NXNE: How (Not) To Write a Band Bio

NXNE R Us!My NXNE Bonus Session

Learn to write a bio for fuck’s sake!

Hey, here’s a tip to those of you aspiring idiot musicians: Stop dropping names of other artists you “sound like” in your bio. Trust me when I say you’re full of shit and no matter how much you think you sound like Radiohead, no one else does. And what if you did, anyway? Do you think someone really wants to hear a Radiohead knock-off? Isn’t that what tribute bands are for? (Does anyone even want to hear the real Radiohead anymore?)

If you’re one of the six groups at NXNE whose bio contained a sounds-like Radiohead reference, I only hope your van got a flat tire on your way home. Ditto the six bands who listed the Clash and Wilco in their bio. (Now if you would have written, “We sound like the Clash except we suck,” that might have been cool. Or perhaps, “We sound like Wilco would if Jeff Tweedy wasn’t a total jackass.” Now that’s a bio!) To the six bands who said they sound like the Band, what the hell is wrong with you guys anyway? Martin Scorcese is not going to buy you large amounts of coke and film you on stage any time soon.

If you want to see the entire list of “we sound like artist X” mentions, you can see it after the jump…


GloNo will not be held liable for inaccuracies in the count, nor will we hold a recount — even if James Baker sues us. There were a total of 450 artists scheduled at NXNE, and that’s a hell of a lot of bios to read through. We counted any mention of an artist that seemed to indicate it was an influence or trope, but left out mentions of bands that the artist had played with or in.

That’s about it for methodology.

The rest of the highlights… There were four artists mentioned five times: The Kinks, PJ Harvey, the Beatles, and Tom Waits. (Need I even point out how stupid writing yourself into the same sentence as the Beatles is?) Another ten came up four times, including Arcade Fire, Bright Eyes, Coldplay, the Cure, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, My Bloody Valentine, Nick Cave, and Paul Simon. These were mentioned three times: Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Gillian Welch, Janis Joplin, Joy Division, Lucinda Williams, Modest Mouse, Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Rufus Wainwright, U2, the Who.

My band sounds like… (number of references)

Band… 6

Clash… 6

Radiohead… 6

Wilco… 6

Kinks… 5

PJ Harvey… 5

The Beatles… 5

Tom Waits… 5

Arcade Fire… 4

Bright Eyes… 4

Coldplay… 4

Cure… 4

Jimi Hendrix… 4

Joni Mitchell… 4

Leonard Cohen… 4

My Bloody Valentine… 4

Nick Cave… 4

Paul Simon… 4

Bob Dylan… 3

Bruce Springsteen… 3

David Bowie… 3

Gillian Welch… 3

Janis Joplin… 3

Joy Division… 3

Lucinda Williams… 3

Modest Mouse… 3

Neil Young… 3

Pink Floyd… 3

Rufus Wainwright… 3

U2… 3

Who… 3

Amy Winehouse… 2

Ani DiFranco… 2

Beastie Boys… 2

Ben Folds… 2

Bjork… 2

Black Sabbath… 2

Blue Rodeo… 2

Buzzcocks… 2

Cramps… 2

Dave Matthews… 2

Dinosaur Jr…. 2

Elvis Costello… 2

Foo Fighters… 2

Gram Parsons… 2

Guided By Voices… 2

James Brown… 2

John Spencer Blues Explosion… 2

Johnny Cash… 2

Neutral Milk Hotel… 2

New York Dolls… 2

Nine Inch Nails… 2

Norah Jones… 2

Patti Smith… 2

Peaches… 2

Police… 2

Queens of the Stone Age… 2

Refused… 2

REM… 2

Rolling Stones… 2

Social Distortion… 2

Sonic Youth… 2

Steve Earle… 2

Stone Roses… 2

Stooges… 2

Sublime… 2

Van Halen… 2

YYY’s… 2

Abba… 1

AC-DC… 1

Aimee Mann… 1

Alanis Morisette… 1

Alice In Chains… 1

Arab Strap… 1

Astrud Gilberto… 1

At The Drive In… 1

Bad Religion… 1

Barenaked Ladies… 1

Beck… 1

Belle & Sebastian… 1

Ben Harper… 1

Big Star… 1

Bill Haley… 1

Biz Markie… 1

Block Party… 1

Brenda Lee… 1

Broken Social Scene… 1

Bronx… 1

Bruce Cockburn… 1

Buck… 65… 1

Buck Owens… 1

Built To Spill… 1

Byrds… 1

Cab Calloway… 1

Calexico… 1

Captain Beefheart… 1

Carrie Underwood… 1

Cars… 1

Cat Power… 1

CCR… 1

Charlatans… 1

Common… 1

Constantines… 1

Counting Crows… 1

Cowboy Junkies… 1

Cream… 1

Crowded House… 1

Daniel Lanoi… 1

Dap Kings… 1

David Grey… 1

David Rawlings… 1

De La Soul… 1

Deadly Snakes… 1

Death By Stereo… 1

Death Cab For Cutie… 1

Decemberists… 1

Dilated Peoples… 1

Don Ross… 1

Doug Sahm… 1

Duke Ellington… 1

Dwight Yoakam… 1

Eels… 1

Elton John… 1

Etta James… 1

Everley Brothers… 1

Explosions in the Sky… 1

Faith No More… 1

Feist… 1

Fela… 1

Finger… 11… 1

Flaming Lips… 1

Fleetwood Mac… 1

Francoise Hardy… 1

Frank Black… 1

Fresh Prince… 1

Galaxie… 500… 1

Grandaddy… 1

Grateful Dead… 1

Gwen Stefani… 1

Hank Williams Sr…. 1

Heart… 1

Hellacopters… 1

Helmet… 1

Hot Water Music… 1

Igor Stravinsky… 1

Imogen Heap… 1

Incubus… 1

Indigo Girls… 1

Iron & Wine… 1

Jack Johnson… 1

Jam… 1

James Taylor… 1

Jamiroquai… 1

Jayhawks… 1

Jeff Healey… 1

Jesus and Mary Chain… 1

Jimmy Page… 1

Joan Jett… 1

John Cage… 1

John Fogerty… 1

John Mayer… 1

Joss Stone… 1

Kanye West… 1

Kathleen Edwards… 1

Kelly Willis… 1

Killswitch Engage… 1

Laura Nyro… 1

Lauryn Hill… 1

Lily Allen… 1

Little Brother… 1

Lynyrd Skynyrd… 1

M. Ward… 1

Manic Street Preachers… 1

Maroon… 5… 1

Mars Volta… 1

Martha Wainwright… 1

Mazzy Star… 1

Merle Haggard… 1

Metric… 1

Michelle Shocked… 1

Mission of Burma… 1

Moneen… 1

Motley Crue… 1

Motorhead… 1

Muse… 1

Natalie Merchant… 1

Neko Case… 1

Nenah Cherry… 1

Neptunes… 1

New Bomb Turks… 1

Nick Drake… 1

Nirvana… 1

NOFX… 1

Nomeansno… 1

Ornette Coleman… 1

Pedro The Lion… 1

Peggy Lee… 1

Pixies… 1

Plasmatics… 1

Primus… 1

Prince… 1

Propaghandi… 1

Rammstein… 1

Ramones… 1

Randy Newman… 1

Rapture… 1

Ray LaMontagne… 1

Replacements… 1

Rheostatics… 1

Ride… 1

Roots… 1

Roseanne Cash… 1

Ryan Adams… 1

Sam Cooke… 1

Sam Roberts… 1

Sarah Harmer… 1

Serge Gainsbourg… 1

Sid Vicious… 1

Silverchair… 1

Slits… 1

Slug… 1

Smashing Pumpkins… 1

Smiths… 1

Spoon… 1

Squeeze… 1

Steely Dan… 1

Stevie Wonder… 1

Stiff Little Fingers… 1

Sufjan Stevens… 1

Swervedriver… 1

Switchfoot… 1

System of a Down… 1

Taking Back Sunday… 1

Talib Kweli… 1

Talking Heads… 1

Teenage Fanclub… 1

The Distillers… 1

The Handsome Family… 1

Thrice… 1

Tito Puente… 1

Tom Petty… 1

Tool… 1

Townes Van Zandt… 1

Tracy Chapman… 1

Tragically Hip… 1

Uncle Tupelo… 1

Velvet Underground… 1

Verve… 1

Warren Haynes… 1

Waterboys… 1

Weakerthans… 1

Wedding Present… 1

White Stripes… 1

XTC… 1

Yo La Tengo… 1

ZZ Top… 1

16 thoughts on “NXNE: How (Not) To Write a Band Bio”

  1. There was really a band that said they sounded like Silverchair? Hm. Well, I guess it was easier than saying you’re the band that sounds like the band that sounds like the band that sounds like Pearl Jam.

  2. To be fair, Mr. Sab, if so many friggin’ bands put that in their bio, could the guilt be on the fault of the NXNE fest organizers, who could have theoretically not only encouraged but required the participating bands to take this step. I agree that this tactic of “Hey, we sound like (band name)” is jive of the highest order, but at the same time, perchance the bands themselves don’t need to shoulder all of the blame for this vapid bio inclusion, esp. since so many of them are guilty of it.

  3. Good point, Murph. There are even some digital distributors and social networking sites who require you to fill in a “recommended if you like” or “we sound like” field. Additionally, some of these bands’ bios were probably written by label stooges who strain to think of creative ways to describe lame bands. Saying they sound like someone you’ve already heard is quick and easy, if also lame.

  4. God forbid we see any dialogue from artists on here. How bout some interviews??? There was a few a while back but I mean come on’ Do they just not want to talk with you?

    All this site does is headhunt. When the artists start taking you guys seriously, maybe I will as well.

  5. My advice to bands is to never use the phrase “a force to be reckoned with” unless they are joking.

    What the fuck does that mean? The most cliché, over-used and meaningless description, EVER.

  6. man, i for one am disappointed with the lack of obscure canadian band references. am i to assume no-one sounds like thundermug or the darkest of the hillside thickets?

  7. Quoth Cam: “Methinks the author of this diatribe has WAAAAAY too much time on his hands.”

    Really? See, I know the opposite is the case, and I wish Sab had more time on his hands so he could post more rants on GloNo. The boy speaks tha troof, without softening the facts through the bullshit filter.

    Would you rather him wax poetic on how James Blunt’s melodious voice will one day end terrorism and unite the world in one big happy brainlessness? Me neither.

  8. Perhaps I was a tad terse, Derek and DJ. The rant portion was pretty funny. Twas the list that followed to which my comment was directed.

    I meant no harm to any sacred cows.

  9. Ah, I see. In that light, no offense whatsoever is taken, and the sacred cows are still over yonder in that thar field, mooing softly and chewing their cud unmolested.

    Come to think of it, does GloNo really even have any sacred cows??

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