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Drummer | Guitar, concerns..

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by chjohnst, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. chjohnst


    Nov 24, 2008
    So I am in a small "jam band" with a few friends of mine. We have recorded some tracks, wrote some songs, etc. Some suck and some are good (at least to my ears) and we are getting better. It has all been a learning experience for all of us and has allowed us to get better at our instruments and into making music. Its good in a way as we are not inhibited in anyway or afraid about what one might think if we mess up versus being a sole individual in a new band with people you really dont know too well.

    However, some learn faster then others right or just have a nack for the style of music we are trying to play? I guess for me, as the bass player, the instrument came pretty natural to me. I listen to a lot of genres of music which I incorporate into my playing. I can hold a rhythm down, get into the pocket and play a tight groove with my drummer. I am all about less flash and keeping things simple and sounding good. You don't need a lot of notes in general to get people moving their feet (look at reggae music, less flash but every note counts).

    On to the problems, my drummer - great great guy in the outside world would do anything for the guy. But when it comes to music he isn't practicing enough. He shows up for rehearsal in my basement studio 1-2x a week which is good, but I guess I expect more from a "full time drummer". Is it different for drummers or something? Do they require less practice? I practice my bass at least 1-2 hrs daily (if not more!), even if its just working scales to keep my fingers fresh and working on muscle memory. In our rehearsal last night, he kept forgetting the groove and rhythm of familiar songs in our arsenal, stuff we play every time we rehearse! Obviously he is a friend so I want to be careful about how I approach him on this, but I think he needs to step it up and take it a bit more seriously. Also shouldn't a drummer focus on what the bass player is doing? I find he's always looking up at the guitar player and trying to lock in to what he's doing. I keep reminding him to look at me and what I am doing and to focus on the groove of the bass. He doesn't seem to get it.

    My guitar player, he's been playing a bit longer then me and was a bit of the primary influence for me to get a bass and start playing. It was more out of convenience that I started playing since he wanted a bass player to jam along with. Now, my skills have improved greatly, but I am having a tough time getting him to follow along with the basic rhythm of a song and following what the bass player is doing. He tends to always want to go off to doing some solo (random notes most of the time) in the middle of a verse or chorus out of nowhere or just in general not follow the same groove/rhythm thats going on and flip into the chorus or some "passage" when he feels like it. The bad thing is my drummer follows that groove and things just screwed up. There are a few songs we have where there is a heavy/fast bass passage that I came up with where the bass is supposed to stand out and no matter what he feels the need to try and overdue (or kind of top me in a way). I keep telling him, less is more, don't overdue it just doesn't sound right with the groove we have going on. Or at least communicate to me when you want to "change things" in a groove, signal to me with a nod. Last night he got pissed at me and told me I was acting like a "Paul McCartney" trying to tell the guitar player how to hold the rhythm down or how to make music.

    Anyways, I guess this is outside the scope of band mgmt in a way and more of a "how to make music" properly with the right people. Just curious if this is the typical behavior with most band members as we are all artists in our own right and have an opinion how things should sound. I am obviously not looking to ruin my friendship here with friends over this, but the point of making music is working with people and keep the same timing and groove.
  2. zeppelinbass95


    Dec 26, 2008
    sounds like you need to find a new band
  3. chjohnst


    Nov 24, 2008
    I sometimes feel that way, but I have a great time playing with them. There is a difference in my view to "jamming" and making music. I feel like we are just jamming and having fun which is awesome.

    Like I said we are learning here, so I cant expect the drummer to naturally just know what to do. BUT, he should be spending more time reading and research how to master his craft.

    What is with guitar players? Why do they all feel they need to be the next Jimmy Page or John Frusicante?
  4. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    Unfortunately some guitar players want to do nothing but solo. Our guitar player wants to do that so much that he's soloed his way out of the band.

    As for the drummer, I don't care how much you practice in your own time as long as you know your parts. My drummer's been playing for 20 years and never practices on his own time. Doesn't need to. But he constantly listens to the songs so he remembers them and he's fine.
  5. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    It sounds like you are taking this project more seriously than the other two. That doesn't make either side right or wrong, it just means that your are in it more than they are. If you want to play for a living, you will need to have a serious conversation with them and find out where their heads are. If they just aren't feelin it the way you are, it may be time to move on. I would also suggest that sometimes you try and relax. Every now and then just "jam". Play a groove that has nothing to do with anything. Let loose and let them do the same. By being so serious all the time, you might be ruining THEIR vibe and thusly making harder to listen to you when you have a problem. Either it's a jam band or it isn't. If it is, then just jam. If it isn't then write structured songs and get rid of anyone who can't stick to the plan. Best of luck!
  6. ReBass


    Aug 11, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    You've grown as a player at a different rate than your friends. People develop as players at different rates - your drummer may just not be as into practicing and developing his craft as you seem to be.

    Like two fingers said, if it's a jam band, leave it at that. Don't try to make it something its not.
  7. deecher99


    Mar 27, 2009
    I've been having a similar issue with my drummer but its not something I'm upset with him about. He just got a kit a couple months ago and it is set up at my other friend's place so he barely gets to practice. On Sunday, I tried to tell him that I wanted him to adjust his kick drum pattern in one part of our song, he couldn't either see my point of view or he couldn't do it, I don't know. He does keep pretty good time and has a knack for being so new to a kit, so the complaints are minimal, but sometimes, I wish I could just get him to do what I need him to do!

    But John, I hear ya about people not hearing your part or people wanting to solo over your ideas. It happens, and it is tough to shake that mentality for some people. Luckily the guitarist I play with knows how to solo, we usually write solo breaks so that we give him his time. He really can light it up, and really shows his talent that I rarely see unless I'm watching a professional performance.

    Perhaps do something like that, write a solo section in a song and have your guitar player go off. I'll bet you if he's not that good, he'll be intimidated to have a section just for him. If he is really good, he'll save his chops for this section.
  8. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    Nothing wrong with a guitarist trying to be Jimmy Page as long as they realize that Jimmy Page was a great rhythm guitar player as well. If you've got another band in the wings, think about it or start networking. There's nothing wrong with exploring your options. If nothing is on the horizon you need to work out compromises with your current band.

    As a drummer, it wasn't a question of "having to practice", you couldn't keep me away from the drums. Even now I want to take the day off, go home and play my drums. I don't know how much one needs to practice, but as with every instrument there is a universe of things to learn.

    As a drummer, I'm not usually focusing on the bassist - I'm usually focusing on the song, mostly the "lead" at any given time (vocalist or soloist) and my own performance. Locking with the bassist is something that happens early in the song, then he's just another part of the ensemble I have to be listening for. The band is exceeding the sum of its parts when I can just assume that they'll be there and I'm concentrating on being the best I can be. If I'm thinking about someone else's playing (which I have no control over) then they aren't holding up their end of the gig.

  9. kennydakid


    Jan 8, 2009
    Amesbury, MA
    As a drummer for the past 14 years I can tell you that I don't practice frequently on my own time. The big issue as a drummer is knowing how the tune goes and where the transitions are. I am not playing anything flashy at all, just keeping the beat and grove going. That being said, I listen to a lot of music and practice other instruments (such as bass and guitar) to get different rhythms into my head. I can play almost every song that my band plays (the one I am a drummer in) on both Drums and Bass (after a few months of playing the instrument).

    I guess Drums (at least for me) are so simple that I just know what to do and I don't really need to practice on my own so much.
  10. bonzo4880


    Sep 16, 2007
    Baltimore, MD
    if you want them to try different ideas/parts/etc or want to point out things that you dont like - best bet is to record. that way if something isnt working out or the groove gets weird you can give them a specific example of what you mean. also having some home recordings may help your drummer learn the material a bit better. gives him a reference on his performance and will help him come up with and solidify new ideas.
  11. SuperBassSam


    Feb 9, 2009
    Dorset, UK
    Also, you say that theres parts that youve written where the bass is supposed to stand out on its own - remember in the end you have to "serve the song". What is the drummers opinion on what the guitarist does? If it actually sounds better with whatever the guitarist is doing then perhaps you should just swallow your pride and consider their opinions.

    I used to constantly be in competition with my guitar player (back when I also played guitar). It just created a really horrible atmosphere to be in when we practiced and just made band practice less fun. So, I re-evaluated, switch to bass, which I now enjoy far more than playing guitar, and now we no longer compete in practice making it much better for everyone.

    But yeah definitely talk to them and see where they stand on where they think the band is going.
  12. Stumbo

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

    Feb 11, 2008
    Masks, people, masks!
    Song Surgeon slow downer.
    Sounds like you and your friends mostly jam together, which if fine if that's the goal. If not, I suggest coming up with an agreed upon song structure (Intro, verse, chorus, etc- or whatever you agree upon) once you've jammed around enough. Make a chart for each song, record each song and call it done.

    If your bandmates are still throwing in random notes, etc., then that seems to me to be an ego kind of thing, showing off or getting attention, whatever. I suggest getting a gig setup so you have to get your songs organized and played the same each time to get ready for the gig.

    Maybe a band meeting is in order so you can agree to move forward on the same page. If not, these are the kind of things that break bands up if you can't accept things or change things.

    Good luck.
  13. chjohnst


    Nov 24, 2008
    I dont think its a "competition" thing between us at all, its just some songs are meant to be a bit heavier on the bass and some arent. There are some songs where I just hit the root notes with an occasional fill just to keep a very tight and simple groove to carry a song along. There are some songs where its a heavy bass passage where really fast finger funk.

    What I really need to figure out is kind where this is going with everyone in the group to make sure we all have similar ideas and expectations. Its something we collectively never talked about. We just kind of started playing together over the pass year as a group. I would like to start doing some live shows and I dont think thats what they want (I think this is more for fun to them).

    We are all getting together next saturday I am going to casual bring it up with them before rehearsal.
  14. chjohnst


    Nov 24, 2008
    I think a band meeting is in order thats for sure..
  15. Do YOU see the pattern here? "Band" is usually spelled without an I. You told us all about how you feel, what you have accomplished, the song parts you wrote, the ideas for grooves you have, how you feel the drummer does not practice enough, and how you think the gui**** is stealing your spotlight, but how do they feel about these things?
  16. Nail on head. Maybe you should continue with them, for fun, the hang, whatever, but it sounds like you have your head screwed on correctly regarding a professional approach to making music, and bass playing in particular.
    So if I were you I'd also find some more serious players, play gigs, make a little dough, network, get gigs with other bands,............
  17. petchimps123


    Mar 28, 2009
    Amen Amen
  18. this may greatly offend you but you sound alot like my old guitarist/singer. He was the main guy for writing songs which we all apreciated but he always found it hard to take input from other people, u seem to want them all to fall in line with you despite this "jam" feel you want to have. not sure about the "Paul McCartney" comment but i can see where he might be coming from. try listening to them both a little more
  19. chjohnst


    Nov 24, 2008
    Not offended, construction criticism is sometimes needed to figure things out. That is why I came to the forum in the first place. I wouldn't say I am bossy and have difficulty taking input from the other members, but I do have a set expectation in what we are doing together as a band. Write music, record and go live with it as a performing band and not a group that just plays in our basement for fun (not that that still wont go on).

    My only gripe right now is that the time is not being spent doing things professionally in an organized project. For example, come up with intro, verse, chorus, etc. Nail it and finally record it. We recently have started doing that a bit more in our last two sessions. Our guitar player has been responsive to it and really really likes the idea. We have both spent a bit of time this week coming up with new material but more organized then we have over the last year.

    I appreciate the comments and assistance.
  20. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Sounds like you just needed to talk to them :smug:

    Which reminds me, I should really talk to my one guitarist.. He`s definantly gone off into the whole Dream Theater direction which is cool and all, but IMPOSSIBLE to jam to. He doesn`t seem to understand that it`s rather hard for me to come up with lines on the spot when the lines he writes change time signature nonstop... Great guitarist. Nightmare to work with.

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