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Blog: What Is A Band?

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Yesterday we discussed, and largely failed to answer, the knotty question of What Is A Gig? Today I wish to delve further into the philosophical undergrowth and ask "What Is A Band?"

"But that is PEASY," you might say. "A BAND is a group of people who come together to make music, either in a live environment, studio setting or, I suppose in this modern futuristic age, even VIRTUALLY by swopping files or indeed in some BRANE HOLOGRAM scenario involving MOOGS."

I would generally go along with that (not least because it is me what just wrote it), but within the context of The Database Of ROCK it becomes a bit more fiddly. For instance, MJ Hibbett & The Validators is clearly a BAND, but who does it comprise? In the twenty first century it is generally made up of ME, Frankie, Tom, Emma and Tim, but then there are PLENTY of examples of one or more Validators not being able to make it to a gig on a particular day, and us going ahead without being fully QUORATE. There are ALSO multiple examples of me doing gigs as a DUO with other Validators, or indeed being on the same BILL as said Validators while they played in other bands. And let's not even get STARTED on some of the various other bands I've been in with co-Validators, or the early line-ups of The Validators which fluctuated WILDLY.

And that's just bands I've been in MYSELF - what about OTHER bands? I've played several times with The Fighting Cocks, for example, who played in a different line-up on almost every occasion, with Charlie Flowers the only constant. Should I try and enter details for all of those? I'd stand some sort of chance with bands I'm pals with, I guess, but then what of the HUNDREDS of other bands who I don't know and/or have only played with ONCE, many of whom might have hundreds of gigs of their OWN in multiple line-ups?

It all gets VERY COMPLICATED, so what I have done is to try and list the names of the ACTS who played on the bill and also the names of individual human people when a) I have definitely played with them in bands MYSELF or b) if I know that THEY have played with ME in different bands THEMSELVES. For example, in the previous century I played many gigs with the marvellous Mr Chris Lawson. Some of these were in BANDS (such as Chris Lawson And The Unknowns), others were on the same BILL, either with him playing solo or in yet MORE bands, and a string of them were as part of an COMEDY REVUE. If I just put the band names in then there's a whole HEAP of data that would get missed, but if I had to enter the name of every individual person in every single act it would take me approx AN ACTUAL THOUSAND YEARS to type it all in.

Now, I'm sure there would be very clever ways to deal with this, and exciting DATA MODELS that could be developed to cope, and possibly even some kind of WIKI to let people enter this data themselves, but for my purposes I went with a bit of a compromise and put BAND NAMES where possible and also INDIVIDUALS too where I thought it would add information, so you'll see people like Chris and Charlie (and other ROCK LOONS) popping up alongside bands they actually played in.

Also, I've done LOADS of gigs where people play in the SAME band as me AND in another band, so I've coded everybody's involvement as either 1) same band as me 2) other band on the bill 3) BOTH. It's not perfect, but it was at least DO-ABLE!

There's also the tricky subject of NAMES and GDPR. For band names there's no problem, but some people/GOVERNMENTS may have QUALMS about me using people's Actual Names in a dataset. What I've done is use actual names for people who have been advertised as playing gigs under that name, and who therefore had those details out in the public domain as a record of an event, but used PSEUDONYMS for people who have never performed publically under their own name (or at least not in this dataset) but HAVE been part of some of these shows. So, Tim Eveleigh plays gigs and releases music under his own name and so is RECORDED as such, but Simon from Voon has never, as far as I'm aware, publically ROCKED under his own name, so is referred to as "Simon Voon" throughout. I've done this for quite a few people, tending to err on the side of caution, but if anybody finds themselves in the system and would like their details changing, in either direction, please let me know.

Similarly if you have CONCRETE EVIDENCE of an error or omission I'd very much like to hear it, either by the email above or on twitter or just leaving a contact below. I know that there are TONNES of bands I've played with only once where I've just put "OTHER", so if you'd like that updating do let me know - I have never left people off out of DISTASTE or MALICIOUS INTENT, it's usually because of TIME. Another example is FESTIVALS - I've tended to include only bands I played with on the same day and on the same stage, otherwise I'd have spent WEEKS trying to enter Indietracks gigs alone!

Finally, you may notice that the word "THE" is absent from a lot of bands. I took the decision to do this as a RULE in order to avoid confusion and double data entry. I've kept it where it's clearly part of the name or if it's actually "Thee" Something, but otherwise everyone is definite-article free. Again, if anyone has a big objection let me know!

All right then, I think that's more than enough CAVEATS for now. I was going to talk about why this sort of thing is IMPORTANT (e.g. gigs are a huge part of our cultural life but they are NOT recorded in any meaningful way - even trying to track down line-ups for big festivals in the past decade has turned out to be almost impossible) but I think I'll save all that for the end. Which means, the time has almost come for DATA - starting TOMORROW!

posted 24/1/2023 by MJ Hibbett

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