Mark Lafay runs a technology/creative firm in Indianapolis and also a blog on the music industry and marketing. This article is reprinted from there with his permission.
Question: Hi, Mark. Do you have any tips on writing a band bio? I realize a professional can always be hired, but most of us musicians are poor (and some of us actually do have good writing sense). Thanks!
I think it’s great that you are thinking about a band biography. The bio can tell a lot about a band. Writers, labels, managers, agents, all have varying opinions about band bios but I would argue, most of them find them helpful in getting to know the backstory quickly. Bios should be brief. Consider a little over a page of text or less. You don’t want it to be too short because you dont want to leave out pertinent information. At the same time, it can’t be too long because people dont want to read a book. Not too mention, LONG bios teeter on the edge of making you sound self-absorbed.
As far as format goes, there are a lot of different styles of writing and I don’t think that there is one “right” way. In my opinion, your bio should contain a little bit of info about the early days / beginnings of the band. The focus should be on recent happenings of the band and there should be a closing component that touches on where your sights are set. How you decide to compile and communicate that information is really up to you. My suggestion is that you let a little personality shine through.
Below is a copy of Haste the Day’s first Bio sheet. They had JUST signed to T&N so there was some movement but it wasn’t quite the frenzy that it became. Hopefully this gives you a little something to go on:
Haste the Day Biography (2003-2004) written by Roy Culver
If you’ve driven through the mid-west, you’ve undoubtedly circled Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana. Known for nearly 100 years for its fast cars, Indianapolis is the central hub for travelers taking the interstate from one coast to the other. Unlike its neighbors, Detroit and Chicago, the city has remained a quiet budding ground for new musical talent. Artists always came through but it’s only been recently that a band has come out of the state’s capital that seems to have the potential to put the well traversed city on the map.
It was 2001, when inspired by the many underground touring bands that stopped in Indianapolis, that guitarist Brennan Chaulk, bassist Mike Murphy and drummer Devin Chaulk would start what become known as Haste the Day. As a three-piece they began playing shows around their home town for the same reason the bands who came before them did – it was fun. “After being a three piece for 6 months we added two other members,” recalls Devin. “Jason Barnes, a long time friend, became our second guitarist and Jimmy Ryan became our vocalist.” Before showing up for an audition and being asked to join the band, Ryan had never met the members of Haste The Day.
Influenced by Carcass’ Jeff Walker and ZAO luminary Daniel Weyandt, Ryan added vocal muscle to the bands already hard yet melodic style. The five’s combination of influences and personality coalesced together into one of middle America’s most exciting up and coming hard bands. Since the bands’ inception, Haste the Day made a name for themselves by performing passionate and energetic shows around the country. The band’s tour resume consists of some of the most influential and well known bands in the hard music underground. Bands like Sick of it All, Poison the Well, Papa Roach and others have shared the stage with Haste the Day and it was only a matter of time before the band began to be approached by record labels from around the country.
After signing with Seattle’s Solid State Records, the band entered the studio with Barry Poynter (Living Sacrifice, ZAO) and recorded the undeniably heavy “Burning Bridges,” a debut album vocalist Jimmy Ryan calls “rock and roll with break downs.” Consisting of all new songs, besides the crowd favorite “Substance,” “Burning Bridges” is an album full of passion and tension. True, the crowd appealing break downs are in tact but more than that, the band has a handle on melody and its gentle yet prominent control of the band’s sound. Apply titled, the band’s debut is a story of new beginning, saying goodbye to faulty yet comfortable ways of expression. “We realized in the studio that there was a theme in the lyrics,” Devin admits. “A theme of breaking away from the past, whether that’s habits, character issues or people permeates the album. We just wanted to burn the bridges to avoid past mistakes.”
Haste The Day intend on taking 2004 to task like they have years prior with non-stop touring. With a new album of new material and an already established but burgeoning fan base, Haste The Day will have little problem winning over new converts of both rock and roll and fans of hardcore and metal.