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Gahhhhhh my drummer just went on "hiatus"

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by TimBosby, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Bass players, you know how hard it is to find a good drummer. Not just a good drummer musically, but someone who has their sh** together, shows up for practice regularly, stays in touch when they have a conflict, doesn't have a drug problem, doesn't have a messed up marriage that interferes with the band, etc.

    (Note: I have played with plenty of drummers who: cannot keep a steady beat, don't show up to practice, don't stay in touch, have messed up relationships, have drug problems, and any combination of the above.)

    In the fall of 2012, my band replaced a not-very-good drummer (who was unfortunately a very nice guy, making him hard to fire) with the holy grail of drummers. He'd just moved to town, same age as us, exact same taste in music, and has an awesome wife and awesome son. Super laid back dude, very easy to work with, but also never seems to run out of energy. His 4-year-old boy drums too, and sometimes we'd give him ear plugs and let him drum along with dad while we're jamming (which was super fun and a huge thrill for the kid - and I am pretty sure he could keep a beat better than the 27-year-old drummer we fired.)

    The one Achilles heel was that he had a job which basically came in spurts. The way I'm describing it makes it sound like a military gig, but it wasn't that. He'd be home all the time, available all the time, then suddenly gone for a week, two weeks, or even a month or more at a time. With little to no warning. Almost immediately after hiring him, a 3-month stint for work away just came up and he had to get on a plane and go. Nonetheless, it was the holiday season so we were ok with a break anyway, and he was just that much of a fun, awesome dude, and great musician, that we were willing to roll with it.

    Sure enough, he came back, we started rehearsing regularly, then all of a sudden all of our music got better. Amazing how a good drummer can do that. We played shows, people liked us, etc. There were some more work conflicts, none that were super lengthy, and while we missed some practices, it was not nearly as bad as other bands I've been in. Eventually he quit the heavy travel w/ no notice job, got a more routine 9-5 job with less travel and our practice schedule stabilized a bit.

    Then, a bombshell. We found out that his lovely and ultra-cool young wife is sick. The C word. A huge shock. Fortunately she was doing so well with her treatment that we never had a clue. She'd still come to shows and hang out, exhibiting no overt signs of the illness. The amazing part is, our drummer is such a happy dude, so optimistic, that he also exhibited no outward signs of fear or anger over his wife's sickness. I am sure he was troubled, but his amazing outlook and positivity was something to behold. He's not even religious or anything like that, just naturally confident and happy to be alive. Very cool. Me, if that happened to my wife, I'd be a miserable wreck.

    We slowed things down a bit, found out she went in for some surgery which went very well. They got everything bad out of her and she's doing great. That's not to say things are perfect, but given the circumstances, they're as good as they could possibly be.

    In the interim, we played a New Year's Eve show with a fill-in drummer... a guy we know from other local bands. Very nice dude, good drummer. Not as good as our own drummer but good enough to throw it together in a couple weeks with only a few rehearsals. He played better live at the show than he did at any of the practices, and we nailed it. People dug it. We even made some money, which is almost unheard of in this sleepy, freezing-cold city for an hour of original music with little to no promotion (other than the fact that it was New Year's Eve.)

    Then, another bombshell. Our drummer e-mails us this morning. He has to go on hiatus. The family situation is too much. His wife is doing better, but I imagine it's hard for him to be gone with the kid and all since she's recovering. Totally understandable. His son is actually going to be very upset that he can't come to practice with dad and jam with us (he'd normally play 1-3 songs with us and then watch a movie on his iPad for the rest of the time.) We're set to record at the end of April but he can't do that. I guess we'll see if our fill-in guy wants to do a more long-term fill in gig. Which is fine. But he's not quite the same. As a bass player, I became spoiled by our drummer. He's really good. Just really creative and a pleasure to work with, especially in the rhythm section. Oh well. I hope the hiatus is only that.
  2. MonkeyBass


    Mar 22, 2009
    Denver, CO
    Dude that's rough. But it sounds like your drummer just has a lot to deal with right now. Cancer, a kid, a job... it can be a lot. Give him the space he needs and I'm sure he'll come back some day.
  3. winterburn69


    Jan 27, 2008
    A good drummer makes the world of difference to a bassist, and when you find a guy that you just "click" with, it's awesome. Sorry to hear about losing him and more importantly, his wife's health problems. Hope she gets better.
  4. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Yup, yup. Life happens. Sounds like she's recovering quite well, but the docs will have to keep a close eye on her for years to come, probably. I think she's barely 30, if that. Really made me appreciate that my wife and I (in our 30s), and even our parents (in their 60s), are in good health. You only get one shot on this blue orb of ours.
  5. Thank you for sharing the story, that's what we're here for, to listen/read and help when and where we can. I hope sharing the story here helps and I really hope things get better soon.

    Best wishes,
  6. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards

    It's not just drummers who have drug problems. The same can be said for people in all walks of life. I have been fortunate in that in every band I have been in, people show up prepared. I had a lead singer who had a drinking problem and I fired him. He also had other issues that he was dealing with. We tried to help him but he kept screwing up at gigs so he had to go. I have had a few drummers who struggled with timing. I usually find that most "lead singers" cannot sing very well.
  7. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Thanks Joe!

    Kmonk, yeah, I know, anyone can have a drug problem. And I'm a bit of a libertarian so I honestly don't care WHAT people do on their own time (me, I like whisky :D) as long as it doesn't interfere with my time or the band's time. I threw that little tidbit in there because I was briefly in another band where the drummer started doing lines of blow off the snare drum in the middle of rehearsal. Not HIS snare drum, mind you. My no-drugs, never-had-a-drink guitar player's snare drum that his 6-year old son uses regularly!! :rollno:
  8. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY

    I didn't read anywhere in your post that you were looking for advice, so maybe you just wanted to vent. Though I have no idea what your musical goals and ambitions entail, if I were in your shoes, I would not count on the drummer with the sick wife - and the high-demand job - to be truly available anytime soon, if ever.

    So many times in a situation such as this, members of a band will keep hanging on, and hanging on, and hanging on - because the guy is such a perfect fit, musically & personally, and they just want it to work so very badly. But is his life situation such a perfect fit? :eyebrow:

    In this case, clearly not. And that, of course, has a major bearing upon his availability. So from a purely pragmatic standpoint, if he's not available to play music with you, what does it matter how good he is?

    If you think you can keep the band together for an extended, open-ended hiatus, with all your focus and your drive still intact, for however long it takes, with no promises that your ideal drummer will ever be able to come back to you, then godspeed and all the best. Otherwise, it may be "bird in the hand" time - and/if when ideal drummer's life situation ever changes, you can then deal with the decisions it may require from you, at that time.

  9. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Competent people tend to do many things competently. When adversity strikes and believe me, cancer represents adversity, competent people would rather NOT do things than do them poorly.

    I think it's a reflection of his character. Being there for what's (really) important.

    I know what you mean about finding, and being able to hold onto a solid drummer.
  10. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Nope, not really looking for advice but I certainly don't mind it. Just wanted to vent, or not even vent so much as just tell a quick story.
    But you are right - it would be more pragmatic to move on. Then again, we could have said the same thing shortly after he joined and then left for a 3-month work stint (literally after 2 practices.) He barely knew us then and still came back.
    That being said though, we do have a little bit of a luxury to wait it out for a while. Considering the fill-in guy we have is also a pretty good fit (I say "pretty good" because I'm a little biased toward our regular guy's drum parts) and could end up being a permanent fill if our regular drummer never comes back.

    Also, at my age, 34, with my own life responsibilities, my only musical goals and ambitions are to have fun, make good music, and have it to listen to when I'm old. That's it. I'm not going to quit my day job, leave my wife at home, and go on tour or anything. I don't expect to "make it." Just want to have fun and justify all this time spent on Talkbass by actually playing bass. :D
  11. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011
    Please pass on my best wishes to your drummer. That's a pretty full plate he's balancing right now.

    And yes, I get where you're coming from. If/when our drummer calls it a day, I'm outta here too. Not that I don't like the rest of the guys or the music. Just too old & too spoiled to put up with a hack.
  12. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Well, after a meeting tonight of the rest of us (me + two singers/guitarists), we've decided to look for a new drummer. We're still friends with our old guy but, in order to keep the momentum going, we need to find someone new.
  13. mikegug


    Oct 31, 2011
    Did I miss what he did for a living? My guess is an oil rigger or something internationally (spy(?) - only half joking).
  14. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    No, I never specified. He's an environmental scientist of some sort but his current job is more Mon through Fri 9 to 5 with only occasional travel.
  15. Texan

    Texan 667 Neighbor of the Beast. Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Speaking from experience, you can't imagine the stress that you go through when you have a 4 year old and you find out that your wife has Cancer. We went through the same thing last March and it's stressful for the person with cancer, but the caregiver has to try to stay positive for the patient and keep the kids reassured that mom is going to be ok. It's unbelievable hard. You feel alienated. Give the guy your support. Call him every couple of weeks and ask him how HE is doing. If he decides to talk, then listen. Trust me, he is scared to death. He needs friends and support. Even though she is doing better, you go through these periods of forgetting that the cancer was there and then you'll be doing something with that person and suddenly wonder if that is the last time you will get to have this moment with them. Being with his family just became more precious. Just let him know that when he is ready to jam that you are. That will keep him in the game.
  16. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    I agree. It is terrifying and I am very thankful for my own health. My wife and I don't have kids but we are lucky enough to not have any major illnesses or problems amongst our immediate family.

    He and I have been staying in touch over e-mail from work these last couple days.
    He even felt bad quitting right before recording (well not RIGHT before but we have time booked in April) and offered to do the recordings if need him to. I said I'd be down for that although I think my other two band mates would rather just find a new drummer. So we've been putting out feelers for new drummers and talking to people, and our old drummer is totally cool with that. Class act.

  17. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Ya gotta love Craigslist. Here's the ad I placed a couple days ago, followed by a response I got today.



    Rock 'n roll band looking for a new drummer (Omaha)

    We're an original rock band looking for a new drummer. Our old guy just left on good terms due to unavoidable conflicts, but we're eager to keep our momentum going with someone new. Musically, we've been been described as playing "sepia-toned" rock 'n roll, a compliment to a "night of whiskey drinking." Very loosely put, influences range from the Brian Jonestown Massacre to the Black Angels and anything in between. We sometimes joke that we play "progressive garage rock" - in other words, loud and energetic rock 'n roll but with well-defined arrangements. That being said, some stuff is more bluesy, a bit of country twang, even folky at times; but lately we've been upping the energy with good ol' uptempo rock 'n roll, creeping into punk territory on occasion. We'd like to find someone experienced who can handle any style with ease.

    We have two songwriters, each of whom plays guitar, alternating lead vocals, as well as a groove-driven, melodic bassist. Our age range is 30-34 and we have wives, jobs, cats, etc. We'd like someone who can commit to a practice per week, occasionally two if we have a show or recording session coming up. Original music does not really make money in Omaha, so please don't reply if you expect to make a lot of money... (that's what cover bands are for.) That being said, we have a hell of a lot of fun together, so we really want someone who not only digs our music and can contribute ideas, but is also fun to hang out with. We really just want to play some fun, groovy rock 'n roll and some nice recordings to listen to when we're old. We've got a full rehearsal setup, recording capability, and a nearly-complete drum kit on site.

    Please reply with a sample of music you've done or a link to a past band. E-mail only. Thanks!



    Hi -

    I realize that your looking for a Drummer, which I am not. But, other than that - I'm almost identical to what you described.

    I'm a Rhythm Guitarist, in my 30's, have wife & kids, Love doing Original Music, can do a many styles of Music, love hanging out & weekly practices. I have some experience recording. My favorite is playing different variation of Rock, including Hard Rock, Punk, Industrial, Experimental & so on. Also I can play softer too including Pop, Reggae, Mountain Music (a little), Contemporary & so on - Very Flexible!

    Please let me know if this is of interest. My available practice times are from Friday Night to Sunday Night, on the weekends. I'm easy to get along with, creative, enjoy helping others & can quickly come up with new Guitar Rhythms.

    What you described sounds really fun to me & I'd like to check it out.



    Right away, "I realize that your looking for a Drummer, which I am not."

    Really? If I posted a personals ad - single man looking for a single woman, would I get "I realize that your looking for a Woman, which I am not. But, other than that - I'm almost identical to what you described."

  18. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    This made me laugh. This is so typical of a response from that type of website.

    Your ad is really quite cool though. You present yourself and your band very well.
  19. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Thanks! And yes, when Craigslist is your only option, you have to have a lot of patience :meh:

  20. tubenutq5


    Mar 27, 2013
    Corvallis, OR
    Your drummer sounds like a stand-up guy. For him, and rightly so, his family is most important.

    Support him as best you can and welcome him back (if possible) when the time is right.

    I think the OP already understands that. Good for you!