Why You Need To Be Larger Than Life

One of the most important aspects of branding and one of the most important things that you can do to tie into your bands brand is to be larger than life. This is an extremely hard one because it’s another one of those things which is going to make you see really pretentious and arrogant, however it doesn’t have to be that way. Yet you want people thinking from the first that you are a rock star and that you deserve all of the attention you are demanding. All of the old rock guys bring this up all the time: you can no longer tell the difference between the fans and the audience. People are going to shows for exactly that, a show. You need to give it to them or risk getting cast aside as another pretender. When there are a million bands trying to tour you need to figure out why people would be interested in you, and unless your music is that good, you’re probably going to find your limitations pretty quickly.

I think the key that to being larger than life is that it’s just something that needs to happen on stage. Off stage it’s important to just be a normal and friendly guy, but also one who takes the entire thing in stride. I think we all know about the arrogant ‘I’m in the band’ walk that people who play shitty DIY tours or local shows have when they want to feel important. This is the one night they are special and want everyone to know it. It’s kind of a weird thing to watch and is rather unfortunate because those people have a right to be proud after all. What I’d encourage you to do is look at some of the bigger names in your genre and see how they comport themselves both on and off the stage. Someone like Phil Anselmo clearly has a huge larger than life character on stage, but when he gets off and ins interacting with fans he’s a pretty normal guy. Despite that, he has a certain self assuredness that makes it clear he’s taking this all in stride.

There is no easier way for people to not take you seriously than to come at things wide eyed. I know that you will be having experiences as musician that you have never had before but you need to pretend it’s happened to you a million times. I remember when I was tour managing metal bands when I was 20 and running into clubs to get stuff set up, even though I was underage, I had to do this in a big bad way. I knew that if I came in wide eyed and acting like I didn’t know what was going on I would be unable to do my job and probably fired from the tour. The music industry is very much a space of fake it til you make it, and if you let it be known that you are overexcited or about to do something for the first time you will get mocked. People associate ‘cool’ with ‘experience’ so you need to hint at that matter how hard it might be for you. I totally get the struggle, but this is just another one of those things which we need to embrace.

Now I want to be very clear, having a stage presence that is larger than life is by no means something that defies punk rock ethics or whatever. There are a ton of dudes in punk rock who are larger than life. For them this attitude is one that they use as an archetype to be able to embody these ethics and to help expand the scene around them. I think that this can be really powerful and important. If you are fronting a band to some extent you are looking for attention. If you are looking for attention it’s usually because you have something to say. If you have something to say, well shit, then you might as well get up and say it. There are a lot of frontmen who might say ‘Oh I want the music to do the talking for me’ well I don’t know man, there’s a lot of people who do that. Don’t you want people to give a shit? If punk rock is about being different, than why just stand around with no stage presence like all the other guys? Seems pretty obvious to me.

Crafting your particular larger than life persona can be tricky since there are a lot of layers to it. You don’t want to be too over the top or too much of an archetype, but you do want to be something that people are going to connect to. You want to have something that other people are going to use and say ‘oh wow, these guys are different and unique and can clearly be associated with X, Y and Z.” I now that it sucks that you have to spoon feed a lot of this stuff to people, but guess the fuck what, that’s just how brains work and how we have to deal with these things. We have so much content being delivered to us every second of every day that it’s impossible to get through unless you make it obvious. Again, I know that sucks but this is where we are. I’m not saying being silly or gimmicky either, but it’s important to have clear visual identifiers so that when people are sifting through all the smallest names on the festival bill they know what makes you different from all the other bands in your genre.

So build a persona, ideally one for each member of your band, since that’s what the most successful bands do, and go from there. You see it in all the biggest acts, and a lot of these acts are farm ore punk than you will ever be so don’t give me that shit. Figure out what aspects of your persona you can exaggerate and then use that to become larger than life. Just think about the phrase itself, ‘larger than life’ it needs to be almost painfully real, so make it painfully real. Make it clear to every single person in a room why you deserve to succeed. If they see that, then label people will see that, and that’s where things start to get interesting.

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