You should start a buzzband. Don’t worry, you’re not too old. You can even play the guitar well enough to be in one. You could be the 40-something-year-old-lady Bon Iver equivalent. In this letter I will cover the basics of being in a buzzband. I could go into so much more detail about what it is that makes the buzzband, but you really only need to know a few things to get you on your way to being just like Justin Vernon. Wait, you don’t know who Justin Vernon is? That’s just fine.
The first thing that you need to know is that you are not too old.
A few months ago, PJ Harvey released the record, Let England Shake, arguably the best album she has ever made. The album was rich with youthful energy, and political spite, but the absolute best thing about it was hearing how she could balance the opinionated energy of her previous releases such as Dry and To Bring You My Love, coupled with a newfound maturity that only comes with age. She recorded this absolutely wonderful album at an age that is usually perceived as “beyond artistic prime.” You could totally do the same.
It’s perfectly fine that you don’t know who PJ Harvey is. The point is that she was a totally successful and relevant buzzband as an old person. You are not too old.
The second thing you need to know is that you don’t need to be talented; you just need a reverb pedal.
You probably think that you are going to have to practice the guitar a bunch and start taking voice lessons. That’s not the case. Although, I don’t blame you for thinking that you actually need to be talented to be successful in the music industry, because that’s probably how it used to be.
I’ll be willing to bet you that 2/3 of people in relevant buzzbands don’t know how to read music.
You have bands like Animal Collective who just scream into microphones and hit buttons on a sampler machine to make dissonant noise. You don’t know what Animal Collective is? You don’t know what a sampler is? That’s okay. You don’t need to.
It’s perfectly okay if you can’t sing very well, either. Do you know who Noah Lennox is? Okay, just kidding – you don’t know his real name. His stage name is “Panda Bear.” Don’t laugh. That’s really what he calls himself. You really don’t know who he is? That’s perfectly okay.
See, Noah Lennox can’t sing all that well, either. But Noah simply uses this thing called, “digital reverb” to fix that. With “digital reverb,” Noah can sing into a microphone and the resulting noise sounds like he is singing inside of a cave. A lot of artists who have bad voices use it to cover up what bad singers they are, but in the name of being artistic.
The thing you need to know is that you need a good name.
Another thing we can learn from Noah Lennox is the importance of naming your buzzband appropriately. Try to think up words and phrases that are used in everyday conversation for your band’s name, like, “How Was Your Day?” Other things that work well are words that sound close to nature, things that sound sophisticated and foreign but really just mean something like “Good Soup” in French. Oh, also, because you are kind of old, don’t forget to include something that makes people feel nostalgic when they hear your band’s name. Like, “Record Player” or, “Drinking an Ice-Cold Soda On An Afternoon In The Summertime.” And don’t forget that anything with an animal’s name in it is failsafe. Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Panda Bear, whatever.
The fourth thing you need to know is that you need a good story, a cabin, and even more reverb.
If you are still a little bit in doubt of your musical and singing abilities to form a buzzband, let me tell you about Bon Iver. Bon Iver is just one dude who can’t play the guitar or sing all that well, but people really respect him and his music because he has a really good back-story. According to him, he had a really bad breakup with a band and then took a guitar and a Tascam DP-008 multitracker into a cabin in Vermont and isolated himself and out of the isolation came “so much beauty!”
We don’t even know if any of this is true, but we do know that every single critic’s response to his debut album, supposedly recorded in aforementioned cabin in Vermont, said something along the lines of, “Isolation has never sounded this beautiful and you can really hear the wooden confines of the Vermont cabin it was recorded in!”
It also might be good to note that Bon Iver follows many other rules of being in a buzzband, such as having a foreign sounding name and using a crapload of “digital reverb.” And he’s not even that good at his instrument – or singing, for that matter – he just loads a bunch of reverb on his music so it sounds “artistic” and “lonely” and “in a cave.”
But anyhow, you need a good story. I recommend you take a few days off of work and “isolate” yourself in our basement to record an EP. You just needed to take some time off of parenting, and the stress of working a job. The EP would be titled, “You Betcha’ I’m Taking A Break From Being A Hockey Mom, EP.” I can help you put in on Bandcamp.com.
The fifth thing you need to know is that you are not in this alone.
Please reply and tell me whatever it is that you don’t understand or if, while you are researching buzzbands, you come across something that scares or confuses you. For example, while searching through the Tumblrs and Twitter feeds of many relevant people, you may come across a link to a song by a woman named Joanna Newsom. Do not click on this link.
I am here for you, every step of the way of forming a buzzband.
Your (Favorite) Son