Ask Exene: Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Rockstar? Probably Not

Categories: Ask Exene
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Exene Cervenka
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. 
If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice, send an email to askexene@ocweekly.com.

DEAR EXENE:

I'm 50 years old, and I have been playing guitar for a couple of years and going to rock school, where I play, sing and write a little bit. I totally love rock school; it's really fun, I've learned a lot, and the people are awesomely supportive. But it's expensive, we play mostly covers, and what I really want is to be in a real band doing originals. I'm not brimming with confidence. I'm an okay singer--better than most people I've met, but not stellar--and my guitar skills are still pretty beginner-ish, which makes me really hesitant to audition for established bands. Still, what I lack in skill I make up for in enthusiasm and creativity. How do I make this happen? 

 Love, Lisa
DEAR LISA: 

Here's a handful of questions to ask yourself before you even think about doing this. . . . What do you imagine would happen if you do get a band together to play your original songs? How much does a rehearsal space cost? Who would pay for that? Who would pay for your recordings? What clubs would you play? How would you go on tour? Could you give up your day job to go? What would you do for income when you got home? Do you own a reliable van and trailer? Any experience backing up a trailer? What if you leave your gear in the trailer overnight, and it gets broken into, and everything gets stolen? Do you mind loading out after a gig into the van, then unloading everything into your hotel room every night, then doing it again night after night? Do you have money to invest upfront in merchandise? Do you have money for a press agent? If not, how would you promote your band? 

You say you are not brimming with confidence, are an okay singer, guitar beginner-ish. If you were 21 years old, I'd still ask you this: Why do you desire to make this happen? Why don't you find something you are great at, something you can do that brings you a feeling of accomplishment, something you have some control over, and be creative that way? Hey, I wish I could take a spaceship to a different planet before the death squad comes to my door, but--oh, well. We just have to accept disappointment and go on to the next adventure. 

Love, 
Exene

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