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Getting lead singer to talk more

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by SnowCal, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. I play in a dinky originals band. We play 4-chord or less pop songs and beg all of our friends and parents to buy $12 tickets to our headlining gigs at renowned venues. We'd prefer that they buy those tickets from us beforehand because otherwise we end up owing the venue money.

    We've got a lot of little problems though. Our frontman is a good singer and can dance, but the 30 second breaks we take between songs to tune and adjust our Fx pedals are dead air. He turns away from the audience and doesn't say anything. When the guitarists are tuning and the dead air is gonna last especially long I'll turn to him and say 'talk' repeatedly until he engages the crowd. It takes a bit.

    I've exaggerated everything that's not the problem I'm asking about, but how do you get a singer to come out of his shell a bit? I want to make this easy for him. I'm thinking about writing a list of things he can talk about on his set list if that would help.
  2. Huge

    Huge Hell is full of musical amateurs. Like me.

    Dec 2, 2005
    Take shorter breaks, I'm not there to listen to your frontman talk. :p

    There's no real way to pull him out of his shell on purpose, send him to toastmasters, or an improv class.
  3. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    No written rule says the singer needs to be the one keeping things moving ... I play bass, sing very little back-up, and spend more time on the mic than anyone through the night in one of my groups ..

    FWIW, the lead singer in that group, has no personality, and I really don't want him opening his mouth a whole lot other than to sing ... interestingly enough, he is starting to come out of his shell and tries to be the DJ now ... so I spend as much time trying to fix or finish what he tries to do ...

    This is a 50's-60's group, that generally plays to an older crowd, so I have very specific notes that I can refer to things from those eras that may pertain to a song coming up .. but as much as notes help, it is more about being a natural and comfortable just gabbing and making sure folks are having fun and with ya ...

    If it is taking too long between songs for the band to adjust things, that is probably as much if not more of an issue that needs to be dealt with ... to expect anyone to BS for more than just a few seconds over and over, and between every song, is asking too much .. tighten your show, and if you dont care for the way he is making sure they have fun, you do it ... JMHO
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are.

    IMO/IME, 30 seconds between songs is way too long. If the guitarist(s) can't stay in tune, IMO, time to get a locking tuners/bridge set up or one of those Gibson guitars that tune themselves at the push of a button. And, if they spend time adjusting their pedals, maybe it time to find one that has presets.

    We used to call three songs at a time and the drummer would be counting in the next tune as soon as we were done with the song that we were playing. When people are dancing and having a good time, the last thing they want to hear is someone rambling on stage.

    One thing I've noticed is that since all the mics are adjusted volume wise for the vocal levels (as they should be), the in between song banter done in a speaking voice is usually muffled and is not loud enough.

    Here are a couple of links on ideas of what to say between songs:
  5. A couple of breaks to swap out instruments & settings are all there should be, if you do it after every tune that's bad form. I prefer to not hear mindless banter from singers unless they have good jokes or material.
  6. GK Growl

    GK Growl

    Dec 31, 2011
    This. Just because most bands do it that way doesn't mean it's the only way.
  7. I'm sorry for exaggerating. My band does neither pay-to-play or 30 second breaks. Our longest pauses are whatever it takes our guitarist to tune.

    But tuning has to happen a couple times per set or our band will sound terrible. What band doesn't sound awful as the guitars go out of tune?

    And our frontman leaves dead air while those breaks are happening. How have you guys fixed this?

    I do think that the frontman is the ideal guy for the job. The audience is better connected with him than any of the rest of us.
  8. randyripoff


    Jul 12, 2008
    How long are your sets that your guitar player needs to tune up twice? That sounds excessive for your average 45 minute set.

    If funds allow, he could bring a second guitar so he doesn't have to tune constantly.
  9. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    Print out a sheet that has these three bullet points in big letters on it:

    • Thanks for coming, the name of the band is [name] and please buy a lot of drinks so that [club] will ask us to play here again.
    • Thanks - that was [band member] who [wrote, played a solo, etc.] in that song. Everybody give him some love.
    • Thanks - if you liked that, it's on our album. You can get a copy from [name] at the table in the back and she has T-shirts too.

    ..or whatever, point being that it's OK to repeatedly fill very short pauses with that kind of info. Nobody notices if you say the same thing twice.

    If you need a longer break, you have to find a way to make it into a "moment" that fits into your show somehow. Very few frontmen can banter an audience without losing their interest, so come up with something that is part of the shtick. We played at one place a while were we took in a Twister mat. Fun.
    WyreAndWood likes this.
  10. +1, Yep.

    OP: Learn to play songs back-to-back and limit the short planned breaks to a few seconds for swapping guitars and whatnot.
  11. Mortom27


    Jul 22, 2013
    Charlotte, NC
    Our last vocalist was the same way, she was one hell of performer during the songs but she cannot engage the crowd, introduce the band etc,etc.. and like tjh I'm the bass player and was forced to do all the introductions at every show, and when there was 100 people or more in the audience she really got nervous, we finally realized she had stage fright.
  12. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    We will often use the drum beat or even the bass line from the next song to transition into it if a member or two has to change instruments. The lead singer will say something mindless like "Let's all get out on the floor and shake your moneymaker!" during the transitional interlude. Then when everyone is ready, the drummer counts us in, or gives us a fill to lead the band into the next song.

    You guys must be hitting your strings pretty hard to go out of tune during a set. Yes, get another guitar use if one goes out of tune. Keep the show rolling.

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  13. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    This. Have him briefly introduce the songs. At some point near the set's end, have him introduce the band members.
    He doesn't need to give a speech or anything.. Short 'n sweet.
  14. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Have him give a long speech about how this next song really means a lot to all members of the band, and you all connect with the lyrics on a really personal level, then play Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy". Worked for me.
  15. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Get one of those bird dog training colors that shock when you push the button on the included remote.

    Dress it up with some chrome spikes and you hold the remote. When your singer refuses to talk, zap him until he starts talking. It won't take too many reps before he'll get the message. :D
  16. Erm, selling tickets and giving the money to the venue is pay to play.
  17. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    The last few times I saw KISS the breaks between songs were anywhere from 45 second to a minute and a half. Even though Paul Stanley was talking, I found it very annoying. He would only say two or three words at a time and then pause.

    Have your singer introduce the song. Since they are originals, he can tell a 20 or 30 second story about a few of them.
  18. P Town

    P Town

    Dec 7, 2011
  19. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    As I see it, the problem isn't with the singer. If you leave 30 seconds or more dead air then the guitarists have to become more efficient.
    Why doesn't someone else (you?) do the talking if it's easy for you. There's no rule that says the singer has to be the front man ALL the time.
  20. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I could have used that for the opposite purpose when a frontman I worked with rambled too much before songs.