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Band going in a different than I hoped direction, but it's all I have

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by SteveC, Jan 27, 2006.

  1. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I have been playing in this band for a while. It's all guys I've played with before and are great musicians. No problems there. We all get along, etc. The lead singer/guitar/keys guy does a solo thing. We started out kind of solo plus band, still doing the acoustic/singer/songwriter type stuff but with a full band. Jack Johnson, David Gray, DMB, James Taylor, Ben Folds, Billy Joel, etc. I liked the more "laid back" style we were doing.

    The last couple gigs have included some new stuff. Weezer, Green Day, STP, etc. While I like these bands and listen to them, I don't particularly want to play it. Part of the allure of this band was the more acoustic, even jazzy thing we had going. We have a great sax player and we hardly use him any more. Not much sax in Green Day stuff. The last email included more of these tunes in our future.

    The music scene around here is pretty limited. Our jazz group has already folded as there's nowhere to play. If I don't do this gig, all I have left is my church gig - which I like - but it's not the same.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Scottie

    Scottie Banned

    Oct 14, 2005
    I have an almost identical story... kinda...

    My band, in 2001, had been together for a few years already (still together). Our sound was and is americana/alt. country/country type sound with a touch of what i can bar room rock (stones, faces, izzy stradlin, etc.). We had a unique sound. We had lost our key player temporarily, and we decided to then bring in a rythm guitarist instead of another key player. We had been a one guitar band mostly, but decided to go 2 guitars.

    The guitarist also was a former front man of another band. The agreement was that he was going to sing 25% of the songs, while our singer just played the acoustic or went offstage. He added no originals to the set, but we ended up doing stuff like Pearl Jam, Lifehouse, and Creed.

    Big mistake... while it allowed us a good paying weekend gig at a local club famous for its cover bands and a nice fanbase, we lost focus completely. We were playing songs none of us enjoyed (except the guy singing them). I for one felt uncomfortable playing that music as it wasnt us anymore. We lost focus. We lost our sound in a way. We became a 2nd rate cover band IMO, wereas we were once a one of a kind at the time (2001 and previous). The guy ended up leaving the band to get his own band going, and our guitarist went with him. We ended up getting our original guitarist back, key player back, and after a while, we got our stuff together again. And the people who used to go to our shows came back... they later would joke around years later about "the pearl jam guy"...lol

    So my opinion is... stick to what makes your band unique! Now that doesnt mean dont have fun and pull out a few whacky covers from time to time. We used to pull out Paranoid and War Pigs during our countryish sets for fun, and the crowd would dig it !
  3. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    One of the eternal problems of a "unique" sounding band is resisting the gravity trying to pull you into the deep trenches of established genre.

    If you really feel like the sound of the band is vitally important, fight for it. Nobody will know that you object until you object... and most people (myself included) assume that silence means agreement.

    FWIW, I've done acoustic gigs with Green Day, Weezer, AND STP. The key is to have a versatile style, but still have a general sound that's unique to your group, even when covering other songs.
  4. craigb

    craigb G&L churnmeister Supporting Member

    Hey Steve,

    I hear you. A year or two ago I was playing with 2 groups and could only really handle one time-wise. Although I'd been playing in the first group for years and got along really well with the folks it was aimed at doing modern alt rock (they couldn't fathom me playing sax with them when I first hooked up with them - so I played guitar and later snagged the bass chair). Two loud electric guitars with too much bass in their sound (great solo sound, not so much in the band blend). The second group was acoustic guitars and did more classic rock borderline folky rock stuff. No earplugs needed. So I bailed on the longer term first group for the second group. A couple of months later the main guitar guy got an electric and got real loud. And then a second lead guitar guy was added (we've had a couple of these guys - all good and all loud). So while the repetoire is different (classic rock instead of alt/modern rock) it's still muy loud (earplugs required for rehearsals).

    If I were in your position I'd let the leader know that I really liked the more acoustic eclectic sound (so he knows) but I'd keep playing with them regardless unless something more to my liking came around. I like to play and can find some satisfaction in almost any group. You said the hang is good and the musicianship is good so I'd take what I could from it until something better presented itself (the bird in the hand and all that).

    I wonder if it's a natural progression (regression?) with those kinds of groups. My big electric band kind of disintigrated when some key players became unavailable and we reformed with an acoustic player, me on bass, a clarinet/sax/flute player and a percussion (primarily congas) guy. It's been fun and very low volume. But after working on a once-a-year project with a larger band the acoustic/singer guy is wanting a drum kit which will probably require getting the earplugs bak out and make it hard to fit into the coffeeshop type places we've been playing.

    I'd rather play music that's not my favorite than not play music at all
  5. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Great comments from very similar situations, thanks.

    I did "speak up" a bit when the songs first entered the set list. I said I didn't think they were right for the sound we were going for. The response was we're playing these songs. We (the 2 guys) want to try them and see how it goes.

    In my opinion, they didn't get any more crowd reaction than a good James Taylor or Dave Mathews tune.
  6. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND

    I have been in similar situations (in fact, I quit a band once because their song selection had become so cheesy--one which paid me very well, but I just couldn't handle playing what they wanted anymore). Not exactly the same, but close enough to get where you are coming from.

    If you guys are geared up for doing the kind of music that you originally started doing, I would continue to lobby to get them to stay on that road. There are a ton of bands around here doing the whole Green Day/Weezer/alt rock. In fact, it has gotten rather tiresome at times to the point that there is really only 1 band that I will even go out to see anymore.

    My advice is to make perfectly clear your feelings on the situation, but stay in the band if you can. It sounds to me like you guys had/have something pretty cool going on with the direction the band was in, and personally, I think that staying in that direction would be the best bet (not too many bands around here with sax players, etc.) Hopefully it all works out for you.

    BTW--Where in ND are you located??
  7. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I'm in Grand Forks. You?
  8. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    I'm down in Fargo.
  9. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I very first R&B type band I joined was a dream come true. We were going to do acid jazz, funk, jazz, and soul type stuff. What Stu Zender fanatic wouldn't wanna do that? Plus, I'd just bought my first Warwick! Man, I was Stu!! :rolleyes: :bassist: It was an eight peice band, and 5 of them were in this church that's basically a cult, but they said that it had absolutlely nothing to do with the music, as long as we didn't do vulger material, it was cool. Great. So we rehearse, I wrote some tunes with the 'bone player, and got some gigs doing covers like Square Biz, High Times, Searching (Roy Ayer), and I'm floating! Then it slowly began to happen. At first it was improvising Gospel type lyrics over our jazz covers, then it was, "Hey let's do a Gospel song!" No prob. Then there were 4 Gospel songs, then the singer wanted to do a Gospel set. We non cult members (the trombonist, percussionist, & I) vetoed it. Besides, the clubs we were playing were gonna pay for that. Then the other shoe fell. Our next 10 - 12 gigs were at churches or church gatherings. :eyebrow: The cherry in the pudding? The leader demanded that we hold hands in a circle and pray before each gig and rehearsal. :scowl:

    Oh that Maxima peeling out of the lot? That was Woody's!
  10. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Keep playing with them, and try to find other musicians to cultivate a project more in line with what you want to do. That's what I did.

    My old band formed with people who had widely different musical backgrounds. Everyone got to do the stuff they wanted to do...except me. See...I *like* it loud. I was bored with the soft classic rock the leader wanted -- I've had enough Bad Co, thanks. Hated the pop that the percussionist and drummer liked. Didn't like the country choices of the lead guitarist, for the most part (lots of mushy love songs from the 80's). The rhythm guitar liked hard rock, but she got to sing them all. I love punk, and hard rock, and loud, electric blues. I like some soft blues, too, but I do dig it loud. So, unless I chose covers or wrote originals that everyone else liked, I never go to do anything I really enjoyed. I was *always* having to compromise, but if I asked the rest of the band to make one for me, oh well, they didn't want to do that. Either they didn't like the song, or thought it was too difficult.

    I wrote a hard rock song, and the leader began changing it to a more classic rock, softer vibe...while I was teaching it to the band! That tore it for me.

    So I started jamming with others, and when my old band broke up, I already had a group of people that I could play with. Through them, I met others. Now, I'm in two bands. They are different...one rocks harder, the other is more subdued, and so, both sides of my musical personality are satisfied.

    Cherie :)
  11. Willem


    Dec 26, 2005
    I say stick with them, 'cause in my opinion friendship means a lot. Try talking sense into the other guys, seems you had a nice thing going until you started doing what a whole lot of other bands are doing.
    Does that not work, but you have time for two bands... Get some people together who wanna do what you wanna do. And then see where that goes...

    For myself, I was in this band, but I wanted something new. And I started a new band aside the old one. Just a few months ago, I quit the old band due to lack of time. They were hurt. I guess I didn't lose any friends kicking them out (we rehearse at my house), but it will never be the same... Musically I don't have any regrets, I play the music I wanna play, but ... well ... like I said: friendship means a lot.
  12. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I don't think the friendships would be lost. Maybe hurt a bit, but I don't think so. The sax player and drummer will be leaving in a few months anyway. They are heading to grad school and to try and make it in a bigger market. They are both young and talented and I think will be successful.

    I have contacted another "singer/songwriter" in town who seems to have the same direction in mind that I like. We'll see what happens. Unfortunately, it's a small town and it's tough to find people.