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Diplomatic way of telling the band to learn the songs better?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jakelly, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. jakelly


    Nov 8, 2009
    I don't mean note-for-note. I don't play much of anything note-for-note, so I don't expect they should either. What I mean is, getting the stops, dynamics, tempo, chord changes, when the singer is supposed to come in, etc. Just create appropriate parts on your own at home is what I expect. We are a cover band, but I'm getting tired of hearing, "We're doing our own arrangement." Often, they want to play a song once at rehearsal and move on to the next, even if there are problems to work out on the song. I told them this wasn't really accomplishing much, so we actually worked on a few songs at that rehearsal. Imagine that.

    I've hinted several times over the last several weeks. Saying that we need some focus and direction, etc. Now we have two "get our feet wet" kind of shows coming up. One freebie 2 set show for a party in a week, the other a 2 set show in 2 weeks - we actually get paid a little for that one. I'm hoping we can actually play 25 or so songs and not look like a bunch of amateurs.

    Here's the deal. I'll probably lose interest if it doesn't improve, and I don't want to lose interest. I want the band to succeed and to be a part of it. Any advice how I can be more insistent without making trouble?
  2. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Off the top of my head, record the practices, make copies and distribute them. Hearing yourself suck tends to make you work on stuff. If they don't hear themselves sucking, then you have a bigger problem.

    Every band I've been in that I felt "worked", did the same thing. Run through the same song until it was perfect before moving on to the next one. If this means 15+ takes in a practice session, so be it. If this means you spend the whole session working on just one song to get it perfect, so be it...
  3. jakelly


    Nov 8, 2009
    Great advice. I like the last part especially.
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Practice at home, rehearse with the band.

    IME, your bandmates need to spend more time at home.

    Don't rehearse a song unless everyone has learned it on their own.

    Otherwise, as you've learned, it's pretty much a waste of time.

    Then you go to a gig and play like the unrehearsed band that you're in.

    Doesn't bode well.

    Good luck.
  5. Bochafish


    Jul 26, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    One thing I've had success with in the past is suggest each practice, one band member takes a turn being the band leader. Then when it's your turn, you can isolate parts, or do what you think is necessary. Then if another member just wants to play through the set on their night, it's not a big deal.

    It worked because everyone had nights they felt like breaking everything down, and other nights you just want to jam and have a good time. Also, if you haven't already, put it like you did in this post. Just tell them you like whats going on, but you want the band to go to the next level, or you are afraid you will lose interest. Most people will understand that.
  6. jhan

    jhan Guest

    +1 on all. Rehearsal is for REHEARSAL, learning songs is for HOME.

  7. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    Taking turns leading the band at practice is a good idea. It keeps everyone happy and ensures that at least some of the time you are working on stuff YOU feel needs work. It's also good advice not to even work on a song at practice until everyone ( At least guitars and bass) know their parts.

    I put a band together about 5 months ago and in that time we have gotten extremely tight on about 50-60 songs, by playing them over and over and over until we got them right.
  8. duff beer

    duff beer

    Dec 2, 2007
    "We're doing our own arrangement" should not be an excuse for not bothering to learn the songs correctly.

    I recently quit two bands. In one of them, they would barely know the chord changes and missed many of the stops and signature parts...and dynamics did not exist. When I suggested we learn to play the songs better, they were only interested in expanding the set list from 50 to 80 songs. Sorry guys...I'd rather play 50 songs well than 80 poorly.

    The other band had a guitar player that put "his own spin" on the song...unfortunately, his own spin consisted of playing nothing but heavily distorted power chords for every single song. He took offense when I suggested that distorted power chords didn't fit "Sultans of Swing".
  9. Time Consumer

    Time Consumer

    Jan 27, 2008
    Joliet Ill.
    Lol, you seem to have the opposite problem I'm having, I've been with my current band for 8 months and we've probly added 6 new songs in that time, my singer and gui**** have a perfectionist attitude about the songs, im not saying I wanna just wing it but if we spend 45 minutes trying to get Odd One by Sick Puppies and we dont even play it at the next show, I think there's a problem. There should be a happy medium when it comes to getting covers down.
  10. I now want to hear that, simply out of morbid curiosity.
  11. duff beer

    duff beer

    Dec 2, 2007
    Well, I think they're still looking for a bass player... :D
  12. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Yeah, this: "Hey, this is not real fun for me anymore. I think it's time for me to move on." Then look for a band with goals that more closely align with yours. There's nothing wrong with their desires for the band, just as there's nothing wrong with yours; they simply don't match. It's not a marriage, and you're not obligated to stay with them.

    You've already tried talking about it. If they were like you, they would pick up on your dissatisfaction and work with you on solving the problems, but they aren't, so they try to just shut you up.

    In my opinion, this band has shown that it will not rise to your level of commitment, and isn't interested in your goals. There are others out there who want to play better music. Seek them out, instead of trying to bash these people into your image.

    Good luck.
  13. XXL

    XXL calm seas dont make skilled sailors

    Jun 14, 2007
    I'm a firm believer in spending all rehearsal time on one song to get it right, than to do 15 songs half-assed. Maybe you can ask them if they feel the same.
  14. Buchada Azeda

    Buchada Azeda

    Mar 25, 2009

    Plus, your band will nail the songs at a gig if you rehearse each song individually. When all the songs are properly "learned", then you can rehearse 15+ songs at once.
  15. duff beer

    duff beer

    Dec 2, 2007
    Unless you know all your songs backwards and forwards, playing them just once is a huge waste of time. The only songs we play once at rehearsals are the one we play "properly". Your rehearsals could be run more efficiently. This is what we do:

    We warm up with 8 or so songs that we know. These songs change every rehearsal. Then we work on new songs or songs that need to be sharpened up...these songs are decided on the previous rehearsal so band members know which ones to work on. The last half hour of rehearsal is used to run over the songs worked on the previous reheasal and a few more from the set list.
  16. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Hey, if they want to "hang" rather than put in more work, then maybe it's time to move on. Just ask them. I mean, what are their goals for the band. If it's nothing more than what it is, then the ball is in your court. Better to know sooner rather than later. Time to make a decision.

    If you keep bringing up the same point, attempting to get them to change, you'll probably come off as a whiner not a winner. They may boot you out before you quit.

    Can't teach a cat to bark. Band members, wives, relatives, friends and co-workers are the same.

    Good luck.
  17. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Why bother tiptoeing on eggshells? And how is being more insistent equivalent to making trouble?

    Question: Did you see any evidence of this amateurism and lack of preparation before you actually joined the band? Or did it all start happening suddenly and recently? I'm going to take an educated guess, and say it's the former... :meh:

    Why not restate to the band what you just shared with us? Be polite, but also very firm - lest they assume you're not really serious about change.

    Based on extensive, similar experience of my own, I'd frankly be shocked if you were able to turn them around - it's hard to dig other people out of a pit of their own making, i.e. the comfy pit of laziness and sloppiness. But go ahead and give it your best shot. Just be prepared to seek out other players who are a lot more serious and polished. And don't settle for anything like this ever again... :meh:

  18. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    You can take a three chord standard and either schlog thru it like a bunch of rank amateurs or, with a little time / thought / energy, pull it off with enough pizzazz to make the folks in Vegas jealous. I'm not kidding.

  19. 1954bassman


    Jun 7, 2004
    Hickory, NC
    To the OP:

    By 'cover band' do you mean top forty pop or old rock and roll, 70s rock, new country, or just a party band playing classic favorites?

    If you are more or less a party band, I would not worry about 'focus and direction'. (no offense)

    In the 'main' band I am in we pretty much play our own version of every song we play. We re-arrange, change keys, styles, on and on. Of course some songs stay close to the original, but some barely resemble the cut we learned. In fact we often joke about never listening to the original again. We kinda have our own sound, and even it varies. But I am blessed with a very talented bunch, and we almost always end up with great final cut. Some songs never make it, and some are much better that others. Sometimes I hear a song on the radio that I really like, then I realize we do that same song (our way).

    But we are not a top forty 'cover' band. Thank God.

  20. xxfaux_punkxx


    Mar 18, 2010
    Just sit them down and say "Look we need less suck out of our amps."

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