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Audition tonight

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BillyRay, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Man, it's not the first time I'm going through this (at all!), but it's the first time I'm auditioning with:
    a) No material (they were admant about not providing any)
    b) Knowing the drummer is kickass
    c) A vague description of what we're playing (all originals)

    They basically said "we'll chat a bit, watch you play alone, with us and then we'll make a decision after seeing the other bassists". I'm used to a "you got the job" or "get your bum %?$ outa here" on the spot situation, waiting is gonna be a $/%&. This is for a trio with a female singer/guitarist and skins, so nothing I'm not used to, but I forgot Paul Piche's catalog a long time ago (basically our French Cat Stevens) and there's supposed to be a lot of world beats, jazzy and blue influence in there.

    This will be Good Ear Training(TM) for sure.
  2. gregoire1


    Oct 19, 2008
    I'm kinda nervous for you
  3. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Since they're not providing you any material in advance, I assume they want to see what you musical ideas you bring to the table and how you interact with what they're doing. Playing with a kickass drummer always seems to make it easier for me to be creative, so hopefully it's the same way for you.

    Sounds like it has the potential to be a really cool gig--good luck!

  4. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    I know I feel iffy if a band never tells me at least a few songs to know beforehand to jam on.

    It`s awkward enough jamming with guys and going back and forth with, "So do you know this?" "No." "Uh, do you know..."
  5. +1 Just be yourself, let it flow, do your best, and let us know...
  6. JSK5String


    May 19, 2008
    Littleton, CO
    Relax and have a great time! Zone in his right foot and all should be good with the world. Good luck...
  7. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Aaahh. Isn't this a great job. Gigging. Good luck on the audition.
    You never know??
  8. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    Well , no matter what I guess we can't walk into an audition totally bad ass and arogent.

    Don't let them intimidate you!

  9. jruberto


    Dec 23, 2008
    Denver, CO
    Staff Producer / Audio Engineer: Blue Tower Studio, Denver, CO & Mighty Fine Productions, Denver, CO
    Breathe deep, listen deep and lock in with the bad-azz drummer. Playing unfamiliar music with unfamiliar people is one of the most rewarding & exhilarating experiences when it works well. And if it doesn't work well, then the gig isn't for you anyway.

    Break a leg!
  10. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    The drummer was as badass on his website as he was in person. The singer was also great and her guitar playing is also good. But it didn't go well, imho, at all.

    A few reasons:
    a) The girl brought an acoustic guitar. She doesn't have a PA or anything. No mic either it seems. So she was drown complelty the second the drum started to play.

    b) She is self-taught. As in, to the core. Playing jazz or original music with such a musician is alike to having a conversation about urbanism with Tarzan. She doesn't know any chord names or the notes on her fretboard. She also fingers her chords in strange voicings. I was completly taken aback by this and it was probably the reason no material was provided: she couldn't provide it.

    I have a decent ear, but I need to listen to the stuff a few times and find the key, then the chords in order to write a bassline. So I stuck to roots, fifths and maybe a third in some place since the strucutre of the songs weren't standard. Not much ii-V-I or I IV V going on there. Having good voice leading in this context is TOUGH if not impossible: I never knew what was coming. There was also a lot of "hum, so what do you know? what did your last band play ?". Well, my last band played bar rock so I doubt it would go over well with unamplified accoustic guitar. She also had never heard of "Knocking on Heaven's Door": so lots of awkward silence.

    She wanted to hear me play some jazz. Well, this is tough without chords. I half-assed a jazz blues in F and then said pheck it, it's been years since I've been asked to play walking jazz bass coherently and asked for a fake book. One was provided. I played Autumn Leaves with the drummer. It sounded good and cooked, except that it was a good thing no melody was provided. He played it fast and it had been years since I had heard, let alone see the chord changes for Autumn Leaves, wich means not much variety and I took some liberty with chord qualities. Some minors became suddenly majors ;).

    I also played a pathetc solo for for a few bars. So yeah, I wasn't impressive. She also asked me, on a slow song, why my hand didn't fly all over the fretboard, so it seems I might have underplayed.

    I countered by playing 20 bars of YYZ ;)

    Weirdest audition of my life.
  11. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Wow ...

    Would you even want that gig?

    Gotta remember the audition goes both ways ... :D
  12. ugly_bassplayer

    ugly_bassplayer Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Moi aussi je suis de quebec....c'est quoi ste band la mon potte, pour que je l'évite au plus caliss.
  13. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    WOW!, I have a few more auditions coming up and I am going to ask a lot more questions prior to showing up.

    As you know I had an audition Tueday Night that went bad too.

    For one, no suprises, who is going to be their what do you expect me to play? That kind of stuff I must know. And by the way, no free form jamming, all thats cool but not at my audition not at my expense.
  14. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I'm feelin what that guy said.

    (aka +1)
  15. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Don't get me wrong, this girl rocks (incredible voice). As in, her stuff is easily radio/bar friendly and not sucky like most original signer songwriter stuff. It's just that I didn't know what to expect at any given moment and she obviously had some trouble communicating ideas. What really gets me is that I have the nagging feeling we never played "music" the three of us togheter. I played music with he drummer. She played music when she jammed with the drummer. But the three of us at the same time ? Underwhelming.

    And I won't name any names, c'mon. They're also not a band yet, I get the feeling they have played 3-4 times togheter at most.
  16. Reading your update brought to mind the "Smelly Cat" song on Friends years ago. Phoebe was hot, played acoustic, wrote her own songs etc... LMAO. Well any way look at it this way, would you want to invite your friends to come see you play with this band? I would NOT. Just my opinion.
  17. jruberto


    Dec 23, 2008
    Denver, CO
    Staff Producer / Audio Engineer: Blue Tower Studio, Denver, CO & Mighty Fine Productions, Denver, CO
    If I were to audition bassists for my group, I would totally want them to figure out changes on the spot and see what they can come up with. I know some bassists that sound great playing the stuff that they practice all the time but get freaked out and can't do it when it's time to play something they don't have worked out. (I'm 100% not accusing the OP of that, but that's the bassist I'd want to weed out via an audition process)

    I just recorded 10 songs with an artist I met on day 1 and a band that had never played together. The situation brought out some of the freshest, most creative playing I've done in a while. If I rehearsed that material all week, I would not have played half the cool stuff I wound up coming up with in the moment. No doubt it was harrowing at times, but some of that excitement and tension got captured in the performances and it's pretty powerful.

    I think in that audition situation I would have said something like, "hey, since we can't hear the guitar over the drums and I don't know the songs can you maybe play brushes or is there a hand drum around?" or "hey, since we can't hear the guitar over the drums and I don't know the songs can we do one or two without drums to see if we can connect on some of your songs?" or "let's pick a song or two & i'll whip up a quick chart so i know what i'm doing"... And if you didn't feel empowered to take that step and try to make something good happen then, again, that probably isn't your gig.

    Also, I rehearse with my band at my drummers house, I'm the only one using an amp and our (self taught, acoustic guitar playin', weird chord-voicin', chick) singer is the loudest thing in the room. Awesome drummer guy isn't so awesome if he plays at an inappropriate volume for the situation.

    Sorry the audition was a bummer.
  18. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Seriously ? You like your auditions to be cut with awkward silences, musicians frantically trying to figure chord progressions on the spot (when there's none) ? You like your audition to consist of "could you play that again please" ? Each song was at least 5 minutes each.

    I like my auditions to be well-oiled affairs where everyone knows their part comes d-day or are at least provided material/charts. 20 minutes should be enough to play the "three song" (TM) and know if something is off.

    I'm not ragging on you, but I don't like to waste my time in that way and I bet I'm not in the minority here.

    I don't doubt that, but were you provided charts or even a key for each song ? Or time to actually hear them more than once ? I was not, and just for fun, I counted about two dozen different chords/arppegiated lines in a single song. I'm not Ray Charles or James Jamerson. If I were, I wouldn't be auditioning for a local act.

    His volume was fine and he used brushes: this was probably the most professional drummer I've ever worked with. The accoustics of the room and the fact that he had to play facing the wall made the situation all the worse.

    Also, we had about one hour (there was another guy @ 7), load in and load out included, not much time to write anything down. Well we would, if someone had spelled the chords and structure out for me.

    It's your songs, it's not as if I have heard them before.
  19. tpmiller08


    Mar 15, 2009
    Boston, MA
  20. jruberto


    Dec 23, 2008
    Denver, CO
    Staff Producer / Audio Engineer: Blue Tower Studio, Denver, CO & Mighty Fine Productions, Denver, CO
    Hard to say, depends on the material. If her songs are 5 minutes of never repeating the same thing twice, then that's kind of crappy. If the songs had more traditional pop/rock song forms, AABABCA or something then a reasonable expectation would be that a bassist could pick out the changes to the verse by the end of the song, and have the tune mostly figured out the second or third time through.

    On the session I mentioned, we got "charts" which were lyric sheets with chords scribbled in above the words, with no rhythmic notation. (Status quo in the singer/songwriter world) No, I didn't hear most of the songs in advance, she had piano/voice demos that were all fairly free-time but the current state of the songs was quite different than the demos, and we were doing full band arrangements. The songwriter was a pretty great pianist & there was all kinds of cool harmony and weird syncopation in all the songs. We would do a couple rehearsal/arranging passes, I'd scribble down as much of the "important" rhythmic & dynamic aspects as I could & we'd go for it. It was FUN and CREATIVE. I mean, when the red light was on and I wasn't sure if we were going to the bridge or back to the verse I definitely had to "use the force" and make my best guess... Some of the "mistakes" we made are the best moments on her album. We inserted a whole quiet little instrumental breakdown in one song because the drummer thought he was supposed to be out. It was frickin' magic.

    It sounds like the audition wasn't well thought out. (Drummer facing the wall?) Not sticking up for that at all. Maybe I've just gotten used to being the guy who is the one who has to spell out the chords and the song structure to everybody else, whether I know the song or not. As a busy working bassist, I love it when there are good charts and mp3s in advance, but I haven't come to expect it since most people aren't that organized.

    Maybe she would have been impressed if you took 10 minutes, stepped her through the song while you made a chart & then you left it for the next guy. Like tpmiller just said, confidence (and i'll say assertiveness) is the key. If you all knew it was going badly 10 or 15 minutes in, then be the guy to say "okay this isn't really working, how can we fix this?" Or even better, be the guy who knows how to fix it...

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