Anyone else had the same problem in his band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Bass2018, Jun 1, 2018.

  1. Bass2018

    Bass2018 Guest

    Jun 1, 2018
    I wanted to share something with you guys to see what you think about it, or to see if someone has been in the same boat as myself.

    For a couple of years I've been in a prog metal band I started together with the singer.
    I was the guitarplayer and the main songwriter in that band. It started out great, we wrote a lot of songs, practiced like crazies and at some point we had live gigs twice a month.
    The singer arranged all those gigs and and he got some help from the bassplayer. The bassplayer and the keyboard player both shared a succesfull band back in the days. His experiences came to good use in the beginning.

    But as time went by, I noticed the focus shifting from writing great songs and playing them well, to playing as many gigs as we can, focussing on PR, getting as many likes on social media as possible, merchandising, monitoring systems, on stage video, all sorts of changes regarding gear, backingtracks, drum triggers and so on.

    It went up to a point where the bassplayer and singer decided all that stuff. All they were talking about regarded everything but the music itself. We kept on playing the same poopy setlist over and over again. I kept on writing songs, but we were so busy with other stuff, some songs had to wait 2 years until we finally could play them live.

    The bassplayer decided everything, but he had trouble playing songs. He kept forgetting how to play them and said he couldn’t practice at home, because his wife won’t let him. The only time he practiced was during the rehearsals. Next to that, he wasn’t the best bass player, he had trouble with keeping rhythm. The basics of being a bass player IMO. Really basic bass lines I wrote, he kept on ff-ing up.

    In the mean time he was the one who took leadership. His style was the sort of: You can have an opinion, just as longs as it fits mine. The singer had the same attitude.
    The bass player critized my lack of movement on stage as well.

    We had lots of conversations where I said that the band doesn’t feel the same to me. It has nothing to do with music anymore, but about being successful, PR, likes on social media and so forth.
    Nothing did change.

    At some point I noticed the bass player was playing a part of a song wrong for all those years on stage, like completely dissonant. And he never noticed. When I spoke to him about it and gave him a bit of criticism, he freaked out and said he feels offended and he doesn’t want to be spoken to like that and he said he wanted to quit the band. The singer responded by saying he shouldn’t feel criticized and that he doesn’t want the bassplayer to leave the band, as he is so important to him. He came up with a solution in which I will not be the sole song writer anymore. From now on the whole band will write songs, so the bassplayer wont have to play things he finds hard to play.

    That was the point I quit the band.

    It came to a point where the band I created with the singer was taken over by the bass player, I had nothing to say anymore.

    So my question is, what do you guys think about this?
    Is this something that has happened to you guys as well? The people being the poorest at their instrument taking leadership that eventually ruines the whole creative mood in the band?
  2. It sounds like priorities were starting to change between you and your bandmates. That happens. Goals can shift and it's not really anyones fault, but in this case it sounds like you are better off finding people with more similar focus on the songwriting aspect. Might not be easy to find people who are going to let you be the sole songwriter though, everyone likes to feel involved in the process (especially writing their own parts).

    To a certain degree, your bandmates aren't wrong. Writing good songs is only a very small part of what is required to be successful.
  3. Some observations,

    ''Bass player takes over band and wrecks it'' is an uncommon theme here.

    There can't be too much wrong with your material or there would not have been all the gigging.

    Most original bands fail after spending 6 months to six years in the basement writing a bunch of dross and getting a handful of support gigs.

    Pat yourself on the back and carry on!
    s0c9 and Bass2018 like this.
  4. bearfoot

    bearfoot Inactive

    Jan 27, 2005
    Chittenango, NY
    I think this was a natural progression, and even a necessary one. It can't be Springtime forever. The creative process and manifesting it has a seasonal movement to it.

    But, it sounds like your bandmates got overly focused on marketing and minutia, to the point they couldn't release another album, and it taking 2 years to work in a new song means the band became dysfunctional.

    I think that, in future projects, it might be good to plan out the whole cycle, and its return. Just as a guidepost. You write, you rehearse, you record. Then you market, and play out, and end up polishing your act with various minutia. But it has to come full circle back to writing/recording.

    It does sound like you crossed the line with the bassplayer you were annoyed with. Because people don't react to constructive criticism with saying "I won't be spoken to in that way". It is 99% likely that you went too far, and I probably would have also. But it doesn't help your situation when you're trying to be constructive and put people on the defense.
    Loring and Bass2018 like this.
  5. Sometimes leaders are not made, they are chosen by attrition. Sometimes it falls upon the one with the most experience, or the most ability. Sometimes it goes to the one with the most drive or desire to lead. And sometimes it just goes to the one with the most free time, or the crowd favorite.

    Lead, follow, or get out of the way, is sometimes all you can do.
    Bass2018 likes this.
  6. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    That’s TB autocorrect for when you write “poopy”...

    I mean “poopy”.

    Ok, “sh1tty”.
    StyleOverShow and Loring like this.
  7. juancaminos

    juancaminos Supporting Member

    Yeah been there experienced that kind of. My first band was started by me at the age of 15 (48 years ago). My mother paid for the business cards, put adds in the paper, drove us around, helped with pa borrowing and renting. She was basically our manager. I named the band, chose the songs, methodically learned them and copped the words with my trusty little tape machine. Then taught them to everyone else. yada yada. As we got better one member decided that he was the best singer and guitarist in the group so he started taking over. Soon we broke up due to arguing. I really didn't see it at first, maybe because the guy who took over was my best friend. Years later we started getting back together once every year or two and the same guy would take charge. None of our individual songs were good enough for him and he ruled our little get togethers with an iron fist. Again it took me years to see because of my laid back nature but the others argued with him every time we got back together. Now no one wants to do it anymore. He doesn't understand why.

    Fast way forward to the current hiatus band that gets to play every few months. Again this was my band. I named it and chose all of the original players and songs. I bought all of the pa equipment, tee shirts, lapel pins, etc. I got the gigs, put together the promo packs, built the get the picture. Over the years our singer (who was never in a band until he met me) started taking over. I really didn't care because it took the load off. Fast forward 10 years and everyone we know thinks its his band, including him. He and I are the only original members. It's almost like Mick and Keith. Fast forward another 5 years and we are only playing when the singer is free (we haven't played in three months). He forbids us to play without him because he is the front man and none of us can fill his shoes. Say What? He remains my best friend's time to start something else.
    Trevpunt, Bass2018 and Oddly like this.
  8. Bass2018

    Bass2018 Guest

    Jun 1, 2018
    Thx guys! It's helpful to be hearing your point of view.
    Haha ooh now i see the poopy xD Yeah some other word was supposed to be there xD
    Wow juancaminos, that's heavy to seeing that stuff repeating itself.

    I do understand that writing music is only a small part of the whole process.
    It's just that they indeed got overly focussed on all other aspects than songwriting. It was like we were doing all this stuff (PR, PR, PR, likes, likes, likes, gear things) and what was our corebusiness again..... something with music? I'm not sure...
    It almost felt like a bad job, no freedom, no creativity.
    Don't get me wrong, I'm very disciplined. I made sure I practiced at home so I could play my parts well, I had my gear in order, I arrived on time, everything. But it should be fun for me.
    One guy (actually 2 guys) being sort of dictators, telling how stuff should be done. Especially the bassplayer not being able to write music but criticizing stuff like that intro is too long, that rythm part is hard for me.
    And when I criticize him back, not practicing, using an iPad on stage because he can't remember his lines, he feels offended. Like bearfoot said, maybe I crossed the line.
    Of course I wanted to grow big as well, but thinking you can reach do that while not working on your musical skills is just blind arrogance to me.
    And it's just, the least musical guy in the band telling us what to do, i'm sorry but that doesn't add up for me.
  9. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    yes, similar, but: i've/we've usually handled those issues in a matter of minutes/days, or otherwise a few honest, sometimes intense, discussions. i'm not sure i'd be able to go along with that kind of dysfunction for "years." i realize that you were part of an 'evolving' dynamic --- but you were aware of the issues all along. sounds like 'missed opportunities' on your part.

    has nothing to do with musical chops. (you don't have to be the best marksman to be the best general.)

    i think you got snookered by your own 'passivity'. your awareness/concerns seem right on point, but your avoidance and hesitation --- earlier in the game --- have contributed to the outcome.

    good luck speaking up sooner: with more veracity, velocity, and vigor! :thumbsup:
    Loring and Bass2018 like this.
  10. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Some people just want to create good music, others (sometimes the non-writers) have different priorities. It happens. As soon as you felt the shift, it was worth a band sit-down.
    Bass2018 likes this.
  11. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    I can't reply. My band may be reading this.:D
  12. Bass2018

    Bass2018 Guest

    Jun 1, 2018
    Quite contrary, we've had multiple meetings about these issues. I took the iniative multiple times for these meetings and expressed my discontent about the way the things were going.
    JRA likes this.
  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i'm sorry that i did not get that from the OP: my mistake! please accept my apology! :banghead: :)

    you did the right thing by communicating your concerns, over time. :thumbsup:

    you're better off finding a group of musicians who are more like-minded, obviously. good luck getting over the butt-hurt caused by ego-driven, mutinous, ne'er do wells. :thumbsup:

    my neck hurts from the 180 i just did!
    Loring and Bass2018 like this.
  14. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    Sounds to me like the OP gradually relinquished control over his band and the evil bassist came in and took over. That’s what happens in a power vacuum, someone always takes over. This one is kind of on you, OP.
    Loring and Bass2018 like this.
  15. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    My grandfather said the way the world works is that there are engineers, and farmers, and machinists, and teachers, and doctors, and cooks, and mechanics, and a whole pile of other people with skills and knowledge who actually produce real things and do a lot good.

    And somewhere in the middle of that crowd is somebody with no skills or real talents who decides that since he can’t actually do anything real, his only option for a place in soviety is to put himself in charge of the people who can do things. So he becomes a politician, an attorney, or enters the clergy. And since the people who can do things are busy getting things done, he usually gets away with it.

    It’s like so many high school garage bands. Tony plays drums. Mark plays guitar. Ellen plays bass and has a really good voice. Jeff rocks a mean keyboard. And Mikey who hangs out with these guys, and who can’t play anything and knows squat about music decides on his own that he’ll be “the manager.” After which he inserts himself in the process everywhere he can.


    You were smart to quit that band.
    waveman, TWolf, JRA and 1 other person like this.
  16. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Priorities change; bands change. Time to change bands, as you have already decided.

    Now you just need to move on mentally; let it go.
    JRA and Bass2018 like this.
  17. Like said before, Sometimes bands change and if the change is not good for you then you need to move on.
    Also, Sometimes bands have no leader and someone with leadership skills takes over. They might not be the right person for the job, but if nobody else steps up, that is what happens. Sorta natural selection.
    Bass2018 likes this.
  18. Old Blastard

    Old Blastard

    Aug 18, 2013
    My band is safe. Our bass player couldn't take over a pre-school nursery and has issues organizing a trip to the bathroom.

    I'm the bass player.
  19. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    It's what an old boss of mine used to call "a problem I'd like to have". The problem in this case being band members hustling to keep the band working steadily.
    Depth_Charge and Bass2018 like this.