Am I being unrealistic or....

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by honestjohnny, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. honestjohnny


    Nov 24, 2006
    Played last night with my band after a 6 month hiatus. During that time, both the drummer and one of the guitar players forgot the tunes. Covers, originals, everything. OTH, I have continued to practice and create during that time. Like I told the drummer later, "I don't knit." Also, we were auditioning a vocalist/guitarist. I had given him a list of the tunes we had played before. So on one level I was embarrassed because the vocalist was prepared (even brought his own vocal amp, adapted keyboard lines to guitar), I was prepared, but the guitar and drum weren't. I was also disappointed because I felt like we were wasting the vocalist's time. I also have issues with the guitarist because he doesn't know how to EQ (he turns his mids to 0, bass and treble to 7, fortunately he only uses a 40 watt 1X10). I tried to gently remind everyone of their parts, but am afraid I still came off like a nazi. The vocalist was great (he's come from singing in a national touring act) and the tunes that we managed to get together were good. These are the only musicians I know in the area and I find them all reasonably mature and good players on the whole (drummer also has pro experience). I really want to keep playing with these guys, but I feel like...something is lacking.

    What/how would you seasoned pro's deal with this situation? Am I just being a jerk?

    P.S. I think I'm a pretty reasonable guy. I didn't yell at anyone or insult them. I also turned my amp down when asked until they thought it was okay. The drummer has an excuse in that we're not his only band and the other band is gigging and paying.
  2. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    If you're a gigging band, it's totally appropriate for you everyone to ask each other to be prepared for practices and shows. One way to raise the issue is to simply ask after a practice -- "so where do you guys think we are at this point -- I feel we're still pretty far off from being show ready..." etc. You never know -- they could be putting in minimal effort for some other specific reasons. Get the discussion out there in terms of band goals, not individual commitments, and see what comes of it.

    Some possibilities are that they may not WANT to gig, so they play half-assed and think it's just for fun; they may THINK they're on top of their games; they may be sulking musically over some problem; you've gotta get everyone talking. Who knows, they may just be slow to get back into the swing of things, and 4 practices from now, everything might be golden.

    Some other thoughts:

    Drummer having other gigs is not a good enough reason for sucking in YOUR gig -- if he can't perform 100% in two bands, then someone's getting the shaft, and that's not fair to your band.

    Guitarist's tone -- talk it out. Maybe you just need to shift into the low mids more -- ultimately it might work just fine. Every guitarist I've worked with was as dumb as me about making freqs play nicely together -- so you gotta experiment in unison, trying to get the mix right. Try this: tell him YOU want to experiment, and then ask him to play with different profiles so YOU can test out different things -- that way you might help him discover something better that is good for all of you. if you can't drag him into good tone, lure him along hahaha

    So, if you can't find other musicians, you might have to choose between disappointment or a solo stint.

    If you get a good band talk going, post the outcome here!

    good luck!

  3. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    6 months without playing together and you are suprised that things were not tight.
  4. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    At one point a publisher approached me with feelers to write a book about this stuff, which I probably couldn't do in less than five hundred pages. :rollno: It could not be the short, upbeat book they were anticipating.

    Ultimately, though, nearly everyone has to make the decision between living with the frustration of playing in a series of inadequate, dead-end bands with gristlehead musicians who will never get with the program...or just quitting playing. :(

    It's really that simple. Brokenhearted players withdraw into the Hermetic Order of the Project Studio and never come out in the daylight again.

    Here's what I know: You have to clearly and effectively communicate your concerns to these people and listen to their replies. Ideally, that should do it, but it rarely does. What will usually happen is that they will give you some mealy-louthed, evasive agreement and then either go ahead and do exactly what they did to begin with...or else go into a long sulking bout of passive-aggressive sabotage culminating in them simply not showing up again. See? I've been through this. ;)

    Musicians are hell to deal with. Something I used to tell young acts when they asked for advice back when I had my fifteen minutes as a music bigshot was this: "The music business isn't about music, it's about business. If you don't approach it like a business, you might as well quit now." Musicians *HATE* to hear that, because it means that they have to behave intelligently and logically and evince a good work ethic, teamwork and a cohesive plan for producing quality product from the consumer's standpoint as a band. You have to be on-track and on-time.

    Do the musicians you work with fit that mold? Probably not more than one or two...and the others will always seem to be working to undermine whatever progress the "together" faction makes. The gristleheads will always win.

    Don't look for "great musicians." Face it, nobody cares, especially if these guys are so off in their "dream" that they can never hold a band together long enough to play anywhere. Look for people who are smart, motivated and disciplined, and who can at least understand and reliably achieve the minimum musical competence required to pull off your desired material.

    If you throw out all your previous preconceptions and approach getting a band together as if it were a business, you'll have a fighting chance. Otherwise, you'll have no chance at all.
  5. mutedeity


    Aug 27, 2007
    Depends on what you want out of life really, doesn't it?

    If you want to play about in rehearsal studios doing band versions of cover songs and half developed originals, you are being completely unreasonable. On the other hand if you are serious about your music, expecting a bit of effort from your bandmates is absolutely reasonable. By the way, that drummer has NO excuse at all. If he wants to juggle bands he should be able to put the required effort in to both projects. Otherwise he should admit he's not capable and let you find someone who is going to come prepared.

    Think you're unreasonable? Try my band.
  6. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO

    Your thread title is misleading though. This isn't about being a jerk so much as it is bad planning and a lack of practice on their parts.

    Should they know their parts? Yes. If you agreed to get together after a hiatus and work on songs, they should have refreshed their memories and worked on the songs. I also don't think the drummer's excuse holds water. Being a little rusty is to be expected. Not being prepared is a different thing altogether.

    As for the guitarist's tone, that's is just musical immaturity. Regardless of how old he is or how mature he is outside of music, any player with band experience should understand that what sounds good to him soloed is usually not the same as what sounds best for the overall band mix. The whole band needs to work together for the best possible overall sound. As long as he's receptive to working on it, that should be fine.

    Here's the biggest problem though: Why were you auditioning a vocalist if you guys hadn't practiced together in months? At the very least you should have gotten together the week before to get back on the same page a bit before bringing someone else by.

    If what I wrote sounds harsh in any way, it isn't intended to be. At least you know what some of your issues are now and can discuss them with the other guys. Take it as a learning experience.
  7. lethargytartare


    Sep 7, 2004
    It's an important point to raise, though -- auditioning a singer like this could cost them any chance with that singer (he might not want to join a band in such a rough state); it could make them overrate a singer (hard to tell his weaknesses amidst the band's own rough edges), or UNDERRATE a singer; etc.
  8. If so, you and I will be sitting next to each other in the doghouse.

    My cover band had its first practice in three weeks last night, we have a gig next Saturday. Before we took off, we agreed to learn two (two!) songs during the break (I wanted to learn or more). This was confirmed in follow-up e-mails. So the singer shows up and... doesn't know either of them. Has to ask for printed lyrics. Asks to listen to it on the iPod.

    ... and I lose it. This guy's been (by his own admission -- he'd talked about it earlier) playing Guitar Hero with his kids for the last three weeks, but he couldn't be bothered learning two simple songs. I took off my bass, put it in its case, rolled up my cord and was headed for the door when the guitarists stopped me. One said he understood my point, but thought I was overreacting. The other didn't even see my point. I thought I was bleeding from my ears.

    I'm doing this for fun, not money (that's the band's mantra), but I don't like having my time wasted, and I don't like going to gigs unprepared. If the other guys in the band can't even put in the minimal time necessary to know their parts, **** 'em.

    I ended up staying, and we muddled our way through the songs, but I'm still pissed. I'd love to fire the singer.

  9. honestjohnny


    Nov 24, 2006
    Thanks guys. I asked for help, so no offense taken at anything. I know I'm not perfect.

    To be fair, this band was about fun and maybe gigging, since we all have well-paying jobs. But can't you have fun and take it seriously? I didn't expect it to be tight after 6 months, but I had at least hoped the guitarist would remember the chord progressions to the songs HE wrote! The drummer did remember the covers, just rusty on the originals.

    Anyway, I think I'll wait a few rehearsals and see if things improve, try some constructive communication and just see where it goes. Thanks for letting me vent.
  10. NKUSigEp


    Jun 6, 2006
    Bright, IN
    Doesn't sound like something anyone here can help with...might wanna talk to some friends and family or perhaps a psychiatrist. :D
  11. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    I think this is where the problem lies.

    "Fun" is too vague of a premise for anything that requires time, work, individual preparation and coordination between a group of busy people who all have to be strictly on the same page for it to function.

    It's a rare band that plays for "fun" that plays for long, because (as the old saying goes) if it's "fun," you're not working hard enough. Or, alternately, "if it's fun, it's because you're no good." :meh:

    I've been playing since 1960. It has never, ever been "fun." Sometimes it has been very satisfying when everything went right and I had a reward for all the hard work I did -- a justified sense of accomplishment.

    But "fun"? Get outta here!
  12. Thundar

    Thundar Supporting Member

    Don't feel bad, JB...this happens to me every week.:rollno: Ive stopped even bothering to learn the songs my band picks out cause most of the time we dont ever even play them. Luckily, if we do actually end up playing the song more than once its usually a fairly simple song I can BS my way thru, and then break down an learn it if they decide they are serious about playing it.
    But this band is just for fun, and I have to keep reminding myself of that...they just dont take it nearly as seriously as I do. We gig a few times a month...local bars and pubs...usually we end up sounding pretty dang good, but there have been a few "trainwrecks".
  13. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    I have been having thoughts about starting my own band and have been thinking thru these things.

    If you want to build a good boat, don't use rotten wood because its going to fall apart. People are like that too. You cant *make* people do anything. They either put it as a priority in their lives or they jerk around doing other stuff. The key is to play with musicians who have the same goals as you but more importantly have a similar sense of self-discipline. Otherwise you are just spinning your wheels I'm afraid.
  14. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Especially change.
  15. honestjohnny


    Nov 24, 2006
    "It has never, ever been "fun." Sometimes it has been very satisfying when everything went right and I had a reward for all the hard work I did -- a justified sense of accomplishment."

    You've read my mind. I just thought I was the only one.