Had a good NYE gig...drummer quits...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by invader3k, Jan 2, 2006.

  1. This is going to be a long post, so get strapped in.

    So, we've had our fourth drummer since probably early October. Things seemed to be going well. Not a stunning player, but basically solid, and slowly learning our songs (though he had trouble with a couple basic songs). Very punctual (almost too early to practice sometimes), and _very_ eager/excited about the band, almost to the point of annoyance. Anyway, he got us a NYE gig in Milwaukee in early December, after another band dropped out (his boss knew the owner of the bar/pizza place we were to play at).

    He went ahead and hired a sound guy without consulting us. Now, we're just a three piece band, and he had already bought a new PA for us to use. So, we didn't really see why we needed a soundguy. Our guitarist/lead singer already owns a very nice lighting rig. Plus, the room we actually played in wasn't that big...maybe 10 x 20 ft. Not huge at all. Anyway, he payed the sound guy out of his own pocket (which he said he had no problem with), so no harm done.

    Pay was very fair. I don't like getting into details about salary, but let's just say I made more myself than the whole band usually makes at a regular gig (which is how it should be on a holiday). We also sold two t-shirts (usually we're lucky to sell one).

    Crowd was into us, etc. One major issue was the start time, however. The drummer never got anything in writing, and never showed us any details. Originally he told me the gig would be "from 10 to 2, with maybe one more set if the crowd is into it." OK, fair enough. Then it became "9:30 to 2:30" and then before the gig it was "9:30 to 3 AM." Alright...getting kind of weird.

    We got there well in advance. Our drummer was actually there to set up with the sound guy at about 11:30 AM! The guitarist and I arrived at about 4:30 and set up. It was quick and easy. We waited around, ate, and actually started playing at about 10:15 PM. We had to delay our start time because there was another act playing in another room (this is a rather large dining/entertainment complex), and the owner didn't want both acts playing at the same time. We didn't object, since he was paying us the same either way.

    Anyway, we play three sets of 8-10 songs each, and things seem fine. However, it becomes apparent during the second set that our drummer doesn't have a lot of stamina. He starts making mistakes...nothing too serious, but missing endings, etc. He was complaining about the "hot lights" (which were hot, but he had hired the sound guy and told him to bring lighting). He ends up bolting early in the middle of the third set to use the bathroom, like, just suddenly got up from behind his set after a song (about four songs before the set was to end). I'm not sure if he was just tired or drunk or what. This is after midnight, during our third set.

    Eventually, it's about 10 minutes to 2 AM. He is obviously exhausted. We had already played four sets, and the crowd was dwindling...probably about 25 people or less left in the bar area. The guitarist and I consult (drummer was off somewhere else), and decide due to the drummer looking like he was going to drop over and the crowd dwindling rapidly, that we'd do about 5 more songs and call it a night. We explain this to him, and he starts freaking out, saying that we were "paid to play 'til 3 AM." He also starts going off on how he got us the gig, and was doing everything like showing up early, etc. I told him that was all great, but that the end time had kept changing. I also told him that, while it wasn't his fault, he seemed like he couldn't play much longer, and that the crowd was getting pretty thin.

    So, he tells me that we'll finish the gig, then he'll come pick up his stuff on Monday and we can "move on and get someone else." I told him that was his decision, but I didn't like being given ultimatums.

    So, we start our fifth set (which actually went pretty well overall), and during the fourth song, the owner comes up to me and tells me we need to finish up. It made sense, because all the patrons had left, and it was just my wife and our friends there (like, eight people watching total). We finish the song, the drummer gets us our pay (in cash), and promptly leaves, without helping pack up or even helping the sound guy who he had hired. The guitarist and I quickly pack up, and then help the soundguy get his stuff together. We finally get out of there a little after 3 AM. Before we leave the bartender tells us we had done a great job, and the owner thanks us.

    Sunday the drummer calls me a couple times, but I was busy and didn't feel like dealing with him. I call the guitarist this morning (Monday) and find out the drummer had called him the day before, trying to act like nothing happened. Our guitarist told him he should come pick up his stuff, because that's what he said he wanted to do. Later on this afternoon the drummer calls again, saying that everything was our fault!

    So, I guess we're going to be looking for our fifth drummer in about five years. Yay!

  2. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    Sit the drummer down and find out what is really on his mind. Do you really want to go through breaking in another member?

  3. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    Good point, due you really want to break in another drummer. I'm in a smaller town so I'm having trouble putting a band together period.
    Sounds to me like he was giving out and that was bothering him and he may have gotten emotional about it. Like emotional musicians are uncommon?
    Unless drummers are a dime a dozen around there, maybe you should see if it can be worked out. Like I say, I'm not in the big city anymore so that would be my only option, or take a long break.
  4. Akami

    Akami Four on the floor

    Mar 6, 2005
    I'll play with anyone once, but a drummer who can't do the first 4 hours without problems?

    Maybe he's having other things in his life that are affecting his stamina and band sense, but if I let him stay in the band after all that I'd make sure there was a good long band meeting before the decision was made.

    On the one hand I don't mind playing 6 hour gigs unless the price was low, which evidently it wasn't, but it is still a good idea to get the hours set in stone, then anything over is good will between you and the club.

    Drummers; you can't live with 'em and you can't live without 'em! :rollno:
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    I think I would almost totally be on the drummer's side. He got the gig, which makes it his gig. He's the one who answers to the club if stuff goes wrong. He can hire anyone he wants and pay you whatever he wants, basically. I thought you guys were a little hard on the dude. If I got there at 11:30 am, my stamina would be out to lunch, too.

    The problem is you guys got there too early to set up and had too much time to hang out and work and got all tired. Get there at a decent time to set up without rushing but you don't need to be there at 4 and stay there for a 9:30 start unless they need the room cleared early and it's a long drive.

    I don't know...I'd probably forget about it if the guy can play otherwise.
  6. I can understand how you can see we were a little hard on him. At the same time, I don't see how it's "his gig." Yes, he booked it and worked out the details, but it's still the whole band performing, not just him. We didn't _mind_ him hiring a sound guy, just felt it was unnecessary.

    As far as him getting there super early, that was his choice (as I said earlier, he has a habit of being extremely early...it even became a problem a while ago because he was getting to our guitarist's house a good hour and a half before practice). The only reason we were there at 4:30 was that the sound guy had to leave shortly after (the owner of the sound company...he left one of his employees to run sound).

    Anyway, what's done is done. I think we're going to be better off with him in the long run...as I think he had the type of personality and habits that would've created further problems in the long run.
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Well, I probably agree that the guy wasn't a good fit. Sounds like he was trying to take over a band that didn't want to be taken over.

    However, all this stuff about "We're a band" and "togetherness" is great, and in a perfect world it should operate like that, but that all comes crashing down when there's a problem with the person paying your band. They don't come to the whole band...they come to the person who booked the gig, and that person will be the one who takes the brunt of the problem on behalf of the band. Not only that, but if that person in your band didn't book the gig, it wouldn't exist and you wouldn't be getting paid, so respect has to be paid to that person.

    When I book the gig, I operate under the principle that we are a band until you make me look bad as the booker, then we become me + the other guys, at which point I will bust chops until you stop making me look bad or leave. On the other hand, I provide the band with as accurate info as possible, and they will get paid what they're told they're getting paid.
  8. Tingly


    Jul 16, 2005
    Yonkers, NY
    I thought the story was unintentionally hysterical! Why are musicians such nut cases?! He turned a gig into a musical nightmare, for no reason.

    I know that good drummers are hard to find. Still, good riddance.

    Overall, the way you wrote it up, you made him sound like a total nut job. If that's really the way it went down, I would tell him I adored him, he was great, but I would never relent and be in a band with him again.

    You can say, "You're too good for me" or "You made your decision and I admire it, so we all have to move on." ANYTHING to avoid a situation like that again. Especially in a trio, where every member is SO critical.

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