Having issues with our drummer

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by kaleel2g, Dec 18, 2021.

  1. kaleel2g


    Jan 30, 2019
    Pretty much a rant, but I have to get this off my chest. We're a 5 piece r&b cover band. Been together for around 6 months. Over the course of those 6 months we've been learning songs and having a good time, except every song that has made it to the set list has been one of our drummers suggestions. Not only do most of his suggestions suck (too obscure, not going to draw a young crowd), I see this as unfair to have to learn his songs every week. Every time me or one of my bandmates suggests a song it just gets lost into oblivion. This bothered me for a long time and I'm not the passive aggressive type. Today I proposed a more democratic system where everyone gets to have an input. The whole band agreed except for him. It's like he's some sort of control issue. Like he can't understand why we don't want to just play his songs anymore. He even stated that he is ok with the new system as long as the songs we pick are "classic funk and r&b" because "that's what he founded the band on". When I joined the band it was him and a guitar player. So I'd say we're all "founding" members. I told him there's plenty of funk bands out there that play songs outside their genre. Now he's punishing us by sitting out of rehearsal tomorrow saying he needs to think. I would have left a long time ago, but everybody else in the band is so talented. He's about to get booted from his own band just because he doesn't want to give up complete control.

    Anyone else ever deal with this type of selfishness in a bandmate? Did you get rid of them or did they conform?
  2. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Personality traits like that don’t just go away. I wouldn’t want to work with him any more. I guess you have to decide if he’s worth it.
  3. Michedelic

    Michedelic MId-Century Modern Suspended

    It sounds like you all weren’t exactly on the same page from the start. Either that, or else he played you guys. Perhaps it’s time to restructure, talent potential or not. From my experience, truly democratic bands are unicorns. Did he and the guitarist have some sort of mission statement in the beginning? Did they even size up what kind of audience they wanted to appeal to?
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2021
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  4. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once...

    Feb 24, 2013
    It's time to have the 'him or me' conversation with your bandmates.
    IME, you can only do this once per band, and you have to mean it...
    mrcbass, MynameisMe, Ekulati and 6 others like this.
  5. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    It sounds like the drummer is the only band member who thinks he is the BL -- and unfortunately the rest of you haven't done anything to make him think otherwise. That's the problem that needs to be solved, one way or another.

    Also, is it possible that rather than being a control freak, he just doesn't want to put in the time and effort to learn songs he doesn't already know? If so, that's a very different problem.
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    The band has to come to a decision together. You say they have. The next time this happens, you remind them of the decision. Either they support you, and drummer can agree or leave, or they wimp out, and YOU can agree or leave.
  7. 4SG


    Mar 6, 2014
    Sounds like a post where the correct response actually is to fire the drummer.
  8. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    I'm not sure I see this as selfishness. He thinks he's the bandleader. He's a founding member, and whatever conversations about that which happened at the very beginning you weren't there for. Maybe everyone agreed back then that he'd call the shots. I don't really care that there were only two members in the beginning; if you weren't there for those earliest conversations you're not a founding member. You were hired by the founding members. So problem #1 is you're assuming authority nobody gave you.

    He has a vision about what the band should be. It's different from what you'd like to move toward. Is that what the rest of the band wants to do or not? Maybe this just isn't the right band for you.

    It's probably a good time for all of you to have a conversation about goals and organization. How can song selection be handled differently? Is that a good idea? Can everyone get on board with these changes? If it's not changeable to your satisfaction it's probably time for you to move on. You might find you're the only one who is unhappy with this and they might be stressing because you aren't on board with the direction they want to go.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2021
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  9. kaleel2g


    Jan 30, 2019
    I'm not the only one and we all pay for rehearsals, promotions, etc. So it's definitely not a hired gun type of role. I wouldn't have a problem if that were the case.
  10. kaleel2g


    Jan 30, 2019
    It's been a group project since the beginning. He just keeps taking more and more control as time goes on
    mb94952 and fhm555 like this.
  11. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    Sounds like you guys need to have a talk, then. If it's supposed to be a democratic situation, it should be handled that way. This turns into a gray area for a lot of bands when people start paying for group resources. That's when people start to believe everyone should have an equal voice, and maybe they're right about that. But it's something that ideally should be agreed upon in advance.
    Huw Phillips and 4SG like this.
  12. Engle

    Engle Supporting Member

    I’m actually in the early stages of forming a similar band with a drummer. You’ve got some good advice already, so I won’t repeat it.
    One thing we have established is if anyone finds a song too cheesy, we won’t play it.
    There is also a fair bit of modern music that sounds like old school R&B. Look up Mayer Hawthorne or Anderson Pac’s new stuff with Bruno Mars.
    Or this cover of a Duffy song:
    design likes this.
  13. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I’d get rid of him. If he’s such a great bandleader, he will land on his feet once you poach the other members and start over with a new drummer.
  14. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    Another question I would have is whether the others are unhappy. Sometimes a natural leader will emerge from a group, if the group isn't organizing itself well. If he's taking more and more control as time goes on, it might be that he perceives that someone needs to be steering the ship. Are the others cool with that? Besides paying for resources, what else are they doing to show responsibility for some of the organizational tasks that need to be done? Is he also putting together set lists, making notes about rehearsal issues and arrangments, passing those on to the others, setting up shows, making sure that venues have what's needed, etc., etc? If he's taking on all the organization, he might have a point to believing that someone needs to quietly assume some sort of leadership role.

    My experience is typically that people want to have a say, but they don't want to step up and do peripheral work, and that creates problems. So again, this is something the group needs to discuss as a whole. If he backs away from whatever responsibilities he's assuming at this point, are there others who are willing to do that?
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  15. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Didn’t read. You said “issues with drummer”.

    Enough said.
  16. kaleel2g


    Jan 30, 2019
    Anderson Pak is
  17. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    Yes. I believe in the old TB standby line when such situations occur, “Fire the drummer!”.

    Life is way too short to put up with this mess.

    Pro tip: Before you give him the pink slip, record your stuff so you have all your arrangements for the next guy to study. Let them learn on their time, not yours.

    You should be recording your rehearsals anyway. It the best way to track progress, identify musical conflicts, and settle disputes.
    vid1900, BlueTalon, mb94952 and 2 others like this.
  18. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Control issues and passive aggressive tendencies. There's nothing there that says great leader.

    If everyone else is dissatisfied and is as good as you say, you'll have no trouble finding a replacement.
    Haroldo, JRA, design and 4 others like this.
  19. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    I keep coming back to this. Maybe this is the case. But sometimes a leader needs to emerge, and meets resistance, and then has to rethink.

    Recently I realized in my own band that no one was stepping up to organize or thoughtfully plan, so I decided to just go ahead and do it. Then a member passive aggressively "replaced" my set list with his own, claiming he'd never seen mine. Maybe he didn't, but the fact that two members never noticed I'd sent around a set list two weeks earlier was enough to make me rethink my own commitment and how much I was going to be willing to do for them moving forward. Because if they didn't care about the work I was putting into planning, then why should I do it?

    I didn't sit out a rehearsal but I came very close to quitting. Instead I sat down with everyone and gave everyone a chance to hear how it made me feel and the kinds of unseen stresses I was dealing with trying to keep everything organized, and gave them an opportunity to express whatever frustrations they were also feeling. It was a good thing, though a bit difficult.

    This is why I think they need to talk. Get it out on the table and let everyone get a chance to say what they're thinking and feeling. Could just be the guy is a control freak, but it could also be he is trying to fill a need and meeting resistance. It is not uncommon for people to mistake an attempt to organize for a power grab.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2021
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  20. smurfco

    smurfco Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Him sitting out of a scheduled rehearsal to "think" is all I need to hear. Eff that noise. Either kick him out or quit.
    Jimmy P., vid1900, Adagietto and 3 others like this.