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Firing a Lead Guitarist, need advice

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by rojo412, Oct 18, 2002.

  1. rojo412

    rojo412 Walnut is fun! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    For two years, we have been playing together as a band. The singer/rhythm dude, the drummer and I are super tight. Our chemistry is awesome. We read changes well, we improv well, we rock...

    The lead guitarist (who the band's named after... sort of) is absolutely hands down one of the worst, most tone deaf players in the world. His technical skills are horrid, his ability to shut the #### up when we need him to is non-existent, he fits in our band like Kenny G in Cannibal Corpse.

    So the time has come, we have to fire a man who is a friend, not just a bandmate. The band is the only thing in his sad life... he tries to use it as a pickup line for girls way out of his league.

    Has anyone had to do this? How should we go about it? We are prepared, we just need to settle details so nothing gets broken, no one gets humiliated. I need tips and tactics.
  2. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    This, unfortunately, is probably not possible. The best you can do is be quick, be honest, and hope for the best.

    Good luck.
  3. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Ditto - that's the what angel on my right shoulder would suggest that I do...

    Now, the devil on my left shoulder would say: "Make sure you bury the body nice and deep."

  4. rojo412

    rojo412 Walnut is fun! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I'm talking publically. We are prepared for outcomes ranging from nothing at all to a fit and crying scene. We're just weighing pros and cons of where to do this:

    At our fave bar: tell him outside, if he wants to leave, no scene inside. If he wants to stay and drink, fine. This way, he's less likely to make a scene. We're trying our best not to sound cruel and we want him as a friend still. We just wouldn't have anything that he could break in a tantrum. Also, it's 2 minutes from his house.

    At my house: We practice here and hang here a lot. If we tell him, he may break something even if not trying to (like if he stormed out). He'd be likely to be on his guard and lash out or may pour out his feelings in a private setting... which we don't want to deal with.

    Where have others done the deed and how effective was it?
  5. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Well, if that is what you are looking for, I'd say do it in a bar. Tell him that all of the drinks that night are on the band. It might help ease the pain. If you think he is capable of breaking things (intentional, or not), then do it where he'll break someone else's stuff. :)

    And, if you have a local paper that has musician classifieds, you could always look through it, and maybe circle ones that he might be right for, and give that him so he has some leads for finding another band. Of course, that might be a bad idea, too.
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I always find that "You're fired." works quite well.
  7. rojo412

    rojo412 Walnut is fun! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    This guy has pretty much no chance of finding any band that will take him. His personality is kinda grating, his playing style is like Blues a la Helen Keller. I don't even think that a band of teenagers just getting started would take him.

    He does play bass... he plays like Jaco... if Jaco rose from the grave today and was missing a few fingers and worms ate the coordination part of his brain, but he has a better chance with that than guitar.

    In other words, he knows us well enough that if we handed him possible bands, he'd think we were joking with him.
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Tell him Domino's Pizza is looking for drivers.
  9. Dude, there is no easy way. about 9 years ago we cut loose the singer and drummer.. Singer was a jerk so it was an easy decision, but the drummer was a friend, just a lousy drummer. Moral of the story.... he contacted my yesterday out of the blue. Last time I saw him was our last gig 9 years ago. We laughed about how we thought we were rock stars at the time and that we were just another bar band having a good time.

    Life goes on, people move in and out of bands. try and position it that way. Bands who make millions can't keep all the players together all the time.

    Hopefully someday sooner than my drummer friend you will be friends with him again soon, but don't expect him to talk to you for a while.

    Good luck
  10. different strategy...

    Try this, instead of kicking a guy out of a band named after him (sort of). You, the singer/rhythm dude and drummer should quit the band your in and a few days later start a new band. This technique usually spares a few hurt feelings.

    When he (the lead player) gets hip to what you've done, you can say, "we wanted to take the music in a different direction, etc...".

    It's the old creative differences ploy.

    The "it's not you, it's us" form of breaking up.

    Just a thought...
  11. drive him out to the middle of nowhere, tell him to get something out of the trunk and drive off.
  12. rojo412

    rojo412 Walnut is fun! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    All good ideas in their own right...

    The whole "Break up/Reform" and "Side project" ideas were thought of. Biggest problem was that we still want to play old songs. Plus, he'd take it harder than just breaking it off once he found out (like breaking up with someone vs. cheating until they found out).

    The "trunk idea"... well, I have a wagon and the drummer and guitarist have vans, so there is no "Trunk" persay. But yes, we thought of that too.

    After the breakup, he won't have much choice but to speak with us. We have common friends, a common hangout and he has no "good friends" beside us. Like I said, he's got a personality that is like spicy food... you need to have a taste for it, otherwise, you won't want it around. To most people, this guy is Wasabi, Jabaneros, Tabasco, and jalepenos wrapped in curry tortilla. And as much as we really don't dig hanging with him all the time, we don't want him to hate us.
  13. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Not Easy. Especially running in the same social circles.

    This is a possibility:

    "We like you, but musically and technically you are dragging us down. We haven't seen you improve, we are going to move on without you".

    If he gets nasty, you can pull him aside and tell him; "if you don't tone down, we'll tell everyone in our social circle why Your'e Not In Our Band Anymore!"
  14. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Psychologically, firing someone from a band is exactly the same as in the corporate world.

    Prime concept: Nothing you can say will convince the person being let go that its the "right" thing, so don't try. So long as you show the person respect, bridges aren't permanently burnt and you maintain your professional dignity.

    Don't engage in point-by-point argument, or let him bait you into such a discussion. Simply tell him the decision has been made, we don't expect you to agree with it, but its how it is going to be, nothing you can say will change the decision. We respect you, like you as a friend, and that won't change, though we understand if you are upset.

    Simple, to the point, non-argumentative, and professional. Same concepts are used by human resources personnel in major corporations.
  15. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    I hate to be the one to say it -- you called this guy a friend, but it doesn't sound like any of you are his friends. You need to be honest with this guy. It's never easy having to fire someone from anything, but if you are as good of friends as you claim, you should have no problem talking to him and letting him down easy (remember: Honesty versus brutal honesty). Feelings are going to be hurt, no matter when, where and how you tell him he's out. I definitely do not recommend doing it in a bar! I also don't recommend starting a rumor about the fact that he's being fired, knowing full well that it will get back to him (this happened to me once -- it's not cool). If he's comfortable at your house, have him over some night to "talk shop." Tell him on the phone, "We really need to talk about the band." Have a few beers, get comfy and then tell him what's up. Lay it all out for him (again, you don't have to mention that you relate him to Helen Keller or Kenny G). I don't know about having the whole band sit in -- he might feel like he's being ganged up on. Please don't think I'm suggesting you baby this guy either. I'm just saying, think of him as the friend you claim he is and as a guitarist that has given you all he had (even if it wasn't all you needed or wanted) as a guitarist for X amount of time.

    If that sounds too "creepy" for you, I like the breaking up and reforming idea. If you want to play old songs, do it. If your guitarist asks what the deal is, tell him, "We wanted to go in a different direction musically." If and when he realizes you're playing the same songs that you were playing before the break up, I doubt he'd even bother to ask about it -- he'll "get it."

    Lastly, I'd like to add that I've been fired from a few bands and I've had to fire people from a few bands. It's never easy, but if you two are friends, try to make an effort to stay that way. Just because you fired the guy doesn't mean you have to treat him like he has the plague! I mean, the guitarist from my last band (who had a part in firing me) has kept in touch with me since day one. Now, we're starting to write together and are talking about putting another band together.

    Good luck!

    EDIT: Perhaps before you fire the guy, you could sit him down, one-on-one and explain the situation (your house, beer, get comfy, etc.). Ask him if he wants to remain a part of this band and tell him what you need him to do in order for that to happen. Give him a month or so to make some changes and if you or the rest of the band don't see an improvement, then go ahead with firing him. You know, give him one last chance. Whaddaya think?

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