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Drummer leaving town. Replace him now or later?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by azwipe, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. azwipe


    Jul 9, 2013
    Washington, DC
    So it's the beginning of February, and our drummer just told us that he's leaving the country for 4-5 months starting in April and we should start looking for someone to fill in while he's gone.

    We have a couple of gigs lined up in the coming month, and were planning on booking more. Questions:

    1. Should we replace him right away so we can start rehearsing with the new guy ASAP, rather than waiting til he's gone and then having a lull while the new guy learns the material?

    2. It seems like it would be harder to recruit a drummer knowing that he's just temporary. Any advice on this?

    For background, our drummer is musically replaceable, but he's a great guy, really good friends with the BL and has a great rehearsal space.

    We mostly play Motown/funk covers so the material shouldn't take a drummer too long to pick up.

    Any wisdom is appreciated!
  2. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    You know and he knows you need to find someone else ASAP...
  3. +1. However, honor all gigs already booked with your current drummer - he was good enough to give you enough advanced notice, so you owe him the same professional respect - of course if he agrees to drop some gigs, that's different.

    Good luck and best wishes.
  4. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Ask him to help line someone up. Our last drummer had to move to Boston for a good day job. Before he left he set up someone he thought would fit in and could do the job well. It's worked out really good.
  5. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Do it now. You can have the new drummer come to the upcoming gigs and play part of the gig. It's a good way to break in a new member to the band. The old drummer is there to help ease the transition.
  6. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I would look for a drummer now so you can rehearse with him and then start working him into a couple of shows before your current drummer leaves.
  7. 4-stringB


    Jun 10, 2010
    Your departing drummer should know the drummers that would be the best fit. BUT, I'm currently in two bands. Both have replacements that are there because they're friends of friends, not because they're the best fit....AARRRGGGHHHH!!
  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Start now, keep your old drummer for the gigs and such but finding a good drummer can be a chore. You don't want to end up drummer less or with a garbage drummer after he leaves.

    +1 to having him find a replacement if he knows one.
  9. azwipe


    Jul 9, 2013
    Washington, DC
    This is really helpful, folks. We actually know plenty of drummers who could do a great job, it's more a matter of how to have a smooth transition and not burn our current guy.

    My fear is actually that we end up with a technically better drummer who we'll have to fire when our main guy returns.

    Now that I think about it, I know a great drummer who is also a great pianist. Hmmm... Maybe we can recruit him on drums, then move him to keys when Drummer #1 is back.

    Thanks guys!
  10. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    I Know a band who recently had to let go of their bass player of umpteen years because he had been poached to play in the touring band of an up-and-coming solo artist. They tracked down the right replacement, had the old bass player teach the new bass player the parts, and did a few rehearsals together over a couple of weeks. On a Thursday, they played their final show with the old bassist, and on the Friday they played their first show with the new bassist.

    IMO, the smoothest transition is a) an actual transition over time, and b) facilitated by everyone. Have your old/current drummer involved as much as possible.
  11. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    I would inform the new drummer that the gig is temporary. That is only fair.

    In all honesty, the new/temporary drummer may not only appreciate the honesty, but may dig the fact that the gig is finite. I've done a few fill-in gigs, and liked few strings attached aspect of it.

    But get someone sooner than later.
  12. Drummer expects to waltz back in when ( if ) he comes back? That's unfair. Effectively you have to hire a sub longterm. To be fair he has to split the costs with you out of pocket. Yeah right.

    I suppose he could find you an able and willing temp. Can't see that happening either.

    Good luck.

    I think you need to tell drummer he's welcome back any time there's a vacancy and move forward from there. It's nearly always a decent drummer that is the hardest spot to fill. You can't fire the replacement for no good reason.
  13. RedMoses

    RedMoses Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2012
    My band was offered a gig opening for a big band in our genre in a nice big venue, the Keys player had a trip for a family function he could NOT resched, we knew we could not turn the gig down so we had to find a Sub. Our Guitar player knew a great Keys player that had the capacity to learn the dense material in 6 short weeks, while it wasnt the best feeling for our Keys player, he understood the situation and he came to EVERY rehearsal to show the sub his voicings and thought process when approaching the parts, this was INVALUABLE!!! It helped the Sub pick up things much faster and put the Keys player's mind at ease somewhat knowing what his Sub would sound like.

  14. bassgod76

    bassgod76 bass turd burglar

    Mar 13, 2003
    South Florida
    I understand what you're trying to say.
    However, I know many A drummer who like filling in, collecting a check, and moving on. There are many benefits to doing this. You get to play without the hassles of being chained to a band.

    I think if its explained as a temp gig right from the get go, I see no issue.

    Keep us posted.
  15. I agree that being upfront is the only way. But I question how freely available are the competent drummers that will be available for booking gigs months in advance and what will they want paying?
  16. +100%. Yep ^^^ This ^^^