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How do you tell someone that their originals are crap?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Gwardar, May 23, 2011.

  1. Gwardar

    Gwardar Supporting Member

    May 24, 2009
    Or better - how to wriggle out of a project without having to say that. Apologies if this has been discussed, couldn't find a thread like that.

    My problem is - I always somehow end up in an original band. I really enjoy playing covers and it usually works very well, but usually someone bum-steers the band towards originals and that's where things stall. Not fun anymore, it's like giving birth to some ugly monster that just doesn't wanna come out.

    There aren't that many talented songwriters in the world to justify everybody playing originals. Sad, but true. Some people just fail to acknowledge that and I'm really stuck how to handle these situations.

    I don't want to offend anybody, most of people I play with are friends and some can get quite precious about their stuff, but I do think their material is crap. Not original and repetitive, often simplistic. Every time I make a gentle remark about the song - what I hear is "why won't you contribute and suggest something". No, I want the monster dead, not on life support.

    I'm not a songwriter because I am not talented enough to write good songs. Why are some people too scared to admit the same? Is it all ego?
  2. Bardolphus

    Bardolphus Put some stank on it... Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    Well, I recently went through something similiar. However, in this band, I decided that the music just wasn't for me - I just couldn't get into it. Just happen to be friends with the guys involved as well. Called the guitar player and explained to him that it just wasn't my style and that I just wasn't the best fit for their band. And that was that.
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Not quite on topic, but one time a musician friend of mine lent me a copy of his band's new CD of originals, and afterward asked me what I thought of it.

    I said "the tunes were great, but the lyrics were kinda trite, and the singer has a horrible voice. I would have loved this CD as an instrumental set".

    He says "I'm the singer and songwriter".

  4. BassClef 2010

    BassClef 2010

    Oct 31, 2009
    My band's lead guitarist writes a lot of good stuff.. but there's one flaw. It's all about religion. Constantly. I'm not anti-religious or anything but every chorus he's ever written involves the line "God is great" Sigh. We're not a Christian rock band but he's trying to make it one.
  5. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    In my view you have 3 options.\

    1. stay in the band and live with it
    2. start your own *strictly* covers band
    3. join a *strictly* covers band

    I went for option two as a side project. My first band, that I am still part of, does have great originals. However, time and time again I noticed that most people just dont care about some band's original music. There is the odd exception, but most people going to a bar to have a good time want to hear music they know.

    I have started a second band, see sig, that I lead and I made it clear that this will be a cover band only. Period. Not being a jerk about it, but thats just the way she goes. So far we have done 4 or 5 gigs and people love what we do. Its so nice to hear the crowd singing along to what your doing.

    My first priority is to please the audience (the extra cash doesnt hurt either). If the audience is engaged they feed a certain kind of energy to the band and that energy makes the gig so much more enjoyable for the musicians and is seemingly especially important for the lead singer interacting with the audience.

    I have no problem with bands that want to play originals. All the power to them, but for me covers are king.

    My .02.
  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    You could just say that you're not interested in working with a band that's in the process of developing material -- that you'd rather work with a band that has a gig-ready (or at least rehearsal-ready) repertoire, and that playing in a cover band would fulfill that desire.

    I love good originals, but don't enjoy the process of developing them by trial and error. I'd much rather have the person who is the songwriter show up with works that are reasonably close to their final form. For one thing, it ensures that the songwriter has honed their skills on their own time.
  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I was going to suggest pretty much the same as bassist, in a different way, and add one. Wass gonna say:

    A. Find a new band, or...

    B. Do the best you can to create basslines that will bring the crappy originals to a new place. Some real simple music can be made into some great stuff, and lyrics are subjective. There are lots of popular songs with ridiculous and trite lyrics.

    In my band THe Nerve, me and the guitarist were the only writers. He'd pump out tons of stuff, most of which I hated. Every now and then he'd come up with something I'd be able to IMO make come to life with bassparts that took it in an entirely different direction than his acoustically strummed songs. My 2 favorite examples are below. Ya might not like the songs, but they're light years away from the songs he originally brought to me. And all I really did was add basslines that were out in left field.

    I Feel Like Singing | Joe Nerve

    Television | Joe Nerve
  8. klaus486


    Jun 27, 2009
    portland or
    sales geek Portland Music co.
    Ok nothing wrong with being into covers but how can you improve your songwriting without attempting to write some songs? It's only because YOU don't believe you have the talent that you're hesitant. Songwriting is a craft, it requires work. If that's not something you wish to expend energy on then gracefully bow out but try and be nice about it. No use in hurting anyone's feelings.
    I find life simpler to lay all these things out at the beginning. Say upfront you have no interest in originals. I prefer originals but what I say up front is that nothing of mine is "precious" if it needs work tell me! I don't want anyone gritting their teeth every time we have to play "that" song.
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    "Uhhhhh, dude. Your originals are crap."

    A more diplomatic way would be, "You know, I'm just not feeling the music. I'm going to drop out and look for another project more along the lines of what I want to be doing. Good luck to you."
  10. Gwardar

    Gwardar Supporting Member

    May 24, 2009
    Finding a new band sounds like a likely solution. Trouble is that I only have time for one band, so will have to pull the plug on the other. And that will induce some questions why.

    I can't use the argument that what we play is not my style, because it is :).

    I'm trying to avoid answering the question whether I liked the songs, which had been asked before and I always diplomatically tried to stay on the positives.

    What would you say to the songwriter when asked whether you liked the song? (and obviously you thought it was terrible). I usually said that I liked this and that, liked the solo, liked how something built up etc. The message was that I didn't actually like the whole song, just without being all negative about it. Than people take it the wrong way and think that the song is OK, just needs more work. :bawl:
  11. Gwardar

    Gwardar Supporting Member

    May 24, 2009
    This is a howl inside me, but it can't come out :p
  12. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    That's a tough one.

    Basically, I think it comes down to your relationship with the guy. If you are really good friends, I would tell him the honest truth, but in a nice way... but only if the friendship can handle that kind of drama. If he is a good guy and a good friend he should be able to take honest, constructive criticism without freaking out.

    If you are not particularly good friends or if he has a big ego, its probably going to go badly if you tell him the truth so you have to adjust your tact accordingly.
  13. omnimutant


    Dec 14, 2009
    Either tell them the truth and bail or...

    Suck it up and actually help write some original material. You might be surprised at with a slightly different outlook on the whole thing, that you might start to like it and appreciate playing some original tunes. If they really suck bad then tell them why and try to help make the songs better. Simplistic and repetitive isn't always bad. It's about entertaining the crowd. Sounds like the ego is from the guy who's too good to play originals to me.

    That really depends on how you look at it. Yea there's not many Paul McCartney's out there, but there are literally thousands of people playing original music in original bands all across the country that don't "suck". Just my personal Opinion I guess.
  14. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    ^ Even though I am a covers guy I agree. There is a ton of excellent original bands out there making great music that there fans want to listen to. However, I think its rare for an original band to have a big enough following to actually make money... at least compared to a good covers band.

    Basically it comes down to:

    Express yourself making creative art/music but usually make no money


    Play covers that will definitely make money, but creativity is much less part of the process.
  15. Gwardar

    Gwardar Supporting Member

    May 24, 2009
    There are some people out there, I'm not denying that. Thousands is actually not that many in the grand scale :).

    These days every man and his dog plays in some sort of band, possibly writing originals. Possibly gigging them and possibly having a few mates who think all these pieces are fully sick. There are tons of great stuff being written too, but in grand scale of things it's probably less than 1%. I just keep ending up with the remaining 99% :)
  16. This is why I always insist on hearing some recordings when considering original groups.

    If it was your style, you would be into it. You don't like the songs, don't want to play them live, don't want to be associated with them? Doesn't sound like your style to me ;)

    The reason they end up thinking it just needs a bit of work is because thats what you told them. So they go away and make minimal changes to a song they perceive just needs minor work. . .

    Next time they ask, mention its been on your mind for a while and tell them how you actually feel. And remind them its not personal and that they did ask. That may result in some negativity, but it might also get some discussion happening on how things can change for the better. The group will be in a much better position to make necessary changes once they know what page everyone is on. I've been in the situation you are in now and don't envy you. :)

    Best of luck with it.
  17. Gwardar

    Gwardar Supporting Member

    May 24, 2009
    I'm not worried about making money on music, I've got a daily job and it's probably going to stay that way for any foreseable future.

    Following is different thing though - there is nothing more frustrating that playing to bleak audence and getting a tepid response. And if you know that the songs are the problem than one can't be happy about expressing onself.

    In such case it's just better to play covers.
  18. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    If you want to leave the band, just say you don't have the time or energy to commit to honing a full set of originals. There. Done.

    Bear in mind though that original tunes do require a lot of work before you'll hear their full potential. Maybe they're not terrible songs, it's just you're using to working with the finished article since you've been doing covers.
  19. Gwardar

    Gwardar Supporting Member

    May 24, 2009
    Well, yeah - that's probably the root of the problem. As I mentioned before - we're all getting bum-steered into an original project. There's nothing to listen to in the first place.

    A couple of times I told people to write some tracks first and then I would put my bass lines over it. Almost worked, but they came back with some crap not worth working with :)

    Yeah, need to be more assertive, more assertive...
    Perhaps band counceling is an idea for a new business ;)

    Session 1: How to tell your mates their music is crap
    Session 2: How to react when your mate tells you your music is crap :D
  20. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    I suggest that when the topic of originals come up, have a band meeting about the topic and let them know that you joined the band because it was doing covers and you want to keep it that way.

    If the other band members decide to go with originals, wish them luck and give them your notice.

    IMO, no need to be passive about things. Put the ball back in their court and go from there.

    Better yet, if you join a band or are considering joining a band, let them know upfront what your expectations are.

    I don't think you'll hurt anyone's feelings if you deal with the situation in a factual manner. No need to comment on the caliber of the original tunes when you do it this way.

    Good luck.

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