How to form a band 101

So this is part 2 of this “being in a band” series.

The easiest way to form a band I discovered, quite accidentally, was not to beg your friends, nor beg strangers, nor stick an ad in the street-press.

The secret was to recruit your girlfriend. Even if she didn’t play an instrument, two people make a band right? Instant, and absolute success.

But my girlfriend actually hit the ground running. She had a keyboard amp she “borrowed” from her dad, and with a bass more officially borrowed from Paul Medew — in other words — we asked permission, I set about teaching her how to play.

The next step was settling on a name. We chose “Treehouse” but in these proto-internet days we didn’t really know there was another band called “Treehouse”. In fact much later we discovered there were tens of other bands out there in the ether with our same name.

At our very first fully-public gig (not counting parties) the sound person regaled us upon discovering what we were called. I think he personally knew the “Treehouse” from Melbourne (who were kinda defunct I might add). And these were his words, kinda slurred, and they went a bit like this: “Dude, that’s, like I mean…It’s like calling yourself ‘The Beatles’.” I tried my best to deliver a diplomatic response, but inside I was a big fat bundle of sheer-terror and now it was about 20% worse.

So I’ve got ahead of myself. We needed a drummer in a world seemingly devoid of them. I mean, I knew there were drummers on Earth, but it wasn’t quite an exaggeration to believe that every single one of them were in a band, or multiple bands, already.

But at a Small Fantasy gig I saw that John Swingle, a singer and guitarist, could — quite surprisingly — play drums. And then Small Fantasy broke up. Perhaps a little acrimoniously. But my super-naive, clumsy, ultra-deadshit 20 year old self brazenly asked the four former members of  Small Fantasy to play, only weeks after the split, at my sister’s 18th. I offered $50 each and free beer. I was actually surprised when they said, a little too enthusiastically – “YES!”

I found out later that it was just about their highest paying gig EVER by about 200%.

So I was driving John Swingle to the show and my newfound DARING or perhaps just sheer stupidity, or perhaps an autistic syndrome I have yet to be diagnosed with led me to suddenly ask John if he would drum for my “band”. And because I remember this like it was yesterday: it was at the lights at the junction of Baroona Road and Milton Road where he said “sure”.

This was a big deal. It was huge in fact. I was now in a proper guitar/bass/drums band. I tried my hardest to hold every cell in my body together and not melt right there with unbridled ecstasy.

So John, not actually being a drummer, needed a drumkit. I set about sourcing one and I remembered a friend who drummed as a kid and didn’t play anymore. She said ok, but there were conditions.

And the conditional process was so degrading – a process that would get more and more familiar. Oh HAI DAVEY! Welcome to Rock n fucking Roll.

She (and her dad) awkwardly made me pay a $50 deposit. Her dad practically photographed the kit so presumably when it was returned any damage or wear could be – and I presumed would be under threat of legal action – duly compensated. I think I even had to sign something. (As it happened we had to buy a new kick-drum skin a few months later and when I returned it about a year later her dad conceded that I had actually returned the kit in better condition than when it left). UGH.

More on this story later…

This was one of the songs we played in those days – but this is a Specialbranch recording.



And here’s another SPECIALBRANCH song, “Prom” just cause: