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a rant about our band's tempo...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by joebar, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    looking for a little feedback on a situation that irritates me to no end.
    a little history:

    i am in a band (trio + vocals) that is currently working on covers (between 1-2 hours worth)
    it is a new project with a guitarist/friend of almost 25 years.

    i was kindly invited my him and the rest of the band after things didn't work out with a couple of the other members. i had went to a rehearsal of theirs a month earlier and when their bassist didn't show up, i leant a hand and some vocals and they were impressed.
    i was flattered and since i wasn't doing much, i agreed to join up.

    the strength of our band is the vocals; when we hit the three part harmonies just right, there are goosebumps.
    this keeps me coming back for more.

    after a couple months of rehearsing, i have realized that the big issue with the whole project is the drummer's timing. my timing is very good and he tends to rush a lot mid-song and starts songs at the wrong BPM etc. i am trying to work with him but more often than not, we cannot lock in and groove.
    i have never experienced this dynamic before; i have always worked with drummers who have their time down.
    it is bumming me out because it has been addressed many times and i suspect the drummer is getting frustrated with my complaining all the time.
    i am keeping it real by saying to the band that we cannot keep going the way we are.

    this drummer has only been playing for three years and takes weekly lessons and i know he wants to get better and tries hard at improving. i just don't know why his teacher isn't helping him with his tempo above all else.
    IMO the drummer is NOT a natural at the instrument.

    all of this wouldn't be a big issue if we were just knocking back a few beers once a week and jamming. but these guys are adamant about getting gigs lined up very soon; their attitude is that we need a show to whip us into shape.
    my attitude is that we are nowhere near ready to play publically because i know we would embarass ourselves at this point. you only get one shot at a first impression and i don't want to blow it
    it is surprising to me because out of the four members in the group, i have the least amount of gigging experience; i would think that i wouldn't have to point out the obvious.

    we are all older established weekend warrior types with decent income, decent time commitment and a certain level of maturity.

    i suggested to the drummer the other day that we should set up a click track that we could play to help him/ us with the timing issue. he makes excuses saying that most songs speed up/ slow down more than we think. that kind of response trouble me. we used a click last week for one tune we were struggling with and it worked wonders immediately. i am never too proud to work on the fundamentals; after all, it is the rhythym section that holds the whole thing together.

    i don't know if it is worth continuing on if we cannot fix the problem.
    as long as he can keep a beat i can work with that; i can do without the bells and whistles.

    any thoughts would be greatly appreciated; this is a lot of fun and could be very satisfying.
  2. Blue

    Blue Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2004
    Southeast Penna
    cannot lock in and groove = death march
  3. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    i hear ya man
    my thoughts exactly; i hate being the bearer of bad news, but someone has got to keep it real in that band.
  4. Try recording your practices and then have a sit down with everyone and critique.
  5. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    we did record one practice a few weeks ago.
    my wife hasn't heard us yet and i am sorry to say that i am not ready for her to hear that recording yet.
    i suppose that is a good barometer on how i really feel.
  6. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I agree that's the drummers main job if they are off the audience is going to know right away something just isn't right?.
  7. How did the rest of the band feel about the recording? Did they hear the timing issues you are talking about? If the timing is as bad as you're saying and they're still willing to go ahead...you may have to make a choice.
  8. ofthumper


    Sep 9, 2011
    Our drummer uses a beat bug. Keeps the tempo steady and don't think they are very expensive. My .02
  9. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    in that recording he was having a fairly good day
    the last rehearsal we had was so bad i nearly quit on the spot.
    i have no problem whatsoever using a click or beat bug as you said as long as the end result is good. i have heard ensembles that were extremely tight only to find out later that a click was being used-either way, they got the job done.
    i happen to be singing a great deal of the time and i have a lot on my plate to juggle without worrying about the tempo.
  10. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I will get rid of a drummer with tempo issues every single time. We are on our seventh drummer, and I don't miss any of the previous six at all.
  11. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    i suspect that part of the problem is that maybe he hasn't played with a bassist that is really good tempo wise and it is exposing his deficiencies like never before.
    not to blow my horn, but i learned the importance at the very beginning of picking up the instrument to have solid time.
    what good would i be as a bassist?
    same goes for a drummer; you aren't worth much without a good solid foundation.
  12. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    Victor Wooten's Groove Workshop. Answers for a all your rhythmic needs.
  13. DanBass

    DanBass Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2003
    Gainesville, FL
    Isn't the drummer supposed to be the beat bug?

    Just sayin.. :p
  14. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    Your existing drummer won't get better unless he starts practicing (at home) with a click track, rehearsing (with the rest of you) with a click track and playing gigs with a click track. IF (and believe me, that's a mighty big IF) he gets better, he can start playing gigs without the click track. But he should ALWAYS play to a click track when he practices by himself.

    He should not consider this to be punitive, it is what ALL drummers do - or at least those who want to improve. BTW, when you see the big arena shows on the Palladia channel, the vast majority of those drummers are playing to a click track in their in-ear monitors.

    If he refuses to put in the work to improve, you and your bandmates have to decide if you want to keep him and stay where you are talent-wise, or replace him. Now we are getting into the realm of band power structure, decision-making, etc. Welcome to the exciting world of band politics!
  15. If the other band members are aware of the tempo problem, then majority rules, no?
  16. Swakey


    Nov 26, 2012
    I would get a new drummer if i were you. Otherwise he just needs to practice A LOT! He should practice everything at different tempos until he is familiar with the tempos.

    A problem many musicians have is that they tend to rush to or fall back to a tempo that is more familiar to them. If you're playing a son thats at 130 bpm then practice it well at 110 115 120 125 130 135 140 145 so that you're more comfortable.
  17. capncal


    Apr 14, 2009
    eh, maybe you just gotta give a little. i mean, it's only rock and roll, right? you've obviously got more time in on your instrument than your drummer. he's taking weekly lessons and you can tell he's trying to improve, so let him improve.

    regardless of his tempo being off, you have to lock with him. if that's something you just cannot, or do not feel comfortable doing, then move on.
  18. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    is he doing tempo work at home with his own metronome? if he is aware and working on this and you're willing to work with him then use a click track at rehearsals until his own internal clock improves.

    if he's not working on this and is unwilling to listen to you, it's time to find another drummer.
  19. 45acp


    Feb 5, 2013
    Texarkana TX
    We just fired our drummer last week due to this very issue.

    There was nothing good about it. He was a long time friend to us all... long before the band stuff. He was an absolute BEAST on drums. He was reliable as a Toyota. At the end of the day, he could not keep time.

    Actually, he could not keep time when he was frustrated. If anything went wrong his internal clock would just shut down. Fight with the wife? He's off. Worrying about learning a new song? He's off. The thing is it would make him off on EVERYTHING. Even songs he knows in his sleep. We have dealt with it for over 6 months, and the fact is it was not something that would ever get better with practice.
  20. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL

    If the drummer can't keep the tempo correct, and does not show any willingness to work with a metronome/click track and IMPROVE, get rid of that drummer, sooner than later.

    A drummer who cannot keep time is like a singer with pitch issues. It does not matter how well he or she can do anything if they're doing it at the wrong tempo.

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