In this small, light-hearted series, I’m going to tell you the lessons I’ve learned from a career spanning decades. They’re not things I see other musicians telling you. No, no they are not.
They may seem like trivial things – but these are lessons learned in time and with experience. This one is a wee bit serious. Maybe – it depends on how much you like the drummer.
Rule #2: Get a first aid kit!
It’s pretty much inevitable that the bass player is going to find new and creative ways to hurt themselves. It’s a good idea to be prepared for all minor (and a few major) medical problems. They ARE going to happen.
While playing drunk one night in a punk club, our bassist climbed up on the stacks. Why a bassist would do that is as much a mystery as to how they actually got up there. One minute, Pete was beside me and the next minute Pete was on the stacks and trying to dance a merry jig.
The following minute, Pete was no more and there was a great deal of noise – and some muffled swearing.
Crumpled in a heap at the bottom of said stacks was Pete. Pete was also covered in blood. Pete, being Pete, eventually clamored his way back into a standing position and finished the set while bleeding profusely from his face. This, of course, pleased the crowd immensely.
Lacking a first aid kit, and things like medical insurance, we fed Pete some cocaine between sets and sent him back out to finish the night.
What? Cocaine has valid medical uses! It does. Read a damned book!
Anyhow, if we’d had things like foresight then we’d have known to have a first aid kit and, equally important, have kept it stocked and learned how to use it.
Eventually, the drummer is going to shag a bar-fly who has an angry boyfriend. Eventually, the bass player is going to fall down and hurt himself. Eventually, some drunken idiot is going to try to climb on the stage and your lead singer is going to “accidentally” kick him in the face.
Mind you, a first aid kit is probably useless in all such events – but you’ll look like you’re prepared and know what you’re doing. This will keep the drunken hoards back while two or three drunkenly yell. “Give them some room.” and “Be quiet!”
I’m not actually sure why drunk people yell for silence. They’re just adding to the din and, frankly, they’re not actually helping. Wrangling drunk people is a skill you’re probably going to need if you decide to become a professional musician.
But, for minor scrapes, burns, bruises, and hurt egos, I recommend a first aid kit. Yes, it’s acceptable to have a variety of street-drugs in your first aid kit. It’s probably a felony, but you never know when someone’s going to need some Bolivian Marching Powder to finish the night.
Now, shut up and play us a song!