autotune

Even if everyone else in your band can play, sometimes your vocalist sucks and cannot perform without use of vocal effects. A word of advice, you're inflaming your tonsils by trying to scream using the wrong chords. That gagging pain? That's from doing harsh vocals the wrong way. By the time you wind up in the studio after a full year or two of screaming the wrong way, your voice is probably shot from laryngitis and if you don't stop, you can literally get serious vocal chord damage. I know that the “Angel of Death” scream is cool but Slayer no longer do the scream when playing that song live anymore since it was ruining Tom's voice. Same goes for Tool and “The Grudge.” If harsh vocals hurt your throat after regularly doing them for a month straight and your throat doesn't adjust, you're doing them wrong and risking serious vocal chord damage. Bands who don't follow this advice wind up walking into the studio with a completely shot voice and recording with laryngitis is always going to make you sound shitty.

As for clean singing? Raising and lowering your pitch the way that you think you should is having the opposite effect. You're hitting notes in the wrong direction and not catching yourself until you reach a different octave. Try to move your voice in the exact opposite direction from how you think you should instead of giving up and using autotune.

If your vocals still get criticized, then invest in a vocal coach. Take singing lessons from a professional and go from there. The alternative is to use falsetto the entire time but the world ultimately doesn't need a second Tiny Tim. You probably won't be the next Rob Halford or Freddie Mercury but you should at least know what you're doing behind the mic.

There you have it. The reasons why you cannot even score a local opening gig all in one article. The problem isn't your unwillingness to sell out, it's that you just suck. Some of the bands linked above do have major record deals, some may have at one point put out good music but within another decade, these bands are going to be considered laughingstocks if they're remembered at all.

Dasher10's avatar

Matt is a freelance writer living in Chicago, Illinois and a metalhead since 1999.

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3 Comments on "Reasons Why Your Band Sucks And Will Never Make It"

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Anonymous Reader
1. fmitga writes:

Nailed it!

# May 13, 2016 @ 10:21 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
2. Come check us out writes:

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# May 14, 2016 @ 2:45 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
3. new generation random kid writes:

Just steal from all sources of the musical spectrum and re-arrange it so it sounds new, that is all, for the looks do the same but with horror movies.

# May 16, 2016 @ 2:04 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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