Ask Damian Erskine: Auditioning

Q: I have an audition coming up and I really want to make an impression! Any advice?

A: Definitely! Here are a few things to keep in mind. You will be taking time out of your day to prepare and audition, these guys are taking time out of their days to listen and play with a bunch of dudes all day long, many of whom, they may never see again. It’s a tedious and arduous task (especially for the band!) so, in an effort to not waste anyone’s time… Do your homework, and nail it.

I recently auditioned for a local pop band that I’ve always really dug called Intervision. They already knew me and I knew a few of the guys already, but I didn’t want to fluff it and leave anything less than a stellar impression. In other words, I didn’t want to waste their time by just showing up and jamming when they gave me a list of tunes to prepare. You have to go in knowing that you have this stuff down and can play it so well, they’d be silly not to hire you!

Here are a few things to do:

1. If at all possible, memorize the music! This really impresses the band and it also really facilitates being able to play it convincingly. Obviously, in order to memorize it, you’ll need to play each song through over and over and over again to really get it in your head. By that time, you’re just killing the tune anyways!

2. Be conscious of how you dress. Just because it’s an informal rehearsal, don’t go in looking like you just finished landscaping your yard. Look the part to a certain extent. I mean, don’t go all NY Dolls unless you really want to, but if it’s an orchestra or jazz combo, come in looking all pro. If it’s an indie band, keep it casual (but wear that really cool shirt people always comment on). If it’s a metal band, get a little aggressive. You get the picture. You want to both sound and look like you belong in that band.

3. Make sure to have your gear straight! Chances are, everyone will be auditioning through one rig to keep things quick and painless for the other guys, but make sure you’ve got everything you need. If you’re waiting outside beforehand, tune your bass. Make sure the battery is fresh (if you have one) and so on.

4. Take a moment and make sure your sound is happening before you start to really play Especially if you’re using someone else’s gear to play through. You don’t want to fiddle for 10 minutes or anything (that’ll just bug people) but take an extra few seconds and make sure that you sound like you want to sound.

5. Don’t try to impress everyone with anything but your ability to play bass. Chances are, if you get too “notey” trying to impress people with your abilities, you won’t get the call. Maybe pick a spot or two and sneak a tasty lick in there – if it’s appropriate – but caution on the side of under-playing. If they want to hear you solo, they’ll ask you.

That’s about it. Know your material inside and out, play like a session bass player, look like you belong, be cool, humble and let these folks know that you can play, that you’re easy to work with and a good hang and you’re professional in every way, and you’re likely to get in.

Have a question for Damian Erskine? Send it to [email protected]. Check out Damian’s instructional books, Right Hand Drive and The Improviser’s Path.

Get daily bass updates.

Get the latest news, videos, lessons, and more in your inbox every morning.

Share your thoughts