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Band member issues / musical differences

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Spikeh, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    I'm facing a bit of a dilemia with the management of my band at the moment. I convinced my best friend (drummer) to pick up his sticks and form a band with me about 9 months ago. Since then I've recruited 2 guitarists and a singer. The singer took a LONG time to recruit as this area is very clicky and if people don't know your sound, they won't even try out.

    It's worth mentioning that this is my first band. I'm doing all the management (organising gigs, buying equipment (PA, recording stuff etc), recruiting members, advertising, raising awareness etc) and we haven't yet played a gig! We've got our first one booked for May 11th.

    We took on the first two guitarists that auditioned for us - one of them is absolutely awesome (nice guy, contributes to the band musically and enthusiastically, and to top it off he can play really well), but the other guitarist is creating headaches (let's call him Phill toi make it easier for me to make out)...

    Phill's not a bad player really - he can hold a tune, but he has a style that doesn't match ours. He's into his indie rock music - basically a Oasis / Strokes / Libertines fan, and we're into our heavier rock (RATM, RHCP, Audioslave, Guns n' Roses, Led Zeppelin, Incubus etc)... he comes up with some great riffs and adds some good things over the top of the rest of the stuff we come up with, but he has some major flaws:

    1. He's complacent - we've been practicing like hell recently for this first gig and we've been trying to get our set together, bring the singer on and play like we're playing live whilst in the practice room. He's always messing up (no-ones perfect), but when he does (or if someone else does) he stops and misses a few bars. He's also rarely ready for the next song in the set (has to set his effects up, he's in the middle of lighting up a cigarette, texting on his phone or scratching his genitles ;P).
    2. He takes absolutely AGES to get some strangely timed chord changes. Whilst it takes me or the other guitarist a few bars to get any odd meters / changes, it takes Phill a few practices (5 hour sessions), lots of stops and starts and lots of 1 to 1 "coaching" (basically one of us showing him how to play it). Then when we go back into the song, he plays it wrong again! And the worst thing is that he doesn't notice when he makes the mistakes!
    3. He just can NOT listen to the other musicians in the band (unless they make a catastrophic error). He manages to stay in time (well, recently anyway) but he can sometimes go on and on playing the wrong riff over a transition from verse to chorus etc.
    4. Simple example - I wrote a song that requires the guitarists to play heavy and sustained power chords on the chorus (E, D#, B, A, G, E, E). Phill just can't get his head around it... he knows where the notes are (I had to teach him a power chord + octave the other day :|), but he plunks around, strumming the notes until we go to the next note, which he regularly gets wrong.
    5. He can't take any critique without going in a mood. The only way I can tell him any of the above without him going on one is by joking around and being aggressive (not in a bad way... I'm a very touchy feely person and it's my nature to be boystrous, but people know it's just me... and I only do it with people who can deal with it!)... then he doesn't take it in because he thinks I'm just joking! I've tried sitting him down and talking to him... he seems to take it in, but then seems to disregard everything you've said anyway. Last night, the other guitarist asked us all "Which song are you least confident with" and everyone listed 1 or 2 songs that they weren't quite comfortable with - apart from Phill, who said "none of them". He makes more mistakes than all of us put together.
    6. "Silence is golden" - as most of you will be aware, in most music putting in a "break" gives your tune that hook. He pretty much ALWAYS strums muted chords over any breaks.

    He almost left a few months ago for basically all of the above - I told him we didn't want him to go because we like him, but he needs to think about how much he's in to the kind of music we're doing.

    It's just infuriating... am I being harsh? In 9 months he's hardly made any progress with us... whereas the drummer, the other guitarist and I have all made considerable progress as musicians as well as with each other. Even the singer (who's only been with us for about 2 months and hasn't ever been a lead singer in a band before) has made progress.

    I've spoken to Phill about all of the above points... I've tried many different approaches and so has the drummer and other guitarist (at practices). I think he feels victimised and can't take it... he usually leaves practice early if we say something he doesn't like.

    My dilemia is this - I've spoken to the drummer on many occasions (we're best friends, we're around each other a lot) and he's too much of a nice guy to admit the above as brutally as I do, but he does in a round about way - he doesn't play guitar or know much about music, so as long as he's in time he's generally alright with all of us :p I texted the other guitarist this morning about it all, and he agrees with me... but Phill is generally a nice guy (he's not a bad person, regardless of the light I've shone him in), he's put the last 9 months of his life into the band, he's all for getting gigs, he's enthusiastic about HIS music (but not generally about much of our stuff) and we all generally like him. Also, we've got a gig in 2 weeks and I do NOT want to cancel it!

    What should I do? :(

    Sorry for the HUGE post, but I wanted to try to make the situation as clear as possible!
  2. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    Put your best foot forward. If he cannot be ready for the gig then warn Phil he might not be in. Harsh, yes.

    Your preferred guitarist might have to do all the work(him alone on guitar) when it comes gig time. Warn him of that too.
  3. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005

    Sounds like he's not interested, at heart. I've just come from a situation like that - nice guy but lack of genuine interest and dreadful work ethic (wouldn't know the song structure despite playing the songs for almost a year, playing slightly differently each week, basically not thinking about the songs from the moment he left a rehearsal until the moment he came into the next rehearsal). I'm 31 now, I've been in a few bands at this stage, and tbh I just have no time for people who aren't going to put the work in. Being in a band is hard as is it, it gets a lot harder when you've got someone who seems to like the idea of being in a band but isn't interested in the graft that's involved.

    As I see it, you have a few options:

    You can continue on as is and hope things change. You've already had "the talk" it seems. In my experience they rarely do change but you never know. Maybe after a gig or two he'll join in properly.

    You can lose him now. Provided everybody is feeling the same you could continue on (even for the time being) with just one guitar, not cancel any gigs and everybody enjoys practices and the band moves ahead. The sound of your band changes dramatically, but you're the bassist, right? More for you to do, a good challenge. You can always look for another guitarist in the future.

    You can lose him now and cancel the gig. It's **** to have to do it but sometimes you're better off, though you might peeve off whoever is putting on or hosting the gig.

    You can keep him on but look for a replacement without his knowledge. Nasty. It's been done before, will be done again but it doesn't say much for your character, even though it might be the smoothest way for your band to progress.

    To be honest, I think what you should do is meet up with the other guys in the band (minus Phill) and have an open, honest talk about the situation and what you think you should do. Whatever you choose, everybody needs to be agreed on the course of action, you need to move forward as a unit if the band is to prosper. Listen to what everybody else has to say, do they all feel the same as you? It's a big decision to make.

    Either way, good luck with it. I hope it works out.
  4. Give it to him IN WRITING (take a print-out of your post). Sit down with him, talk it through and if he still doesn't agree or show willingness to improve: FIRE HIM. Doesn't matter if he is a nice guy. Nobody in the audience will say: "The second guitarplayer sucked but it's OK because he is a nice guy." They will say: "This band sucked".

    I have posted it before, IMO you need 2 things to have fun in a band.
    1. You need to be happy with each-others level of playing.
    2. You have to have about the same ambition.

    Seems to me that nr. 1 is not fullfilled in your band. Since you are the 'manager' of the band (as am I in my band), it is you who has to talk to him about it. That's what being manager is all about.
    Side note: We also have 2 guitarists, both nice guys whose different playing-styles compliment very well. Before when one of them couldn't make it to rehersal, I was always afraid it wouldn't sound good. Fact is, it always sounded good, just different. (you can play with 1 guitarist)
  5. Not sure that I agree with sending letters. If you are friends then you should be able to say these things. If you're into different kinds of music then that's all you need to say. A band can't be 2 things.
  6. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    You know... I think that might be it. He's got a bad "work" ethic.

    I'm treating this band like a business... I want it to work, whether I'm in it or not. I believe in our music and I want us to succeed (even if it's locally). I have no aspirations to be famous, but I do want us to play well and give our fans a good show.

    I'm not sure if the other guys are as enthusiastic as I am... but I do know that they all put work in outside of practice. Even if it's practicing the songs, working on a structure, working on singing or recording.

    I could never do the behind the back thing... Never ever... it's not my style. I defo need to have a talk with the other guys...
  7. Ruddwijk


    Apr 25, 2006
    i think a little different influences and musical preferances is just good for a band, but like mentioned here it sounds like he's not dedicated enough.

    you should confront him and ask him if he's willing to do somehting about this, and if not you should look for another one. its better to take some time and find the right members! :D
  8. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    I've been on both sides of this ... several years a go I was asked to form a band with with a guitar player (let's call him Dr.T) mind you he came to me and ask ... so I guess that means he statred the band . I was the one who pulled in the rest of the players. Dr.T was the main singer, guitar player and songwriter (well if you can call it that) ... after several showcase type gigs, it became obvious that no matter how we had worked it up at rehersal Dr.T was gonna "showboat" and play whatever he wanted live. So I fired him ... and brought in a youger hungrier up and coming player. Dr.T formed another band and they are by all account pretty sucessful.

    I had to leave that band for personal reasons about four years ago. I didn't really keep up with them after that, they have been through several members since including singers bass players and guitar players Still the same guitar player I had hired to replace Dr.T and the drummer I had worked with for years and a wonderful female singer, taking them in whole new directions. I went to see them at two rehersals and it was obvious the bass player was the problem . A week later I got a phone call.

    Bottom line as I see it ... gotta let the guy go.

    The don't call it the music "business" for nothing.
  9. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Your fatal flaw lies in this sentence. You spent an entire page complaining about the guy, but then you say you want him to stay because YOU LIKE HIM. If you want to make a serious go of the music, then you need to boot him. If this is just for fun, then keep him and work with him. If he's not getting your music right after 9 months, then he probably never will.

    Give him one last chance. Lay out, in very specific terms, extactly what you want from him. Stop worrying about his mood and tell him exactly what he's doing wrong. It's the only way he will learn. Your previous method of making a joke send the signal that you're really ok with his mistakes and that it's no big deal, when it clearly is a big deal. If he quits, then you are better off.
  10. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    Aye... I suppose I contradicted myself. I think that sentance was supposed to outline the fact that I'm only human, and I can't help but feel bad about doing that kind of thing. However, I you, or someone else convinces me that I should sack him, and I feel I'm not being harsh, then I'd have no problem doing it.
  11. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    Does he feel guilty about holding everybody up so he can text whoever?
  12. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    That's one of the minor issues tbh... he doesn't seem to feel guilty. He made a call last night too (to a mate about a football match or something). Fgs... I'm in the middle of getting back with an ex girlfriend and she texts and rings me in the middle of practice. I text / ring her back when we're having a break or after practice... not in the middle of a set.

    Anyway... the texting isn't a BIG problem... it's just one link in the chain.

    I'm sorely tempted to text him now and ask him if he's into the music and he's taking it seriously... the more I think about it the more it winds me up.

    He has a side project with a mate of his too - his mate's one of the guys that came along to audition as a singer, but said he couldn't dedicate himself to a band.

    I mean... all of us have "off" days... and all of us have disagreements, but none of them create headaches and their hearts are in the right place. The other guitarist - for example - usually turns up late every day cos he eats his tea after work. I don't eat most practice nights, heh! And the singer can't sing in key at the moment... but he's REALLY good at the rapping stuff we do... and he's an awesome guy - he also seems like he's gonna be a good front man - but at the end of the day, neither of them get to me like Phill does.
  13. Don't text him or send a letter. Get together with him one on one, outside of practice, and talk with him. Don't be confrontational...it's ok to be friendly, but don't joke around, and DO take it seriously. Explain to him the issues the band is having with him. Make sure he still really wants to be in the band. If he does, tell him he needs to get on the same page musically as the rest of the band, or you'll have to find a new guitarist.
  14. RyansDad


    Jan 31, 2006
    Tolland, CT
  15. Gomez

    Gomez Live from the Shire

    Apr 15, 2005
    Is Phil a beginner? Sounds like he is (not listening, not being able to adept quickly, only interested in his own stuff). Could very well be he's not interested in doing rythm.

    Maybe get a more experienced player onboard?
  16. I'll make this one short and sweet. If your not playing gigs because of him, and he sucks for you, and he provides a bad attitude when you try to help him, kick him out. I have dealt with a guy like this for a year and now that's a year of two I can't get back for my band (and we are all starting to suffer motivational issues because of the time and inactivity). You don't have a use for him. Let him find another group of lost individuals that he will bump into so he can do what he wants.
  17. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    I've spoken to the other guitarist - he understands, but he also sees that Phill's put a lot into it and feels bad about it. The singer is only very new (1 month at most) and he doesn't know him well... he's still trying to get up to speed with us!

    I'm only a beginner myself (been playing for approx 1 1/2 years, but I've had a bass for 3 years)... but I'm quite good (if I do say so myself)... because I have a passion for it and I love EVERYTHING about music. Phill's always trying to do solos when a solo spot comes up - now, we're ALL in for sharing guitar duties, but the other guitarist just blows us away... even when he's improvising! I reckon you might be right... I think he wants to be a lead guitarist, and I also think he wants to be able to sing - but that's another thing, he's tried doing that and he thought he was very good... but we couldn't hear him cos he was so quiet (I can bellow out my voice on the same settings and you can hear me fine). Confidence I think.

    We haven't been playing gigs because we've been waiting to get a singer. He's not holding us back, but he's going to embarrass us all! His friends will love him of course, and he's not too bad at playing, he just can't play with others very well.

    He'll find someone else to play with easy enough - he's even got a side project he's doing. You might be right.

    I might just speak to the guys and tell them my thoughts... see what the general concensus is and make a decision there. The problem is that the drummer is my best friend, and I KNOW he likes him, but the problem is that he's "just a drummer" (I don't mean that in a derogatory sense) and he doesn't really notice unless it's ME that makes a mistake. The singer is new, so all his energies are on himself at the moment (as they should be), trying to learn the material, getting in key etc...
  18. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    New musicians typically take the attitude that just because they CAN, they SHOULD. For example, I CAN put a muted chord through this break in the playing, so I SHOULD. The more experienced players learn when they shouldn't play, and why. Sounds like his problem may be a lack of experience. His abilities to play solos, cool fills and overall chops are meaningless unless he learns to use them appropiately.
  19. Spikeh

    Spikeh Sex Strings

    That's EXACTLY my frustrations... I'm by no means experienced, but I've certainly got that far! Grrrr...

    That's what I like about this forum - so many people, so many comments and so much knowledge to draw from :) And different people focus on different parts of your post :)
  20. If "Phil" is failing to do his part with the band, hindering your progress and being a constant sourse of irritation . . . Cut him loose . . .
    The longer you tolerate this situation, the more frustrated everyone else will become with the band, and the longer you are preventing "Phill" from finding a more suitable venue for his skill level and style. ;)

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