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Over the weekend I broke up with my band. It wasn’t them, it was me. Thanks to Bruce and Matt for the awesome support and good times. I’m trying to figure out what’s next and I’ll probably be looking for ideas on here.

How does a “one man band” do a rocking live show that isn’t boring as all hell?

Posted on - December 1, 2008 [at] 1:47 am by Brad
Tagged in - ,

49 Comments on this post

Shawn aka Ringking on friendfeed on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 2:11 am

Acoustic live show with maybe explosions in the background. Just kidding about the explosions. Personally my favorite songs from you are Dirtbag and Borderline which wouldn’t be that hard to do with one guitar IMHO.

Dan on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 2:14 am

Hey Brad,

Sorry to hear that. Jonathan Coulton seems to get along just fine with a one-man live show, although many of his songs lend themselves more naturally to the acoustic format. Have you considered finding another band?

Bjam on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 2:40 am

Robot band. Duh.

It’s still technically a one-man band. Just more… robot-y.

Damien Benoit on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 3:01 am

How about you not worry about performing live and instead, create a subscription model where you just make music, videos and other things on a monthly basis.

People subscribe to your music and get more music from you every month instead of waiting so long for new albums to come out. And you can also work on making video performances of songs that people can download 1 a month. Im sure you can come up with a new song or 2 each month and maybe 1 video.

Then you can charge something like $15 bucks a month and im sure you would find enough people that would be willing to pay that just to constantly hear new things from you.

Thats just something I think most good acts should start doing. Its the only real way!!!

Let me know if you ever need help with it. I do alot of motion graphic design and can do some video work for you!

Mastrix on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 4:06 am

One word: Lasers.

ezuk on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 6:16 am

I second what Damien said above. Seems like a nice business model.

Steve Rydz on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 7:08 am

That is a hard one Brad, a good light show would probably do the trick although I don’t really know how hard that would be to implement? I also know how in a lot of venues you won’t have the liberty of setting things up how you would like them.

I kind of agree with Damien here, you have the kind of following needed to make that work. Personally I rarely play live any more, partly due to lack of venues etc, but I find it doesn’t really get me anywhere, I always end up frustrated with the sound man or something.

adam on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 7:09 am

I love your songs, I just don’t see how they could be played good live.

Anyway seems like a Nine Inch Nails situation. Maybe get a new band? Or just make more albums? :)

Katie on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 11:59 am

I second robots.

That, and fog machines.

Universal Indie Records on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 12:28 pm

Since you put it out there… I’m going to be nosy. Why exactly did you break up with your band? I’m curious to know.

joshissquashed on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 3:12 pm

could do something like erlend oye (singer of the whitest boy alive and kings of convinience)
i think he does some, or part, of his shows acoustic guitar
and some DJing and singing on top
could be interesting

you could do a set of first half you singing acoustic
then mix live a load of electro shizzle while singing the songs we all love so much
considering relativly simple chord progresions it could be done not that impossibly

get yourself an epic lighting/special fx guy thing
its as much a part of the gig as your music itself

Jean on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 3:22 pm

You finally caught Bruce with the sheep, didn’t you???

Scott Gentzen on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 4:11 pm

I’ve seen a vid on Youtube of Brad doing just fine all by himself.

I saw Buckethead recently playing all by himself with an iPod as the backing band. His opener was That 1 Guy who also played by himself backed by a pile of gear on the floor.

Just gotta think a little differently about how you do your show when it’s just you up there.

Yeah, I’m motivated by selfishness as I want Brad to come out on tour. I can’t help it.

Mark on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 8:57 pm

NOOOOO!!!! i just found out about the magical music you have made.

Benn Wolfe on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 9:06 pm

Ask Trent Reznor.

G-Harp the Producer on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Convert to Hinduism.
Become a Shiva.
Grow extra arms.
Pretty simple plan here Brad

scottandrew on Band no more
December 1, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Seriously, I’ve seen quite a few solo performers get crazy with Ableton onstage. Last year I saw a kid rock out on a Nord Lead and a few looping devices. It was certainly not boring. I think it’s a matter of re-thinking your tunes to allow for a bit of improv.

Also: smoke machine. Or hook up with one of those arty projectionist types.

dp on Band no more
December 2, 2008 at 12:22 am

i assume you broke up for a reason.
what was that reason?
what is the answer to your question?
you already know.

Stephen on Band no more
December 2, 2008 at 10:46 am

One Man Band = one man, lots of WOMEN.

Lelia Katherine Thomas on Band no more
December 2, 2008 at 8:26 pm

I agree with Damien’s comment. Along with what he said, you might look into more of a business model like what Magnatune offers its artists. It’s done very well so far. That’s just the business side, though.

Probably the hardest thing for creative types is to stay motivated when alone, even when we create good things that way. I suggest you seek out other “one man bands” and watch and listen to what they’re doing. Maybe you’ll find you like their tactics, or maybe you will find incentive to make or join another band. Either way, you will find an answer to your question.

If you decide to go solo after all that, I recommend you really look into incorporating a number of different mediums into your performances. A good rock show doesn’t just have to be the sound, as some of the other commenters outlined. It can be more visual and conceptual as well, even leak into the physical if you want to get really creative. You’re first a musician, but I think good live performances are made up of entertainers.

Good luck. We’ll undoubtedly see lots more of you, solo or otherwise!

Darg on Band no more
December 2, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Get a loop pedal hooked up to a keyboard, guitar, and electronic drum set.

Matt Hite on Band no more
December 3, 2008 at 2:04 am

Personally, I think it would be awesome if showed up with a band like this:

And don’t think I’m kidding. I’m frickin’ serious. IT WOULD BE AWESOME.

Chuck on Band no more
December 3, 2008 at 2:47 am

Maybe set something up like That One Guy , or whatever Zoe Keating does to rerecord elements while playing?

Lilly on Band no more
December 3, 2008 at 11:41 am

Go solo singer-songwriter with a regular backing band…? I dunno – whatever. Just keep at it, you’re good enough to turn it round and come up with something fresh, and I think you know that already.

Vince on Band no more
December 3, 2008 at 1:37 pm

just find different people that don’t cause you to break up with them…that’s what i do…or you can use a bunch of computers.

Bruce on Band no more
December 3, 2008 at 3:50 pm

As Brad mentioned, I don’t think it was us that caused the break, we got along really well and played well together as a group. Brad’s got other ideas about how to present his music in a live format.

gerh on Band no more
December 3, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Wish you luck on figuring out what to do now but
Don’t Stop! ever..

pseudosu on Band no more
December 4, 2008 at 12:54 am

Are you into performing live? Or do you just want to make music? Eno and Daniels (spoon) seem to like working as a two piece, but then have to come up with enough “hands” to play live which they make sound like a total pain. It seems the serious money these days comes from getting songs into soundtracks in some form (ads, tv, films, etc).

You could totally just put out albums. Your music is awesome. Talked to a guy lately who’s been around the music “biz” for a while and he thinks the idea of “band”, as it has existed up until now, is basically dead. Musicians may need to collab w/ other artists to come up with something bigger than themselves, stretch, but shouldn’t have to be professionally “married” to make a go of it.

I’d say unless you really get off on playing live– screw it. Find people you want to work with piece-meal when it feels right, and do your own thing. I’ll keep buying.

rickterfj on Band no more
December 4, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Check out some stuff by Keller Williams. He uses loops and all those good things.

Scott Gentzen on Band no more
December 5, 2008 at 1:30 am

@23 I’m glad you remembered to bring up That One Guy. He’s a good example too. I saw him open for Buckethead last month.

One of the things I remember him saying while he was playing was something about one of the benefits of being a one-man band is that if you want to do a remix, all you have to do keep playing

raven on Band no more
December 5, 2008 at 2:15 am

do the cha cha, brad. it always works.

Eric on Band no more
December 6, 2008 at 12:43 pm

you don’t. you play with a band. if you want to rock.

robots would (almost) work.

one man bands suck (so I guess that fits with the moniker) unless you are fripp or fennesz.

(Note: that doesn’t mean you can’t play as a one man show, just don’t ditch the band. You can play with loops, laptops and robots but it will never replace a band.)

Eric on Band no more
December 6, 2008 at 12:48 pm

case in point:
buckethead and laswell
buckethead and ipod

who wins?

(mind you – can you actually do some cool things re: looping with the ipod?)

Conviction Geno on Band no more
December 6, 2008 at 9:38 pm

Well Brad your the best so you wont have prolems.

Scott Gentzen on Band no more
December 7, 2008 at 1:31 am

@33 you can’t do anything cool with the iPod by itself. There are some DJ decks that you can plug an iPod into but they seem to mostly be using the iPod as an external disk.

joshissquashed on Band no more
December 7, 2008 at 7:25 pm

i think alot of people commenting don’t seem to realise that song-release-wise you’re already a one man band

and that the band you split up with were only for live shows

unless ofcourse i am horribly horribly mistaken

Rolly on Band no more
December 10, 2008 at 11:39 am

Why would you want to do a rocking show when your called Brad that Sucks? Just stay true to your name.

rmd on Band no more
December 11, 2008 at 4:29 am


First, I think what you do is genius. This site is great, what you do is fun and the music is awesome. OK, enough kissing your butt.

You seem to have direction without a band. I have a band without real direction. I can feel your pain in leaving the band… I have booted a few from the band I am with because of “artistic differences”. I in fact stopped playing a few months ago because I was tired of sounding like crap on house systems or some idiot screwing with my monitors.

I have since been putting together my own studio in my basement so that I can attempt to do pretty much what you do. I’ve accumulated an impressive amount of crap in a few months.

I’m pretty much a drummer but do vocals, can handle MIDI and DAW software and am a decent sound guy. I have to be, my laptop alone pushes 1000 watts and I ran the boards for all our gigs.

My proposal to you is, I can book a gig in Buffalo. Granted we’ll get screwed but can take the door or something. We can test out a band between us and you. My band was the local entertainment rag’s Critics’ Choice a couple times, so we suck on a high level.

I’m in Buffalo, NY… not too far from you. You can camp here and we can be as loud as we want for practice.

Just a thought,


BTW: I’m a total geek and not 20 years old (read that as older but not a member of the Rolling Stones).

state shirt on Band no more
December 11, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Keep the band, fire your laptop.

macbuoy on Band no more
December 11, 2008 at 7:44 pm

hook up with the flaming lips. That’s what beck did and you’re as bad-ass as that scientologist freak!

Weaponofmassinstruction on Band no more
December 12, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Sorry to hear about the breakup. Nothing as serious as ABBA, I hope?

On a scale of ABBA to Van Halen… where would it be? Eagles? BTO?

I’m sure you’ll work something out.

Luvmachin on Band no more
December 16, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Hey Brad, how come did you guys brake up?
I aint from USA, from Estonia, me and my buds enjoy your music ;) Often on the backround, sooo chill :)
Thanks for making great tunes anyway!

Brandon on Band no more
December 16, 2008 at 10:43 pm

Love your music. Whatever you decide, I hope it works out for you.

Bas on Band no more
December 30, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Come to Holland and get me to play bass!

Thats all I can think of now..

I am coming to America next summer, so if you plan a gig at the east coast that would be mighty!

Hope you can sort things out!


Squid on Band no more
January 2, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Dude, don’t give up on it! Your music totally rocks, it’s an awesome discovery and I’m trying to help promote it everywhere. I’m sure there’s lots of others doing the same. You just need some stand-in artists to perform with you.

Pisces Man on Band no more
January 11, 2009 at 12:49 pm

More Cowbell!

Andrew Spicer on Band no more
January 13, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Hey Brad,
You should just go it alone with a computer at your side. I’ve been playing like that for years and have performed live like that this past year and have had great responses. The idea is to essentially “pretend” (for lack of a better description) that you are rocking out with a band behind you. The truth is people don’t even notice after a while. Your shows won’t be boring if you rock out the same way one would with a live band.

As someone had posted above about the band format being dead, I can add to that saying I truely believe that the one-man-band is set to be the next big trend. So you need to keep going and enjoy yourself for god sakes. That’s the most importuned part, it’s what makes the show good. You having a good time, will let others have a good time.

Good luck and keep the music coming.

Ahithophel on Band no more
January 25, 2009 at 6:02 am

“Two are better than one, and a three fold cord is not easily broken.”
Don’t go it alone.
A triangle is the most stable shape.
Stick with a power trio like YYY’s or Nirvana.
Live shows are the lifeblood of a musician… the internet has it’s place but a band must be in the trenches on the local scene.
I prefer towns with less competition… i.e. Des Moines(Slipknot), Sacramento(Cake), etc.
Too many ppl move to L.A.(Silverlake) and end up washing cars… FOREVER.

mikey on Band no more
March 10, 2009 at 4:30 pm

You could try checking out 2 artists I’ve really digged and wish I could see live: Calgarian Chad VanGaalen and Chicagoan Andrew Bird.

The cool thing about Chad’s setup is that he uses his feet for drums, kick and snare. I’ve never seen anyone do that before until I saw his SXSW performance on youtube, last year I think it was? The one thing that I think’s missing is hi hat, but maybe he could just use a synth or sampler for that.

Andrew Bird’s setup is interweaving acoustic loops into a stream of gradually added sound, beginning with tapping on his violin or guitar to create the rhythmic pulse, then pizzicati. People say it creates a kind of hypnotizing effect. He also usually has a drummer with him, though, just to spice things up.

So yeah, I don’t think there’s anything that makes multiple-member performances more exciting overall. It depends.

Comments are closed on this post.