Author: Julian Ridgway
Bandalism [ban-dәl-i-zәm] n .: the willful or malicious destruction of, or damage to, the fabric of a
rock/pop/indie group brought about by one or more of its membersAxl Rose's monumental meltdowns . . .
Kurt Cobain's tragic band-slaying suicide: The long history of platinum-selling überband implosions is
more dramatic than a Russian novel. But even local cover bands can suffer the ill effects of the
limelight.Multi-rock-band veteran Julian Ridgway's Bandalism is a can't-miss guide to rock 'n' roll survival,
offering sage advice on how to avoid the pitfalls that can doom your group. Here's how to:Find nonpsycho
band membersCraft the perfect band imageChoose a name that doesn't suckAnd much more, including
the handy Healthy Band Checklist, an ideal MySpace profile generator, and the Second Album Venn
The starting point in your anti-bandalism quest is, obviously enough, to form the right band in the first
place. If you construct the right band from the start you are instantly removing some of the pressures of
disintegration. But what is the right band? There are hundreds of different types of music you could be
playing (or at least ten). Hundreds of different bands have been put together with thousands of different
members. How can there be any such thing as a "right" band? How can you form it? What are you
looking for? Good players? Good people to spend hours of your life hanging around with? People with
loads of friends they can bring to gigs with them? Well, all of those. Sort of. But there's one more crucial
ingredient . . .ChemistryIt doesn't matter what sort of band you're forming, you have to have the right
chemistry between you — the feeling that this collection of people is special, or that you're somehow on
the same wavelength and going somewhere exciting. If you want to form a brilliant band, it has to feel like
there's some bond of potential, some kind of shared and wonderful future that only you can have. Some of
the time anyway.Chemistry, though, is a very silly word. It's like "beautiful." A catch-all term people use
to describe something they can't explain. Unfortunately it's the word great bands themselves most often
choose to describe what makes them so effortlessly wonderful. Which is a bit of a shame, as having a
more specific term available might be quite useful. Seeing as it's so important and everything.Usually it
rears its head when bands say things like, "We started playing and we just knew we had something
special — this kind of chemistry." Does this mean people in great bands are just gifted with magical self-
confidence? If you don't go around just knowing things all the time should you give up and do something
more sensible with your life? Something with qualifications and things? Are people in great bands
specially chosen ones whose works humble mortals emulate at their peril?It seems unlikely. If this was
the case, why is the history of rock 'n' roll littered with the rotting carcasses of terrible journeyman
second albums, or bands that spend their whole careers getting incrementally less interesting? No,
people in great bands are not Gods set among us (Johnny Borrell take note). They are ordinary people
who got it right. Usually, just ordinary people who get it right for a bit then mess it all up. But when they
get to tell the world about their band and its luminous interpersonal chemistry in interviews they are at the
peak of fame. Nosefuls of hubris and a disorientating series of slaps on the back leave them with a
temporary amnesia to all the hundreds of times along the way they sat round thinking, "Yeah, but are we
actually just shit?" Oh no, by then they just knew all along.So is it all utter nonsense? Is there no such
thing as chemistry? Is it, like Santa Claus and social mobility, a beguiling abstraction dangled in front of
us when we start asking too many questions? Is it instead closer to the truth to say that any band will do
— that being a great band is more about a bit of hard work than this teasing phantom "chemistry"?No.
Sorry. Hard work helps and everything (it's pretty much essential), but great bands do just feel right.
Great bands make the members feel, however much they may love or despise one another, that this is
the band. It is this that marks them out from mediocre ones, and without it, you're wasting your
time."Okay! What is it...
Julian Ridgway is an Oxford graduate and a veteran of at least a dozen bands who researches rock
photographs and writes for a host of magazines. Born in Leicester, England, he now lives in London.
'Fun, funny and useful.'