How to Start a Post-Rock Band

Are you the only person in Canada who owns a guitar and hasn’t appeared on a Broken Social Scene album? Jeff “Mogwai” Merrion reveals his step by step guide to becoming a successful post-rock star.

It’s November, and winds sweep drifts of snow across the barren Canadian high plain. You hate the government. You’re lonely, but there is a sense of nobility in your loneliness. You are gripped by the unshakable feeling that to fall in love would be a perfect “fuck you” to the cruel faceless force of fate that seems to dictate your life. You are (or desperately wish to be) Canadian.

All the telltale signs are there: It’s time to start a post-rock band. The following is a handy how-to guide.

  • Obtain Canadian citizenship. If you try to start a post-rock band as an American, everyone will know that you are an impostor.
  • Move into an abandoned building of some sort. It really doesn’t matter where, as long as people know that you will be attempting to aurally evoke the desolation of your artistic space.
  • (Optional) If you are going to use vocals in your post-rock group, start smoking early and often. Remember that the ideal post-rock vocalist sounds like a mix between Neil Young, Wayne Coyne, and Elmer Fudd sitting on a juicer. If you’re in a fix for time, you might also need to have a friend punch your esophagus several times a day. Remember: A true friend always accedes when you ask him or her to hit you in the esophagus. If not, you need to seriously reconsider your criteria for friendship.
  • Buy the best reverb petal money can buy. Only reverb can evoke the sense of desolation you feel.
  • Befriend a cellist and a violinist. Your band will be most believable if they are disproportionately attractive when compared to you. The fact that they are wiling to play with someone as ugly as you says a lot about the strength of your artistic vision.
  • If you are capable, grow a thick, natty beard. If you are incapable, purchase a can of Rogaine and apply vigorously until you grow a thick, natty beard.
  • Name your band. The name should be an unwieldy phrase with creative capitalization and punctuation, and should also be a reference to an obscure literary work. For example: A Lexicon of Words! (Frequently Misunderstood).
  • Name your album. The name should be an unwieldy sentence with creative capitalization and punctuation. For example: she stood silhouetted by the Blue Light of the Waning moon and looked skyward, appreciating wholly the ephemeral Nature of this Particular Experience (before succumbing to the vast River of mundane Thought that Characterized the Totality of Her Existence).

Now you have all the prerequisites for a post-rock band! Only one small obstacle to your modest fame among hipster circles remains: the music itself. The following will take you by the hand through the creation of your first post-rock album.

  • Begin your album with a lengthy cello drone. If you would like to place a tactfully chosen found-sound sample over the drone, feel free. But it can’t be frivolous: no one wants to hear a sample from an episode of M*A*S*H* – (cf. an upcoming article about the unfortunate demise of my personal post-rock band, Captain Hawkeye and the Coming of Age of Radar O’Reilly.)
  • If your album ever drifts into a major key, you have failed. Unless it is for maybe two or three measures, to give listeners a sense of false hope before you dash it with an atonal scraping noise.
  • If you sing, it should be about the corruption of the government and how true love can blind one to the ocean of cruelty that surrounds us all.
  • If any song clocks in at less than ten minutes, you are an abomination and will be laughed at by the entire staff of Temporary Residence Records. Which will be humiliating.
  • There must be a Wagnerian crescendo in each of your pieces. If not in each of the pieces, then there should be a crescendo at the end of your album. Other than this crescendo, feel free to have your album wallow in abject minor-key, reverb-drenched desolation.
  • Package your album in a visually appealing cardboard gatefold sleeve and write cryptic liner notes in spidery handwriting that could be mistaken for that of the Unabomber.

There you have it. You are a post-rock star. Of course, the life of the post-rock star is as different from that of the rock star as rock music is different from post-rock music (feel free to use the preceding sentence as an album title for your post-rock band). The life of a post-rock star is marked by chain smoking hand rolled cigarettes and probably smoking opium beneath derelict factory scaffolding. Godspeed, you!

While he excels in most other areas, Jeff Merrion’s spatial logic falls within the lower third percentile of United States citizens. He is a Religious Studies major and, as such, has a long life of administrative assistantship awaiting him. To potential employers: Jeff makes a mean cup of coffee.