How to deal with slackers?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by lermgalieu, Oct 28, 2002.

  1. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I am getting frustrated with my band. Everyone brings great musicianship to the table, but obviously everyone has a slightly different forte (composing, improvising, arranging, organizing, etc). Our keyboardist has a trained ear, and picks up things very quickly, whereas the rest of us work at it a little more. The problem I am running into is that we will all agree that we want to play a certain set of tunes, or promote a gig, or whatever, and then nobody really does anything about it - in general it seems no one puts any effort into the group outside of rehearsal except for a core group of 3 of us (but the keyboardist is one of this core group, and as I said, he doesn't really need to work on the musical part of our group that much outside rehearsal). This is not to say they don't *practice* - I think we all practice a decent amount, but no one *prepares*. Another example would be original copositions - if we have a good chord structure and arrangement, but need a head (for example), no one will work something out outside of rehearsal.

    I don't mean to sound like I am merely complaining. I have expressed these feelings to the band, and have tried to be as proactive as *I* can be about these things by (for example) bringing in sheet music of tunes for "homework" and such, but it seems like the music gets stuffed in the guitar case or backpack and forgotten about. I am not perfect, and slack on things myself from time to time, but my general feeling is that the more work you put in, the more reward you get out. Lately I am just not getting that reward in the group setting, but more at home practicing.

    I am trying to decide if I should bag out and start studying DB more agressively. This would be rough, as I love playing with these guys whenever we have our s$## together. So my question is this: should I give these guys an ultimatum? Or should I just express my feelings once again, give myself a deadline internally, and if I am still not happy in, say, 2 months, then I bag out? Any similar experiences?
  2. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I guess I am conflicted because I am not quite ready to do what you are sayng. Also we *are* already established, have a good name and tour dates, and great original tunes. I don't *want* to join another group - as I said if I quit it will be only to study double bass and not play in a serious group at all (probably just some trio stuff). So in other words, I am not trying to "make it big" or anything, just trying to satisfy myself musically. I don't know if that makes sense - also factor in that I have been playing with the drummer for 15 years, and I consider all of these guys very good friends, and also respect them immensely.
  3. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Since you don't want to quit, you'd better start wanting to stay.

    If you want it done, do it yourself. Promote the gig. Finish the tune. Practice the line. And stop grumping about how you're doing it and others aren't: It matters to you, and it doesn't matter to them, and you want to stay with them.
  4. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Samuel, I don't spend my time 'grumping' about this, I asked for advice. I have been doing the things you say to do above, and I am happy to do so. But I get sick of people who say they are going to do things and they don't do them.

    You make it sound so simple but its not. To work in a team environment, you need to *trust* people. When people tell you they will do something, you need to believe them, or the team thing breaks down. If they said they didn't want to do it or couldn't do it in the first place, yeah I would do it. The problem I am having is one of broken promises.

    Of course I don't want to quit. Why would I be there in the first place if I *wanted* to quit? I want to stay! That's what has gotten me this far. But I think it is impractical and unconstructive to suggest that I should just live with the situation by picking up *all* of the slack this is causing, and it fails to utilize the skills of the team. Positive constructive confrontation is what is needed, and if you would reread my original post, I am not asking for you guys to tell me whether to leave or stay, but rather how to re-present the situation and its gravity in the most constructive way.

    I appreciate the comments. Sometimes people need a kick in the butt, however at this moment that butt is not mine.

    Oh and by the way what you are saying just plain doesn't work in some of the cases. Like 'Practice the line'. I am prepared. I provide *written sheet music* for the others and it is 'forgotten'. Sorry to say, I can't pull a 'Being John Malkovich' and jump into a guitarists body and make it practice a line...
  5. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    My .02...musical "teams" usually happen pretty spontaneously, and if you're meeting with resistance on any level, then it's probably time for you to go find some folks who are online with you musically and in the pro sense as well. I know it's hard. I avoid being "in a band" for that very reason. I usually just try to play with as many people as I can, get some work done, and move on to the next thing. Bands often just carry too much baggage.
  6. though there are some exceptions, I think most good musical groups need leadership. Aside from leading on various musical matters, and possibly commercial matters, a leader has to manage the people. Not everyone has this skill, and to make it work, a leader needs credibility and respect. This may come from a strong musical vision, or maybe a strong commercial ability, or just a strong personality which can keep the group on track.

    I would think in your case someone needs to either find a way to get the slackers to put more into it, or to find workarounds and make these acceptable to yourself and the other players, or of course replace the slacker. It may be that with your particular collection of players, neither you nor any of the others are in a position to step forward and take on more of this kind of leadership role. If so, you need to look long and hard at whether there is a mismatch between what you want out of this group and what the others are willing/capable of giving. Change their attitudes, or change your own, or live with it, or move on.

    my $.02
  7. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Thanks everyone for the thoughtful replies. Hey Ed, on the changing people thing, I think my wife would disagree! Heh... I hear you though...

    Jason, I really appreciate the Doug Henning reference!

    I think alot of this boils down to the issues people have mentioned. I will let you guys know how it turns out.
  8. aaguudis


    Apr 3, 2001
    hey just thought id respond cause im also in portland and also have lazy bandmates. i think i have heard your group the invisible doctors do you play with a guy named chris? you mighta heard of my group public groovement. anyways i think it seems to be just the way things go. same thing with gig promotion, 2 or maybe 3 of us get out and do something the rest wonder why no one show up at gigs. my biggest problem is that no one (except for keysman) practices outside of rehearsal! our guitar player and drummer and whatnot know how to play what they know how to play, but thats it! they never get better. so i dont think this answered your question im just saying what i'm doing is do all the practicing i can myself so that i can get good enough to move on eventually.
  9. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    aaguudis, yep, that's us, Chris plays guitar and vibes for us. Its funny, we had a last minute rehearsal for our halloween gig last night and really quickly assembled a bunch of pertinenet halloween tunes. Sometimes last minute is good, and the test of your abilities. I just get frustrated because it always seems last minute, no matter how early I try to get everyone on the right page....but I feel we're in a good place now. Ah, the ups and downs. If I just gigged around with a bunch of people, I don't think I would have this trouble, but when everything starts working you kind of forget the troubles.

    Like a darn marriage to a bunch of smelly dudes.