Drummer Drama...Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by KoalaOnBass, Aug 26, 2018.

  1. KoalaOnBass


    Feb 18, 2016
    Hello Talkbass,

    There is currently drama going on in my band and I’d be grateful for some advice from the more seasoned among you.

    We’ve been playing together for about a year and a half now. It’s purely a hobby, play in a garage, haven’t had any gigs yet.

    We’ve recently decided to go into the studio for the first time to record one of our songs. We also got offered to be a warmup act from one of the bands from our practice space and have been really excited about it.

    Yesterday, the drummer went into the studio to lay down the drums, and this is when poopie hit the fan.

    Apparently, he couldn’t get it right, so the engineer called it a day and told him to either practice more or simplify the part before coming back.

    The drummer is absolutely crushed and depressed now. We’ve assured him it’s no big deal, but it hasn’t helped.

    He’s cancelled the recording altogether. He also doesn’t want to do the gig. Says he needs time to pull himself back together and I feel he might be on the verge of quitting.

    He’s an older guy and has low self-esteem when it comes to playing due to some bad experiences with bands he’s been in in the past, so he’s quite sensitive about criticism.

    I should add he’s a solid drummer and we’ve been happy with him, although he does has his limitations (as we all do…it hasn’t been a problem).

    The guitarists and I are a bit bummed, but chill. Our vocalist, however, is freaking out. She’s rather ambitious and hot-headed, and has already organised an intervention for tomorrow.

    I’m afraid she’ll try to pressure him into doing the gig to the point where he’ll snap and leave the band. I’ve talked to the guitarists and we’re just not sure how to go about dealing with the situation.

    I say we should cancel the gig, be supportive, and give the drummer time to recover, then continue recording. The guitarists are afraid the singer will walk if she feels things aren’t moving along and we cancel the gig.

    What do you think? Any advice will be appreciated.

    TL;DR drummer depressed about his playing due to a studio fiasco, wants to cancel our first gig. Singer is freaking out and might inadvertently push the drummer into quitting. If we cancel the gig, we’re afraid the singer will get fed up and leave. What do?
  2. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Not sure i would take the intervention approach...that is really putting someone on the spot. Really you just need to get the drummer's final decision on what he wants to do. Someone in the band needs to pull up with him to talk about it and see where his mind is at. If he is out, you may have the option of trying to find a sub drummer for the gig assuming it isn't too far off.

    Canceling your first gig is not really a good look for a group. Maybe if the drummer realizes the group will plow forward without him he will come around. Let him know a sub is on the way, may shake him up in a good way.

    What went wrong at the recording session? Was his time off or something?
  3. TWolf


    Jan 20, 2011
    The Deep South
    You worry about the singer leaving if things aren't moving along, but you are a year and a half in, and no gigs yet. The singer is obviously not that "ambitious".

    I would try to keep the gig though. I mean if the guy is so fragile that he can't play the gig, maybe he just isn't meant to be a gigging drummer. I get that you want to help him, but sometimes as a musician you just have to put yourself out there. We all make mistakes. I make them every gig. Help him understand that, and that the rest of the band is counting on him.
    getrhythm and filmtex like this.
  4. KoalaOnBass


    Feb 18, 2016
    Well, it's not officially an intervention, we're just getting together to "talk about it", but the vibe I got from her was very intervention-y. I'm going to talk to her today and try to calm her down.

    It was the timing of the kick that was consistently slightly off, yeah. It couldn't be fixed in post because of all the micing going on around it.

    As for the sub, I'm not sure that would work. It is unlikely we could even find someone (there aren't that many people to play with locally anyway), and the drummer would feel really burnt by our move.
  5. KoalaOnBass


    Feb 18, 2016
    I get what you're saying and I agree. This is our hobby, though, and it's at least as much about the people in the band as it is about getting out there. So we really don't want to give up on him, because we've finally managed to put together a group where we all get along.
  6. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Gotchya, yeah just don't "gang up" on the drummer or he very well may leave. I would personally have one band member that is closest to him reach out to him on the side.

    But the truth is, this drummer is putting your band in a tough spot. You're singer may very well leave due to this, and i wouldn't blame her and might do the same. A band member getting cold feet before a scheduled gig and wanting to back out is something that may disqualify him from being in a gigging band...folks don't want a liability like that around.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
    viper4000 and TWolf like this.
  7. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Have a simple discussion with the drummer. Everyone is a critical, everyone could be better, you all want him in the band, and want to give it a shot. A year without gigging is a day without sunshine.

    And all that.
  8. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    Seattle, WA
    You could keep the drummer for the gig, but for the recording, use a session drummer.

    You said the kick was consistently off. Was everything else in time? Was he perhaps using a house kit in the studio that he's not used to or something? I ask because if everything was spot on but the kick was off (and consistently so, as in everything seems time-shifted forward or backward by a set amount but there's general consistency), he might not be used to the action of the kick pedal or something. It just sounds odd that one thing would be off but everything else wouldn't be, especially if you say he's a solid drummer.

    If you're happy with him and you work well together, an "intervention" isn't a bad idea, but you'll have to be tactful about how you approach it. I would mention to him that studio recording can be a lot tougher than a live situation as everything stands out more (and this is true, really - it's a big part of why studio/session musicians are a thing). This might help to restore his confidence.

    As a backup plan, you might want to start looking around just in case. Always good to have a depth chart.
  9. The band I'm in put off playing out for over a year because the drummer didn't feel comfortable - he said he was afraid we'd "suck." We don't. He had been in bands before.... I recorded a rehearsal, we had friends come to rehearsals and give critical/constructive feedback. The consensus was that indeed, we didn't suck. We played out, and of course made some mistakes (who doesn't?), were quite well received, to the point of being asked back.

    I'll add that he's a good drummer, we lock in well. I NEVER lose the one with him, for sure, and he's appropriately creative when called for. He can be a bit of a perfectionist at times, and a number of his friends/work peers attended. I think he was worried they'd jazz him later if he messed up, so I think that was his problem. His confidence increased, and more importantly, no one noticed the flubs. Sometimes you just gotta go out there and do it. Its what we do.
  10. G19Tony


    Apr 27, 2018
    Las Vegas, NV
    Like most things in life, music can't kill you and it can't eat you, so what is there to worry about? Go out and rock that sh!t. :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
    filmtex and jeffbrown like this.
  11. electracoyote

    electracoyote Supporting Member

    Crossroads, cards-on-the-table time.

    It makes perfect sense that this band has been limited to basement sessions and not taken a gig in 18 months. Your drummer is an anchor holding you firmly in place.

    It's just not in the cards for this drummer, and you will not rehabilitate or reform him otherwise. May as well lay off him completely and leave him out of the discussion.

    Time for Plan B: You need to decide if it's time for this band to step up to performance and recording, and if so, start your search for a new drummer asap. These are the growing pains of turning the corner from Music Hobby Alley to Music Business Boulevard.
  12. dlb1001


    Jan 30, 2007
    Wow! Hopefully, the whole situation won't get any worse, given that the singer is the ambitious type.
    Have a similar situation with a band...don't know if it would be called a "band" but it is a group put together by a guy, who is having a backyard party. I got called in, since I did the party last year and was recommended by the KB player.
    Anyway, the drummer didn't quite meet the standard that the party organizer, the lead guitar player and the primary singer wanted. So, after the last rehearsal, those three got together and let the drummer go. I didn't hear about it, until a day later, when the KB player let me know.
    The party is this weekend so I guess I will find out how things are going unfold.
  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    1. the drummer's 'sensitivity' is irrelevant: even if it's just a hobby band = everyone steps up when it's time. he needs to be stopped: holding the band hostage to his "low self-esteem" issues is BS --- and everyone in the band knows it!

    2. the singer isn't that great...or she'd have a different drummer! + she's as much drama as your drummer: just a different 'act'. she needs to chill, too!

    3. continue with both the recording and the gig: let the chips fall where they may: everyone will learn something which will be helpful in the next iteration. if your drummer tries to exploit his butthurt = go on without him (a different drummer...temporarily or permanently). tell your singer she needs some ego/control attenuation.

    good luck with your project! let us know how things go. thanks! :thumbsup:
    getbent, bkbirge and saabfender like this.
  14. redwingxix


    Oct 21, 2015
    You can't cancel the gig unless you don't have the personnel. If the plan for your band is to start gigging (and it sounds like most of you are excited by the idea) then you have to move forward. If the drummer is okay with the gig but not the recording then you need to decide which is an immediate priority and act accordingly. My advice is play the gig whatever you do. If it's your first time playing out it's an experience you don't want to miss and it will definitely build your drummer back up to get through it.
  15. Yeah, music can't kill you or eat you, but it sure can chew you up and spilt you out.
    G19Tony likes this.
  16. So, OP has company.
    saabfender likes this.
  17. Warpeg


    Jun 20, 2005
    In your shoes, I would simply tell the drummer to 'buck up' and get his head back in the game. Assuming you, as a group, had already discussed and agreed upon the goals for studio and gigs, he has the responsibility of working through whatever is going on in his head so that his team can depend on him again.
  18. saabfender

    saabfender Inactive

    Jan 10, 2018
    I think it better to treat the studio experience as a one-off; blame the engineer. Put your arm around your drummer. Let him know you like and appreciate his playing and man was that guy was ever wrong for dissing you. You've got to put that incident in the past because he'll obsess about it forever. He needs a musical victory and soon.

    Your drummer needs to play this gig. It'll get his head turned around for sure. As the bass player, you have to make sure it happens.

    As far as the chick singer, that's a third rail for me. I just let that play out how it's gonna: as if you have a choice.
    Downunderwonder likes this.
  19. oldrocker

    oldrocker Supporting Member

    I agree the drummer should play the show.

    Laying down studio tracks and playing a live show are 2 totally different things. As a mediocre bass player I'm OK enough for live shows but I would be out of my element trying to lay down studio tracks.
    Downunderwonder likes this.
  20. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    You've been playing toghether for a year and a half and haven't noticed that his timing is off? Was it really that bad or was the engineer in an OCD moment?

    For a hooby band, this is a precious situation. Don't let the singer screw it up. Do whatever it takes to get the drummer to do the gig and then do a few more to get his confidence back. Leave the recording on the back burner for a while.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Sep 28, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.