Having had many auditions, its hard to pinpoint one, but here is a collection of do & don’ts ! Its important to remember to make the most of your opportunity to shine.
You have to make all the time and years of practice count
Condense it into just a few moments.
Make sure you do your homework. If you fail to plan you plan to fail! Research the gig & Artist, learn the material & as much of the back catalogue as possible. Think about what the management are looking for. Even the Bass you use may go for or against you, not just the playing.
I worked with Chris Rea many years ago & on the audition we were running “road to hell” Half way through he stops the tune, turns to me and says he is the guitarist in the band & that I should play bass! Meaning I was too busy in my playing & should play the song. He then said while I was at it I should also get myself a bass to play! At the time I was fresh out of college & also playing a Warwick 6 string! It was then I bought my first Musicman. Amazingly I got the gig, but will never forget that audition. At the time I was going through my busy phase of playing, I love my Warwick but It wasn’t right for that gig.
How you look & the vibe you have is so important. Its not all based on how or what you can play. & so not about speed or playing chops. Its about who you are as a person. Could that artist be on the road with you for weeks at a time ? In & out of hotels & on a tour bus. Be yourself in your playing ! You will never be Jaco or Flea but you can be “you” real well. Everyone has there hero & should learn from there experience, technique, sound & tone, but you will never be them so stop trying. Be yourself.
Sometimes over preparation can go against you! Its having a balance. When I auditioned for Nik Kershaw the songs were so complex that I had very extensive charts prepared. Nothing wrong in charts, but the last thing you want is lots of paper that you begin to rely on. The best way is to memorize as much as possible, construct
charts that are easy to throw away once you have the tune in your head. Try to get it down to a set list with key signatures & cheats.
Get to the audition on time ! I remember being away on a tour recently then getting a call to audition which was the same day I was due back. I travelled from the airport to the studio with my bass and luggage. I was one hour late for my time slot. As I walked into the rehearsal studio the band were running the songs and I was asked by the music director to listen whilst they were playing & learn the tunes on the spot, without playing a note!
It was random funk & Latin progressions ! So, I took the longest time ever to take my bass out of its flight case & tune up, I eventually got up on stage & played my
ass off! Again the importance of “ear training” literally rang in my ears.
The audition was for George Michael. Stay focused! You will be very nervous (if you have a pulse that is)
Try to channel what you are feeling into the music.
Adrenalin is necessary to play well. Make that first note count, play with confidence
There is nothing worse than hearing a bass played with lack luster. Remember you are one step away from being a drummer. Bass is a very physical instrument it needs conviction when playing. Be loud don’t tickle the notes, remember they want to hear what you have to offer. Use the Force.
I find myself from time to time on the other side of the table auditioning. What I look for is all of the above but also enthusiasm and self belief.
I get asked by record companies & management as music director to put bands together for arena tours. On this occasion It was for a collection of acts that would just use one backing band. No it wasn’t Xfactor ! It was Phix, Dside, Blazing squad, Rachel stevens & LibertyX etc. I had everything but the drummer. Although I had been given a list from music agencies & asked drummers that I had worked with in the past, no one quite worked out.
At the studio half way through the day I was approached by a guy that worked there who begged me to audition. At the time it was a closed audition but I said if someone doesn’t show you can have ago. Trying to be as polite as possible I gave him the four songs and off he went. An hour later he returned & nailed the tracks. The other musicians had had the songs for a week. He got the gig! He was hungry for it! He believed he was the man for the job.
If you want something bad enough & work hard you will achieve it. It takes time, effort & self belief.
Next month more tips on practice !