How to be a Rock Star.

Or, The Foley Formula for Rock Success, in Canada and Around the World (paperback)

Anyone who’s known me for any length of time knows that I am driven by music, and inevitably destined to be a rock star. Really – ask anyone. How am I going to accomplish this, you ask?

Well, I’ve done a lot of research into the matter, and carefully observed the careers of groups and artists over the years. I can correctly predict what songs or bands will be one-hit wonders, who’ll make it despite the odds, who’ll disband, who’s jumped the shark, etc. etc. etc.

Now I admit, I’m not perfect. I don’t know everything about everyone, and there are constantly new bands and styles popping up and learning me. And that’s cool. But there are fundamental rules behind rock stardom, and they must be heeded.

Here now is a quick breakdown of everything you need to know to be a rock star.

It has to be about the music.

I know, I know – a lot of bands have gotten together purely for the fame. And yes, a fair 99% of all musicians everywhere learned how to play a particular instrument purely to attract a member of the oppostite sex. But don’t lose focus – you’re primary M.O. has got to be about making music, or else you’re little more than a kind of Anna Nicole, leaching fame and fortune by draping a guitar over your neck and dressing a certain way (not that that doesn’t work for a number of stars anyway).

Simply know this: writing music is not hard. I know it’s a daunting proposition, but consider that artists have been writing and recording music on every instrument imaginable for hundreds of years. The odds that you’re going to come up with something clever and original is slim. So relax, grab a beer… you go ahead and master the chord progression from Smells Like Teen Spirit if you want to. You will have success if you’re meant to, whether you have a scrap of talent or not.

As it is, most bands only have one main songwriter anyway. Just about every band you hear on the radio today has like, one dude who writes everything. And usually, that’s not even the singer – hence, there are side project bands/albums coming out 24/7. So dude, slip into those leather pants and fix your hair one last time, cos that’s probably all you’re good for anyway.

Make sure every song has a ‘good part’.

I actually read this in an article of SPIN, but I couldn’t put it any better myself. People will listen through 4 minutes of blah to get to a ripping solo or vocal bit. Also remember that The Ramones built a career with only a few chords. So if you are the one who happens to write the music, construct your songs simply and to the point, and throw in a curveball to shake shit up.

That’s also a good metaphor for your career. You want to stay current, and stay fresh. I recommend finding obscure artists for collaborations. Definitely do not hook up with the biggest name you can find, cos they’re on their way out; it takes a good 13 or 14 of those metaphorical minutes to achieve superstardom, unless it’s an overnight success, in which case said artist is going to disaapear before you finish recording anyway.

To the counterpoint, however, I recently read something somewhere about John Lennon’s writing technique… evidently, when Mr. Lennon wrote a shithot lick or guitar riff, he woud turn around and write it in as the verse of the song, as opposed to the hook or the chorus. Not a bad idea, but let’s face facts – if you could come up with awesomeness like that, reader, you wouldn’t be wasting your time learning all this from me now…

Avoid the pitfalls of rock stardom.

To a lot of people, this sounds like common sense. But most people aren’t as informed as they think. They think it’s important for rock stars to be responsible, clean and sober individuals, and to set a good example for todays’ youth. Those people are morons.

The actual pitfalls of late have nothing to do with vice. I’m talking about designing clothing lines, writing childrens’ books, and spirituality. Although these days more and more rock stars are being held accountable for their actions, everybody knows there’s going to be lots of booze and the like travelling around with them. Those can be overlooked – even waved off as muses of sorts – but there’s nothing more annoying than some Johnny-come-lately punk band spouting about Scientology. And it will get your ass dropped.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with experimentation – think of rock stardom as a kind of university experience: you’re trying to find yourself, and it’s all about good times. And to be honest, there’s nothing like a little controversy to boost album sales. But please, people – stick to sex and drugs.

Groupies have feelings, too.

Everyone will try to warn you about what to watch out for when you first make it. And to some degree, they’re right. But there’s one glaring exception: groupies. Fact is, contrary to what anyone may tell you, the kind of woman who’s made it her life’s work to sleep with rock stars is exactly the kind of girl you want to shack up with.

That kind of objective displays a real determination, and goal-orientedness. Not to mention, it costs a lot to travel around and find bands, further proof that your average groupie is hard-working and motivated to succeed. Plus, let’s be frank – it’s not her goal to marry a rock star, or have kids with a rock star, or be paid inevitable alimony by a rock star, no… just to sleep with one. So commitment-wise, it’s probably a good idea to explore this avenue for sexual release, because you’re going to have a lot of other things on your mind with music and sales and stuff.

And afterwards, there’s no awkwardness. It’s more of a ‘mission accomplished’ kind of situation. You’ve helped a young woman come one step closer to her life’s ambition. Hell, she’ll probably dump you. Just play it safe and let loose. Oh, but one thing: if you’re fortunate enough not to be a one-hit wonder (no pun intended), pace yourself. You have future albums and singles ahead of you, so you’ll want to save some of that energy.

Get a good look while you can.

Above all else, however, it’s important to understand what a gift it is to be a rock star. So when you’re looking out off of the stage at the sea of faces moshing and crying to touch you, try not to take it for granted. For a myriad of reasons, you’re second album is very likely to suck, and all you’ll have to look forward to is the inevitable weekend booking at Casino Rama between Styx and Herman’s Hermits.

Just remember to make the most of it while you have it. And remember to keep thing in perspective – Elvis Presley once said that he didn’t mind at all if his fans ripped the shirt off of his back, because they were the ones who put it there to begin with.

If you’re about to rock, reader, I salute you.

Kickass lyric of the day

Perhaps this final act was meant to clinch a lifetime’s argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could…
For all those born beneath an angry star, lest we forget how fragile we are.

– Sting, “Fragile”

2 Responses to “How to be a Rock Star.”
  1. Rashi says:

    Don’t forget Elvis also said “I don’t know anything about music. In my line you don’t have to. “

    Thanks for the great tips!

  2. Bobby says:

    Use them wisely. :)

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  • About

    My name is Bobby.

    I write about random things a lot. I write a lot about random things.

    I write occasionally for Smashing Magazine and the London Community News online, and weekly for Interrobang, the student voice newspaper at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario.

    I've also been published by the Canadian University Press.
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