Band drama... opinions?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by generation zero, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. generation zero

    generation zero

    Jul 24, 2012
    So here's my story:

    When I joined my current band (original band, previously signed to a now defunct indie national label, currently working on a second national release without a label) I was a guitarist, and converted to bass to take the spot. Our drummer is also a seasoned bassist, and had been tracking bass on recordings on the last two attempts to record new material before I joined the band. He replaced the original drummer after the last 3 song demo was released, so he never actually played bass on anything that has been released to the public... the band had not been happy with the recording quality from two previous studio sessions, and was planning on going into a new studio shortly after I joined. (I joined in April of 2012.)

    When I was offered the position, it was said that our drummer would be recording the bass in the studio, since I was new to the instrument and he could track cleaner and faster. I accepted that, as I was at the time unsure that I could pull off studio quality tracks at that point, seeing how I was still unfamiliar with the 5 songs they were planning to record and the session was only a month away.

    Fast forward a year later, the original plan to record 5 songs had changed as the session kept getting pushed back, moved to another studio, and then we got an investor who was willing to fund an entire album. Over the course of the year, I had upgraded my equipment, become far more comfortable with my instrument and role in the band, and I had written the bass parts for over half of the material to be recorded. Going in to the recording sessions, I was led to believe by our manager/producer that I would be tracking my own parts... but that changed come time for bass to start. It was said that the drummer would do it, to save time and money. We had blocked the studio out for the month, but we were still paying the engineer $30 per hour. After countless discussions and arguments, I was finally given my "chance to prove myself"... I was given one 3 hour session in which to track one song, and if the tracks were good they would be used. If they weren't usable, I would be responsible for the $90 worth of the engineer's time out of pocket. I agreed, and the first hour and 45 minutes of my 3 hours was spent on dialing in a good recording tone between direct, a sans-amp distorted fuzz tone, and a guitar amp through a cabinet for a gritty tone... the three of which would be blended together as needed for each song. I then proceeded for an hour and fifteen minutes to get roughly half of the song done, but was not able to complete the whole song. So basically, I paid $90 out of pocket to set up the bass tone for the rest of the tracking.

    Now, our lead guitarist tracks all of the guitar parts in the studio, again to save time as he is a much faster tracker than our rhythm guitarist. However, he tries to track exactly what the other guitarist plays, and checks with him if he is unsure of exactly how a part goes. Our drummer however, completely disregarded any parts I had written and proceeded to take his time rewriting all of my parts on the spot in the studio, often joking about how he didn't know the songs, had no idea what the arrangements were, what the guitars were doing, and so on... End result is that now I am tasked with the decision to either relearn all of the parts he has written, which are often far to busy and/or technical in my opinion for the songs, or to disregard what is on the album and play them as I wrote them, then having to explain why I don't play what's on the record. It is also my understanding that he will be credited with tracking in the album liner notes, which I will also have to explain somehow.

    It is a horrible position to be in, as I am finally in a band I have respected and envied since they first got together in 2005... at 34 years old with two kids, this is my "one last shot" at being in a national, touring, respected band playing original music for a living. But this recording has left a horrible taste in my mouth, so much that I am losing sleep at night over it. Should I take my lumps and roll with it so that I can "live the dream" moving forward, or should I tell them to shove it and try to find another bassist willing to take this crap treatment? For what it's worth, the singer is 100% on my side, and has said that he will fight as hard as possible to ensure that I am the only one who touches a bass in the studio on any future recordings... he is beyond pissed off at the drummer for the way in which he has disrespected me and my musicial ability. so it's not like they are all being dicks, and I do believe that the guitarists are only looking out for what they see as the best interest of the record. That I can understand, even if I don't agree... I personally think that it is the "flaws" in the rhythm guitarist's playing and in my own that help define the live sound of the band, and having two guys track all the music in the studio strips the life out of the songs and makes them sound sterile... but what do I know, I was only a huge fan for 7 years before stepping in as a member.

    How would you guys handle this situation, under my circumstances?
  2. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    Without being able to A/B the results I can't compare performances but after being in the band for this amount of time I think this is total BS. Also I would think if they gave you three hours to track that would not include set up time. $90 bucks is no big deal if it were me I'd put up a chunk of dough and tell them to go away and let me lay some tracks.
  3. vbchaos


    Sep 5, 2011
    Groningen, The Netherlands
    Uncompensated endorsing user: fEARful
    My instrument, my written lines, my recordings - period! I would NEVER except to have anyone else playing my tracks.

    In my opinion, a band works together as a team with every member having a specialty. that is what makes you unique. I would never let any manager, guy with the money, engineer or band member take away my parts. Even in your situation where the drummer would do the tracks because you were just about to enter the band - the situation has changed over the last year.
    If any member is not ready for recording, the band is not ready for recording! and in that case, there will be no record. Later maybe when all members are good going into a session, but not before that. Wthat is my (simple) opinion

    I'd be too proud to do so. If you let them walk over you, they will never show you the respect you deserve, and to be honest, you do not get much of respect currently. I would tell them "it's me with my playing on my tracks, or you watch the drummer growing two extra arms to play bass on stage too, because I am out"
  4. They gave you 3 hours and you only got half a song done. If the album is 10 songs, that's $1800 just to record the bass parts. You had a chance to demonstrate your studio abilities, and the band was forced to make a realistic assessment of how the project could move forward given your inexperience. Use this as a learning experience and focus your practice time to address your musical weaknesses. For example you could spend a portion of your practice time each day doing home recording to backing tracks and then scrutinizing the results. Playing in the studio is not an easy skill, but you'll get there with hard work. There is absolutely no shame in being "replaced" by another player for a studio recording; many of the absolute biggest names in music have been ghosted by studio musicians at one point or other. The people who get upset about that kind of thing are probably the same ones who criticize RHCP for lip-synching at the superbowl. Music is all about entertainment and we must put our egos aside for the sake of the audience. ;)

    Also it sounds like this recording session would benefit from a producer who is not a member of the band?
  5. vbchaos


    Sep 5, 2011
    Groningen, The Netherlands
    Uncompensated endorsing user: fEARful
    I think of this the absolute different way

    In the last years I enjoyed a lot of concerts, and afterwards I read reviews and most of the time the reviewer was disappointed. "Singer was not in the same mood as the previous day", "Guitarist did this", "show was below expectations".
    I so hate this! I come to a concert to see people perform, in the mood they are in. We come to see an artist - the artist does not come to do what the audience expect. You wouldn't ask a painter to make the same painting 100 times, do you?
    I don't want the bassist of my favorite band being replaced by a ghost-musician because the ghost-musician is better. I want to hear the guy who is actually member of my favorite band. His style is part of the band, however good or bad it is.

    I would never let the audience tell me what I have to play or how I have to play. I hardly consider myself an artist, but I try to do MY best, not anybody else's best.
    If I do not perform like the audience wants, does my band have to replace me? although THEY like what I do?
  6. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    I pride myself as being a team player till the end.

    The actions of your drummer are fairly disrespectful and downright rude. I'm sure he'd have issue if someone else wanted to play his drum parts.

    Just keep in mind that if you let them roll you, now, and you are signed/tour, expect this treatment to continue.

    Whether you want to put up with that is up to you.
  7. mancefine


    Jul 7, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Orange Amplifiers and Spector Basses
    I see this both ways. I would NEVER let someone else record my parts, but I've been playing bass for 10 years and my playing style and tone is integral to my bands sound. However, based on what you described it sounds like you didn't have much studio experience (at least recording bass) and it sounds like your band is established and actually has alot riding on the finished project. It is very lame the way your drummer handled it, but at the same time touring bands are hard to come by, and if you think you have a shot with this one, DON'T quit, at least yet. I would have a conversation with the entire band, and let them know while you understand WHY the drummer recorded your parts, that you want to play on all future recordings. I've always thought that I would rather be in a band where I had my creative say and equal input that didn't suceed than be someones bass bitch in a touring band. If they can't agree with that, then contemplate leaving. Explain to them you need your artistic fulfillment just as much as they do
  8. I respect that opinion vbchaos but it is not the way the recording industry works. Session musicians are frequently employed, without stigma, and it's been going on for decades.

    Also there seems to be a huge misconception here that the bass player is allowed to come up with their own bass part in all musical situations. Some gigs will require you to play a part that someone wrote for you (if you want to get paid). Unless you have songwriter credit on the song, you are servicing someone else's musical vision (which is a wonderful and honorable thing, why don't more people realize that?).
  9. vbchaos


    Sep 5, 2011
    Groningen, The Netherlands
    Uncompensated endorsing user: fEARful
    I know - I was not attacking you (let me point that out). It is just a so depressing fact.
  10. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    I do agree three hours and only half a song done seems un productive. My last session I was set up and done in one take well within one hour.
  11. I have some recording experience, but none with actual LABELS.

    It is disappointing to learn..however I believe it has been true for decades... that with exception of lead vocals.... session musicians do the FINAL RECORDED PRODUCT. Reason being that the actual recorded product belongs to the LABEL..not the band.

    I too would feel slighted but I believe that unless you are a major performing 20 perhaps??...
    ....that we should all expect to be replaced by THAT Labels session ACES., regardless of our opinions of their skills, talent, etc.

    Also I believe from what I have read, that future exeriences will prove equally if not more frustrating..angering for you. This is the reason I no longer do ' originals'..BEEN THERE..DONE THAT..HUGE WASTE OF TIME.. wasted $$ ..alientation from friends family for no tangible result.

    And with all respect toward you and yiur endeavors..GOOD LUCK...

    Want me to do original?? I charge @ $50 ..just to open ONE bass case..and $50 minimum per rehearsal, etc. MY time has value as well...Especially in light that unless you are the composer..have written the tunes..
    ...most you can EVER expect is maybe $500 per 'album', while song writer/ tunesmith receives royalties for life? ..NO WAY PAL.
  12. It is only depressing if you let yourself be depressed by it. Another perspective is that it means more work for talented studio musicians, and the music-buying/pirating public gets a higher-quality product. :)
  13. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Become an accountant or a carpenter. Music and musicians are nothing but drama; all for little pay and a winning-the-lottery odds chance of "making it."
  14. pedroims


    Dec 19, 2007
    Who ''owns'' the band? Seems to me that is the lead guitar and the drummer, ala James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.

    Today is the recording parts, tomorrow can be that you are not getting royalties, your paid is shorter than the others, you dont speak on the band interviews, etc etc.

    if you planning to stay with this band make sure that all the conditions are written in a contract.
  15. Amen brother, It's very hard to produce your own album and remain objective.
  16. marko138


    May 24, 2013
    Perry County PA
    I wouldn't put up with that, but if you can't get the job done in the studio in a timely fashion then what choice do they have? Yes, it's a common practice, so you certainly aren't alone, OP.

    Take an honest look at the situation and evaluate what you want to do.
  17. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I'm sorry, but in any project I'm in charge of, any player who didn't get a song tracked in about an hour would be pulled.

    It's just too expensive.
  18. generation zero

    generation zero

    Jul 24, 2012
    The producer is our manager, not a member. He was on my side at first, but was persuaded by the guitarists and drummer before we stepped into the studio.

    As for the 3 hours being unproductive, I really only got an hour and fifteen minutes to actually track anything, and the drummer then went on to spend an AVERAGE of 4 hours per song purely on tracking, not counting any setup and dial-in time, so in that respect when you consider experience level, I was more efficient than him.

    My biggest issue isn't with being replaced for tracking though... after my one session, I was okay with it... until he started changing every part I had written, necessary or not, even on songs we have played live for almost a year. The point was to save time and money, neither of which he did. Given the amount of time he spent tracking, I am completely confident I could have gotten the parts I actually wrote recorded without any issues whatsoever. My issue is with the disrespect he showed me in the process, and the haphazard way in which he, a supposed professional, approached tracking the bass parts. He would routinely say at the start of a session "it doesn't matter which song we start with, I don't know any of them" and similarly dismissive statements, with the implied point being "I don't even know these songs and I can play them better than you", or at least that's how his attitude came off to me.
  19. generation zero

    generation zero

    Jul 24, 2012
    Had a session player come in and blown out clean tracks in under an hour a song, playing what I wrote where it would work and making minimal changes where required by the song and requested by the producer and/or the engineer, I would have been fine with that. It's more a matter of the ego of the drummer, who also refused to make any punches in his drum tracks... he would not let us keep an otherwise perfect drum take if he missed even the very last snare hit. We wasted probably a full week worth of recording time on his ego, between his drum and bass sessions.
  20. vbchaos


    Sep 5, 2011
    Groningen, The Netherlands
    Uncompensated endorsing user: fEARful
    Leave!! And do it now! Those guy will never give you the credit you deserve. Leave and do not look back. They will replace you, and it will be fine for them. But you can do/find better!