Following the Front Guy

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bucephylus, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    All right, I'm well acquainted with the Front Guy always being right, but...

    I recently landed the bass spot in one of the better local R&B bands. These are all really experienced cats. So, we're covering this Billy Vera tune in 3, and the Front Guy is getting a little carried away with the expressionism. The drummer is more of a "feel" kind of player and is just adding beats to cover the Front Guy's metric wandering. This is driving me crazy, but I hate being a strict interpreter. What do you guys think, do you just go with the drummer and add measures of 4 where the Front Guy takes it, or do you have it out with the Front Guy to keep the tune on meter?
  2. Go with the drummer.

    No matter how right you are- if everyone else is wrong- you're not right.
  3. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    Thanks. On stage I agree with you. I'm trying to figure out how to handle the matter at rehearsal.
  4. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    If this Front Guy is "experienced" as you say, then he's probably not going to change - even if he agrees to. Bad habits are hard to break. I would suggest getting used to following him, especially since the drummer is already doing it. You don't have to like it, and even if it's "wrong", if everyone plays together, it will sound "right"...
  5. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Too much hip thrust
    Follow the drummer. My band makes at least one huge error like that per show, originating from the drummer or guitarist. We are usually keyed in to each other well enough that it is hardly noticeable, unless you were counting or knew the songs as well as we do. We do a lot of extended jamming or just open jamming when we rehearse, so that was probably how the skill was developed.

    Our singer hasnt gotten that bold yet. :p
  6. kjones


    Dec 4, 2004
    This band is putting extra beats in "At this Moment?" It's a pretty simple darn song.

    You're sure they're experienced? It's a slow dance song, how do you slow dance when people are putting in extra beats like a Rush song?
  7. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    Agreed, as far as rhythm section work goes.

    However, the vocal line is somewhat challenging - lots of expressive fills etc.
  8. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    So here's the Coda for this one:

    The regular guitarist gets back off the road, shows up at rehearsal, and would have no part of adding beats. Now the drummer and Front Guy are reined in, following the form as it should be. Interesting communication dynamics.
  9. That's perfect, you solved the problem, and the guitar player is the "difficult" one, not you... :D

    On stage, you have to adjust and adapt as circumstances demand. If the singer or drummer can't get back on beat, you have to join them off the beat. If there's one dominant guy everyone can follow it works ok. Gets a little confusing when everybody wants the rest of the band to follow THEM if there's no clear "leader" when you guys go "off-road".

    In rehearsal, that's the time to be a stickler. Even if its hard right now, the singer needs to learn to count to minimize train wrecks on the gig. Call it tough love, the guitar player had the right idea.
  10. kjones


    Dec 4, 2004
    steveksux nails it. Live, of course, if somebody messes up you do all you can to adjust to it and make it sound like that's the way you meant to play it. If you allow it to be played wrong in rehearsal, that almost guarantees it will be played wrong at a gig.
  11. Drummer and bassist are always right. Don't follow anyone else. If the rhythm is solid, the other cats can muck about all they like
  12. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    Yeah, thanks very much for the comments. I agree with all. Aren't band dynamics interesting? This group is the nicest bunch of folks; I just love em all. So, I was trying to go easy on the tell assertiveness. We just did our 2nd gig last night. Here's a pic:

    Attached Files:

  13. You mentioned both adding beats and measures, not sure which you meant. Beats or measures makes a big difference. Adding another measure to the phrase to stay with the front guy (again, live, not rehearsal) is fine, nobody will notice that. Better he doesn't goof up, but count your blessings that he tends to go off by whole measures, and not pieces of measures, like a few individual beats.... :rollno: I've seen that in my day too... much harder to compensate for live... Guy comes in on a backbeat instead of the downbeat and either doesn't notice or can't correct...

    If the drummer has played with him a long time, and is used to covering for him, knows how much to adjust, definitely follow him. Holding to the correct phrasing live, forcing the front guy to correct, or making the front guy look like he goofed up is a sure way to get fired. Quickly. If that's his only quirk, and otherwise the band is smokin, working, groovin... try not to let it bother you. No band is perfect.

    However, until you've played "3 Times a Lady" in 4/4, count your blessings.... Drummer screwed the pooch on that one, started in 4/4, couldn't switch to 3/4 on the fly, and refused to stop and start over. That was about the only time I figured stopping and starting over live was the best option rather than trying to cover it up.

  14. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    At a gig we start playing "Fool Hearted Memory". Now the singer always sings it slow, but this time he is *way* too slow. Like quarter = half note slow. The singer stops, says it is too slow, and starts up again at the same tempo :rollno: Playing too slow can actually be harder than playing too fast.

    Missed or added measures usually aren't too bad. I can even handle a beat here or there. The only time I have had to actually stop and resync was playing "Takin' Care of Business" by BTO. For all the non-Canucks, this is the "Sweet Home Alabama" for Canadian bands. I can play this in my sleep.

    Anyway we are into the guitar solo and I am starting an upward progression and in the middle of a bar, in the middle of the chord sequence the guitar player (who is also the singer) skips to the chorus. It threw me so much I had to stop and get back in.
  15. jimbob


    Dec 26, 2001
    Charlotte NC
    Endorsing Artist: Acoustica Mixcraft; Endorsing Artist: DR Strings
    I'm glad that mess is on the trail of working out. Nothing worse than a singer who misses the boat of song structure. As a singer myself, I have to say that the one thing that irks me is when the band plays a song I am singing either too fast or too slow. I like setting the tempo for songs I sing. When someone else is singing, I watch the singers "Stomping Foot" to get an idea of the general tempo they are looking to go for and signal for the drummer to speed up or slow down based on that. Keeps the singer comfortable and gives them the opportunity to "sell it" comfortably.