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drummer relations

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by kevibass, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. kevibass


    Sep 25, 2011
    i've been in this southern rock n blues band for about 2 years now. i have been gently moving into a more equal role as far as vocal contribution/ giving my input on tempo/ dynamics/ breaks etc. btw they have been together for about 6 years. the problem: the drummer is very average ( i have been fortunate to play with some relly good ones) and when i try to suggest a slight tempo change ( "just try please") or dynamic basics, the guy has no interest in even trying. he has one volume, loud. we have some festival gigs coming up and i've about had it. anyone had this kind of issue in their experience? any suggestions on how to handle?
  2. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    So constantly that it has become a cliché, gone out of fashion, then become so ubiquitous as to become a cliché once more. :smug:

    How to persuade a mediocre player who has no desire to improve, to improve anyway? Good luck with that. :rolleyes:

    My POV is that it's not your job, nor the job of any other member of the band, to essentially "babysit" an underperforming fellow member of the band, nor to assume responsibility for the development of his musicianship - with the possible exception of the leader. That's what private lessons are for. That's what personal practice is for.

    (And just to save some time, if your response is to say, "Well, there is no leader", then my response will be to reply, "Well, there's a big part of your problem right there.")

    So as is often the case with these types of threads, there are a number of glaring omissions of information that could otherwise be decisive. For example, has the drummer's playing been this banal and uninspired throughout the entire two years you've been in the band? Has anyone else in the band ever spoken to him about bringing a better game? And what, if anything, has the leader had to say about this guy?

    If the drummer has been playing this way throughout most, or all, of the time this band has been together, yet no one else has ever shown any serious problem with it, I think you can safely assume one and/or both of two things:

    1) They can hear the drummer's lack of actual musicianship, but for whatever reason, don't care enough to agitate for some improvement at the drummer's station (i.e. either leaning on the current guy to improve, or replacing him with someone who has better chops, better attitude).


    2) They can't tell how mediocre he really is.

    Either way, the presumption should probably be that they're OK with the drummer - just the way he is. Otherwise, they would have made a change, a long time ago.

    Personally, I would have a one-on-one with the leader right away. Put your cards on the table. Air out your frustration and concerns. Express your desire to help make the band better and better (keep it positive). Just realize that by seizing the initiative and forcing the issue, there's always the possibility that it could backfire, and you yourself would get fired as a result.

    For me it would be worth the risk - a win/win. Because either way I'm not going to be playing with a crappy drummer anymore. And for me, that is almost always a win. :cool:

  3. Hmm, bummer. Yeah, other than replacing him or quitting there really isn't to much you can do about it other than maybe pray. Good luck and best wishes.
  4. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    There are only 4 options. The same 4 that always exist in every situation like this.

    #1. Talk to the person you're having an issue with. It sounds like you've tried that, and it failed. So on to #2.

    #2. Fire them, and replace them.

    #3. Quit the band.

    And #4, the one most people end up doing, just accept the crap and put up with it, until you can find something better (or not)

    I'm not trying to be dismissive of your problem, God knows I've been in your shoes dozens of times, and it's tough. But at the end of the day, those 4 choices are all you've got.

    Good luck.
  5. morgansterne

    morgansterne Geek U.S.A.

    Oct 25, 2011
    Cleveland Ohio
    We just recently ditched a drummer who was like this. I play only a little drums, but I always thought "If I joined a band as a drummer, I'd be better than him in a year or two." He's been playing and gigging for about forty years!

    I'll play and perform with people who aren't that skilled, if they improve as they go. Otherwise, forget 'em.
  6. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Well, if quitting the band and booting the drummer are out of what you're prepared to do,
    You can try to take it slowly, over time. The drummer does not sound like the guy that practices a lot, but if you manage to feed him tiny morsels one at a time during band practice, it may improve. Don't expect him to do a beat he simply can't. Don't expect him to practice that beat so he's got it dialed in at next rehearsal. But that one hit of the snare - he can cope with that after a minute. So if that's settled, the one bit on the hihat. And so on.
    With luck, the speed of that can pick up once he started noticing a difference.

    It always frustrates when one of the members is dropping below the rising average and can not or does not want to strive to keep up.

    I do like being the worst player in a band. It makes me practice. Hard.
    But there are others. Like your drummer.
  7. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Getting stuck having to hold the guy's hand like this - month after month; maybe even year after year - is just about the most discouraging, dispiriting, tedious and soul-crushing experience I can imagine in a band situation, and would likely drive me right out of my mind. Anyone who did get stuck in such a thankless role would have only himself to blame.

    IMO, life is too short to sell oneself so short. Any real musician, with even a shred of self-respect, would never allow himself to be held hostage like this, to such a loser who apparently doesn't really care anyway. :rolleyes:

    No. Just no. :rollno:

  8. kevibass


    Sep 25, 2011
    thanks to all for your insightful input. particularly mystic michael, in my heart, i feel what you're saying. i'll be backing away from this banging my head on the wall **** after the next festival (next week). already feel better. looking to the new horizon.
    "he who asks a question is a fool for a minute; he who does not remains a fool forever."
    Chinese proverb.
  9. Trust me, you won't missing playing with a bad drummer at all.

    Is this guy friends with everyone else in the band? Can they not hear he's that bad?
  10. Octaves


    Jun 22, 2012
    Bad drummers, my pet peeve. Bad drummers who think they are good, even worse!

    It makes me think about what the rest of the band are like. If they can't hear it, i'd be suspicious.

    This is bringing up unresolved issues for me re- a lame drummer we once had. Couldn't even come in strong on the 1 after a 'fill'. Grr.. Lol
  11. thebates


    Jan 2, 2011
    Well this is our lot in life it seems. I spend a lot of time shedding on tunes (covers). I like to nail it and then....let the song take on it's own feel as the band settles into it. My current drummer shows up having not even listened to a tune. And other members are only slightly better. My dad was an engineer, but he was a big band jazz drummer. So I'm a ****ing stickler for detail. He warned me about incompetence and mediocre musicians. I'm no Jaco, but what I do and cover I take pride in. You are not alone my friend. Doug
  12. tedious1


    Feb 14, 2014
    Just my $0.02, I'm hardly the greatest musician in the world (at which point John points out I'm not even the greatest musician in my band!) and I also started as a gui****, and bounced back and forth before eventually flying straight a few years ago. But my 'education' as a bass player was, and to some degree still is, full of conspicuous gaps.

    So we went in to record recently, and the engineer we were working with was also a bass player. Although I'm open to suggestions from the other guys in the band, they probably weren't aware that I could be doing things so much better. Enter the engineer.

    Sometimes it may be better received coming from someone who a) knows what they are talking about, and b) is outside the band. In my case it doesn't matter, I'm a sponge, until you prove you don't know what you're about, I'll take your input on board, but that doesn't sound like the case with your drummer.

    Call it 1a) in Winfred's list...
  13. Hate to say it, but I assume from the original post that he's been there all six years and you've been there two years, right?

    Six years is a long time to put up with any crappy/underperforming musician if you weren't on board with what they were doing or satisfied with their work. So I would say the others in the band don't have a problem with what he is doing. If this is the case, he isn't going anywhere or changing a thing.

    Six years......you will not change him and you will not change the dynamics of the group. It's what they are, good, bad, or otherwise.

    From there you just have to figure out what you can and cannot put up with, then take it from there.

    I have a similar situation with my guitarist, he has one volume, loud, and plays everything b@llz-to-the-wall, 110% effort and energy every time. He's known for this in our area. But I don't mind, because right from the start that's what the persona of the band was when it was formed; loud, harsh, and raw. It was intended to be that way, and always was that way. I knew this going in. And I kinda like it, most of the time. I like gigging, too, and he's all about the gigs. If someone came in and suggested he change what he does, it would not go over well.