The Indie Band Life-o-Meter

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For all you indie bands with designs on long life and stories of the road, here’s your chance to test yourselves. I give you the Indie Band Life-O-Meter.

Give yourself a generous ten years of survival and then take the test.

Start Now:

SUBTRACT ONE YEAR for any two people in the band who identify themselves as a couple, and TWO YEARS for each additional couple.

SUBTRACT THREE YEARS for any two people in the band who used to date, but now just glare at one another through bitter, stoned, accusing eyes from the rearview mirrors of rented minivans.

ADD ONE YEAR for anyone the band with access to their own studio who may actually know how to engineer. But…

SUBTRACT ONE YEAR if said member regularly writes sardonic, Comic Book Guy-caliber letters to Tape-Op and wishes Steve Albini produced Abbey Road.

SUBTRACT SIX MONTHS for anyone in the band who likes to listen to jazz when they drive.

SUBTRACT THREE MONTHS for every soundcheck that ends with someone using the ‘F’ word.

ADD ONE YEAR for each member who’s been in a moderately successful indie band that’s toured before, and knows to keep his expectations very, very low. But…

SUBTRACT SIX MONTHS if he is the shadenfreude type – a bitter, jealous, shit-talking troll who’s convinced he is a misunderstood genius because his previous band got dropped from Kindercore.

SUBTRACT ONE YEAR if someone in the band’s uncle has in any way ‘subsidized’ the band by lending any money for a van, recording time, etc.

ADD ONE YEAR for every attractive girl in the band. Add six more months if she doesn’t play bass.

ADD FIVE YEARS if someone in the band’s dad is in ZZ Top, Santana, or any of the half-remembered bands on the Nuggets box.

SUBTRACT TWO YEARS for anyone in the band addicted to heroin. But…

ADD FIVE YEARS if he dies tragically between your first and second albums.

SUBTRACT THREE MONTHS for each vegetarian in the band who worries that the Waffle House hash browns are ‘cooked with the meat spatulas.’

SUBTRACT TWO YEARS for anyone in the band has a job back home that he or she is unwilling to leave.

SUBTRACT TWO YEARS for anyone in the band has a spouse back home that he or she is unwilling to divorce.

SUBTRACT FIVE YEARS for each band member with any kids that he or she even gives the slightest shit about.

SUBTRACT TWO YEARS for every band member who cannot, will not, or should not drive.

ADD SIX MONTHS if you’re traveling with your own soundman. But…

SUBTRACT THREE MONTHS if he frequently drinks himself mute and is currently facing statutory rape charges.


-20 years – 0 years: Consider yourself lucky. Walk – don’t run – to the nearest technical institute and learn how to weld or something. Remember to thank me later when your deathbed is NOT a cot at the YMCA.

0 years – 5 years: Congratulations! You’ve managed to really make something of yourself: a blip on a radar that itself is less than a blip on the radar to most of the civilized western world. At least you can look forward to Casual Fridays.

5 years – 15 years: The odds seem to be in your favor, buckaroo. When your life eventually flashes before your eyes, you will be treated to a montage of drink tickets, Super 8 motel rooms, studio vending machines and an anonymous gaggle of surly soundmen all named Eric. Wowee zowee!

15 years or more – You are R.E.M. You probably took this test with a pen and paper. Kill yourself.


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