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alcoholic drummer

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by kevibass, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. kevibass


    Sep 25, 2011
    ok, been in lots of bands but i'm courting some thoughts,
    opinions. i am in a band, for about 9 months now, and it has become painfully clear the drummer is an alcoholic and it is seriously affecting the sound/tempo/accents/starts/ends.... in the music. the "band leader", another guy, put the clamps on the drink last gig but.. i'm so friggin pissed about the sabotage this ass inflicted, i think i'll split. when the band is good, ie. sober it works. but i'm really leaning away from the whole thing. this area doesn't have a lot of music so it could be a while till i find something else.
    i'm just ready to hear some other bassists views/stories etc regarding this issue. thanks.
  2. Hobobob

    Hobobob Don't feed the troll, folks.

    Jan 25, 2011
    Camarillo, CA
    If the rest of the band is tight, I would wait until the band leader fired him. Unless, of course, the BL was friends or something with the drummer and it was obvious he was gonna stick around.
  3. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Um, if the band leader just put a stop to the drinking, why would you leave now? It seems as though the problem is solved. Or at least someone is on top of it. If it happens again, maybe you have a point. But why now, AFTER the problem is being dealt with? Strange timing.
    AltGrendel likes this.
  4. Lee Bruton

    Lee Bruton Guest

    May 11, 2012
    I'd stick and see what happens
  5. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    Problem is the band leader can't make him stop drinking. No one can make him stop except for himself. If it were me, I'd tell the BL that he goes or I go.
  6. hsech

    hsech Work hard. My Social Security needs a raise.

    Jun 27, 2012
    Central Iowa
    If your drummer doesn't think he has a problem then it's an uphill battle even with threats of losing his place in the band. If you are friends with the drummer talk to him and express your concerns. Don't talk down to him. Sometimes it works best to talk to him rather than behind his back. It's not only a courtesy to talk to him, it's the right thing to do since he might not realize he is causing any conflict.
  7. mikeintheboat


    Jun 13, 2011
    Let the other guys in the band know your thoughts. Maybe they think along the same lines. That way you all can be on the same page and maybe dismiss the rummmy drummy. Dont bail ona good thing if you all can see it fixed. Good luck
  8. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    If there are times when the "band is sober" I would argue that the drummer is NOT an alcoholic. He is just a dipstick who drinks too much. And there is a huge difference in the two. Both my grandfathers were alcoholics. I have some experience with this. Based on what you describe, it seems as though this is a case of an idiot that just gets out of control sometimes. If that weren't the case, there wouldn't be many times at all when the band was sober. Either way, it still strikes me as odd that you have put up with it during the time when NOBODY was addressing it. But now that the band leader IS LOOKING INTO IT, you are ready to split. I just don't get it. Why wouldn't you at least stick around to see if either the drummer gets his act together, or the band leader replaces him? Please explain your timing.
    Nephilymbass likes this.
  9. KEENE


    Mar 14, 2013
    Denver, CO
    Let the band leader know where you're at. He might already feel the same, and he's just waiting for confirmation. The band I'm in now had a singer who was a bit of a problem. She didn't do the hard work to learn the right notes and she wouldn't stop talking about hookers and her boobs and doing high-kicks in a dress! And this is the band I have that is supposed to get paying gigs to which we can invite coworkers and family. Anyway, the drummer, who I've been playing with in different bands for years told me that he was going to quit and tell the leader of this band that he was just going to be too busy to keep up with it because he didn't want to impose since the two of us were the most junior members. Though, when it came time to have that talk, he just told it straight-up. "I can't hang with BlahBlah. She's just not doing it for me." Turns out, the band leader felt the same way. We ditched her (she actually disappeared for a few months, which made it easy,) drummer and I learned to sing backup, and have operated as a professional-style band since.
  10. musicman666


    Sep 11, 2011
    AWwwE c,Monn MMaN....@#$ NUTtiN wrONG Wit a cUPPla DRinkss!@#$
  11. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Please, do not poke at all the AAA people with sticks. He has a problem that is caused by alcohol, therefore he is alcoholic.;)
  12. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    I'd just make the band play under then name 'Alcoholic Drummer' until until the guy learned not to play after having a drink.

    Drummers are the one band member that can't drink before or during a gig. It's a physiological issue as they're using the highest level of coordination and the most muscles. Our old drummer never drank. A couple of us actually went the other direction and started working in magnesium supplements before the show.
  13. kevibass


    Sep 25, 2011
    this seemed to culminate over the last week during some "festival" gigs.
    no, he is the real deal alcoholic. i suppose i've waited this long because i was hoping it would get better and perhaps some denial on my part and others.
    he is ALWAYS to some degree inebriated. like other drinkers, they don't seem to know their limit. i don't have a lot of faith that this issue is fully resolved and i don't want to waste more of my time and energy hoping for better results.
    i do appreciate the feed back. thanks again.
  14. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Ah. Well, that's a different story altogether. Yep, time to tell the band leader "It's him or me." But be prepared for it to be you.
  15. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I know some GREAT players who no longer can get a gig for love or money ... substance abuse is a bitch. Talk to your band leader, the other members, and air your concerns. I would be inclined to cut the drummer loose ... and tell him why. We've done it, struggled with a few drummers until we found the right guy, but all is well now.
  16. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    After 40+ years of gigs, my personal conclusion is that life is simultaneously too short to endure drunks and drug addicts, and too empty to endure without music. Therein lies the rub.

    In my last band, the guitarist was a problem drinker, but a good song writer and guitarist. The rest of the band, and the guitarist's family, staged an intervention to put it all on the line. His immediate reaction was anger and denial, and there was no appreciable change in his behavior, so I chose to leave the band. Several months after I left, he hit rock bottom, lost his day job, and finally admitted he had a problem and started attending meetings.

    In the final analysis, I had to do what was best for me. But, I tried to do it as kindly as possible.

    Take care you yourself - no one else will.
  17. BBox Bass

    BBox Bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    NW Pennsylvania
    I'm having a similar issue with a singer. Last year when a drummer and I were looking for musicians, the guitarist from my other band asked if we would be willing to hook up with him and his vocalist friend. I was reluctant to hire the singer since he was booted from his previous band for drinking, but the guitarist insisted that he had just been going through a rough patch and things were fine now. I said ok, and for 8 months everything seemed to be all right. Even though he pounded back the Jack during shows, it didn't seem to affect him so I didn't think much of it.

    A couple weeks ago the guitarist informed me that the singer is back in full-blown alcoholic mode and his drinking is now taking a toll on his job and marriage. Guitarist said "He quit drinking last month," to which I replied "That will last until our next show." I wish I had been wrong, for last week's gig was downright painful from the middle of the second set until the end. He was completely hammered.

    Afterward, he was remorseful and insisted that he will practice really hard to make everything right. I'd like to believe him, but I can't help but think of something my mother (her father was a lifelong alcoholic) has been telling me for years: "The bottle is always the stronger mistress." I've already resigned myself to the fact that it's a matter of time before the band falls apart (due to the singer's behavior and other assorted reasons), and as pessimistic as it sounds, I suspect the OP may be in for a similar experience. You can't change your drummer. As for me, I'm just keeping my ears open for other opportunities.
  18. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    You have your answer here. Nobody can fix an alcoholic, it's not going to get better, you are wasting your time unless the BL grows a pair and deals with it.
  19. I don't have too much to advise you of, in my last band the drummer was a severe alcoholic and he died suddenly (I was told it was a heart attack). But, the truth is that the night before he died he stayed up all night, drinking heavily, did not sleep at all, and along with his alcoholism he suffered and battled with depression and other personal demons. There was some conjecture that after his night of heavy drinking he killed himself, but his wife simply stated to everyone he had a heart attack.

    I miss him every day, as he was also a good friend and a mentor in my life. But the reasons for this and all of the details regarding his life and passing are not part of this thread.

    Ed was amazing. Even stone cold drunk he could outplay most every drummer I ever met. He had been a recording artist, a touring drummer, and had cut a few albums.

    He was one person who helped make me the working, gigging bassist I am now. He took the time to work with me and teach me how to synch up with a drummer and he gave me the most tips I needed to be successful playing with any competent drummer. I could not be doing what I do today if I had not worked with him for the time that we played together.

    You are probably not in the same position as I was.

    If I had to advise you of anything, based on my experience;

    If he truly is an alcoholic, a band leader, a bassist, a gig....won't change that. He will have to fix it himself. And to fix it he will have to want it to change. It's a hard road. Alcoholism consumes a person. It's a disease that is hard to overcome and is a lifelong challenge.

    As a band, working with an alcoholic is a terrible burden. I watched my father's band deal with an alcoholic bassist for a period of time. He wasn't very good, but when he drank he was totally incompetent and he would almost destroy performances. To the point he had to be fired and the band had to continue to play without him at the shows they had booked.

    If he is an alcoholic, you will have to decide, or the band will have to decide, how much they are willing to put up with. If he is wrecking shows something has to be done about it. A lot depends on how close the band is emotionally.

    If you have no emotional attachment to the band or the drummer, then I would advise you to cut ties and move on, even if it means you will have a hard time finding another band. It will not end well. Start looking for another band, or start your own band. An alcoholic will ruin a band sooner or later unless they can change and accept that they have an illness.

    I'm really sorry for your situation. The fact that you are in this position hits home with me because I've been there.
    Howlin' Hanson likes this.
  20. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    If you have other opportunities, pursue them. If you don't, pursue some immediately. OP, what you describe will more than likely become a litany of lost time, money and effort. An actively drinking alcoholic NEVER becomes more reliable. Only a completely clean and sober, recovering one does. Otherwise expect a never-ending game of 'two steps forward, three steps back'. That is, until you close out your involvement. You can't fix everybody's life.

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