Tricks of the trade: 20: How to get a gig - Louise Wener

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WE ONLY HAD six songs for our first gig. It helps if you've got a demo - it doesn't really matter how crappy it is - we didn't have anything, so we borrowed someone else's. We had been on the dole for years and couldn't afford to do anything ourselves. The promoters don't even bother listening to them most of the time, it just looks good if you've got one.

These venues will want you to bring a load of people down with you, as they want to sell drinks. You have to beg your mates to come down. There was one time when we were doing a showcase for a record company and we advertised for people to come to the gig in The Stage - we made out that it was an audition - and about 150 people turned up. There are also lots of venues in London that make you pay to play. Sometimes we would have to pay up to pounds 50 to put a gig on. If you're good you can get a residency every week or fortnight.

When you approach these promoters you've just got to be confident. Tell them you've got loads of press interest, and name some papers. Or you can get someone to pretend to be your manager. That's how managers usually start; they're just a mate with a lot of front.

The thing is not to spread yourself too thin. Most of the scouts know everyone that's around and if you haven't been seen after six or nine months, then they might be avoiding you. You've got to be really hard on yourself as well - if you're not getting the gigs,you've got to ask yourself why.

I was in another band before Sleeper so I'd been round the block once before. We just stopped, changed the band around and started again. We were signed about a year after our first gig.