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Band substance abuse

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BassAndReeds, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. BassAndReeds

    BassAndReeds Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2016
    I'm not the bandleader, but I just played a gig this weekend where I saw the performance level go from respectable working outfit to uncouth habidashery. All after a 15 min break.

    So I'm pretty sure my bandmates (The Bandleader most of all) have a substance abuse issue. And I'm concerned it will get in the way of gigs. We're small time now, but everyone talks about how they want to be serious and play top shows. To me, if that's serious sentiment, then every time we play should be treated as an audition for bigger venues.

    Sadly, like too many musicians I've witnessed, they don't seem to have the capacity to take themselves seriously. Gutted.
  2. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    First off, a billion bonus points for the use of "habidashery".

    Sorry you had to deal with that. Seems like you have three choices.

    1) Deal with it and stick around.

    2) Quit because it likely won't get any better.

    3) Ultimatum time. Either they abstain from using during work (and make no mistake, you are ON THE CLOCK at a gig) or you bail. This would be my approach. If I thought the band had real potential, I might have a friend video "before and after" examples.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I would sit down with the band and have a discussion. Frankly, I won't play with anyone who allows anything voluntary (drinking, drugs, staying out late, etc.) to impact the music. Either they are prepared and able to perform or not.
  4. saabfender


    Jan 10, 2018
    Much sympathy as it tends to get worse before it gets better. As to the "I play better..."; you've seen the problem first hand.

    When you're playing a gig, you're working. The drinking and smoking is for the customers, not the employees. I like pot as much, if not more, than the next guy. For myself, I don't smoke during gigs because, although my playing's alright, I develop CRS (Can't Remember Sh*t) Syndrome, so it's a non-starter for me: no weed.

    My observation is that drug use ("drugs use" in the UK?) is glued to a social act. Many folks don't like to get high alone and this is their opportunity to "party" with their mates. For some folks, they are inseparable. There's really no alternative if that's their lifestyle.

    Back to my primary assertion: a band job is a job. You'll probably have to beg off on playing with these fellas at some point soon. Sorry to hear of your situation.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  5. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Walk, you can't fix someone else.
  6. You are not playing with musicians.

    You are playing with stoners who noodle.
  7. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    If you can tell when they are high, then it's a problem.
  8. Oddly

    Oddly Unofficial TalkBass Cartographer! Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    If it's bad enough to effect performance that quickly and noticeably, in my experience you're wasting your time with ultimatums or hoping it'll improve.

    I'd just walk and find a band who take the business seriously.
  9. Tony In Philly

    Tony In Philly Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Filthydelphia, USA
    When I was growing up there was a band teacher who told about his days playing the big bands back in the 40's and 50's. He said he once remembered a trumpet player who was totally high for a gig, and when it came time for his solo he was gesticulating and grooving like it was the best trumpet solo ever played. In reality, it was apparently so bad that people watching were grimacing, especially those in the band. Those words always stuck with me. Sure - I'll have a few beers at a gig, but that's about it. I have, however, played with quite a few musicians who have also had to learn the hard way, just like the trumpeter mentioned above.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  10. portpc


    May 31, 2011
    If you seriously plan on advancing your career run don't walk away from these types.
    When they call you all confused why you have ditched them simply explain that you have trouble working with folks who are high when performing,

    You know that they are great guys and you shouldn't but it's an issue that you are working on & when you can accept that behavior in your own mind you will feel comfortable to be in that situation again....Let them noodle that out for awhile...
    GonzoBfiddy, SactoBass and jamro217 like this.
  11. Gutted, as in decision to bail already made leading to deflated disappointed feelings.

    But haberdashery behaviour has me bluffed. Surely one is straitlaced at ones haberdashery?
  12. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
  13. filwitheneff


    Feb 22, 2008
    I recently quit a band because of (among other things) the on-stage drinking. It's unprofessional, and the whole band suffers because of it. These guys didn't treat the gig like a job; they treated it like their own weekend-release, where they could go to a bar and be paid to get drunk! On some nights, it was just downright embarrassing. I asked them to stop, they didn't, so I quit.
  14. Fretless370

    Fretless370 Fretless AND Headless

    Dec 1, 2015
    lol, and you have Keith Richards as an avatar...
  15. Freight Train

    Freight Train Earth-based Alternative Scientist, Sex Researcher

    Feb 25, 2012
    Dallas, Texas
    They got so high they started selling men's wear? And not at the merch table?
    TomB, Axstar, el jeffe bass and 21 others like this.
  16. Being and Bass

    Being and Bass

    Apr 9, 2017
    Rehearsals are one thing and I always keep an open mind: we are musicians, after all.

    But performances are another issue entirely. Beyond the "it's a job" aspect (and if your band treats it as such, it is), simply the quality of the music suffers and who performs and doesn't want to perform well. Unless you are a unnaturally talented musician or you have your stuff on 100% lock (and it sounds like your bandmates are neither) keep it for after the show.

    (And a tip to all you kids: if you perform that well during the performance, people will buy you drinks afterwords anyways. A time and a place for everything.)
  17. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    Band tip, get virgin drinks in fancy glasses with fruit for on stage to promote bar sales without getting sauced. Water bottles are verboten! ;)
    ICM, mohrds, SactoBass and 7 others like this.
  18. bumperbass

    bumperbass Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2012
    Seriously? It's OK to get stoned at practice?
  19. Being and Bass

    Being and Bass

    Apr 9, 2017
    Honestly, unless you are falling over your instrument? As long as the rehearsal is productive... yes.
  20. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    That sucks. I used to smoke but quit and the only guy in my band who abused stuff got replaced. It is really cool working with a band who drinks occasionally and that's it. People who use drugs tend to prioritize drugs and it is a bad situation to be in. A band is a commitment of your time and energy and also money. Don't bother with people who place substances over that.

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