Gideon Irving and Nate 'Hubcap' Sloan are neo-vaudevillians touring the world one living room at a time. Here, they discuss how to do so without killing your bandmate, ahead of their appearance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Being in a band is fun, sure. You get to play music, travel, meet people - what could be better? But rocking out on stage only amounts to approximately 2% of your time in a band, with the rest of it devoted to writing, rehearsing, recording and sitting endlessly in cars, buses and planes. As we’ve toured our guerrilla vaudeville act 'The Gideon and Hubcap Show' across America, we’ve discovered just how trying a musician’s life can be. Under such conditions, even bands as hardcore as Metallica have had to call in a therapist to mediate once in a while.
If you can’t afford group therapy, here’s some advice that we’ve gleaned along the way that just may keep your outfit from self-imploding.
1. Fighting isn’t all bad
Fighting and being in a band are practically synonymous. If you're in a band and you're not fighting with each other, I'm sorry to report that you're probably not very good. The Beatles, Oasis, Fleetwood Mac, King Crimson - to name just a handful - were all as crazy awesome as they were awesomely crazy. Big, combustible personalities make for a great show. Understand that a little bit of tension is good for business. Sometimes, if we’re enjoying each other’s company too much, one of us, out of the blue, will deploy a nasty insult (eg 'you dress like an extra in a 1970s zombie apocalypse movie') to keep things interesting.
2. Safety in numbers
The more people in the band, or the more people you have around that aren’t in your band, the better off you’ll be. Our band is especially challenging because it's just two people: Gideon and Hubcap. There’s no one else around to dispel tension or break up fisticuffs. At least the Beatles had Ringo. Who knows how many times Ringo defused a confrontation between John and Paul with a well-timed malapropism?
Thankfully, for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe we have an awesome stage manager traveling with us from the States. On one tour, Hubcap lost his voice and the only communication we shared was Hubcap frantically signing to Gideon that he had to use the bathroom and Gideon pretending not to understand. Also, the radio was broken. Let’s just say we really could have used another person in the car then.
3. Music is only part of it
Fights can erupt over anything. I wish I could say that our most volcanic battles took place over high-stakes creative differences (ie 'Goddamnit, Hubcap, I told you that chord should be a a C-sharp minor seventh in second inversion, not third, you tasteless cretin!'), but sadly, most arise when depressingly mundane arguments slowly evolve into something cataclysmic. After one particularly virulent argument over 'American Pie' actor Eugene Levy's net worth, we didn't speak to one another for days.
4. Talk it out
Communication is key. Express what is on your mind. Not airing grievances out in the open proves toxic. Here’s a sample phrase to try:
'Hi, [name of bandmate]. You are an excellent [instrument they play]ist/er, and I appreciate your talent and hard work. I just need to tell you that when you do that [annoying gesture] at the climax of [song I wrote] I feel that it detracts from [message of song]. So. [pause, breathe]... does that make sense?'
5. You’re still friends
Recognize that, no matter how much you like them, spending so much pressurised time with your bandmates is simply impossible to sustain. Spend that much time with [American kids' entertainment institution] Mr Rogers and after two weeks you'd want to put him in a chokehold and force-feed him his sweaters. If you can learn to accept this, your band will have a long and bright future. So the next time you find yourself about to smash an acoustic guitar over your drummer’s head, take a moment to remember a beautiful moment of friendship that you shared together. Then, if you still find yourself wanting to smash, go for it. Some bands just aren’t meant to last.
The Gideon and Hubcap Show, Underbelly George Square, Aug 5-23 (not 17), 10.55pm.