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Hardest audition you've had?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by thrash_jazz, Nov 12, 2003.

  1. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Tell us about the trickiest, nastiest, most difficult audition you've ever had.

    This isn't about auditions with total chumpstains that made you wish you'd stayed home and watched lawn bowling instead. We have plenty of threads on that already.

    I'm talking about ones with valid bands and band members, that were harder than your standard "learn the CD and come on down".

    I just had one that was sorta tricky... this group had heard me before and asked me to join. They just wanted to see how I'd adapt to their stuff on the spot.

    To cut a long story short, it involved, among other things, a fairly odd jam in A Harmonic Minor, a bass-only song with some odd-time fingerpicked arpeggios, and an off-beat song in 7/8. I wasn't expected to get it all perfectly on the spot, but it was a bit nervewracking!

    I'm gonna like this project! :)

    Let's hear your similar stories!
  2. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Cruise ship gig, sight reading charts they don't hand you until you get there. Were plenty demanding, four different styles, including jazz and pop tunes, nobody else playing on half of them, just the bass, and two guys staring intently.
  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I dont think I've had a tough audition really, I usually enjoy them and have not really come across anything beyond me... yet!

    The last one I had (apart from last night) had it's tricky moments however...

    I'd been give a CD of material to learn, ten songs, all super simple, but real quality, pop songs, real 3 chord wonders. I had a week, which is plenty of time and I got all the songs down. Well, there was no bass so I had to come up with parts myself, which is nice.

    Anwyay, I get there and I'm talking to the drummer - also being auditioned - in the car park beforehand - this makes me kinda nervous cause he's a professional drummer (plays hows from sheet) and a pro jazz sax player.. a "real" musician"!
    He also tells me how he hates it when people dont learn material before the session...

    So - we start on the first track... and I've got the chords wrong. These are 3 chord, acoustic guitar, no efects or anything to mask it and I've got it wrong.
    So, I have to stop the playing mid 1st verse and say "I'm sorry I've got the wrong chords"... the drummer is looking at me like I'm a total loser.. it was horribley embarrassing.
    So the gutarist tells me the chords and off we go... but this time at about 10bopm faster than the demo they gave me (fking guitarists!). So we get to the bridge and the guitarist stops the band and tells me I'm playing too busy... I say "no problem" cut it back to root notes. Thsi annoyed me because of course it's too busy, if you speed up a line by 10bpm it changes the groove comepletely!!!

    I got the gig anyway.. down to my quality jokes I expect...

    But later on, when I get home, I put on the demo again and I swear I had the chords right.. I asked them about this next time I saw them and they said "oh yeah, of course, we put that bit on the recorded version..." etc.

    No real horror story, but it screwed up my confidence completely.

    Last nights audition was weird too... a funk guitarist and a very very good funk drummer (a right on groove player, awesome)

    We got in the room, plugged in and played.. and after the first two tracks the guitarist (a good player, but not brilliant) was saying "Errr, right, errr, ok then" - and he sounded like he didnt think much of my playing and it was my fault the groove wasnt so tight.
    This really annoyed me because if you play pre-written material with people fosr the first time you have a point of reference.. but when you first jam with people you have to get used to their playing.. it takes time and the better the players the quicker the jam heats up.
    By the end of the night we were really burning, it was great fun.. but it just bothered me that he expected it to be spot on immediatley especially because he wasnt any better a player than I was.
    Still the drummer was ace :)
  4. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Got a call from a very well-respected guitarist who was taking some time off from regional touring to play in the area. He invited me to come out and sit in at a pick up gig he was doing, in lieu of an audition. I went out there and the bass player was one of the very few local musicians who I really just can't stand. A real arrogant bastage, if ya know what I mean. Good player, bad person. To make matters worse, the bassist regularly played at this venue with the guy who put the gig together, so it was more 'his' gig than the guitarist who had invited me, and I was going to have to deal with him to get on stage. My bass was out in the car, but I was pretty certain that Mr. Bastage would not kindly tolerate the hassle and delay of me bringing up my own axe, leaving me to jump in cold and play an unfamiliar bass slung too low for me, being that I'm a good bit shorter than Mr. Bastage. Anyway, I wound up just bailing and blowing the whole thing off.

    In a way, this experience could be filed in the 'standard BS' file, but in truth, it was an intimidating audition because these guys were all pro players with far weightier resumes than mine. The BS just pushed the intimidation factor past the point I was willing to deal with.

  5. Not once, but TWICE (for two separate bands, a few years apart) I've auditioned by playing on stage, in the club, in front of a paying audience. Never met the band members or played with them or anything, the regular bass player started for the first set, then I walked up and plugged in for four or five songs on the second set.

    I landed the first gig, but not the second. Oh well.

    I think this is an absolutely terrible way to audition. What's an audience supposed to think? They don't give a cr*p about the band, they are just there to drink and dance, suddenly the band changes personnel and some new guy is up on stage floundering. That can really ruin a band's reputation, IMHO.

    Even the best player in the world can't get up on stage with a bunch of strangers and do a set perfectly--you know, there's little things like intros, outros, solos, that every band may tweak just a little different, even on "standard" covers. Why two separate bands wanted to do that, is beyond me. :meh:
  6. BertBert


    Nov 9, 2002
    This wasn't necessarily an audition, but I got called over the summer to come and sit in with a local Latin/salsa band for a rehearsal. They had one more rehearsal before some big gig and their bass player bailed on the practice.

    So I listened to a ton of Latin/salsa standards the night before and showed up he next day. It's an 11-piece band, complete with a 6-piece horn section. The first thing that my contact did when I got set up was hand me their notebook of charts -- which was 2 inches thick -- gave me enough time to place it on my music stand and then counted off one of the songs and off we went. Some of the stuff was easy to handle, but I remember getting a Brazilian dance tune in 9/8 going about 150 bpm, which I had to sight-read. Now THAT's an experience.

    It was just a fill-in situation and so I haven't hooked up with them since -- nor do I think I;d be interested in a gig like that full-time -- but it was a blast, and those guys are incredible musicians. I learned a HUGE amount about playin Latin and salsa that afternoon. I felt like I'd run a marathon after I was done with the practice. But in a good way.

    Just goes to show -- even if the audition doesn't result in a long-term gig, you can still learn a lot and have fun.

    (Just realized that the actual bass player for this group might be reading this! If so, don't worry about me. You've got an excellent bunch of bandmates.)
  7. The hardest audition I had was to get into an upper-division music class in college, called Jazz Theory and Musicianship. We had to sightread a chart, Play a scale in all 12 keys, play through the chords of a song on piano, play a prepared piece of our choice, and then came the ear-training test. We had to recognize intervals, and the quality of chords. Then, we had to transcribe something she played on piano, which was practically a fugue. I got in, and the class basically taught me everything I know. Plus, now I can say I studied music at Berkeley. Which is homophonic to Berklee, so as long as I literally just SAY it, it impresses stupid yet knowledgeable people.
  8. Mental Octopus

    Mental Octopus

    May 24, 2003
    mine was audiotioning for a local funk rock band about 5 months ago. they covered alot of chili peppers songs which is good because i know most of them. so of course i had to sport some badass slapping skills to land that gig...but i think that "get up and jump" is a pretty difficult song to play consistently. i ended up getting the spot even though i messed up a few times on that song, but they wanted me to dye my hair purple and look like Flea. well i'm not Flea, and I have no desire to be or imitate Flea onstage or when i play, so i left to pursue other options.
  9. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Cruise ship, needed to know how to sight read charts and sheet music, know several different styles, had to be able to improv well.
  10. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Was an audition for some Navy Band [Norfolk, VA] cats looking to do something on the side! Started pulling all sorts of sheet music of standards and expected me to sight read on the spot. I played about half of them on memory but blew the rest as I'm not a good sight reader at all. Give me a frikkin' cd with the songs on it and I'll be back in a week! Still thought I did well enough to get the gig. Still no call and it's been since the Spring! Guess I shouldn't hold my breath, huh?! Out of 8 bands, numerous studio hits and 30 years of playing, that's the only one where I didn't get the gig!
  11. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    So far my only tough one was when I was auditioning for a spot in one of the Jazz Combos here. They gave us all three charts to use. I went in with a most basic knowledge of the parts (mainly the chords). Now, this wouldn't have been that big a deal if I had actually been able to play in a jazz setting before I got up here. (see: totalitarian band leader at my HS) It was one of the most embarassing moments of my musical "career". Sight reading is deffinately NOT my strong point (probably my biggest weakness). Needless to say, I didn't get a spot in one of the combos. But I WAS allowed to be the 2nd bassist in one of the other jazz ensembles (along with the 2nd drummer and guitarist). Playing with that band has probably done more to help my playing in a shorter amount of time than any other single thing I've done (short of lessons back home).
  12. nitrous3a8


    Nov 26, 2003
    hardest one i ever had was where the drummer knew me and heard me play a week after a got my base and he just asumed that i suck. So they had me learn guns and roses- sweet child o' mine. So i go in and play the intro and half the first verse with out a single mistake, and the drummer just gets up and tells me that i suck and walks out and the singer followed him, but the guitarest said i was good, so he kicked the drummer and singer out, and we started a new band, and it kicks ass.

    but ya the hardest addition is the one where no matter what u do, ppl will still say u suck
  13. basspro2

    basspro2 I'm seeing Gorillas...

    Apr 6, 2002
    Northbridge, Mass
    I don't care what color you dye your hair ... no one could get that ugly..:D
  14. bplayerofdoom


    Aug 6, 2002
    I don't want to be a critic, but i am, so im going to be but theres a good chance that if you just started playing, then you did suck and if he was an serious skilled experienced player, then your a waste of his time.

    When i first played with a drummer and guitarist i didnt even know how to hold a pick yet, the taught me a song i learned it and played(operation ivy the crowd without intro, like hell they were going to make me do the intro). We had fun that day, but just because i could play song didn't mean i didn't SERIOUSLY suck ass.

    And then their is people like my neighbor who think their gods of their own instrument yet also seriously suck ass, and i know it sometimes gets to me that he insists i play bass for him(i do for fun in our garages for the hell of it) but keeps thinking about starting a serious band with me and i don't think he's capable of one, and him being sucky gets on my nerves.
  15. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    Hardest? For the band I'm in now and it was for my brother of all people.

    We had always played together when we were young (he's one of the best guitarists I've ever seen play). But when we hit high school we went our different way s musically. I was always used to be the best player in the bands I played in (tells you how good the other guys were, hehe). But he told me last spring that he was starting a cover band to make some money and wanted the best players in it. The drummer and keyboard players were amazing too, so he called me in to audition. I hadn't played in a while and was real rusty. And of course he was super critical because I'm his younger brother, which made it even more difficult. He later told me that I was really close to not getting the job, but that I've more than made up for it in the past few months which is cool. I've had to really keep up on my game and this band has really made me improve my playing which is really good.
  16. Earlier this year, I went to Disney to audition for temp status. I got there and was asked by a 22 year old manager what I had chosen to play for them? I responded...The Bass. She looked at me with a confused expression. Then I aked her If there was a Rythm section for me to audition with. She said no. So, I looked down the list and found that a drummer was up after me. I called his name out and asked if he would like to audition with me. We agreed to audition together. He turned out to be a great drummer and listener. We played grooves from Swing and Rockabilly(on upright)to Sixteenth note funk and Rythm & Blues(on fretless)to straight funk and rock (on fretted) .We both were given the thumbs up and are now on the A list.:bassist: No gigs yet... :bawl:
  17. About five years ago, I answered an ad and went to this guitarist's house to play with him and a drummer. They had described the music as "jazzy rock." Well, the emphasis was on "jazz" because this guy put charts in front of me. I told him that I didn't read music, and proceeded to try and just follow along as best I could, which was not very good. That's what made the audition "hard" -- I didn't know what I was in for. I didn't really dig the music, so I didn't feel embarrassed or anything -- just packed up my bass, said thanks, and left. The funny part is, they called me back about a month later and said I was the only guy they'd auditioned who they could stand to be around, and could I maybe learn to read?

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