Greetings! As we discuss etiquette and how it applies to music environments, I thought it might be a good idea to chat with a few industry professionals about this topic. First up, my good friend, Anu Gunn who is extremely active in the LA music and film scene. Before we dive into the interview, here is a little about him:
Anu Gunn is a singer/songwriter/guitarist who was on the hit Vh1 series “Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp” season 1 (produced by Mark Burnett, The Voice), as well as Gene Simmons Family Jewels and The Style Network. He has played with two-time Grammy winner A.R. Rahman, Bret Michaels, Rudy Sarzo, Ace Frehley and other heavy weights. He is currently in the studio with John Beasley (piano, Miles Davis), Matt Starr (drums, Ace Frehley) and musicians from around the world for his debut single coming in 2014. He is also the founder of Musician-Interviews.com. Find out more at AnuGunn.com
Without further ado, here we go!
AK – When you hear the word etiquette, what does it mean to you?
AG – Basically what you were taught before kindergarten: Mind your manners. Don’t forget to say please and thank you.
AK – Is etiquette something you usually associate with being in a band? A business?
AG – I asked Vivian Campbell what creates career longevity and he said he knew amazing players, but they could not get along with others so their careers kind of tanked. So, a resounding yes. It will make or break your career probably more so than your playing.
Etiquette is something that is the basis for growing a creative environment without judgement. I also perform and teach improv acting and that’s about as ridiculous as one can be anytime in life. However, if the environment is not suitable for being fearless, you won’t go out on a limb. I use so much of the lessons learned from that when it comes to music, so it helps to be surrounded by people with the proper non-judgemental creative etiquette.
AK – Tell me a little bit about your first band experience and how it compares to your experience now.
AG – I was 16 and it was so much fun. We weren’t thinking of money or anything. We just jammed.
I tend to put up with having less of my vision on the ones that make money. I’m not fighting tooth and nail for it. But for my passion projects, it’s got to satisfy my soul. This is one of the reasons why I’m venturing out on my own as a solo artist. I must have my vision 100%. My only failure is if I don’t get the ideas in my head coming out of the speakers in the mastered song.
AK – In your recent experiences (say last 2 years), have you observed any specific behaviors or actions that in your opinion are very destructive and probably aren’t the best in practice?
AG – I was once in a situation where the singer, who was very good, was not allowing anyone else to sing background vocals. The drummer adamantly refused to try other member’s ideas on structuring songs just because he wrote the song. Needless to say that environment did not at all prove to be my cup of tea.
AK – What would you do to avoid these behaviors?
AG – I cordially leave the environment wishing them the best. Because you can’t change people. You have to find those you collaborate with seamlessly. That’s my personality – I know others like to butt-heads to be creative. Which is why I think you, Aaron, and I work so well together. You and I have worked on nearly a half-dozen projects it feels effortless. Not just effortless, but so fun and exciting while doing it. In addition to etiquette, work ethic is huge for me to keep working with someone.
AK – Well that is extremely flattering and I must say that I feel the same. It’s always a blast working with you!
Lastly, if you were to craft a perfect band environment, what characteristics would be present and how would they contribute to the overall product/vision of your group?
AG – Being in Los Angeles, everyone has 10 projects going on at once. So from this perspective, I would have 2-3 guys for each position incase schedules conflict. I would not want to have cancel an industry showcase because the rhythm guitarist has to wash his dog that night.
I would like to give a huge shout out to Anu Gunn for giving me a bit of his time and thoughts on etiquette in a music environment. It’s always a pleasure working with you!
Anu talks about etiquette being the “basis for growing a creative environment.” Regardless of whether or not you are in charge of the particular group in which you are playing, you have a responsibility to respect those around you and what they bring to the table. This gives any team the best possible chance at success and sustainment for the long-haul.