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guitarist problem....

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by thebeef, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. thebeef


    Mar 3, 2005
    The guitarist and lead singer(who also writes most of the material) insists on changing things up without warning. By this, I mean he capos his guitar to change the key of a song without telling anyone, he goes from one song to another without warning during sets, making odd medleys without warning, and even starts into songs hes just written without telling us or letting us hear them before we preform. He doesnt want a set list either, he just wants to play what hes felling at the time. To this point, I havent fallen flat on my face, but I know its coming. At some point, hes gonna change it up and Im gonna get lost and have to stop or butcher a performance. Ive talked to him about it and he said, "You can hack it", which really isnt the point. I'm starting to feel underprepared for the 1st time since I started playing bass and I dont like that feeling.

    This is the only band Ive ever played with. Am I just being a wus? Is this typical or even acceptable behavior for a frontman? Leaving isnt an option I want to explore, but I might have to get in his face at the possible loss of a long and productive relationship. Have any of you experienced this sort of scenario? How would you deal with this?
  2. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Typical yes, acceptable, you have to decide that.
  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I'd consider looking around at getting some experience in other groups. For example, with the summer upon us, perhaps someone needs a sub for a few weeks while their regular bassist is on holiday?

    Until you get some more experience of working with a range of musicians, you'll be underprepared to make the kind of decision you're facing. Maybe you'll get to play with someone who is meticulous about planning every detail and decide you prefer the 'on the fly' approach!

  4. Time Divider

    Time Divider Guest

    Apr 7, 2005
    This is unstable behavior. Fire him.
  5. Personally I would never play a show without a firm set list that everyone agreed on. Changing things on the fly is disrespectful to other people in the band, IMO.

    We had a show with our short lived lead guitarist like that...he just broke into songs that weren't even on the set list, and changed the way he had been playing some of the songs on the fly. Worse, he would play with his back facing the rest of the band so no one could even see what he was doing...

    We told him after the show that this was completely unacceptable, because he wasn't being a team player. We ended up having to let him go eventually because his behavior continued, but we solved the problem, for better or worse.
  6. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    How would I deal with it? I don't deal with passive aggressive power trip egomania.

    I don't know what the power structure is in your organiziation but either he or I would be gone quick.
  7. Chiba


    Mar 11, 2005
    Typical? No. This might be the worst case of LSD (Lead Singer Disease) I've ever heard of. Acceptable? That's for you to decide.

    Guy sounds like a prima-donna dickhead to me. What you do with him is up to you!

    Maybe I'm just lucky to play with people - even singers - that want to sound professional & prepared on stage.

  8. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Doesn't sound like a band to me.
  9. kilgoja


    May 26, 2005
    that's crap man....that's why you have practice ...so you can learn the songs like you're going to play them....i hate people that play like that ...change everything on the spot...like you know what they are going to do..... ..a band is supposed to play together ...they same key and what not ....switching stuff around at the last minute just confuses everyone
  10. Mo'Phat

    Mo'Phat Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2003
    San Diego, CA, USA
    Yep...big +1 from me.

    However, there are ways of fighting fire with fire, with Agressive Passive action: Any time he pulls this sort of stunt, just stop playing. Even at a show. Form an agreement with everybody else in the band and just stop playing.

    He'll either a) realize he screwed up and feel embarassed and/or contrite and think twice about doing it again, or b) just keep playing with not a care in the world. You'll immediately know if he's a egomaniacal power-tripper or if he's just a naive player that thinks he's being spontaneous and 'in the moment'.

    Or you could just push him off the stage.
  11. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    Yeah, I invented a special word for just such a problem. You can borrow it if you want. I call it...."NO!"

    Say loud. Look mean. It works pretty good on kids and dogs as well.
  12. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    I agree that changing keys is lame.

    But I enjoy NOT following a set list and in our cover band we do requests. If we have an idea how it goes, we do it. Crowds love it.

    Playing material without warning has made me a better ear player hands down.

    It isn't so bad. I sorta dislike setlists now because it feels contrived.

    My .02 worth,
  13. lbanks


    Jul 17, 2003
    Ennui, IN USA
    That's nuts!

  14. +1
  15. thebeef


    Mar 3, 2005
    Thanks for the responses....I know what I have to do, I gotta get in his face and tell him its not acceptable....I really dont want to blow the relationship up becuase we work really well together when we play like we practice, but I dont want to look like a fool either....I'll let you guys know how the confrontation goes....
  16. Fulumful


    May 24, 2005
    Actually...I expect my guitarist to change it up, even during shows. You can follow it if you listen. We always play songs into other songs without warning and usually we make up a few songs on the spot. Improvisation is a huge part of music and you shouldn't shut the door on it love the jam. love it
  17. KeithPas

    KeithPas Supporting Member

    May 16, 2000
    I would tell him that the next time he changes keys with the capo without letting everyone know I would attach that capo to a part of his body that would make it both very hard to breathe and make him sing in a very high pitch.
  18. I've played with the planned out setlist, and the 'on the fly' approach. Both have their merits - with a setlist you can be better prepared, and look more professional. On the fly, you can sometimes follow the feel of the crowd response and what they're digging, and take the show in an appropriate direction.

    Jamming stuff out that you don't really know is definitely a risk, but one worth taking from time to time. Sure it can blow up, but it can also make for some great moments. I bet you'll remember a great spontaneous jam after the show with a bigger smile than the song you played note for note perfectly after a month of practice.

    As far as changing keys... that's a bit much. Insist that he at least tell you what key you're in before the start of a tune, after that you should be able to follow along at least somewhat.
  19. Yup, He can be at times cool, playing a song start to finish in time on time. But other times he'd go just as crazy as your guitarist. The problem for me was that I would follow him, trying to figure out what key he was in and try to keep up, and of course when i left to follow my drummer would try to keep up with me, and the entire thing turned into a mess.

    What we did to remedy this solution was stick to it. The drummer, singer and I would stand our ground. So if the guitarist went crazy, it was he, who would sounded wacked out and not the band.

    I have read this somwhere, I can't remember where but I thought it was very useful.


    The power a bassplayer can yield in a band is really underestimated.

    I hoped that helped you. It helped me :)
  20. BMGecko


    Sep 5, 2002
    Albuquerque, NM
    Two suggestions...

    1) You and the drummer decide to do some things like this on your own and just spring it on the singer.

    2) YOu don't mention the drummer, but perhaps you two should can "the man" and start your own band.

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