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Advice on talking to band member

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by michaelkoss, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. I am in a cover band with 4 members: bass, vocals, and two guys who both play guitar and drums. We'll call them George and Daniel. George is much better on guitar and Daniel is far better on drums. (I gave them pseudonyms that start with the letter of the instrument they are better at so you can try to keep the names straight)

    So far, we have split the songs 50/50 so they can switch between sets. Here's the problem: Daniel thinks he is the better player on both. He is wrong. Daniel is the typical lead guitar player: too much too loud. George is a great guitarist who understands that we are there to showcase our attractive and awesome vocalist.

    Everyone we talk to agrees that our playing takes a dramatic downturn when Daniel is on guitar. Even George will admit that Daniel is better on drums, so really, we take a hit on both instruments.

    I am the default band leader (not sure how that happened) so I need to have a talk with Daniel. I want to suggest one of the following:

    1. Stick exclusively to drums
    2. Make the split more like 3:1 with George on guitar more often
    3. When you are playing guitar, tone it down

    I need advice on addressing this with him. Should I just be completely straight up and blunt? Please help.


  2. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I would be straight up and blunt, personally I don't even know how this arrangement got this far. Daniel clearly just wants his time in the spotlight, tell him to earn that as a drummer, he'll have a better shot instead of potentially embarrassing the entire band on lead guitar.

    Do you load in two guitar rigs and drum kits for shows? Or do they share every piece of gear right down to their drum kit arrangement? Sounds like a hassle to me.
  3. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Tell him just what you wrote here.

    If he wants to work on playing more dynamic lead guitar that is better suited to your band, and you want to put in more rehearsal time so George can improve his drumming, and then make it more of a "once in awhile" thing, instead of 50/50, then you might have something.

    I would be more inclined to leave the drummer drumming.
  4. JoZac21


    Nov 30, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I would simply tell "Daniel" that he's the better drummer, and it's "really important that he plays drums, since having a strong backbone is so important, the band can sound more solid, and it's less important to have a great guitar player..."

    This strokes his ego (which it seems he wants)... he's hearing that he's wanted behind the drum kit because he's good... and not hearing that you don't want him playing guitar because he's not as good.

    Nobody gets hurt and the band ends up with the ideal line-up.
  5. 5StringFool


    Jun 10, 2011
    Greenup, KY
    I think I'd do this but leave out the, "it's less important to have a good guitar player" since Daniel could take that to imply that you're tolerating Guitar George and you don't really consider him that good. Just leave it to something that's been mutually agreed to by both Daniel and George.... that Daniel is clearly the better drummer.
  6. They play on the same kit and use the same amp, but each bring their own guitars.
  7. Maybe we could arrange the kit on the side of the stage where he'd be more visible, with him facing the vocalist. That way the audience gets a side shot of him playing the drums.
  8. I've started to hint around at this. Maybe it's time to be more blunt.
  9. If your band has a FB group page, you could use the discussion forum aspect to let your followers sound off about what they want. That would take some pressure off of you, and really slam home the honest reality to "Daniel." It's about what the fans want!

    I might add that this is how my live band karaoke band takes new song suggestions.
  10. Tell Dan that you can always "hide" a poor guitarist, but you can't "hide" a poor rhythm section. He's far more valuable to the band as a drummer than as a guitarist.
  11. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    If you have to use the word "better," use it in the context of what's better for the band, not who's better on guitar or drums.
  12. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Drums make or break a band. People notice guitars more, but if you have a better drummer you have a better band.

    With that in mind, either have the better of the two play drums, or find a better drummer all together.
  13. scott123


    Jun 25, 2008
    Hi all, this is "George" that MK speaks of...thank you for all your input! MK told me he was posting this on TB. Just a quick explanation of how this arrangement came about. I was brought in as the guitarist, Daniel as the drummer. I had not played 6 string in some time and was very nervous about it. Daniel wanted to play a couple of songs on guitar so I said why not. This turned into a 50/50 split, which isn't working out so well. As time went on I relaxed and the playing got better. Daniel has also got more comfortable, but this comes out as him trying to improvise and frankly he does not have the chops or fretboard knowledge to pull it off. When he stays on script the playing is ok, if a little dull. We are a new band, and the people that have listened to us rehearse have commented that the band seems to lose its spark when we switch instruments. MK is also too kind, I am absolutely not a great guitarist.
  14. I am with Phalex, the drums are the 2nd most important ingredient to your chick fronted band. The best drummer should be behind the seat. My band the drummer and guitarist both play each others instruments and thought it would be fun to switch during a Ramones medley. Neither could pull it off to my liking, plus I hated th switch during the set.
  15. EddiePlaysBass


    Feb 26, 2009
    My band has an absolutely great drummer. So we let him do a good few "drum outro's" and on one song a downright drum solo. This works really well, and he is experienced enough to keep it both short AND interesting.

    Perhaps you can incorporate this into your set, too? Give Daniel some spotlight on the instrument that will make him shine.
  16. I had my conversation with Daniel and it went quite well. I started it out by saying that I've noticed a good change in him that has unfortunate side effects. I said he's starting to get a lot more comfortable with the band, but that has resulted in him adding too much to songs. I tried to lighten the mood with a joke that it's not illegal to hold a guitar without it making noise. I also pointed out advice I have read many times on TB: it's not what you play, it's what you don't play that makes you great.

    In the end, he was grateful I brought it up, said he would work on it, and that I should point it out when he does it so he can correct it. Very mature of him.

    I also pointed out at least three times that the band is better when he plays drums and I borrowed JoZac21's line that the drums are the backbone of the band. I'll bring up having him move to more drums some other time. If I can get him to stop overplaying now, I can tackle the larger issue in a week or two. Baby steps :)

    Thanks for the help of thinking through this. You guys are really great.
  17. YuppyPunk


    Oct 21, 2011
    I wouldn't talk in terms of better or worse, that's just ego stroking that never benefits anything. I would talk about their style fitting better. Tell him that his drumming fits better and George's guitar playing fits better.
  18. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    IMO, since you spoke to him as a BL, discussing how much he is improving on the guitar is not setting the stage for you to discuss having him move to drums full time.:confused:

    Seems to me that at the meeting you could have discussed his feelings about playing drums full time. Then you would know if he wants to do it or not.

    Maybe he plans on switching to guitar full time? Maybe he doesn't want to play drums full time? Maybe he wants to be the main guitar player for the band. Maybe that's why he's so receptive to your comments on how he's improving his guitar playing?

    I suggest you make some recordings of rehearsals/gigs so you have some "show and tell" to listen/discuss at a band meeting so everyone can buy into your conclusion that he should be on drums full time.

    Then the band can discuss the situation and figure out what each member's musical goals are and how they fit into the band.

    IME, when you have something to discuss, discuss it. Don't try to build up someone on an unrelated matter and think that somehow it will carry over when you meet again a few weeks later, especially if he's been working hard on improving his guitar playing during that time. :atoz: The time he should have been practicing his drums because he's now the full-time drummer. :eek:

    In addition, IMO, telling him three times that "the band is better with him on drums" doesn't mean what you think it means to him. What will you say at the next meeting? Remember I told you that the band sounds better with you on drums? and then follow up with What I really meant was that you should be on drums full time. I don't think that will go over well at all. Sounds like you're trying to manipulate him. :atoz: Which you are. :mad:

    IME, don't BS people. Just be straight with them. Think less about strategy and more about being straight forward. You 'll get more of want you want. And the people who don't want what you want will move on and not waste their time and yours.

    Good luck.
  19. I guess my translation from my conversation into writing was poor. I didn't tell him he's getting better at guitar. I told him I noticed something good--his improving comfort level with the rest of the bad--that is having unfortunate side effects--his over playing while on guitar.

    I agree with you, I should be more up front with him. I am struggling with how to ask him to give up what he craves--the spotlight--in order to make the band better as a whole.
  20. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    I suggest you speak with the other members of the band and make sure they are on the same page as you. Then call a band meeting.

    You could always have him play a song or two during a gig so he can get his "guitar" on. Maybe that would be good enough for him.

    Let us know how it goes.

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