Thursday, November 12, 2009

Building The Ideal Band

I have given a lot of thought to music lately. It's a central theme in the novel I'm working on for National Novel Writing Month, and I am forcing myself to learn new things about a field I already knew pretty darn well. My hero needed breathing lessons, so I had to take some too. And how do you really describe a singer's voice in words?
In the end, I'm putting a fictional band together. Doing that with entirely fictional characters got me thinking about how I'd do it with real, live rock stars. Without further ado, here's what I came up with.

  • On drums: Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame.
Dave is an amazing drummer but also a great singer, multi-instrumental musician, and song writer. He has a history of collaboration projects, including stints with Tom Petty, Tenacious D, and his new super group Them Crooked Vultures. Plus, he puts on a heck of a show.
Dave Grohl is my idea of the perfect musician, but also seems to be a really decent human being. I would gladly build a band around his solid backbone.

  • On bass: Mike Mills from R.E.M..
Yeah, I'm starting with the rhythm section, kind of like building a football team around solid offensive and defensive lines. Mike was always the most musically educated member of my favorite band, and his melodic bass lines are the heart and soul of nearly any R.E.M. tune you'd care to mention.
We're getting another triple threat: Mike also plays a fine piano and many more instruments, and has the voice to take the lead from Michael Stipe on occasion. He's also another great collaborator, having worked with Smashing Pumpkins and Mudville. Oh, and he wrote or co-wrote many of R.E.M.'s biggest hits. Starting to see a theme here?

  • On guitar: We need an axe wielder who can stand up to the raw muscle of Dave Grohl and also match wits and licks with Mike Mills. So who do we call? Hello, Slash!
Okay, Slash isn't known as a great singer and he really is mostly a guitar god, but he does fit our bill on every other level. He knows when to finesse a solo and he knows when to lay it on thick. After co-writing some of the finest cuts in rock history with Guns N' Roses, Slash moved on to two bands all his own as well as collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Alice Cooper, and frickin' Michael Jackson. You want a team player? You got a team player -- who also happens to be a living rock legend.

  • We could stop right there and just let Dave or Mike take the mic. But where's the fun in that? So on lead vocals, I can't help myself -- I need Allison Krauss.
Allison's pure and clear voice has no equal to my ears. She could sing the phone book and have me spellbound. Sure, she's mostly a country girl -- but she has proven her rockin' mettle alongside greats like Robert Plant, Sting, and Phish. She completes a full hand of accomplished song writers and plays a mean fiddle.

With Allison Krauss on lead vocals and two lead-singer candidates backing her up, the sonic explosion should be legendary. Every band member can contribute to the song list, and they are all accomplished wizards of the recording studio and mixer board. The technical skills are beyond reproach, and so is the musicianship all around. I would pay good money to hear this band, no questions asked.

I don't think you could come up with a better quartet yourself, but the comments box is dying to see you try. Good luck!

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