Can you look your bandmates in the eye?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by lildrgn, Dec 21, 2000.

  1. lildrgn


    Jul 11, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    I have this weird problem where I cannot look my bandmates in the eye. If we're talking, it's no problem. Wearing my bass and chatting, no problem. But, once we start playing, I can look in their general directions, but eye contact, no way. Well, I take that back; sometimes I can make a brief 1-2 second eye contact, but beyond that, I just look around.

    I figure you make eye contact with your singer/guitarist/drummer while you're playing, but can't say anything because of difficulty playing and talking at the same time and you probably can't hear or be heard over the music anyway, so what's the point? You see them, they see you, you make a funny face and that's it, right?

    Anyone else share my "problem"?
  2. brewer9


    Jul 5, 2000
    Uhh, like, no man. I dont have that problem. What exactly happens to you if you make eye contact?
  3. yep i can do it, i am 5'11'' any they are all about the same height, so looking them in the eye is no problem.

    the good thing about drummers thou is you always get to look down on them
  4. lildrgn


    Jul 11, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    Nothing, really. I look at them, they look at me, what more is there? It's just kinda weird for me. Go figure... On stage I have this "affliction" as well, but not as bad.

    I'm not anti-social! Really, I'm not!

  5. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Now when I come to think of it, I have this problem too. Most of the time when I play I actually close my eyes, so no eye contact is possible. I guess I seem to be living in my own little world when I play. Fortunately, I do look up when we need contact.

    This reminds me of a complete retake I did of my bassline when recording in a studio, I had my eyes closed all the time... never looked at the fretboard, and it all went very well. Ain't that funny, eh?
  6. Cornbread


    Jun 20, 2000
    Lawrence, Ma
    I usually don't make eye contact with guitarists because they're always deeply involved with being solo-hounds. But, I like the fact that bassists are not noticed very much. Like they say, we've got the best seat in the house.
  7. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    To Lildrgn, can you look at your audience when you play?
    Gene Simmons of KIss once said that was the most important thing for a rock musician to be able to do...make frequent eye contact with the audience. Maybe you don't play metal or rock, though.

    Jason Oldsted
  8. Bryan_G


    Apr 28, 2000
    Austin, Texas
    I find that eye contact is the only way to communicate whyle playing like you said you can't really talk and hand motions are out of the question. I like to make eye contact if something is going different that what it should or if we are about to make a change that "sneaks" up on us. It works sometimes. My band mates, excluding the drummer, are my best friends and so we can kind of know what we are saying when we make eye contact, since we have spent the majority of our last few years together.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well, in a band with 13 or 14 people, playing a mix of complex arrangements and some open improvisation, this isn't an option!;)

    I have to look around and see how the solos are going, are the horn section coming back in, is the crowd dancing, and if so, we might keep the groove going for another few solos or just extend the current one!

    Then there are the constant stream of hand signals from the Trombone player, who being the loudest instrument in the horn section, wants to make sure we're all together and he isn't going to be left with egg on his face, when we go from the solos to the Montuno section etc !

    Our "musical director" - the guitarist - is often giving signals about dynamics, which a lot of people try to ignore, but he is also usually the only one who knows what's happening, so is worth making eye contact with.

    Oh and the drummer usually does all the count-ins but so quietly, that eye-contact is again mandatory, unless you want to be in a different tempo or time signature! ;)

    Oh and it might be "your solo!" :rolleyes:
  10. lildrgn


    Jul 11, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    <b>To Lildrgn, can you look at your audience when you play? </b>

    Yeah, I have no problem looking at them when I play. We actually gigged last night and for whatever reason, looking at my bandmates is less of a problem then than usual. Go figure... :confused:
  11. JWC

    JWC Banned

    Oct 4, 2000
    I can't look them in the eyes anymore, well our old singer playing or not. I'll vomit. After leaving in the middle of a gig, 2 fist fights, and getting screwed out of some cash, I'll never look that boy in the eyes.
  12. i cant make eye contact with my band mates when we play in an audience is because usually im jumping around and bangin my head to much look at em. but, we play somethin slower, yeah i can look at em wit no problems.
  13. got5onit4u


    Dec 24, 2000
    yeah, i remember when i sucked too
  14. To this I say "Why not?"! I regularly play in chamber orchestras with no conductor of just about exactly that size and in that context, eye contact is absolutely crucial. We don't have "count ins" or a drummer so the only way way can start together, make tempo changes and finish together is through extensive eye contact. When we start a piece or new section, one person is designated to lead that section of music and will indicate the tempo through body language. Often that consists of a simple singular silent prep beat with the bow or a nod or even an audible "sniff".

    I have to say, the initial premise of this thread seemed very odd to me. Music is so completely about making music with others so why on earth would you not be in contact with the people you are creating that moment with?
  15. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Lately I have been gigging/subbing with several different bands. I find that it is absolutely critical for me to connect with the drummer. Often just looking at them and jamming is enough, but also during stops, dynamic changes and such, or just making sure that we are feeling the 'one' the same way. Looking at the guitar player or keyboard player for chord changes on the fly...Mostly I'm just having such a blast that I try to infect the other band members with the vibe...

  16. notduane


    Nov 24, 2000
    Lookin' `em in the eye ain't the problem. It's gettin' their dang'd attention.

    "Hey STOOPID!..." (usu. a gui**rist) "...we're gonna' change keys here in a couple bars...
    Yoo-hoooo, jack-a$$? Stop soloin' already!" :rolleyes:
  17. SlapDaddy


    Mar 28, 2000
    If you leave 'em twistin' in the air for a few modulations they'll start listenin' AND lookin'!
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think you have misread my post - I was saying that it's not an option as in - I haveto keep looking my bandmates in the eye all the time as there is so much going on!! I thought it was obvious from the rest of the post - the last sentence is "eye-contact is again mandatory".

    I agree that the initial premise of the topic is very odd to me also; I can't imagine making music without being in contact with the other people in the band - in Jazz, Latin etc. this is crucial and hence the reason I was saying that not looking the other players in the eye is just not an option as far as I am concerned and one that I had never considered before reading this thread!
  19. Oops, sorry Bruce! :) I was surprised to hear you say that, so I guess I really did misunderstand the sentiment of your statement. It looks like we are in complete agreement. Sorry again. :)
  20. sampsonite


    Aug 27, 2000
    Look what ever you do during prac. or concert just have fun! I mean that is what music is supposed to be or else whay are you doing it? So i say eye contact or no if you are enjoying yourself out there then it is working.