How do you play with feeling when you're a Hired Gun?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Rodan, Mar 2, 2002.

  1. Rodan


    Feb 4, 2002
    Hollywood, FL
    I've been thinking of finding people to play paying, regular gigs just to get a little cash influx. But I keep coming back to the same thought: I've had experience with playing in bands performing original music, and enjoy playing covers from time to time, but don't know how comfortable I'd feel in the role of a Hired Gun. Meaning, I know I could be adept at playing other people's music, or playing covers, but how could do people who are hired guns get "into" the music they're playing if they have not been directly involved in the creative process?

    Does this question make any sense? I want to use my playing abilities to make some money on the side as well as enjoy myself, but how do I get into enjoying this job and the music if I'm basically just performing a job (let alone the fact that I might only be business associates, rather than friends with the rest of the musicians)? I just don't know if I could take it seriously without having some sort of personal involvement with the music? Make sense?

    Any thoughts on this?
  2. hujo


    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    A groove is a groove is a groove.

    Really, I don't have much of a problem with it. I don't get "in to" everything that my originalgroup does, and I really get in to it sometimes when I'm a hired gun. If you like the song, I'd be surprised if you didn't get in to it.
  3. because you're a professional and you love music and playing the bass. Pretty elementary.
  4. I've been gigging for 19 or 20 years, and in all that time I have not once played a song that I've had any writing involvement with. This because, by and large, there are very few gigs for original music where I live, and those few dont pay anything but peanuts. This is a topic I have never thought about before, it never crossed my mind to wonder if I was "unfulfilled" by playing other peoples music. I guess if I was playing Achy Breaky Fart every night I would not be too happy, but Steely Dan, Tower of Power, Chick Corea, even Anastasia or Abba, all have written or recorded far superior songs to anything I've heard coming from local bands and artists. I know I should be supportive of local original artists/bands, but reality is reality. The trouble with original artists (well, 95% of them) is they take themselves too seriously, or their songs are too personal, or are too full of heavy topics. I also realise that all artists were "original" at some stage before they made it, but they are the 5%.
  5. Sometimes, in my role as the hired gun, I am more into the music than the music i write in my own bands. Sometimes, I'm lucky enough to find a band playing something by a band i really love, and then its easy. But when its not something i enjoy, i think the overall pleasure i get from performing infront of people and cut of the profit make up for it. Oh, and having a drink before hand always gets me in the mood.

    And generally, the audience is into the music, so i guess that makes it easier. Plus, I turn down work that requires me to play music i would be ashamed to play.

  6. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    Being a hired gun is pretty cool, imo. Its nice having a chance to jam with other musicians, and getting paid for it doesnt hurt either.
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I don't find it hard to get into just about anything I play... maybe because someone thought I was good enough for the gig and I look at that as a big positive. Plus if I'm into it there's more of a chance that the audience will be, too.
  8. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I do the "hired gun" thing a lot, and I'm beginning to really like it, much more than I used to. The key for me is to be a little choosy about what gigs I accept. Like Marty, I'll only do music I like in a situation that shows real potential. I've been real lucky in that we have nice pool of players where I live and everybody is into all sorts of stuff, so we get all manner of things happening on a temporary basis. A typical month for me will include blues, classic rock, old school R&B, gospel and trad country gigs (not that wide of a spread, really) on both upright and electric. I'm a regular member in only two bands.

    One thing that I REALLY like about the sideman thing is that I don't have to deal with the sleazebag club owners and other lowlifes and business details that detract from the fun of gigging.
  9. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I always associated "work" with doing something people had to give me money to do because it was distasteful. I realized a while ago that that's what I associated money with - do something that's hard or not fun to do - and you'll get money. I also realized that that thinking was a recipe for a great deal of unhappiness because I need to money to survive and have fun, and I only associated it with doing things I didn't want to do. I hope that just made sense.....

    The flip side of that coin was that I didn't feel right taking money for playing bass. Something I LOVE doing. I had to change that thinking, change the way I thought of my relationship with music, money, the bass, blah, blah, blah....... I'm very happy playing and making money doing it now.

    As fer playing stuff I don't particuarly like, I try my best (even if I'm playing written lines) to inject my style or feel into the playing. We do songs like Mony Mony and I challenge myself to put as much heart, love and feel as I can into every note I play. I make a game out of making the most repitious, boring songs something totally artful and heartfelt. If I'm okay with the idea of taking money for doing something I love, and if I open my mind to being the best bass player I can be - I usually have a really interesting and good time.
  10. Rodan


    Feb 4, 2002
    Hollywood, FL
    All very interesting replies. I think part of my way of thinking comes from the community of musicians that I have developed in. Most, if not all, tended to play only original music and at times, shunned playing "working" gigs as inpersonal and not worth the trouble.

    That being said, I do appreciate everyone's responses, especially Mark McCombs' reponse. When I first read it, it aggravated me a little bit because I thought, "No, it's not really that elementary, I cannot play music unless I'm really into it", but after thinking about it for quite a while I realized it really might be that simple. More than likely, it's really my own frame of mind that's preventing me from considering a "working" gig as something I would really enjoy. Granted, I'm sure one cannot make every single song into the most enjoyable tune - There will always be music preferences and styles that you like more than others. But this is really something that could only benefit me.

    I also really apprecaited Joe Nerve's comments. I think I also tend to think of work as something that has to be done, not something to be enjoyed, and this is probably accentuating any previous prejudices I might have had against paying gigs.

    Any other thoughts?
    I think it's time for me to go find me a working gig now.
  11. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    For myself, it was listening to music written by others that inspired me to start playing music in the first place (which I think is pretty typical). Also, just the interaction of playing with other musicians is inspiring, no matter who wrote the music. And, there are a lot of popular songs that are just flat-out fun to play (which songs those are is subjective).
  12. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    A lot of "hired gun" gigs, I've done have led to other gigs. That's how I play with feeling.
  13. Further to my previous reply, I know a few musicians who only play their own songs, they've never played a cover, and could'nt play Wild Thing to save themselves. This thought provoking thread led to thinking about them, and I've just realised they have a common factor. They're all very narrow-minded. They think they are true artists, and look with scorn at anyone who plays covers. They do not realise that their playing is very limited, and their musical knowledge very small. They decry musical knowledge in fact, claiming it would hamper their "creativity". Personally, I think it's the biggest load of bollox I've ever heard.
  14. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    The worst part about being a 'hired gun' is occassionally you get the "the other bass player played it like this" line (9 times out of 10 the 'other' bassist is the guitarist) its like..ok well then get the other bassist to play it cos youve hired ME to play and I just MIGHT have a better way of doing it.

    Then again as I get older I've learned 2 "think of the money..think of the money" and just go with the flow....another plus is that at this stage of my life I have the luxury of doing the gigs I want to do.
  15. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Wow, that means someone was actually listening to what you were playing. I've been in the "hired gun" situation where the band didn't even know why they had a bass player, they just knew they were supposed to have one :rolleyes:. As long as there was a guy standing on stage holding a bass, they were happy. I could have played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star all night ;). After the gig, I got paid for my "shooting", and rode off into the sunset...
  16. Showdown


    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I've never had any problem getting into the music and playing with feeling, whether playing originals or covers. I've even found that I begin to like songs I never liked before after I've played them. To me the very act of playing music gets me excited, and it doesn't matter what the song is. I always kind of looked down on country music until I joined the country band I play in now, and I found that I like it and have as much fun playing it as I did rock. I guess what I'm trying to say is I play bass because I love to play bass, and it doesn't matter what kind of music it is.
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