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The Cheesy Scottish Wedding Band 7 Deadly Sins
Posted: 9 August
The Wedding Band, forever immortalised by Adam Sandler in his movie, The Wedding Singer. Our industry has a lot to answer for with regards to some truly awful cheese.
Having worked in this industry for a number of years now I have become aware of some of the standards and expectations people have with regards to the stereotypical band they think of whenever someone mentions the term "Wedding Band", even to the point where when I mention my profession they say, "A wedding band?! Does that mean you have to play all that cheesy shite every night?" It has always been my ambition from the start to break as many of these stereotypes as possible and our aim has always been to offer something different to what is expected of us. Thankfully it turns out that lots of people are now looking for something a little different at their wedding too and we are able to offer what I call a contemporary wedding band service.
This of course is only my humble opinion as a working musician and though it is guaranteed to land me in trouble by voicing it, hereith be thy thoughts and I will take the flak. Just keep in mind that I mean this mostly in jest. Try not to take me too seriously, as I don't even take myself seriously most of the time.
When shopping around for a Wedding Band you are no doubt sure to come across a few Cheesy Wedding Bands, which I cannot argue with, there is a market for that and many people make a great living from catering to this market. Power to them and long may they continue. But at Splendid Gentlemen we have always prided ourselves on breaking free from the expectations of our industry and providing something different, should the cheesy Wedding Band not be your bag.
Here are the 7 Deadly Sins to spot when you suspect a Cheesy Wedding Band.
1. The Cheesy, Wedding Related Band Name
It starts right off the bat. If you're going to be a cheesy Wedding Band you've got to have the cheesy Wedding Band name. These come under 2 categories:
The Wedding Paraphernalia Related Name – What I'm talking about here are the bands who name themselves after something you'll have at your wedding already, cake, dress, venue etc. Like The Lovely Wedding Cake Band, At The Wedding Alter Band or The White Dress Band. There's also the old poem, "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." Google any of the phrases of this poem and I'm sure you'll find 3 bands for each.
The Copy Name – There was a really bad joke I hear once. "I'm in a band. Want to know what we're called? The Duvets. Why? Because we only do covers!" Boom! Boom! Pshhhh! Awful, I know, but the Dad joke nature of this pun has been lost somewhere along the years and it's saturated its way in to the cheesiness of the Wedding Band Must Have List. We do covers. We get it, that's our job. We do copies and versions of famous songs, so I guess it's a 'Does exactly what it says on the tin' approach, but you'll find all manner of The Photocopies Band, The Duplicates Wedding Band, The Exact Copy Wedding Band. I bet there's even a band called The Duvets now too.
2. The Must Have Matching Suits
Every cheesy wedding band worth their salt has to be instantly identifiable as part of the industry. I'm not sure when it became a 'thing', but it is compulsory when starting out to pick an outfit for your band, kind of like a bowling team. This usually involves matching waistcoats, same coloured shirts or something like that.
Should you ever find yourself at an agency Wedding Band Showcase you will find yourself in a sea of people with black trousers, black shirts and matching waistcoat colours to identify which band they're from. It's easy to confuse band members and bands in this situation. It's kind of like the famous scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian,
"Excuse me, are you the Judean People's Front?"
"F**K off! 'Judean People's Front. We're the Peoples Front of Judea!"
Tip from my experience. Don't mix up the colours.
3. Journey and the Cheesy Setlist
So with cheesy name and matching suit colours picked, our Cheesy Wedding Band needs to have the set list. It's always, always, always Journey's Don't Stop Believing! That along side Dolly Parton's Nine to Five, that guy that no one knows who sang Footloose, anything by Abba, Amarillo, Beautiful Sunday and maybe even Cliff Richard if they really want to go the whole hog and you've got the setlist that every wedding band has been playing since the dawn of time.
While every good band should have these songs in their repertoire because, loathed though I am to admit it, they pack a dance floor every time. The Cheesy Wedding Band has this and only this.
It's always been my view that Wedding Bands can get too stuck on this idea of what is expected of them, that they all play the same songs, all the time and from my experience not everyone wants the same old songs. Yes we can play Brown Eyed Girl and Sweet Caroline, but being able to tell what an audience wants is part of the skill and on the occasion we've had the entire crowd singing along to the Offspring's "Give it to me baby. Uh Huh! Uh Huh!" Never on your cheesy bands repertoire but it's always good to do something a little different.
4. Male and Female Singers and the Compulsory Old Guy
For the Cheesy Wedding Band, one singer is never enough. To really offer the full package you have to have both male and female vocalists, singing in harmony and smiling in to each others eyes. Sickly sweet... Vom.
Wedding band musicians always come in all shapes and sizes too, so for the cheesy wedding band there always has to be at least one, completely out of place old guy in the mix. Usually but not always a keyboard player. To their credit though, the Compulsory Old Guy, is always by far the happiest looking guy in the band. Look out for his happy chops in the...
5. The Promo Video, The Manic Happy Face and The Compulsory Wiggle
Now that everything is in place it's time to bring it all together. This is best represented in the Wedding Band Promo Video.
The camera pans in to the band kicking off their opening song, complete in matching suits and doing two things:
The Manic Smile – There is nothing worse than watching a musician on stage who looks bored. It makes it near impossible for you to get in to what they're doing and enjoy it with them. To watch someone genuinely enjoy what they're doing is a joy to behold, but real smiles are in the eyes, not the mouth. If you look closely, the cheesy wedding band have a permanent state of manic smiling. Unnerving to say the lest. If you've ever seen the video to Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun, it looks a little bit like that.
The Wiggle – I cant describe this in words. To best describe it would be to say, take a shy person, put them in a circe of people watching them until they are so uncomfortable they could explode and then ask them to dance, but look like they're really enjoying it. Put a guitar in their hands and you've got the wiggle.
So with everyone manically smiling and wiggling, while carefully showing camera shots of them smiling at each other to show how much they love what they do, the band blast their way through Valerie, Don't Stop Me Now, whatever the biggest song is at the time, [Shut Up and Dance, Uptown Funk, Moves Like Jagger etc. etc.] and then...you know its coming. It always is. You knew it was coming before you even started watching, but you hoped and prayed they wouldn't come to this. Not again. Not this band. Everyone else so far, but please not this band. Your skin starts to crawl in anticipation of the horror about to unfold you want to turn away but...
"Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world..."
Journey's Don't Stop Believing, blasting on all cylinders in it's infinite cheesy shiteness. The guitar solo, shot from low down to make the guitarist look like a tall Rock God, the final chorus, the soaring high note, "Don't stop believing woah oh ohhhhhhh!", probably fireworks and confetti and all that layer upon layer of cheese just blasting at you on all fronts till you find yourself almost wanting to sing along. Then it ends, with the band all smiling at each other. Oh, what a time they've had. You have just experienced the Cheesy Wedding Experience. You sit back in your chair and scroll down to read a bit about the band.
6. Bragging and Schmoozing
If you're shopping around it helps to have a little bit of information about who you are looking at. Any notable performances, endorsements by slightly famous people, just anything to give you the kind of vibe of who you're dealing with.
Below the wedding band video on their website, next you have the About Us. These usually all follow the same formula:
"YOUR SEARCH FOR SCOTLAND'S BEST WEDDING BAND IS OVER!!!
The Cheesy Wedding band are Scotland's best/Most in Demand/Bussiest/Premier/Top Wedding band. With stunning, amazing, so fantastic we could eat them like cake vocals from Male Singer X and Female Singer Y; Jimmy Strings sonic, soaring guitar playing from a list of equipment that you've never heard of unless you're a musician. You don't know what a P7993E pickup is, neither do I, but it must be a good 'un by jove; the blasting tempo keeping beats from Scotlands most in demand Drummer; a guy playing bass. Not a 4 string normal bass though. A 5 or 6 string bass, which are only ever, ever played by wedding band guys. No one else; and our very own Dougie from the Rotary Club on the keyboards. Keyboard player of the year 1908-1909.
We're great, really just the best thing you've ever heard. Book us right now cause we're just amazing, blah, blah, blah.
Ending with a small paragraph about how it's all about you, even though we've just made it all about us."
After you've been through 3-4 bands websites all claiming to be the best, the most popular, the most in demand, God, the Queen and the Dalai Lama's personal favourite band, you start to become a little cynical. They cant all be the best. The truth, there are no official stats as far as I'm aware and this is all purely subjective opinion or straight up fibbing.
7. Stay Cool Kidz (with a Z cause that's how the kids roll these days)
I was always taught to be humble.
"If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch" – Rudyard Kipling, If
There is enough wedding work for every good band to be busy and enough diversities in taste that there is a type of band to suit everyones needs, wants and wishes. In truth, I have poked fun at the stereotypes here today, but as someone in this industry I know we bands stick together and help each other out. If someone is not available for a gig, you pass it on to your friends who might be able to help. There's a lovely, friendly atmosphere between most bands and I mean my fun poking today in jest. So if you're a wedding musician reading right now and finding yourself raging, I meant no offence.
Sadly musicians are labelled egotistic and self centred at times, which is a sadly true fact. Even in my younger days I was guilty of serious crimes of ego but as a wedding band there is no place for ego. We are second bottom on the coolness scale only to Tribute Bands. While Mick Jagger may be able to fly off the handle if he comes off stage to find Raspberry cake and coffee at 75 degrees when he wanted blueberry cake and coffee at 76.5 degrees, we humble wedding musicians are just there to provide a good service to you lovely people and try not to take ourselves too seriously.
I once had this conversation at a showcase. Someone approached me and said:
"Some of these other guitarist here are absolutely awful don't you think? I mean look at that guy! I bet he cant even sweep pick."
"I'll be honest with you mate, I can't sweep pick either." I replied. I don't actually even know what sweep picking is, but I didn't want to seem silly.
"Yeah, but you've got that cool 1950's double stops thing going on." *Double stops are where you play 2 notes at the same time in a solo.
Wanting to burst his bubble, I replied, "Yeah...that's not intentional. That's just cause I'm not a very good guitar player and I figure the more strings I hit the better chance of success I have."
He walked off in disgust.
Moral of the story: Be nice.
Splendudes and Splendettes
Thankfully 90% of our clients share our views on this and just want a fun night, with a fun band. Nothing over the top and nothing too serious. Our feedback can be summed up in a recent review of us after a gig. A kind Gentleman said, "We don't feel like we've had a wedding band tonight... We feel like we've had a band play at our wedding."
We are Splendid Gentlemen. We appreciate the subtle difference between a Wedding Band and a Band that Plays Weddings.