Advice On Approaching Guitarist About Song Writing

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Parasite, Apr 19, 2019.

  1. Parasite


    Oct 22, 2016
    Hey Everybody,

    I'm in a bit of a predicament.

    My 3-piece band recently played a show. We have about an hour of material and for the show we played around 45 minutes of it. I noticed for the first half of the gig the audience wasn't really paying attention to the music, but towards the last half of the set I began noticing a response. The drummer and I joined up with our old friend to form this band and majority of our initial material was created from songs and riffs the guitarist wrote. They're pretty straight forward A/B/A/B/C/A/B structured songs with high drive and energy (I describe them as being at 9 or 10 all the way through) which isn't bad, but playing so many in one set seems to not grab the attention that we hope to grab. The last half of the set are almost all songs we wrote together and have more dynamics and interesting movements. Right now I see two solutions to this: rewrite them or cut the songs.

    My problem is I don't know how to approach my guitarist about this, I'm not even sure if he sees this as an issue. They aren't terrible songs and definitely have potential. I can see him being against doing it, and if he reluctantly decides to rewrite it could be half-halfheartedly and there's no point in playing a song no one wants to play. I could be overthinking it and giving him less credit than he actually has, but I'd like to go into the situation with as much preparation as possible to avoid any conflict.

    Has anyone dealt with this situation before, have any advice for me?
  2. bearfoot

    bearfoot Inactive

    Jan 27, 2005
    Chittenango, NY
    Audience response may or may not be related to the material.

    Was there alcohol?

    One show is not enough. But based on the one show, my advice is next time lead off with whichever song got the best response. Consider the tempo, the flow of the entire evening, yadda yadda.

    it may just be that people don't usually respond well to original material unless it's exceptionally well performed with a strong front person, and the songs are relatable. Even then its a tough sell. And by the end of the show, people were buzzed and got into it.

    Another 2 cents is to write more material, rather than re-do the old.
    mrcbass and RiffwRiter like this.
  3. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    I can't comment on the material since I haven't listened to it. But one thing I noted is that you said the guitarist's material is all fast and similar and you front loaded it all into the early part of the set. That's not going to work for my setlists; there needs to be some buildup and ebb and flow to your set. What I'd suggest is to intersperse the faster material throughout the set, rather than putting it all together. If people are drinking, give them some time to get a drink in them and then maybe hit them with a few of those songs all together, if those songs are danceable. Then give them a chance to catch their breath with the more listenable, interesting stuff again.
    ahc, lfmn16, mrcbass and 5 others like this.
  4. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    I'd probably write more songs and then revise setlists later. You don't know for sure that it's the music - audiences and people have their own stuff going on a lot of them time. :D If you bring it up to the guitarist, you could cause a chilling effect and shut stuff down, without really knowing that it was the problem in the first place. My three least favourite songs in my originals band tend to be the ones that are most popular. I don't think they have the sizzle I want to hear in our music, but people who like our stuff comment the most on those three...
    design, mrcbass and RiffwRiter like this.
  5. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    95% of the popular songs follow that format, so I don't think that is he issue. But any band should be able to discuss anything in a respectful manner. I wouldn't bring it up at a rehearsal - get together over a beer of coffee and discuss the show. Everybody can talk, AND LISTEN to everyone.
  6. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Agree. I'd say from your description, it's not the songs that are bad, it's your set list. Any new effort should be in more new songs that can also be mixed in for a more interesting set or eventually replace some the less dynamic songs.
  7. Parasite


    Oct 22, 2016
    Thanks for the input guys. It helped me see this in a new light, I appreciate it!
    instrumentalist likes this.
  8. AlexBassMP


    Feb 5, 2014
    IME playing live is more han playing the music in front of the people.. (unless you're a jazz or classical musician)..

    After approaching the live shows just playing the songs, we decided to desing a "perfomance"..we tried different set lists AND some in-between songs arrangements/chats/speechs to create anticipation and keep the audience looking to the stage ... Our rule for the stage is never stop playing/talking...we practice this at the rehearsals until it became a second nature for us...and after two months we started to see a better response from the audience and some complimentd after the show...

    It's important to study the song order...there's time to keep the energy high and time to slow the things down...IMO if you're playing in a high level all the time people may want to look for an ear-rest elsewhere...
  9. redwingxix


    Oct 21, 2015
    Yep. Take it up, bring it down and take it way back up again. Done.
  10. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Agree with all that has been said:
    May not be the songs - could be that the audience wasn't lubed yet, were busy socializing early on or that they just needed to get into your rhythm.
    One gig is not enough. Audiences are very hard to predict - it can take months of regular gigging to obtain a true sense of what works and what doesn't
    Could be the order - try mixing things up so you don't front load one style of your band. Mix it up. Good set flow is important and is a harder target than most people think and one size does not fit all.
    Write more new stuff vs just cutting the old. As time marches on, you get a better feel of what should eventually be replaced.
    If you think the songs are good, nothing to be gained by even hinting at having your songwriter change his approach.
  11. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    00 images2b2.png ;)
  12. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    If you dont want to step on his toes, I'd focus more on new material. Be like- "I saw we had a great response on the new stuff, let's do more like that" then eventually u can phase out the jams with his old riffs.

    I used to write a lot in a 3 piece. For me the key was to work out my ideas with the drummer then present it to the guitarist. With the rhythm parts down it was easy for the guitarist to come in and throw something on top (also if you have the drummer on your side that's 2v1).
  13. sqlb3rn


    Apr 6, 2016
    I would just be cool, be yourself, don't be afraid to talk about issues. Preferably in a band meeting or something. Don't worry about his ego. If he's a rational adult it should be a good talk... if he has a tender ego you'll find out quick.