A goodly number of people (most of whom have no idea what "goodly" means) are thinking of starting garage bands, although they've never had a garage or even a garage sale.  Studies show that independent thinking can be hazardous to your mental health, so I'd like to offer some free advice that's worth about what you're paying.


If you're forming a band to express your inner self, purge childhood angst, and experience free booze and wild groupies as you hit the major arenas, you're probably out of luck.  First off, select your genre wisely.  Starting a polka band limits your tour dates.  And about instruments--yes, Tchaikovsky wrote a note for a cannon in his "1812 Overture," but he was Russian and they were too poor to afford violins.  Stick to popular instruments such as bongos, kazoos, and ten-dollar electronic keyboards.


Your band's name is the first concern to address (be sure to affix proper postage.)  "Numinous Armageddon" and "Mandible Temperament" are great, but they're taken.  Try fancy scientific terms such as "Planck's Constant," "The Fibonacci Sequence," or "Occam's Razor."  If you're stuck, pick up the nearest book, turn to page 27, and out of the third paragraph copy words 2, 5, and 7.  That's how "Bowling for Soup" was named.


Make sure at least one of your bandmates can actually play. If the drummer isn't tight (or at least slightly fried), the heartbeat of the band will have arrhythmia.  He and the bass player should work together, as they are your rhythm section.   This has nothing to do with the old Rhythm Method that good Catholic women used to use to get pregnant.


Have at least twelve songs, only one of which should be your old high school fight song.  Base your big hit, "Most Annoying Song Ever," on an old Welsh funeral hymn.  Most bands break up over really important artistic issues such as disputes over which Queen album is coolest, so minimize such friction by spraying bandmates with nonstick cooking spray.

Time for your first gig!  Show the club how you can rake in those cover charges:  recruit your sister's sorority, your parents' AARP chapter, or a local homeschool group that needs a field trip.  Your first question should be where the bathrooms are--and may I state the doors at the DewDropInn aren't well-labeled; their "pointer" and "setter" looked like a Golden retriever and a Pomeranian.  I ended up surprising a little gray-headed man rather badly, I'm afraid . . . but his shoes didn't look that expensive, so whatever.


The most important aspect of this is whether you believe stardom is your destiny.  The first thing I do whenever I'm thinking of trying something new is ask myself, "What would Bob Newhart do?"  Then I do exactly the opposite.  (Heh-heh.  Little joke there.)  Since most famous comedians have already abandoned their failed polka bands, I recommend you forget the whole thing and stick to watching MTV.