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A problem with the band leader...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by malicant, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. malicant


    Oct 14, 2011
    Hi Everyone.

    For the last 18 months or so, I’ve been playing music with a composer / keyboardist. The project is an electronic band and the music is, to be fair, pretty damn good.

    For a long time, it was just the two of us. That changed over the course of the summer when we found a drummer and a guitarist. The most recent addition was the vocalist so, in essence, the band is complete. This is where problems have been popping up…

    Firstly, let me say a little about myself. I’m 27, and I work full time. I play music because I find the challenge rewarding. I’m slightly on the autistic spectrum and as such, I’m not someone who is naturally gregarious or even talkative. I’m not a loner by any imagination. I have a girlfriend, and I have some close friends, but that’s it. I don’t go for the social aspect of gigs and music, and while I’m always respectful and polite to others, I don’t overly enjoy meeting new people because I’m naturally shy and reserved.

    The keyboard player is a guy in his late 40s. When I met him, we got on well together, and we shared what I would call a “cordial working relationship.” In other words, we worked well together, hand conversations during breaks but we never “hung-out”, so to speak. I explained my introverted nature to him as I wanted him to be clear that I am the way I am and avoid his thinking that I’m just aloof and rude. All was well, for a while.

    Things took a turn when we met the guitarist. The band leader and the guitarist get on very well because they’re both outgoing individuals. I think that’s great, but after the guy joined the project, I noticed a few unsavoury things. The keyboardist would sometimes talk to the guitarist about his weekend adventures, but he’d often add a joke at my expense based on my introverted nature. He continues to do things like this.

    Furthermore, he also accuses me “whinging” when I raise concerns. He doesn’t do it all the time, but on the night I first met the vocalist, he told everyone in the room that I “moan a lot.”

    Lastly, he also isn’t very appreciative of my musical contributions. I do tend to write fairly complicated lines, but often he dismisses these as “wanking.” By that, he means that I’m playing too much for the sake of it. He has accepted that some of my ideas are good, but that’s almost always after someone else says it first.

    Now I can take a joke, and I can take criticism. However, this guy’s attitude is just starting to seem disrespectful, and it’s starting to hurt my feelings a little. I’m honestly starting to question whether I want to continue playing with this guy. He’s not a total d**k, but he just acts like a 20-something year old sometimes. I don’t expect him to understand the way I am. I simple expect people to treat me with the respect I give to them. With this guy, I’ve only been polite.

    I guess I wrote this post to vent a little steam, but I’d also appreciate any advice on how I may act on this. Part of me wants to leave, and that’s my introverted side. Maybe it’s time to move on?

    Thanks lads.
  2. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    You need to have a sit down with him and have this exact conversation with him. If things don't improve, then it may be time to move on.
  3. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Queens, NY
    This, but I would suggest the sit down be with the whole band, so that it doesn't turn into a "who said what" debate. I'm sure the rest of the band will understand your point of view.

    Just address it and nip it in the bud. If that doesn't solve it, move on.
  4. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic

    Try the sit down, but I would not expect a drastic change. If he doesn't improve, then he's just a jerk. In fact, he's already a jerk because someone nice wouldn't have treated you that way in the first place. Do you want to work under someone like that? I know I wouldn't.

    And if he goes back to this behavior in the future, or if you just run into someone else like him, stand up to that crap right off the bat.
  5. unicornman


    Nov 15, 2013
    Everyone has a right to civility in any context. He is not showing respect for you when he makes snide comments about your nature, your playing, etcetera, in the group. Stand up for yourself in a man-to-man conversation. I think it should be private, though, so you don't create "drama" in the band. Keep it contained between you and the guy who is offensive.

    (I think it's good you were up front about who you are, by the way).

    I ran into a very similar situation. I am also introverted, and at the time, was very obese (I lost most of it later). The keyboard player in the band was ALWAYS taking pot shots at me about something -- my weight, my hair, my playing, my personality. Also, did not take my suggestions, etcetera.

    I tried to make it work, but after brief periods of improvement, this arrogant keyboard player went back to his old ways. The band did not step up to support me adequately, and I quit.

    I invested 1.5 years with that group. I would consider having "the talk" with the guy, but in my experience, after people form impressions, it gets hard to change them. He already thinks you are a whiner (if that is what you meant in your spelling above), so if you raise another issue about which you are not happy, this will likely only reinforce his perception of you.

    I hate to say it, but I would gently leave the situation. I stayed for 8 months in the disrespectful band because the music was something I liked in that last band. The disrespect just got worse and worse, and no one seemed to care. And rather than try to enforce civility and respect, the band saw me as a drama queen for standing up for myself.

    I saw try to talk to the guy. If it goes well, and he changes, but relapses again, I would quit immediately. If he improves dramatically, then stay with it. Cut your losses and move on....and keep developing other alternatives so you have something to go to if you want it. That is what I did when I left my last abusive band.

    When I quit, I already had another band in place with gigs.
  6. malicant


    Oct 14, 2011
    Thanks for all of the replies.

    I've been thinking about the situation and I think that I know what I'll do. If (when) he decides to make a facetious comment towards me, I'm going to call him to task. I'm not going to be belligerent or anything. I'll just ask him why he's constantly on by back and then ask him to stop.

    To me, it seems that he's just picking me out because I'm an easy target. He'll probably dismiss it as my being a "whiner" (whinger, as we say here in Ireland) as he sees it. The other guys probably won't back me up.

    Ah well. I think this will end up with my leaving the band. But we'll see what can't be done first!
  7. unicornman


    Nov 15, 2013
    Good - stick to it. Sad experience shows that when people embark down the path of disrespect, its a hard road to get it back. If it continues, cut your losses and realize you probably saved yourself dozens of units of relationship pain and hours and hours and hours of your time. Don't let the music seduce you into continuing the cycle of suffering.

    I hope the situation improves, though. Also, one guy I stood up to tried to get me replaced quietly on the side, by the way. That is another possibility of standing up to a bully.
  8. If you had a poll you'd find bass players are concentrated at the less extroverted end of the bandmember spectrum. It's not you, it's standard bully tactics picking on the "weak". You have to make the bully understand he's out of order.
  9. That's true, think of all the bassists in all the biggest bands. Bill Wyman (stones), Adam Clayton (U2), Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith), the list goes on... all of them introverted people that stick pretty close to the drum set/bass amp area and maybe give the crowd a shy wave before walking offstage.

    Think of the singers in those bands... ego-maniacs like Jagger, Bono, Tyler... I'm sure those guy steamroll over those timid bass players all the time. Stand up for yourself, and just treat it like a business. Next time the keyboardist gives you ****, say something like "well you f'ed up that F# in that one song, but I wasn't gonna be a DICK about it like you!"
  10. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah just talk to the guy........ and stop over playing.
  11. WayneS


    Apr 9, 2007

    Feel free to hang around the root all night. Some of us actually enjoy using our basses as melodic instruments. The more of you root players there are, the more room us melodic players have.
  12. To the OP - I'll be the dissenting voice here. If the project is good but the only problem is this guy, don't pay attention to this guy and keep focused on the work. for example, if he complains that your bass part is too busy (even if he is a jerk about it) ask him to be more specific and get into the part - you might shut him up or even create a better bass part.. That shifts the conversation from personal to professional. This is what "all about the music" means.

    My guess is that this will take care of it. In most cases if he does not get an emotional reaction from you, he'll get bored and will leave you alone. If you really want to deal with it, pull him aside and tell one on one that you don't appreciate his comments, but do not make it a band issue. No need for drama, even if he "started it".
  13. Hmm. FWIW: I think you may be a little overly sensitive and need to either grow some thicker skin or find another hobby because as time goes on its mostly like only going to get worse. Good luck and best wishes.
  14. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Can we combine all the "Problems with my Band Leader" into a single thread?
    It seems to me most bands have problems when they have a band leader or I guess most of you just don't want to do what your told (which sounds like the people who work for me)
    Let me sum it up, if you agree to be in a band with an official "band leader" then it's his band and you should do as you are directed. The key word here is "IF" you agree to these terms.

    If you don't agree to this, then DON'T join a band with an official "band Leader". IMHO many of you want a BL when it's convenient, and then you don't when you disagree with their decisions- HMMM sounds like the people I manage at work...
    This sums up every BL issue on here. Serious.
    The ONLY way I'd join a band with an official BL, is if it was VERY succesfull, a good fit for my style, well established, $$ BENEFITs were there, and the BL was competent. This IS NOT the case with most of the BL complaints I see on here.
  15. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I have several thoughts on this. First of all, if you cannot take a joke, you are going to have a long and difficult life, especially if you plan on playing in bands. Maybe make a joke at his expense once in a while and see how he reacts. He might just be waiting for you to open up a little and be "one of the guys".

    Secondly, as far as your playing is concerned, is it possible that the keyboard player is right? Maybe you are over playing. There is no need to create complicated bass lines. Sometimes "less is more". Since the keyboard player is the composer, he obviously has an idea of how he wants the song to sound. You said that he has accepted some of your suggestions so I really don't understand what the problem is. No matter what you do in life, you will never get your way 100% of the time. The best you can hope for is to have input and that the keyboard player/composer is open to trying some of the things that you suggest. Personally, I think you are being over sensitive but if it really bothers you, sit down and talk with him. Otherwise, either put up with it or find another project.
  16. Vintagefiend

    Vintagefiend I don't care for 410 cabinets at all.

    Aug 6, 2013
    Columbia, MO
    Grow some thicker skin. Don't be a pussy.

    Hey, you said it yourself - you aren't interested in being close to anyone. you have your girlfriend and friends, and you say it yourself that the music is rewarding.

    So, either shut the **** up and be in a band or go home and make recordings by yourself on a computer.

    Don't mean to come off harsh, but you're in a rock band (I'm assuming) - this isn't the chamber orchestra!! You don't HAVE to be best friends with the guy...but you do want to play BASS, right?? Maybe your 'complicated' and intricate bass lines are actually too much??

    Sounds like you take things way too personally to me.

    I'd chill out if I were you. Have some fun. Enjoy being in a band. Play some easy bass lines that groove and move.

    that's what I'd do.
  17. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Yes, yes, yes!!
    You know what I listen for when I play with my band. I listen to the WHOLE band, and I found to my surprise, I am the only person in the band who does! Guess this is why a lot of bass players become producers.

    If there is space in the music I interject bass fills, and I play what is appropriate for the SONG, not WANK on my bass. I concentrate on my TONALITY and GROOVE first and foremost. What I play on the bass underpins the whole song and I can have great power just by changing the tonality. Not playing more notes, faster.

    Here is a clue- if you play bass like Les Claypool and you are not in a band called PRIMUS, it probably won't work.
  18. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    With all respect, I think this is the wrong approach.

    1. You KNOW he will challenge you again. Not "if." By waiting for him to make the first move you continue to let him have control over this issue. This is a situation where you need to take the reins. Reacting to him reinforces in his mind (and to the others to some degree) that you're overly sensitive. Confronting him shows strength and a willingness to stand up to him. You KNOW you're right and he's wrong. Moral indignation is POWERFUL. Use it.

    2. Do NOT do this in front of the band! Worst case scenario! Under your plan, he will have no choice but to fight back and defend his honor in front of the others (this is how it appears in his mind). You'll be backing him into a corner and there's no way he will let you win that challenge. It could get ugly.

    3. You can't look at this like the others are either for you or against you. They're simply observing the interaction between you two. It's not their fight, and they will mentally score each of you according to your behavior. If you take the steps you describe, I can guarantee you they will not support you; not because they don't like you, but because you handled the situation improperly. You need to take him aside privately, firmly state your new position, warn him that you will quit immediately if he ever does it again, then follow through on that if it indeed happens.

    4. You sound defeated already. If even YOU already know your plan is not likely to succeed, what does that tell you? If you really must handle it the way you describe, I advise you to go ahead and quit now. Not because you're weak or I don't like you, but because you should not tolerate this situation one second longer. And your plan GUARANTEES that you will suffer more. Quit now and join a group that respects you. Or lay down the law to this jerk.

    You're a nice guy. There's nothing wrong with you. You just happen to be in a band with an ass. Don't put up with it.

    Good luck! :hyper:
  19. taliesin


    Nov 12, 2007
    Toronto, ON
    Really? That's what you've got?

    The keyboard player is being a dick and the best advice is don't be a pussy and shut up?

    If he really thinks the OP's parts are too complicated then there is an easy way to address that - "Hey, maybe try something a bit simpler on this part."

    The OP was upfront with the guy about his personality issues and it didn't seem to be a problem until someone else got involved and the BL could form a clique.

    I'd have a chat with him privately and give him a bit of time but if it continues to be unpleasant for you I wouldn't hang around.
  20. Vintagefiend

    Vintagefiend I don't care for 410 cabinets at all.

    Aug 6, 2013
    Columbia, MO
    1. the keyboard player is NOT being a dick; he's addressing his concerns in a passive and gregarious way...and the OP has basically stated as much.

    2. sounds like the only person who has any issues with anything...is the OP. And what is his biggest issue, at the core?? The fact that his intricate, amazing and complex basslines aren't being met with exuberant excitement and high fives??

    Listen up - I'm in a band with my brother, who plays guitar. And he's great, plus he's an exceptional singer. So, as a 'power trio', I get pretty much free reign to go where I want, and I use that responsibility wisely...mostly. Sometimes when we're jamming (or even during a show) I'll just get the 'look', and I'll have to reel it in. But mostly, I've found that the best way to move a song along and keep a groove constant, is to KEEP IT SIMPLE.

    See, I played a lot of guitar growing up, and studied percussion through high school, took music production in college and I write songs, etc. I have great and grand ideas that are expansive and symphonic in nature...and they have their place. Which is not in Driving Wheel, lol. I have a specific job in this band as a bassist, and I embrace that role. So, the keyboard player/songwriter/bandleader has specific ideas...and the OP can either get on board and be a team player (like it sounds everyone else has done) or he will continue to be frustrated until he leaves.

    Either scenario, pretty much depends on his attitude.

    As for me, I'm not into proving how many notes I can play or how complex I can make a song. If that's your thing, that's cool. But I was in some thrash bands growing up, 12, 13 years old. I've played as fast as humanly possible, stupid arrangements with changing time signatures and parts that never repeat again. I got over that **** pretty quickly.