Read This Before You Play Music In Public

Spinal Tap

These are the rules.

I didn’t make them up. These are inalienable truths, a part of the divine spectrum of unquestionable constants that hold our universe together.

There might be those who feel deeply offended by some of the wisdom contained herein but I must insist that it is firmly in your interest to understand that the rules are quite infallible and with the greatest of respect, if you take issue with this doctrine, you are very probably a massive douchebag and it is thus all the more important that you adhere to these rules lest you reveal yourself as such.

Now read and obey.

1. Don’t play a Stratocaster.

Ok, I know this is a controversial place to start given the heritage of this most iconic of electric guitars but playing one in the 21st century is just wrong. It’s like showing up on a first date wearing trackie bottoms: completely lame and half-arsed. The flagship model of the Fender fleet has today become the graceless mule of a million shitty pub bands playing Clapton covers and obliviously breaking every rule in the book.

Then, having chosen an acceptable instrument to play, don’t suspend it from a strap that proudly sports the name and branding of your guitar’s manufacturer. The Gibson guitar strap should be held in the same regard as the Rolex key-ring and the Ferrari baseball cap.

2. Don’t wear shorts.

Everything must exist within the confines of its proper environment. Pele didn’t perform in jeans; Elvis didn’t perform in fucking shorts. Have some damn respect for your art.

(It should be noted that this rule may be utterly disregarded only by Angus Young and by anyone who has particularly nice legs)

3. Keep your shirt on.

It doesn’t matter if it’s 110 degrees up there and you have the torso of a curiously bronze Norse God, when a musician removes his shirt, he exposes himself as nothing more than a bit of a tool.

4. A drum kit shall comprise of no more than two toms, no more than three cymbals and shall be mounted on individual stands, not on a scaffolding rig.

While it is true that percussion is very important, it remains truer still that a large and complex array of drums and cymbals enhances the experience only of the drummer and of the two drum geeks who seem to show up at every gig and whose opinions are under no circumstances to be treated as valid.

NOTE. The role of the drummer is a complex and delicate issue and at its heart lies what might be termed The Percussion Paradox. This is the all too common misconception among drummers that because they play the most inconveniently proportioned instrument and are largely responsible for the rhythmic structure upon which a performance is built, the importance of their job makes them deserving of the attention and admiration of all. This is a grotesquely false assumption. The classy drummer keeps his mouth shut and his shit tight, shows up on time and tries not to piss everybody off. There is a famous rock cliché that says a band is only as good as its drummer. This may be true in the sense that a poor drummer can really fuck up a good band but such logic would suggest this statement to be no more meaningful than the assertion that a house is only as good as its sewage pipe and you just wouldn’t make that your major selling point in a difficult property market. But then the original quote has been attributed to Bobby Gillespie and I never heard anything come out of his mouth that didn’t sound to me like cattle.

5. A bass guitar shall have no more than four strings.

It should also be noted that an electric bass guitar must have frets and its body should in no way look like it might be made from a moose antler. Furthermore if the instrument entirely obscures both nipples, you’re wearing it too high.

6. Do not address the audience using the name of the town or city in which you are performing.

“Helloooo Aldershottt!”

Come on, it’s just embarrassing.

7. Don’t announce the address of your band website from the stage.

Laboratory tests have confirmed there is just no cool way of doing this. It simply reeks of desperation.

8. If you don’t intend to bust out any badass dance moves, you don’t need a radio mic.

Same goes for wireless guitar systems and regardless of the convenience of such a setup, nobody shall ever take to the stage wearing one of those headset microphones like somebody who works in a fucking call-centre. Dear God no.

9. Don’t end every song with an extensive monologue of requests for a perfect monitor balance.

Nothing kills the magic of live music like letting us all in on the secret that you also think it sounds like shit. If you can hear anything at all, you can get to work. Pretend it sounds great and we might all believe you.

10. If you absolutely must play a shredding guitar solo, do not wear the facial contortions of a man being aggressively fellated.

Yes, even you Clapton.

It’s the worst kind of musical perversion. That look of pained ecstasy, eyes tight shut but raised to the heavens, the shake of the head like it’s all too much, the sudden burst of surprise like the angels of axemanship just tossed in a cheeky little lick you weren’t even expecting, those baffling twitches of the mouth as your body and instrument become as one and you are helpless but to reinforce those fretboard acrobatics with wild eyebrow leaps and the silent scat of a terrified half-wit speaking in tongues with his pants around his ankles.

You should see what they do to people like you in prison.

Words by Hank J Byron. If you like/hate this, then you’ll probably like/hate’s rules of how to buy a drink without being an idiot. Read it here.