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Fire the drummer or give a chance.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by woody357, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. JPaulGeddy


    Sep 19, 2007
    South Carolina
    From a friend perspective, ok, give him the ultimatum/'one last chance' (even though you've pretty much already done that. From a bandleader/management perspective - quantify it.

    'You need to do such and such on these songs, work on x, etc. Do you need a click-track? No shame in that. Do you need extra time with me to work on stuff? Cool. '

    Give him everything he needs to counter his excuses. aka, enough rope to hang himself.
  2. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Obviously he isn't getting it. Time to replace him. It isn't easy firing a friend, but I'll bet deep down inside he knows he isn't making the grade.
  3. rodsnhawgs

    rodsnhawgs Custom builder. G-ratio basses Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2010
    U.S., WV
    This is a tough one because he's your friend. At the same time, real friends sometimes have to speak the truth. Ask him to listen to the recording(s) and tell him you'd like his critique of the performance. He'll either listen and hear the issues or he won't. Many times us musicians suffer from a lack of awareness. He may simply be unaware of timing problems... In that case, you can be empathetic and suggest/insist he get some lessons and work on his issues (assuming everyone else is on their game), or he may have to be replaced. You will also need to address the unprepared problem. A band needs to treat rehearsals as if they were playing for studio time - that means you don't use rehearsal time to learn the songs, but rather to nail down the arrangement and fine tune all the little nuances that make the performance better.
    Good luck... be nice, be professional, but be true to the music.
  4. That sad thing is how typical this situation is. The bass player feels it the most because it is our job to tie the rhythm with the melody. I am tired of drummers that don’t take their role seriously. The logical thing to do is find another drummer, but being in band is not something that is about logic. One thing I can say is that you deserve to play with somebody as dedicated as you. Good luck, with whatever you decide.
  5. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 Groove it

    I’d cut him out. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to lock in with a drummer who’s a “russian dragon”. Unfortunately, sometimes a bad drummer will sink the band. Everyone notices this, especially if his tempo is shaky.
  6. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Oh? Ok. Then do your job.

    Maybe this time with a little less “I/me/mine!” clouding your judgement? Because right now you’re not talking like a band leader at all. You’re behaving like a bro who’s protecting his buddy - and too bad if anyone else in your band doesn’t like it.

    I’m curious …how well would you tolerate somebody else in the band dragging their personal problems into the mix? And how ling would you have allowed it to go on?

    If you’re the sole and absolute master and commander of your little ship, then the very least the people along for the voyage should be able to count on is being respectfully heard and treated equitably by you. There’s a higher imperative that says the fact you own the bat and ball still doesn’t give you the moral right to do whatever you please.

    Bottom line: Your buddy’s issue
    isn’t your band’s issue. It’s your personal problem. Stop inflicting it on the rest of the band.

    Suggest you get yourself a new drummer, or plan on starting a brand new band very shortly.

    Sorry if all this comes across as being a little blunt. But I’m being a little blunt right now. Sorry you have a situation like this to deal with. But stuff happens. Onward!

    Luck! :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
    StayLow likes this.
  7. red_rhino

    red_rhino Gold Supporting Member

    Okay then. Imagine that this isn't a band, but a small business that you're trying to build. One of your employees, who happens to be a friend, isn't performing. This will impact the moral of your other employees and your product/service will suffer, potentially making you less appealing to customers.

    You have your answer. As hard as it is, you need to replace your drummer with someone who can do the job. And you need to do it in a way that doesn't destroy the relationship, so be open and honest about why you're doing it and leave the door open to working with him in the future if he can step up his game.

    Everyone I know who's run their own business, has faced something just like this. Good luck.
  8. DAB


    Mar 28, 2016
    With an empty heart and a dollar ten?
    Deathblade Eric likes this.
  9. 3bc

    3bc Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2010
    Chicago Burbs
    I guess it would somewhat depend on how direct you’ve been to this point. If you’ve been pussyfooting around it and trying to be buddy buddy about it, a firing might catch him completely by surprise and hurt a friendship that may be more important that a band, it may be worth a deeper conversation first. People are often completely surprised when they shouldn’t be, but putting yourself in his shoes, would he be caught off guard because you haven’t expressed the fact that this is a serious concern?

    If you have expressed that plainly, than he probably needs to go.

    I personally find friendships more valuable than bands, but if the band is a primary source of income (which it doesn’t sound like it), a good friend wouldn’t want to mess with your business.
  10. Nunovsky


    Sep 4, 2004
    I was in a similar situation recently. The drummer of one of the bands that I play with has embraced a new project and we had to audition other drummers. One of the drummers that came was a guy that eventually has been in other bands before and has a certain experience. He was a nice guy, easy handle. But he had some serious time issues. Whenever he made a drum fill he would either end in the wrong place or change the tempo of the song, either speeding it or slowing it down. Obviously, we did not chose him.

    If there's a band musician that we as bassplayers need to build a good connection is the drummer and for me it's essential that I feel in the same page with the drummer whenever I'm playing. If he has a solid beat, is realiable, gets where the music is going and works well the dynamics then I'm at home.
    I use to say that if the bass is the heart of the band then the drummer is the skeleton, and he sustains everything that we're doing. If the drummer fails tempo, does not hold the structure, and doesn't know how the song works, then it's really dificult for the rest of the band to do their thing and that passes to whoever is watching the show.

    So, as almost everything said above, I think that the best thing to do is change the drummer but that has to be a band decision, not your own.
  11. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    it's never easy to tell a friend he's not worthy of being in your band.
  12. It sounds like you've sent the message. I can only speculate why he's not responding and stepping up his game. Maybe in the end it doesn't matter, because your reputation is being trashed in the meanwhile (yours, the band brand name, the other musicians).

    How about an ultimatum with a time limit attached? He needs to come fully prepared with X number of songs within X number of days, or you and the rest are going to start looking for another drummer with a better work ethic.

    Maybe remind him the difference between practicing (learning songs at home in your own time) and rehearsing (tightening up songs everyone is familiar with, prepping for the stage, during the limited time you have together). Some musicians don't know the difference.

    When unpreparedness spills onto the stage and makes the group and me look bad, that's where I draw the line. At this point, he's the one being a bad friend.
  13. FenderB


    Mar 28, 2016
    Findlay, Ohio
    I've been playing drums for a little over five years, I could never play in a band because I have a heck of a time learning songs. I can bang out a normal 4/4 beat, but who can't. Not everyone who wants to be a musician can, I know it, some people don't.
  14. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I build and modify basses
    I have played with drummers like that ….

    One solution I came up with was to play more stacotta and play tighter to keep the drummer on time
  15. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    I'm afraid that... I have to agree. This is the part of being the Guy In Charge that nobody likes (well, unless they're a sadist or something), but has to be done anyway. When I was a senior NCO, I had to make decisions that could have cost someone their career. But, not to do so, could have cost other people their lives. I didn't want to do it; and I for sure didn't like it. But, I was the Guy In Charge, and that was part of the job description. Yeah, he's your friend, and that makes it harder; but if you don't do what you know you have to do? He's likely to - metaphorically speaking - get your whole band killed...:thumbsup:
    lfmn16 likes this.
  16. 2F/2F


    May 26, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    How serious is this band, anyhow? Are you playing "real" venues, and making good money? Or are you playing low-key venues for not much money, primarily just to have a good time and get yer ya-yas out? How much money do you pay the drummer for gigs and practices? The level of musical strictness to apply is highly dependent on these answers, IMO. If you are actually trying to make something resembling a living, and shooting for high-end venues, with these guys, it's very different than if you are just friends having fun, making a little money here and there. If it's the latter, don't come down hard on the guy. It's not worth damaging a friendship because you're taking a "fun gig" too seriously. And you said he has a great attitude. That goes a LONG way, even in a serious, fully professional musical environment.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  17. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I would disagree. "Great attitude" for me absolutely includes being willing to (unprompted) put in the time and effort necessary to learn the material and keep his chops up. He's 0 for 2 on that. I've been where you are, and my other piece of advice is...don't fire the drummer while most of the band's gear is in the drummer's girlfriend's basement. THAT was awkward.
    jdc866 likes this.
  18. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I wouldn't say I LIKE kicking people out, but almost all of the time I have kicked people out of bands it was because they WOULDN'T learn the songs, not that they COULDN'T. I had a drummer that I read the riot act one day, really went off (after months of being nice and making suggestions). I told him he was capable of playing the music if he practiced. Well, he practiced his posterior off for two weeks and made a huge improvement. I basically told him I knew he had it in him. Then he never practiced again so I fired him. I didn't feel a drop bad; he was just a lazy bum.
  19. 2cooltoolz

    2cooltoolz Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2009
    Lake Conroe, TX
    I hate to stereotype any group, but...

    90% (99?) of being able to play with a band happens all alone, at home, your dorm room, the practice rooms, wherever. Many drummers, in my experience, don't get this. From day one, they play with the band, or not at all. I have known a lot of drummers who leave their only drumset, set up at the rehearsal space.

    "Did you learn the song?" "Yep, I listened to it 3 or 4 times"

    Hell, I spent 5 hours, and it wasn't that hard a song. (But then I write them out. A little OCD :D)

    A REAL drummer works it out at home, just like any other instrumentalist, then comes to rehearsal owning the music. Or not.
  20. DanTheQuaker

    DanTheQuaker Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2015
    I'll offer a slightly different perspective (and hopefully I'm not projecting too much of my own similar situation)...

    The thing I love most about the band I'm currently playing in is the caring and supportive vibe within the band. I've played in enough bands in the past that were so success-focused that anyone who was lagging behind would be cut. Granted, the band I'm in now has no illusions about making it big or doing this as a living. We're doing this because we love it. So we value attitude over ability.

    When I joined the band I didn't like to sing. Backup vocals I could do (grudgingly) but definitely not lead. But, because of their encouragement, I gradually sang more and more. Now I sing an equal share of the lead vocals and I really enjoy it. Similar case with songwriting. The guys encouraged my songwriting and were enthusiastic about playing my songs. That has given me confidence and helped me to grow as a songwriter.

    Our drummer is, musically, the weak link. He too has tempo problems. He overplays. He has severe ADD and gets bored playing simple, solid beats (or learning parts from recordings). But he is a super nice guy and has a great attitude and infectious enthusiasm. The other members (myself included) have had many conversations about what to do with him. But we all feel strongly that we value the supportive vibe we have over the utilitarian one. As much as we all would love to play with a rock-solid, steady drummer, we don't want to become the kind of band that cuts someone loose for not being musically up to par (and, given our modest goals, we don't have to).

    So we keep patiently working with him: pointing out specific areas he needs to work on (such as what he's doing with his kick drum on a specific song, or to just do straight 8th notes on the ride cymbal during the bridge on a particular song, or to simplify the drum fill which begins that song, etc.). We record our gigs and rehearsals and listen to his playing and then discuss with him very specific areas for improvement. And, lo and behold, he is gradually getting better. He may never be our ideal drummer in terms of musicianship, but we all feel like what we gain in the joy of being part of an encouraging, supportive group outweighs what we sacrifice in musical excellence.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
    2F/2F likes this.

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