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Now start a band

The key to musical success in Halifax? Networking. (But the right kind.)

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Gloryhound drummer Shaun Hanlon plays to win in the drummers’ seller’s market. - SCOTT BLACKBURN
  • Scott Blackburn
  • Gloryhound drummer Shaun Hanlon plays to win in the drummers’ seller’s market.

You did it. You somehow managed to con your family into believing you're independent enough, responsible enough and maybe even mature enough to leave behind that sleepy farmhouse you've been calling home for so many years and head out to college in the big city. Now is the time for you to go forth and cut a swath that would even make your deadest of ancestors proud (yes the racist ones).

Real talk though, what better way to undermine the burgeoning confidence and pride of your parents than to start a rock 'n' roll band? Please continue reading this manual for a series of tips and tricks that I guarantee will get you into a pair of tight black jeans, which will get you in front of your future overzealous audience, which will eventually get you onto the guest list of any one of Halifax's neo-retro-soul-dub DJ dance nights.

Don't make it too easy for yourself. Thanks to Al Gore we live in the age of ultimate accessibility. Truth be told, by the time this article is published all the would-be instructees have most likely founded and formed multiple bands via this generation's trademark mode of communication: social networking. These printed instructions are probably superfluous. But c'mon, can these imagined digital communities really stand-in for a good old-fashioned tête-à-tête? Go to shows! Get to a record shop! Talk about reverb! Ask a dude in a Monomyth tee! If you rely too heavily on tweets or status updates to fill your supergroup's membership chances are you'll end up with a fretless bass player, a drummer who owns a china cymbal and someone with a BC Rich.

But make it easy for yourself. Halifax has a lot of bands. Some of these bands like to play a lot. One way to get your practicum in before hitting the big stage at Gus' Pub in the north end or the Khyber on Barrington is to head down to Reflections (5184 Sackville Street) on Monday nights where the sweetest man and masochist (Craig Hamlin and Adrian Bruhm) host $Rockin' 4 Dollar$. The long- running open mic night invites bands to sign up (see Facebook) to play short sets and spin a giant wheel à la Pat Sajak with the prospect of cash prizes or a chance to spit beer on Adrian at the end of the night. Regardless of whether you win the cash or not, it's a good opportunity to check out Halifax's eclectic and varied sounds. But if that doesn't sound like your thing, there are a wide variety of pubs and coffeehouses that regularly hold open mic. There's The Company House (2202 Gottingen Street), Celtic Corner (69 Alderney Drive, Dartmouth) and Coburg Coffee House (6085 Coburg Road), all on Tuesday, and given that so many of you seem to never even step foot off campus, be sure to keep an eye on your campus bar for open mics on the rare occasion they haven't already booked some x-rated hypnotist.

For drummers, it's a seller's market. Take a moment from your tireless academic efforts this week to stroll around your school's quad and witness the young flock of aspiring B. Dylans and J. Johnsons splayed out on library steps unsolicitedly serenading the masses with their own unique adaptations of Shins songs. It's an indisputable fact that everyone wants to be a guitar player. I want to be a guitar player. So punk out bro and steer clear of the norm, pick up some sticks (punk) or grab some bongos (not punk?) and get to bashing something (punk). You will find your services in demand in no time at all. If it so happens you've already discovered your ideal rhythmic candidate, hold onto him/her like there's no tomorrow. Poachers are everywhere, no one is safe. Chaos reigns.

This city's scene has been described as incestuous. Bands tend to share and exchange members, which sometimes makes it difficult to break into the community. But be open, be enthusiastic and don't let cynicism interfere with whatever it is you want to create.

There's nothing stopping you. You got your partner by your side, you're in talks with Polygram, you've heard whispers of commercial success and now the talk is you're slated to take Eurovision '74. Except that's not you, it's ABBA, dummy.

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