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How To Start A Band: Musicians Share Their Stories

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This is a casual piece where I’d like to collect and publish stories on how different bands came about. Firstly because I love reading stories like this, and secondly to perhaps give others who are contemplating starting a band (whether it’s professional or hobby) a little inspiration. Here’s the query I put out:

For musicians in a band (professional or hobby), how’d it come about? Looking to hear any and all band creation stories.

So far we’ve got just 67 good submissions, so if you’re in a band and have a story to share, please make a submission!

Here’s a list of the bands that have shared with us so far, along with a link to their story:

My band Stormy Mondays (in Spain) got together for the first time in 1991 and put out its first record in 1998. How did we want to start a band? I think it all comes down to Marty McFly’s rendition of “Johnny B. Goode” on the film “Back To The Future”! That was what did it for me, at least. Looking back, it’s scary how close in time we were to The Beatles still existing as a band. When we started playing together, 1970 was only 21 years ago!

More than 20 years later, my band is not famous but we dreamt many dreams and a few of them came true: We had a song played in Space aboard Endeavour Space Shuttle. We were the only Spanish band to ever play Woodstock Festival (in ’99). We played onstage with Bruce Springsteen and Slash. We released many records, and had a great time making them and playing live.

I think that especially these days, with so much music made by individuals on their computers, there’s something very primal and almost rebellious in getting together with some friends and playing some real instruments, in the same room, making the same glorious noise. In a way, it harkens back to the beginnings of rock and roll.

--Jorge, Stormy Mondays


I'm the keyboardist and vocalist in the Front Porch Session Players. We're a band of five, with three original songwriters. We're in our late 40's and early 50's and the story of our band is interesting...

The band started as a bunch of neighbors gathering on a front porch in the Historic Grant Park neighborhood, playing guitars and banjos and jamming. Over time it reduced to a smaller group of more dedicated people. By the time I joined about 8 years ago, it had solidified to a core of 5.

It's interesting being a band of older guys. We're not out to conquer the world. Our goal is to open for a really big band, just once! We've played a lot of Atlanta festivals and bars, and even gotten as far as the main-stage of the Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park where major names played.

--Adam Cole, Front Porch Session Players


At around 15 years old me and another musician who is now like a brother (Bleu) recorded a number of songs. In the beginning, we'd record songs using my mom's laptop and a guitar hero microphone. We'd then share the tracks with each other and listen to them all week. Once I got more comfortable I started releasing these songs and started noticing kids at my high school quoting my lyrics.

I watched a few tutorials and started editing my own music videos and dropping them back to back. At this point I gained a lot of the recognition that followed me even to this day. Once people saw me making music it's almost like everyone wanted a studio. I recorded features, 3 mixtapes and dropped videos all from home. Now, I record with one of my best friends and personal engineer's Zack Davidson. He's a large piece of my first official mixtape I Told You Too . With Zack, I recorded songs like Talk To You Later , Goin Dummy and Plenty.

Although I don't consider myself a band, I do have my own record label/team of artist. We're known as OCP an acronym for Only Chasing Paper. Fast forward to today, I'm recording my 3rd project.

--Charleito, CHARLEITO.COM


I think for me personally, I’ve always been fascinated with the music industry and entertainment in general. I’ve always been obsessed with music and playing guitar and dreaming of standing on stage making people go “Wow!” which is key if you are interested in forming a band with any longevity. This is something that never leaves you either, it’s like a physical addiction that you can never quite give up. I know...I’ve tried many times. The moment you know you want to be in a band and write the greatest songs the world has ever heard, haha! it grips you and takes over your every thought. Everything else becomes non-essential. You begin to seek out like minded people who also have this physical addiction just as you do. Once I did form a band, it was a feeling of finally being home. There is always this sense in bands, of comradery, brotherhood, or the family you always yearned for. Which is true in my case coming from a dysfunctional family. I think everyone subconsciously wants that feeling of being part of something bigger than yourself. The feeling of our gang can take on your gang and eventually the world!

--Andrew Michelin, The All Canadian Soundclash


We are a husband & wife alt-country duo from Kingsville, Ontario, Canada. We met when we were just out of high school, through a mutual friend. We kept showing up to the same parties with a guitar. So naturally we would gravitate toward each other. Both of us were just learning how to play and sing at that time. So our friendship grew quickly around that. We formed a band together before we started dating and had an instant connection through our music. Katie had lost her father only a couple of years before that to cancer and was using music as a therapy tool and writing songs to help her through it. Then soon after we met Josh lost a really close friend in a tragic homicide. So when we began writing original music together it was often more than 'just a song' for us. It was a slow unravelling of our mental, physical and emotional distress. It is no surprise that we still use music to this day as a therapy practice. Which is why our early recordings reveal a lot of angst and despair, but often will resolve with a positive inspirational message.

--Katie Pascoe, Fresh Breath Band


This story/ Biography is about how our small town Hazelridge Manitoba country music band Banned & Outlawed came about.

This all started when brothers Jon and Dan being 3 and 5 years of age started fiddle lessons in the nearby town, every weekend by a fine fiddle teacher who was in a band himself. With Jon winning a fiddle contest in the small town of Holland Manitoba, when he was 3 years old after throwing up backstage before ShowTime. Growing up on their family farm the Banned & Outlawed boys always showed an interest in music, if it was watching the top 40 CMT videos on T.V every Saturday morning with their family, or if it was watching their mom play in her long time family band every gathering or celebration, they have always had some big dreams in this business. By the time Jon and Dan started elementary school in the closest town of Hazelridge Manitoba “the Perogy capitol of Canada” they say. Their mom began her teaching career at this same time, it just so happened it was at the same school. So five years they had their mom teaching them and their friends music by making small rock bands throughout the school, and hosting “Band Blasts” throughout the year showing all the parents what their kids could accomplish when they pick up a guitar, or a pair of drumsticks while playing and practicing to popular songs and sometimes putting their own twist on things.

After the years of elementary past, while they’re mom stayed at the elementary school so they had to decide if they wanted to carry on with their own thing or not. So Jon stepped up to the plate and got a few good buddies together including his brother Dan and started the band. They started out playing the old rock tunes from CCR and BT, the kind of songs that got them excited and felt like they were playing some stadium instead of their parents basement. So throughout their middle school years they got most of their gigs playing talent shows and WE days and also local festivals around the surrounding area in small town rural Manitoba. They have changed from many band names throughout the starting years and also players but they always made the best of everything if it meant making T-Shirts with the band name on it or changing up there cowboy hats from show to show. The Banned & Outlawed boys always seem to have a good time and show people that they love what they do. As there middle school years past school became harder but the Banned & Outlawed story was just getting started.

At this point they have been getting some pretty committed players still consisting of friends and have been catching some pretty good breaks on top of it. Like being featured on CTV news at the high school when they hosted a fundraiser that they were asked to play at, and being able to play at more local competitions but have yet to win one. They always had a great time playing at the school talent show because that was where they got the biggest crowd and biggest support at the time and continue to get support from their hometown. They have been at this gig for a few years now and have many years to come but the Banned & Outlawed boys never seem to back down no matter what comes at them.

--Jon Hnatishin, Banned & Outlawed


I'm the lead singer/songwriter for the band Arsenal Mills. We're a blues/pop/rock band based out of Prince Edward Island, Canada. Now, being from the smallest province in Canada basically means that it's exponentially harder to find like-minded musicians, or at least musicians that are willing to put in the effort needed to be successful.. Luckily, I have youtube to thank for the creation of our band! I had just recently decided to leave the band I was currently in for about 3 years, and go off on my own to write/perform. I had made a bit of a name for myself around PEI and the surrounding provinces, so I wanted to take advantage of that. Fast forward a bit. One night I happened to be on youtube and I noticed a video of a young guitarist doing covers of some classic rock tunes, the guy couldn't have been more than 17 or 18, so I was intrigued. I ended up watching all of his videos (because he was AMAZING) and decided that I had nothing to lose by sending him a message. I let him know that I was trying to put a band together and that I thought he was one of the most gifted young players I'd ever seen. I soon learned that his name was Griff, and that we had all the same musical heroes and aspirations. Of course, we became best friends. We haven't looked back since! Together we formed Arsenal Mills (along with mutual friends Josh Macneil and Andre Uyterlinde) and have had some amazing success within the first few months after forming. We dropped our debut single 'Lovesick and Broke' in late July and it's been featured all over Canada and the U.S. We've also teamed up with (in my opinion) the best publicist in all of Canada, Eric Alper. This just goes to show that with the right attitude and a lot of hard work, you can make things happen. It's never too late or too early to work towards your goals and dreams. We're proof that being from some small town (or in our case, small province) isn't something that should hold you back, it's something that should add a little fuel to the fire.

--Brad, @arsenalmills on Instagram


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