Burnt Tapes (Pan T-guitar/vocals)
SPB: Do you get nervous before you play a show?
Pan T: Yeah for sure, even after years of playing shows I still feel differing amounts of anxiety before going on stage. I think it’s something that for most people never really goes away – there will always be a certain amount of nerves when performing, be it playing to 5 people or 500.
For me I know certain factors exacerbate it – stressful travel to the venue, a rushed soundcheck, alcohol, a last minute setlist change, how I’ve been feeling prior to the show – so I’ll try and control what I can and accept what I can’t change. One thing that does change as you play more shows, is that you (hopefully) get better at playing your instrument and (again hopefully) become more confident and therefore less nervous. Having said that, some shows are truly nerve-wracking and sometimes I look down and see what appear to be sausage fingers clawing at my guitar.
Here’s what I do to try and reduce nerves:
- Arrive at the venue early but not too early - Too rushed and I’m in the wrong headspace. Too long and I’ve had too much time to think about things that could go wrong. Go for a walk outside before you play to clear your mind.
- If you have to soundcheck – Don’t be rushed by the sound engineer, be respectful and be honest about how yes you really do need more of your own guitar in your monitor.
- Don’t eat or drink too much – A light meal 2 hrs before is perfect and maybe one beer to loosen up.
- Warm up - Stretch your fingers/arms/legs/whatever and if you can, actually practice on your instrument before you play. Vocal warm ups help too – be it singing along to the opening bands or screaming to yourself like a lunatic in the venue toilets.
- Remember you are not alone – Don’t forget you are playing with other people who are mostly like as nervous as you. It’s quite an accomplishment to keep everyone playing along to the same song at the same time so accept you are on a rickety ass roller-coaster held together with string and sellotape.
- Don’t sweat mistakes – Most people in the crowd don’t care or even notice small mistakes which to you may seem major. I totally fucked up a guitar lead once and someone told me it was a very “jazzy solo” and since then I don’t really care when I fuck things up. Remember you are human and make mistakes.
- When you are not playing shows - Practice your instrument alone and practice your set as a band.
Burnt Tapes released Never Better (Lockjaw Records/Wiretap Records) on Feb. 22.