First of all, let's give a big round of mental applause to the fine folks at Meow Wolf, T-Cubed (and SFR!) for the recent Passion Pit show. It was a pretty killer event that—get this—actually provided something for young people around here. That said, I'd like to discuss one of the openers, a band called Pacific Air. I must admit I found myself dumbfounded by the warm reception the band received. Really, they weren't anything special, but it did give me an idea. I started thinking about what goes into forming a popular indie/rock band in today's current music climate, and I've devised a few simple steps that will surely make you every bit as popular as Pacific Air.
Step 1: Get a Fashionable Haircut
The band's second guitarist had an interesting do: shaved sides and a long top. It's the kind of thing my mother would describe as the "village idiot" style, but he was wise to do this. If there's one thing we know about today's music, it's that your appearance matters every bit, if not more, than your sound. You should start saving now, friends, because a kicky style will surely set you back a pretty penny.
Step 2: Find Some Dude With a Keyboard and a Soft Spot for the Ethereal
Korg, Korg, Korg. Can you imagine those board meetings down at Korg HQ? "Haha! And then those girl-pants-wearing weirdos will shell out whatever we want because people who 'know' music will spot the SV-1 model and automatically think the keyboardist is a genius!" Yes, you too can have one of those dudes in your band, and it won't even matter what he plays because that little red keyboard speaks for him. Just make sure he knows to sound pretty and keeps his damn mouth shut onstage.
Step 3: Borrow from "Obscure" Bands
You're probably the only person who's ever heard The Cure or The Smiths, right? So it's safe to assume nobody will notice if you sound like some sort of bastardized amalgamation of these bands. It's not like your music is aimed at anyone over the age of 15 anyway, right? Look, fledgling bands, people love stuff they already know, so with ever-so-slight changes to songs that are already popular, you'll be able to trick your audience into thinking you have an original sound.
Step 4: Army of Pedals
There's no reason to spend years honing your guitar or bass skills when you can simply plug into your Line 6 processor and that Boss delay pedal. In fact, nobody has to know you've got no idea what the hell you're doing when your army of pedals makes you the guitarist equivalent of the iPod DJ.
Step 5: YouTube
Today's kids don't even bother to pirate music anymore, as it is readily available for their aural pleasure on YouTube. Throw up a video and mis-tag it as that one band you're influenced by (read: totally not ripping off) and, before you know it, you'll have a bajillion hits and a portal to your website where you give your music away for free.
Step 6: Where to Attach Your Wagon. Or, The Coattails Clause
Depending on where you live, there may just be a band or two that has achieved some form of success. Find these people right away and get down to some serious ass-kissing. "You guys make The Beatles look like Limp Bizkit!" you could say. This band will probably be touring soon and, if you can get yourself on said tour, audiences who are so concerned about looking cool to their friends will assume that your very association with the band they actually came to see means you must be good, despite what you truly sound like.