Band Drama, great googly-moogly

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by sb69coupe, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    Man, our lead guitarist has unleashed the massive tidal wave of band drama with his latest "motivational" email. Please bear with me as I vent.

    We're all a bunch of 35-40 year old dudes who got together to have fun and play music. We all have pretty stressful day jobs, young kids, and other commitments. The band is a nice escape from the drudgery. The lead guitarist and I have many years of prior experience with formal lessons, played in bands in HS and college, etc. The drummer had played quite a bit in college too, and the rhythm guitarist really hasn't played prior to this, other than just playing around the house, etc. The rhythm player stepped in to fill in once our original rhythm player bailed out. He's been a quick study, but has no formal musical background. The drummer has zero time to practice other than at band rehearsal, due to his job and family situation.

    Fast forward to today. The lead guitar player and I have been discussing our lack of progress, getting "tight", and getting ready for an upcoming gig at end of October. We haven't been rehearsing much in the last month, due to other conflicts, but things usually come together once we get into gear. So, in his typical tactless way, he managed to offend the rhythm player by telling him that he was unprepared and needed to practice more, and telling the drummer that he needed to "step it up".

    Needless to say, they are both pissed and who knows where it'll go from here. We're supposed to practice Friday night and "clear the air" about everything. There is a distinct disconnect between those in the band that want to get things tight and ready to gig, and the others who either are not up to speed or cannot devote the time to get there. In the end, we're all doing this mainly for fun, so the lead guitarist and I will probably scale back our aspirations for now and see where things go. I mean, I can't commit the time to gig every weekend, even if we got to that point, but I'd rather not suck at what we are doing.

    Ah well, thanks for reading........
  2. well, first off, i'd tell your lead guitarist to shut his "motivational" email up. i know from experience that it pisses people off when your trying to rush development, which can take a damn long time. plus, it pisses me off if someone such as my father finds the need to "motivate" me by sending emails that he views as brighteners to my day when they're really just more reason for me not to care (this is how i relate to how my band would feel about my criticisms)

    second, you mentioned the guys are in for fun. YOU (i hate to point fingers) need to come up with a style of "teaching" in itself that can be stress free. just take your mind off of things and have fun. i mean, this is the reason you take a night off to be away from your family, you gotta enjoy it somehow.
    also, remember, some of the most enjoyable songs are the most simple
  3. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    Latest update is that the lead guitarist has called the other guys and smoothed things over a bit. We're still having a "clear the air" session on Friday night to make sure we're all in sync. Thanks for tha advice on having fun, cause that really is what it's all about.
  4. FriscoBassAce


    Dec 29, 2004
    Frisco, Texas
    Independent Manufacturers Representative
    At least you guys are talking. My former rhythm guitarist freaked out not 30 minutes after talking to me on the phone while playing his guitar in the background. He seemed fine to me and then BAM! he quits and the whole thing turns into a mess. I think he's bipolar. Seriously.
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    All musicians have some sort of screw loose. Many don't want to admit it, many disguise it better, but all musicians are screwed up somehow. While you complain about someone else in your band, just remember that you're probably no day at the beach either.

    :D :bag:
  6. BadB


    May 25, 2005
    Glendale, AZ
    Talk about drama. I had a similar experience last year. I had a cover/duo with an incredible singer that crossed over from 30 years of bass to lead guitar. We sequenced the rest of the music. We truly kicked some serious a**. Our only issue was that he failed to practice at home and as a result, he sang from a book and muffed his solo parts. No biggie. Practice, right? He ended up bringing a drummer on board that had very little experience, but could sell ice to an eskimo. His inability to get a grasp on being a solid drummer led to a lot of frustration, and the band turned into a job. (I already had a job that I didn't like!) Any way, the singer would constantly ride the drummer for his failures, but rather that replace him, he decided that he'd book some gigs and let him quit in embarrassment! Nice. While we were frantically getting ready for our series of bookings and the singer was riding on the drummer, I told the singer to shut his mouth and worry about his own failures, then maybe the drummer would improve while not having to look over his shoulder. That went over real well :rolleyes: . So, we get to the first gig, and the drummer is pissed to the point of violence with the singer. He drags me into it, and we start the show. The singer took the side stage to try and hide his little book from the crowd, and somehow fell to pieces on a few arrangements and solo parts. The drummer was pretty shaky, but only in the places that we expected. It went surprisingly well, mostly due to the drummer being a natural entertainer. We had the place hopping and they even offered us a regular spot on their rotation. Cool, right? The singer then quits, citing public embarrassment, with several gigs lined up. So we disbanded under less than desirable circumstances. About six months later, I get a call from the drummer, infuriated. Apparently, the singer was really butt-hurt about my comments prior to the gig, and they attempted to continue on without me. The singer had used me to get gear and used the drummer to get contacts for him and fulfill his inability to front a band. The drummer keeps an eye on him these days, and the singer can't seem to keep a steady lineup long enough to maintain regular bookings. The whole thing is sad, really. The singer truly was a good friend up until that point, and has the talent to have a rewarding and successful career. But, he's nearing 50 years old, and he's running out of time to grow up. Sorry to eat up the bandwidth, but I feel so much better now. :eyebrow:
  7. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    Thanks guys. The two guitarists and I went out for a couple beers last night. The rhythm guitarist got some things off his chest that he had been holding back, and we all cleared the air some. I saw the drummer today and he's also calmed down a bit, so we seem to be headed in the right direction. We're still going to have a sit-down on Friday, but I think this may have actually helped us get things back on track.

    Then again, it could all turn to cheese just as easily. More to come.
  8. just try and be gentle in conversation for your expectations. lol, i've tried the entire "GO GET EM!!" technique and i got comments like "jim, your being egocentric" or "man, you expect too much from a band like this"
  9. Tingly


    Jul 16, 2005
    Yonkers, NY
    Yes, scorpionldr, turning the rhetoric down a notch ar two is crucial for everyone to get along. In my experience, you gotta rehearse what you are going to say, then make it less harsh, rehearse it again, sweeten it again, and then you may be ready to talk.

    BadB -- sorry to read your story, man, but I have to tell you, it was unintentionally amusing. For a minute I thought you were talking about the guys I play with! It's somehow reassuring when you read a post like that and realize that your band isn't the only bunch of total *******s out there.
  10. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    I could tell a few stories about drama in bands, but I won't bore you guys with details. Let's just say I know what you are talking about, and I hope it all works out for you guys.
  11. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    Late breaking news from rehearsal on Friday night. We had an extremely productive round-table discussion. Each band member got to lay out their feelings without anyone else interrupting or interjecting their comments until the speaker was finished. The drummer made it clear that he doesn't have any more free time to devote to practice, above the minimal amount that he does now. The rhythm guitarist made some very valid points about us having too high of expectations for him, given the short amount of time that he's been playing. We all came to an agreement about how we are going to focus things moving forward. We agreed to a level of practice and giggng that everyone is comfortable with.

    The rhythm player still is a bit torqued out, but he'll get over it and we'll keep on moving forward. Having fun with it is the most important thing to all of us, so I think we're right on track. We've got our first local paying gig on October 29th, so we have something to work toward without too much pressure.
  12. bluemonk


    Dec 17, 2002
    Let us know how the gig goes, and good luck!!
  13. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    As a follow on to this thread, we had our first post-drama rehearsal on Saturday and it totally rocked. The rhythm player came in very prepared on the new songs, and even brought in an idea for an original which worked up really easily.

    The drummer, oh my. Some of the "motivational" email must have really taken hold. His dynamics were awesome, and his fills were much tighter than in the past. Despite all the friction that was caused by the email, we seem to be on track and focused on where we're going.
  14. I kept looking to see where you guys were from to see if these were bands I had played in....

    Make sure you are the weakest link in the band and you don't have to worry about the progress crap.....

    This creates a new set of problems though, because those that are usually great players don't take proper time to learn the tunes, or show up on time to gigs. So their is still always tension.
  15. Coutts_is_god

    Coutts_is_god Guest

    Dec 29, 2003
    Windsor, Ont, Canada
    You know what. I am that stupid person who always makes people mad in my band. I always say stuff like these lead singers are saying. I wonder if I should cool off and just see what happens.
  16. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    i don't think it's stupid to expect the other members of a band with gigs lined up , to show up on time ,
    be prepared and at least know their own parts to the songs ...
    i think it's stupid to continue to let them stay in the band if they don't .

    imo , if your bandmate continues to show up unprepared , he/she isn't doing their part
    and dosen't deserve to be in the band .
    i just don't have time for slackers ...:D

    then again , if it's " just for fun " , and not about gigging ,
    i wouldn't be so critical about it .

    again , jmo ,
  17. Coutts_is_god

    Coutts_is_god Guest

    Dec 29, 2003
    Windsor, Ont, Canada
    I don't think anyone is a slacker. I just tend to push more buttons then one should:D
  18. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    It's always difficult to manage one's emotions in a context in which one possesses great passion.

    I'm a pretty easy-going guy overall, but the one thing about which I am most serious is music. I'm no more an "expert" on the business, etc., than anyone else here, but like everyone else here, I know what needs to be done in order to satisfy the fans (I think it's a part of our makeup as bassists). I like to joke around as much as the next guy, but when practice starts (or we play a gig, or I'm promoting, planning or doing anything having anything to do with the band), I'm a pretty serious (but not somber) guy.

    Fortunately, I'm in a band in which everyone is really cool, really talented and really professional, but I've been in situations in the past in which band members would sometimes rather "toke'n'joke" than focus on the issue at hand.

    The thing is, no matter how irritated I might get, I have to step back and realize that everyone is different and everyone has her/his own set of priorities. Simply put, I'm not going to change someone by trying to "force" them to conform to what I believe are ideal standards.

    In the end, it's always give and take and good rule of thumb is to focus on what you can honestly expect to change (if change is needed) and to insure that you are giving at least as much as you are taking.
  19. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Well, in my band, I have the bad habit of assuming that everyone is playing to the exact same level of musicality and commitment that I am.

    My bassist and I have been playing together for years, and the majority of our original tunes have been with us for just as long. Thus, she and I know most of the set every which way (or at least we think that we do). So I figure a rehearsal before the gig should be a "review"... and so I'll schedule maybe one more before that, "just in case".

    Needless to say, our drummer and rhythm guitar player aren't crazy about trying to relearn 20+ tunes that they never had time to properly learn in the first place. It just takes SO LONG to rehearse a 2-3 hour set and keep it fresh. Frankly, I have no clue how cover bands can have a set list of 4+ hours' worth of music and keep it all ready to go.

    We do have a 30 minute set that's extremely tight, thanks to a big gig opening for a professional touring group back in July. We're slowly expanding on that set, but the going is slow (I'm trying to work at a pace that everyone can deal with). You can only get to so many tunes in a 2 hour rehearsal. The goal is to fill out a 2 hour show, with or without audience chatter, and with or without a little bit of talking somewhere in the middle. We'll probably have about 20 minutes of non-original tunes, but everything else should be original. The full plan is to also have an acoustic set somewhere in the middle.

    It is getting to the point, though, where it's near impossible to review all the music before a performance. Right now we only get out to gig about once a month, and it's typically the shorter type of gig where we can break out our 5-7 song 30 minute set. Well, we'll figure it out. IMHO, the best rehearsal is a low pressure performance. That's why we love playing for junior high groups. They love us no matter how much we botch the tunes, and we have some fun talking with/to the audience.

    I guess my only advice would be to schedule WAY more time than you might think necessary to learn the songs in a set. One of the better bands I was in never really set out to learn songs. We just jammed on a few songs that we knew (maybe 10 or 15) for a couple of hours three or four nights a week. We weren't trying to be serious, we were just rocking out for the heck of it. We did this for about six months. Amazing how tight a band can get in a situation like that. We had a really talented beginning bassist who insisted that we play EVERY SINGLE SONG EVERY SINGLE TIME we jammed. I mean, I would come home from gigging out with my gigging band at the time, and they'd already have my rig set up and ready to rock, regardless of how tired I was...

    Anyway, just take your time. Give your drummer time to "click" with your bass style. Sometimes that instantaneous "click" can be as effective as months of practice. Spoonfeed your rhythm player as much as he needs, but let him develop his skills. I'm assuming that you and the lead player have excellent ears, and don't necessarily have to memorize chord progressions. I'll bet your rhythm player still does, though. Help him to develop his ear. Don't force him, though. Take all the time you need for the band to "gel". This is something that even the best musicians really can't speed through. True, it will take veteran musicians less time to get into that groove with each other, but as long as it takes is STILL as long as it takes.

    Take your time and enjoy playing with each other. Do everything you can to make your band feel comfortable. The crowd would rather hear a great, tight 90 minute set twice than 3 hours of loose, uncoordinated music.

    Well, I meant to just give my 2 cents, and you ended up with $3.74. Sorry bout that.
  20. "Frankly, I have no clue how cover bands can have a set list of 4+ hours' worth of music and keep it all ready to go."


    I had to learn 40 songs for a gig last Saturday and 50 for a gig next Saturday. This does not count 2 other cover bands that I am in that have a playlist of about 100 tunes.

    I play Country, Rockabilly, Blues, and Classic Rock, so the songs often repeat from band to band. It is nice to play with some of the same musicians (especially drummer), but rehearsal should mostly be for kickoffs/beginnings, modulations, tricky parts, and endings. The rest should fall in place. If original artists do not have their songs on CD I will usually pass up the gig because this translates into too many rehearsals.

    Get your tunes recorded and if you have "slow" players chart out the songs for them.