Don't make this mistake!

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by J-Bassist, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. Hi all.

    First of all I would like to say that I have only recently discovered this (fantastic) site and have been reading various discussions/problems etc. and that I was extremely impressed with the level of knowledge, willingness to help young players and general friendliness of the site. so thank you all for that, this is a fantastic resource! I particularly enjoyed the "If only I knew then what I knew know" post... there's a lot of very very useful information in there that I am glad I've come across.

    I'm a young player about to go to university to study music interested in becoming a session bassist. I really can't imagine myself doing anything else with my life.

    Basically I would like to share an experience with you all and hopefully find out what I can do to avoid such situations in the future.

    When I was still at school I became friends with a guy who played guitar and sang. Now this guy also wrote some pretty amazing songs... but what really shocked me was how frequently he wrote these tunes, and how different they were from each other.

    When I first met him I was a very inexperienced player; didn't know much about music at all, but I liked what I was hearing very much and he asked me to play bass for him, so I said yes.

    We picked up a drummer. At this point I had started to breach the musical world... gotten to know a few things and starting recognising what was good and what.. wasn't. Now this drummer was, and is, a hell of a nice guy, one of the nicest. But he couldn't drum... didn't have much sense of rhythm, bad timing, and generally played the same beat to most things. I wasn't happy but I went with it and we got some gigs together, they went ok, and then this drummer left school so we had to look for another one. I was pretty pleased actually because by the time he left, I was interested in improving my musicianship and as a bass player I realised that a good drummer is, very often, our best friend.

    So next school year, we audition this guy in the year below us. I'd heard him play before but wasn't particularly impressed. But man... he had been working! In a *very* short time, he had improved a LOT. So we took him on and I was very happy!

    Unfortunately, this is where the problems started. At this point, I had started playing seriously, got my timing nailed down, worked tirelessly to become a better player, more versatile, more adaptive, have the right attitude, that kind of thing. And I saw the same thing in the new drummer. He practiced with a metronome just as I did, he was practicing almost all the time, really improving.


    The more I learned about music, the more I improved myself and the more I saw the drummer improve, the more I noticed how mediocre the bandleader was. He played guitar as well; I just never realised how badly. He didn't have a clue about tone, didn't care about how his guitar sounded, could care less about strumming patterns, was perfectly content with having terrible timing and missing notes all the time.

    He sang as well. But, like before, I never realised how badly. He was constantly out of tune, chainsmoked (which I'm guessing didn't help for a LEAD VOCALIST) and in some songs tried to make his voice what it definitely wasn't... stuff like putting on fake accents, that kind of thing.

    But man, could he write songs.

    So we get around to recording a demo after a while playing together. Me and the drummer get our parts nailed.

    He is content with mediocrity.

    Just to put this into perspective... I had to do most of the guitar parts for this guy just to make sure they were with the rhythm section. His singing was awful; out of tune etc.... so much so that no amount of tuning correction in Logic Pro could fix it.

    Worst of all, this guy had a terrible attitude. I swear his guitar skills didn't improve at all in the 4 or so years I knew him. As a musician, I view that as unacceptable. He constantly cut short rehearsals so that he could go and do what he wanted to do.

    At gigs, we played songs HE wanted to play. Myself and the drummer had no input at all.

    We did most of the mixing. We made the CD's. We did the promotion. We did the websites. The bandleader did *nothing*.

    Looking back I don't know why I didn't quit sooner... maybe because there weren't a lot of musicians around (especially ones who could write like this guy can) and I just wanted to keep playing.

    In the end we broke up when we all left school... to be honest, glad I don't have to deal with this guy's unprofessionalism ever again. We did finish the demo eventually... but this guy's mediocrity makes in unlistenable to me. It's a shame I wasted so much of my time with him. Especially when myself and the drummer wanted to become serious, professional musicians.

    Anyway... that's my story etc. Thoughts?
  2. i'm not sure that the time was wasted or that it was a mistake....during that time your playing grew.his did not.that's called experience
  3. limit6


    Dec 5, 2007
    Philly, PA
    I think you should appreciate the initial inspiration that your friend bestowed in you, but I'm glad you're exploring new waters. What has happened is healthy, and normal. Your friend is what we call a "songwriter," just not an anal one where it counts. Tone is important because it inspires, and if it's not right, a beautiful song will never reach stubborn ears that can't look past anything that isn't conforming to the commercial yummie sound (hi-fi professional production). Being tight is important because it makes you the song feel and sound bigger and makes the band seem intelligent. You all seem to focus on different things that make a song special, and you seem to understand what it takes to paint the entire picture without just settling for "ehh... it's good enough." Without pain, there is no beauty, and you understand the grind it takes to become what you need to be. You GET it. That's well more than half the battle. Keep it up, my friend. ;)
  4. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Sounds like a better High School music experience than I had.
  5. Sounds like to me that NO time was "wasted" at all. You've done well with the time that was given to you, regardless if the circumstances were 'ideal' or not. Excellent report.
  6. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    WAY too much drama. I couldn't even finish reading the post ... how long would I last in that band? :D
  7. Dogbertday

    Dogbertday Commercial User

    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Blaine Music LLC
    Sounds like good times actaully.. you played some gigs in high school... advanced your playing... and got to work with a decent song writer.. The guy might actually make a living at it if he works just writing and not performing.

    And now you're moving on to bigger and better things... it's always good to outgrow your musical situation.
  8. 555Soul


    Jul 21, 2009
    Yah, what he said!
  9. You learned a lot about people, music and life in general. That's not a waste if you put that knowledge to good use. And, it sounds like you will.
  10. I think one thing you can walk away from this learning is something that I also experienced in a group I was in.
    Some people are GREAT song writers but are not good performers.

    That's important to recognize. We get the most out of music when we all know our strengths and weaknesses and work from that point. There are a GREAT many songs on the radio that are NOT written by the performing artists (you already know this, I'm sure).

    Next time you run into that, you might be able to "encourage" that person to focus on writing and letting other people perform the tunes (giving credit where it's due). On the other side, you might meet people who THINK they can write because they can play like hell but they can't write worth a crap. You might want to encourage those people to focus on playing other people's tunes (I don't mean covers--they can be originals just not THEIR originals).

    Anyway, when I realized that our singer/gui**** could write but couldn't play worth a crap; it was an epiphany for me.
  11. Thanks for the responses guys. You've basically taught me that an important part of being a musician in any respect is to look at things not in a way that's bad but to look for how these experiences have advanced you and made you a better musician so thank you very much for that.

    In retrospect, no matter this guy's ego, I did learn a lot from him, and as was said before, he *was* the guy that originally inspired me. Hell, without him I probably wouldn't play bass at all, and I seriously can't imagine myself doing anything else.

  12. Mr. Mig

    Mr. Mig

    Sep 7, 2008
    You sound like you learned alot form the experience. So in a strange way it was worth it.
  13. +1

    Name me ONE musician , ONE bassist who only played in one band.

    It's part of experience.

    Whether this becomes your profession or not, in your professional life you will have more than one position, and will have worked for more than one employer, and that's how you build a résumé.

    Employers know that there needs to be more than one bullet point on a good résumé.

    Same with bands. You learned something, you improved, move on to the next band.
  14. Flatty Banks

    Flatty Banks

    Oct 26, 2008
    High School Musical 4!
  15. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    Adam Clayton. But it's still a really good point - very few have.

    To the OP, I agree with the general sentiment that it wasn't time wasted. As for my own high school experience, thank goodness we had a good school music program because in my small town there was no band to join.

  16. Funny, I was thinking about him and almost wrote "except Adam Clayton", but saw on his wiki he had more then U2.

    He began with the band and from what I read he was the rich kid with an amplifier and that's how he got the gig. I actually shared an amp (a TNT 100) with a guitarist at 15 and that was epic.
  17. RicoDirenzo


    Apr 3, 2009
    Chico, CA
    Pessimist: Finds an obstacle in every opportunity
    Optimist: Finds an opportunity in every obstacle.

    Just be an optimist!!!!:hyper:
  19. Bobby B

    Bobby B

    Jul 24, 2009
    Dallas, Tx
    Success in music, what sounds good, moves people, sells, etc. isn't always singing on key or playing well. Kiss is a band with players which aren't going to win any contests, but they sure sold a lot of records and rocked a lot of people. Nirvana... off key, bad timing, almost couldn't carry a lead and changed the landscape of music with hook-based pop tunes played with an edge. Sometimes one note played well is greater than 100 notes played perfectly. You can do everything "right" and be totally forgettable. You can do most things wrong and rule the world. I didn't hear that guy's songs or playing so no telling, you might well be 100x better off moving on.
  20. Interesting you should mention Kiss, I watched a youtube vid of them yesterday playing live with Garth Brooks and I was pretty impressed with how tight they were. They're actually pretty decent musicians. Nirvana on the other hand hehe...

    I acknowledge that not all music has to be absolutely perfect and realise that for many bands it's more about the actual song writing than the polish. But that's just not me... and at the time, I felt that the songs this guy wrote would have sounded a lot better with a little more variation, tightening up the screws a little and a bit more professionalism. But that's just my opinion

    thank you all for the good wishes :)