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Do you allow members in your band who live far away?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by FJBass82, Dec 9, 2018.

  1. The reason why I'm asking this question is that our cover band (classic rock, alternative, some country) is in the middle of auditions for a new lead singer and a second guitar player. Some of the people wanting to audition live an hour or more away and say, "I don't have a problem driving out to....." (in the area that we live/practice/audition).

    We're located about 35 miles outside of St. Louis, so we always take into consideration traffic and, especially now, winter weather, when someone lives "too far" away in our opinion. Sometimes we still audition them but we always ask if they're SURE the long distance isn't a problem for them if we choose them to be in the band.

    If someone lives 40, 50 minutes away that's still even a little "uncomfortable" for us. I guess the three of us are "spoiled" because we live within a few minutes of each other.

    Our previous second guitar player lived in the City of St. Louis, like 35 or so minutes away, and ONLY wanted to come to band practice IF it was REALLY necessary because he wanted to make the drive worth his while. Of course at first he didn't mind the drive. He only lasted five months. That's why he's being replaced, although he did quit the band!

    It just seems like people will say anything to be in the band, like, "Oh, I'm cool with the long drive! No problem!" A few weeks or months later they have a problem with it.

    Believe me when I say we're not trying to be snobs and only allow people who live close to be in the band. It's just that we've been snubbed in the past by more than one member who lived "far" away.

    Just looking for suggestions on how your band handles those who live "far away".
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
    ObsessiveArcher likes this.
  2. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    A year in, I'm the member of my rock project that lives the farthest, at 1:15.
    The rehearsal space is fairly remote, unlikely to be plowed early, and up a hilly driveway. I have AWD and full snows on all the vehicles. I am never the first one to bail on winter rehearsal... So it comes down to what I get out of the project. We're just on the cusp of paid gigs (we had a vocalist bail 6 mos in, and started over...) and I'm racking up experience in a new genre and new geographical area.
    Philadelphia is a big area, geographically, and if you want to work, there's going to be some driving.
    I figure this gives me an edge over the guys who bristle at driving more than 10 minutes -- my 90-minute drive radius covers at least 5 counties in PA, most of NJ, northern DE, and a big chunk of MD. I lived 30+ years in SoCal, where you had to drive an hour to get ANYWHERE, and it's stuck. Projects at the outer edge of my range better have something good to offer - but if I had to rely on projects in a 30-minute drive zone, I might as well just quit.
    You're correct - not everyone can be really committed to a 60-minute commute. I do not consider it to be disqualifying - but I am a professional...
  3. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Bingo! People will agree to a lot more than they are willing to do before they have the position. I had a guy that promised me the world in terms of being the band's promoter, and then did squat.

    However, I wouldn't let this deter you. If you don't have a lot of options, and the guy is willing to do it for a while, and you can accept that a half a year down the road, he won't want to drive to rehearse, but will perform, take advantage of the situation. When he quits, you'll have a well qualified sub. Then you won't be held hostage by a singer who isn't available - the new one that replaces him.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
  4. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Here's the thing. There are two kinds of bands.

    1) The band that likes to hang. This band rehearses A LOT. Even if everyone in the band has been playing 20+ years, they still feel the need to "rehearse" dozens of times before playing out. What this band needs to admit is that they just like to hang out and jam, and maybe play a show from time to time. If you have been playing a long time, and "need" a ton of rehearsals to get up to speed, you are either lazy or have no talent. Just admit that you like to hang out and be done with it. There's nothing wrong with a garage band as long as you admit you're a garage band.

    2) That band that wants to play shows. This band has goals. This band has members that do their homework ("practice") at home. This band needs a few rehearsal before it's time to book shows. You get together and decide the set. You divide it into sets. One rehearsal for each set and one more to hit the hard songs again. Done. Go play. Maybe have a rehearsal a few times a year to add half a dozen songs at once. But, honestly, if you guys are good, you should be able to learn songs at home and try them at soundcheck. If that doesn't work for your band, you are likely a garage band and won't admit it.

    Where bands get into trouble is trying to be in the middle somewhere. There's no middle. You either want shows or you want to hang out at Bob's house once a week and "jam".

    Step 1. Be TOTALLY HONEST with yourselves about which band you are.

    Step 2. Be TOTALLY HONEST with anyone who auditions as to which one your are.

    Everything will be fine as long as you pick which band you are and then be up front with anyone who may join.

    Best of luck with it.

    Edit. My apologies. I forgot to tie this back to distance. The reason this is relevant is that often new members think they are joining band 2 and get frustrated when they find out they have joined band 1. Band 2 shouldn't have a problem with distance because most of your driving is for shows, not rehearsals. So everyone should stay enthused enough to keep going. But, if you go to "rehearsals" (aka "hangs at Bob's house") for FIVE MONTHS only to still have no shows, the end is near.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
    Dave W, Mr_Moo, SBassman and 35 others like this.
  5. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Some people are with do it. But if you have a concern, discuss it with them, and let them know they will be held to the same standard as someone living next door. The drummer in my jazz band lives an hour at, and he is always the first one there.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  6. Das Jugghead

    Das Jugghead

    Oct 28, 2015
    I am in both above described scenarios.

    Band one (all originals) started off as the second band described above. There was a lot of talk about about organizing, individual practice, song-writing, rehearsing, gigging, and recording. We interviewed a lot of musicians to make sure we got the right people in the band. This is a band my best friend (the lead guitarist) wanted to put together and I was the first person he asked to join. We ended up taking a rhythm guitarist who had over an hour drive to get to rehearsal. Great guy, great guitarist - didn't work. The long drive coupled with two years in on this project and not being any closer to playing a show than we were when we started did him in. It is nearly 100% the fault of the lead guitarist. He wrote all the music but cannot play it at rehearsal. He forgets the songs, misses the changes, doesn't know the chords, cannot play something he didn't practice (and I seriously doubt he actually practices the songs), doesn't come to rehearsal prepared, doesn't listen to the rest of the band so if he misses the beginning of the solo he is OFF. He cannot hear when he is out of tune, plays too loud, refuses to turn down, and tells everyone else how to play or sing their parts. He is solely responsible for a great singer (who we went to school with and grew up with) walking out and never coming back. Yes - I have talked with him about this numerous times and nothing changes. We started off as the second band and migrated to the middle which has resulted in some bruised egos. We are all still friends but the band clearly isn't ever going to make it out of the basement - ever.

    I got tired of waiting around for nothing to happen and got off my duff and made something happen. Enter band number two which is band number two. I found a group of guys who play all original music along the lines of a genre I had wanted to explore forever. Reached out to them, met them, hit it off, spent two weeks learning their set list, had two rehearsals and then played the Hi-Fi Indy. We have shows coming in. Recording a five song EP this Wednesday. Consummate professionals who practice on their own, know their parts inside and out forward and backwards and upside down, listen to everyone else, and work together as a group rather than using the group as a platform for individual glory.

    I explained to band number one that I was not leaving, just that I was not sitting around wasting anymore time waiting on things to happen. Told them I would stay until they fired me (if that was what they decided to do). Yes they were hurt initially. I invited everyone to the show at the Hi-Fi Indy and the whole band (including the former rhythm guitarist) came except my best friend. I am not mad at him. I think this was the wake-up call he needed. We will see. Time will tell.

    Yet another thing that makes band number two a great deal is that we all live close to each other. The longest commute is twenty minutes - heck it takes me that long to get to the grocery store. I guess the point of all this is that bands can be a challenge - long commutes are just one more issue to deal with.
    Mr_Moo, hrodbert696 and two fingers like this.
  7. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    IME 35 minutes away is about it for the long term - anything more gets old after a few months. I really prefer 20 minutes tops...
    SmokinJoe992 and saabfender like this.
  8. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    Distance affects how you think about playing going to play with other folks. Ignorance isn’t a solution. I really wouldn’t have a problem with rejecting an auitionee because he lives too far away for the band’s taste.
  9. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef “the brian” Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    I play in 2 regular bands (one originals, and one cover band) and we rehearse at the drummer’s house, who is also in both bands. Everyone else in each band lives within 15 minutes of the drummer, except for me... I live 45 min away and I make the drive twice/week (once for each band) and I don’t mind it at all. Thankfully it’s all highway, no traffic normally, and only a couple of stop signs/lights along the way. I find it peaceful and almost theraputic, especially since I work from home during the day while raising a toddler, and my wife works a 9-5. I think of the drive as a time to clear my head, think about my parts and anything else to discuss with the band, and just enjoy the peace and quiet. So it really depends on the person and their circumstances.

    However, up until about 3 months ago I was in another band which was over an hour away, also once/week. This drive was mostly very heavy traffic on the freeway (5-6pm in Southern California) and I hated it. But they got good paying gigs, and I really liked the music and the guys in the band. Ultimately it just wasn’t worth it to me. I couldn’t clear my mind and just enjoy the peace and quiet because I was surrounded by pissed off jerks, all getting off work at the same time and fighting to get home as quickly as possible, cutting me off at every turn, not letting me merge, etc... It was a night and day difference compared to the drive for my other bands. So again, it really just depends on the circumstances I guess.
    Mr_Moo, Herrick and Das Jugghead like this.
  10. As others have noted it's all about matching expectations.

    I have auditioned for bands that were a drive and I've been very upfront about what I'm willing to do and what I expect in return. An hour commute? No problem. Show up for rehearsal unprepared because "you didn't have time". Bye Bye!

    Long distance can work if everyone is meeting expectations.
  11. StayLow


    Mar 14, 2008
    In some cities an hour drive isn't far in terms of distance.

    One of the best and most in-demand drummers in my city lives 90 mins out of downtown yet gigs constantly.

    I've been in west coast bands for east coast artists, and some bands need air travel to get together.

    It all depends, so leave it up to them after being totally clear what the schedule and pay will be. Start by asking them if they've done that commute for a band before, and ask yourselves if your band is really worth it... would you make that same commute for this band?

    Best of luck.
    ObsessiveArcher likes this.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    We do but we work a lot and rarely rehearse anywhere but soundchecks, so it's not as big a deal to live a little far from each other.
  13. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.
    Hi Mr. @FJBass82,

    Being in a different part of the country I don't have the weather considerations that folks in colder climates have. But I normally drive almost an hour for a rehearsal. We rehearse only about once a month and most of those are paid rehearsals. A lot of my gigs involve driving an hour and a half to two hours, sometimes longer. Sometimes one or more of my bandmates will have a longer drive than I do. But here's the thing, it's worth our while. As Mr. @two fingers says, you're either out there playing shows and making money or you're hanging out in the basement making noise. It's hard to get a firm, long term commitment from someone worth their salt to just drive an hour to practice in someone's garage for months with no return on the investment of time and gas.

    I know you're trying to be considerate of the other guy, plus trying not to waste investing the band's time into someone who's going to grow tired of the commitment/commute. If you want good players to stick around you got to give them something to keep them interested and coming back for more, showcases, paying gigs, fame, fortune, a mani-pedi, whatever.

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  14. Kevan Campbell

    Kevan Campbell Bergantino Artist, Vibe9 IEM Artist Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Same here. We’re all a minimum of 1 hour from call location but do our homework, and as long as we have good paying, well-attended shows coming in I’ll keep driving an hour each way.
    Bunk McNulty and JimmyM like this.
  15. Obviously there are a million ways it can go wrong starting with obvious stuff like do they have a reliable vehicle and can they afford gasoline. But it can work with the right people.

    My originals band is pretty spread out up and down I-95 here in NC and we’ve been together for a long time. Guitarist actually lives an hour and 45 minutes away from my singers house. I drive 40-60 minutes for rehearsals depending on which spot we use. I’ve been in several bands with all local guys as well and in some ways I honestly prefer being more spread out.
  16. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    two fingers likes this.
  17. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I've been in a few bands that had members from all over the place, for any gig or rehearsal somebody was driving at least 2 hours. One had a drummer from NYC who would take gigs that were a 6 hour drive! If people are really dedicated and can operate without constant rehearsing, it can be OK. The more members you already know and trust, the better the chance that the band can survive.
  18. kev451

    kev451 Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2014
    New Jersey
    I’m in 2 bands and I’m over an hour away from both. And when you want something you make the necessary sacrifices. One band rehearsed a minimum of once a week and the other at least once a month. Once you learn the set list you should be practicing at home. I have a personal rule of dedicating at least 30 min daily to self practice. I’m sure I could find a band closer to me which would play what I like but I enjoy both situations. Point is distance is something a person can’t always control. But practicing learning the music to the point where you can play it in the dark is something you can. Give anyone a chance.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  19. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    You're right. ;)

    I would talk with potential members BEFORE you offer them the position and ask if they are going to be OK with the job. Make sure you are clear about how often you expect them to show up for rehearsals and how often/where the gigs are located. The drummer in my Rockabilly band lives about 1 and 1/2 hours away. I talked to him about it before I offered him the position. He's never been late.
    Das Jugghead and buldog5151bass like this.
  20. SunnBass

    SunnBass All these blankets saved my life.

    Aug 31, 2010
    Columbia, Mo
    Drummer and I live in Columbia, Mo.
    One guitarist lives in KC, the other in St. Louis.
    We practice for 6-8 hours on Sundays to make it worth their drive.
    JRA and kev451 like this.

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