Audition. The word alone is enough to make your palms sweat and bowels melt. And no wonder: the next 20 minutes could be the most make-or-break of your career. At the end of these three songs, you could either be welcomed into the brotherhood with a ceremonial swig of Jäger – or tossed down the fire escape naked with mocking laughter ringing in your ears. Here are five ways to ace it.
#1. Learn the material
If you turn up and spray generic blues scales over the band’s lovingly composed material, you deserve an Alan Sugar-style finger towards the exit. Get hold of their demo in advance, study the parts, learn the changes – and don’t suggest adding an 18/8 jazz-fusion outro until you’ve got your feet under the table.
#2. Don’t be late
Think of the audition as a job interview (albeit one where everyone has studded leather jackets and spiderwebs tattooed on their kneecaps). Arriving early shows that you’re a team player – not an Axl Rose-style megalomaniac – and will also give you the time to tune up in peace without a clock-watching goth breathing down your neck.
#3. Just bring your core gear
Unless you’re deputising for Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, or auditioning for a Muse tribute band, don’t bring armfuls of exotic pedals. You’ll just spend an ice age setting up, your batteries will die on their arses, and your prospective bandmates will conclude that you can’t function without a thousand toys. Just pack a basic rig that you can get a good sound from fast – and don’t forget the tuner.
#4. Don’t dominate
It’s tempting to show off your technical prowess by ramming Mixolydian scales into every orifice of a song, but more important is to prove that you can lock into the band’s groove. Don’t play overbearingly loud, don’t widdle over the vocals and never, ever stop midway through a song unless you’re literally on fire.
#5. Be cool
Desperation stinks like a black-market aftershave, so when the audition is over, nonchalantly slip them your mobile number instead of hassling them for a decision. Remember, too, that the audition process works both ways. If the “buzz band with label interest” turns out to be a bunch of pub plodders with all the charisma of patio furniture, don’t be afraid to follow up with an email explaining that you’ve made other plans.