I have a silly question, but here goes.
I absolutely adore a particular metal band, and I would love to meet them next time they come to my state (which they probably will). The venue they come to here is pretty small as far as venues go, and I feel like I might have a better chance of meeting them because of this. Now I don’t want to fangirl over them or anything (because I would feel kind of uncomfortable if someone did that to me), but I would like to say hi to them and (if I’m lucky) get a picture with them.
My question is: what kind of advice do you have for meeting bands? I don’t want to stalk them or infringe on their privacy, but I would love to chat with them, even if it’s just one of them. What would you recommend doing? Thank you for your time and for reading my request! \m/
Amon Amarth live in Atlanta, photo by Shawn Evans at Skull n Bones.
Whooooo boy. I have met a few musicians in my time, including getting a hug from Nick Cave, who is probably my equivalent of the band you’re talking about above. I get nervous and awkward every single time, and it never gets better. I met Amanda Palmer before one of her shows here in Auckland (she is practically the friendliest person a fan could ever hope to meet), and I said, “hi!” and she said “hi!” and then I stared at her with my mouth open for about 30 seconds. All class, Steff.
The logistics of meeting a band are pretty simple, really. Make sure you are able to stick around the venue after the show. (stay at a friends house near the venue, etc, so you’re not relying on getting to a bus at a certain time). Have some drinks, talk to some people. The band will either, a) come out to the bar for a few post-show drinks, or b) pile their gear into their van and get back to their hotel. In which case, hanging outside around the back of the venue is best. This works great if you’re a smoker, as you kind of have a reason to be outside. If you’re not, just kind of hang around awkwardly. If you’re by yourself, go and talk to other people, or look like you’re hanging around waiting for your ride.
At some point the band will need to come out to load the gear, unless they’re big enough to have roadies to do that. Or they might clean themselves up backstage and then come out to the bar. Then it’s just up to you to go up and say, “hi!”
Without fans like you, the band wouldn’t have the opportunity to be able to play their music and go on tour, which is a pretty amazing thing to be able to do. Most musicians love to meet and chat to fans, because it’s those fans that make everything possible. They aren’t just musicians – they’re also fans of music, too – you already have something in common.
In saying that, musicians are people, and they have shitty days when they just want to get the fuck out of there and go home, and sometimes they are just fuckwits (Glen Benton, for example …), but generally, if you don’t give off a psycho stalker vibe or are dribbling drunk, they’re happy to chat for a few minutes and sign some stuff or be in a photo. I’ve even ended up friends with a few musicians from chatting and hanging out after shows. I never would have gone to Hobbiton with Alestorm or met my amazing friend John (who has the same eye condition as me!) if I’d left as soon as the last note rung out.
So, what do you say? I am not the best person to ask about this, because, as I said, I get a bit tongue-tied. Don’t worry about saying something they haven’t heard before. Just say hello, your name, how much you enjoyed the show or their latest album. Ask them how the tour is going, how long they’re in the city, what shows have been the best so far. Tell them their music means a lot to you. If you’re near the bar, ask if you can buy them a drink. My husband is quite strong, so he often asks if folk need help with the gear. If you want a photo, just ask. It’s great to bring a friend to the show, because they can take the pic. If lots of other people are hanging around, stand back after a while and let others talk, too.
Of course, there are other ways to meet bands, but they usually involve: 1. doing interviews for press, or 2. becoming a promoter, tech, or assistant at a venue. I’ve met a few amazing people because friends of mine are promoters and have given me interviews. To get an interview, simply email the promoter when a show is announced and ask about local press opportunities. Tell them the publication you’re writing for. First priority always go to major publications, but if the band are keen to do press in your town they will usually be happy to do college mags and blogs like mine.
What not to do? Don’t be pushy. Don’t get in the way while people lift heavy things. Try not to talk over the top of other fans who are there. Don’t show them the tattoo you have of their faces on your butt … although I guess some people would find that flattering …
When you go to the show, tell yourself that meeting them is a fun bonus. If it happens, amazing! If it doesn’t, it was still an awesome show. Even though I’ve been watching live music since I was 17, being able to see a band you love play live never gets old. It’s still such an amazing high, and I always feel so honoured when amazing bands come down to lil’ old NZ to play.
That’s about all the useful tips I have, I think. Anyone else want to chime in with some tips? Any musician friends offer some perspective from the other side?
And, just because I feel this article needs a soundtrack, here’s an awesome song by some Faroese Vikings.
The Sunken, my dark fantasy novel, is now available on Amazon.
Want updates on the blog and when new books are coming out? Want free books before they hit the market? Sign up for the mailing list.