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How to Let Go Nice Band Members

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by mikeluch, May 25, 2019.


  1. mikeluch

    mikeluch Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2004
    Ocala, FL
    Will try to keep this brief.
    I auditioned for a band when I moved to FL from RI over 5 years ago. We were playing out quite a bit. I am now one of the originals, along with a female lead singer.
    I the past year, one of the guitarists moved to TX and the drummer had to leave to to a severely ill wife.
    We then auditioned an awesome keyboard player/guitarist and new drummer.
    However, the other guitarist, vocalist, harp player and BL and great guy contracted cancer earlier and unfortunately passed away in Feb.
    Prior to his passing we auditioned another guitarist knowing that we would need someone to take over.
    Fast forward, we have had the new drummer and guitarist for about 8 months.
    The drummer is decent, but does not like to hear feedback about dynamics and sometimes his beat, and the guitarist seems to take one step forward and two back. He is too mechanical and just does not seem to have "it" after all this time.
    We are frustrated with the fact that we should be well ahead of the curve
    Since I became the BL after the passing of our guitarist and close friend, I am having a difficult time telling the drummer and guitarist that this is not working.
    My issue is that they have worked hard in learning the tunes, and particularly the guitarist, is just a great guy and really tries hard but I think he is over his head.
    Am I crazy for feeling this way and how should I communicate this?
    I know I should not be so worried, particularly since I was in senior management positions during my working years.
    Anyway, just checking if others on the site had similar issues.
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    There's always Old School - break up the band and just hire back the folks you want to keep for the "new" band....
     
  3. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Speak with the other core members, and come to a decision together. Assuming everyone agrees, you have to pull the bandaid. Tell them you appreciate the work they did, but the it's not working as you had hoped. It sucks, no matter what. That's why you get the big bucks.
     
    mrcbass, BrentD, DJ Bebop and 5 others like this.
  4. mikeluch

    mikeluch Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2004
    Ocala, FL
    Thanks, thought about that but seems that if we audition new players right away, might be a little weird, but appreciate the advice.
     
  5. mikeluch

    mikeluch Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2004
    Ocala, FL
    Yes, me and the vocalist are original and the keyboardist is the "oldest" member and we all agree
    I was frustrated and called the keyboard player to discuss. I had in mind about blowing up the band and he brought it up before i could mention it.
    My wife says that I am overthinking this
     
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  6. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Nice musicians never die, they just fade away.

    I never fire anybody unless they cross a line-- one guy tried to fire me from my own band and even though he was a monster player, I had to let him go and cut all ties. Everybody else? If they don't work out they just don't hear from me as frequently.

    Why? I like having musicians in my back pocket for gigs that fit their level of musicianship. I might start calling them less, but give them gigs here and there. Be transparent about what you're doing -- perhaps in the name of having multiple players in various positions for those times when people aren't available. Or maybe you are starting a different band to hit a different segment of the market (corporate, wedding, or a different emphasis on a musical genre).

    Another alternative is to simply form another band with better players. Give it a different name. Gig now and then with these other guys that lack chops under the first band name. If they are not very good players, then plug that band in for those gigs that pay what their skills are worth. I have a non-profit band, I call it, for that purpose. They aren't kick-butt players, but will go out for those lower paying gigs. Use the kick-butt players for the higher end work.

    The other thing, I would make sure you tell the two guys their position as first call musicians in the band could be affected if XY and Z doesn't happen on a certain timeline. Give them time to make adjustments -- throw resources at them to help them if you can. Do this before you audition new players. That's fair.

    If you go the multiple band route, with some players in common across diffrent bands, next thing you know you've got multiple bands at different price points for all kinds of different gigs, and your schedule is full. And that second band is easy to jump start because half the players already know half the repertoire from being in the first band.

    Keep your options open. After a while good players get referred to you as a source of work and start seeing you as a booking agent.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
  7. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    a drummer: "nicest guy in the whole world" --- good timekeeper, but with a limited skill set --- an original member:
    - i told him he needed to step up his playing
    - i gave him 'references' (youtube videos, online lessons, etc.)
    - i found/arranged a drum teacher
    - i encouraged him to study some of the music with me (he generally demurred)
    00 images2b3.
    "larry, this isn't working for me. i need to be playing with a drummer who has the chops for the music we're playing...you don't have those chops. i would be happy to have you as a sub, however, as you already know the arrangements/tunes."
    00 images2b3.
    he was butthurt, of course. the other cats (great players, all) were relieved that something was being done to remedy the drummer/drumming issues.
    00 images2b3.
    we now have one of the best (and well known) local cats playing drums. he has an impressive vitae (national acts, recordings/tours, etc.).


    it's tough stuff to fire a 'friend' --- even if the cat plays drums! :D


    so: is it all about the relationship? -or- is it all about the music? choosing one can alter the other...forever. ;)
     
  8. lfmn16

    lfmn16 SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    This is completely irrelevant, IMHO.

    Unless they are complete blockheads, they know it's not working. I wouldn't get into long explanations, I'd just say it's not working and you're going to need to find new members who are a better fit. Unless they are obnoxious about it, I'd keep it as civil as possible. If they become real Richard Craniums I'd tell them they just aren't cutting it, but that would be my LAST resort.

    You're not married to these people, you didn't pledge an oath "for better or worse" and few bands last forever.

    Good luck, I never enjoy firing someone, even when they deserve it.
     
  9. Redaxes

    Redaxes

    Aug 8, 2015
    Don’t let this go on too long. It will sour you in the short term about playing with these guys. If it isn’t working it’s no fun.
    I let things go too long in my two bands. First one, kept the toxic not very good drummer too long then stayed too long after getting a better drummer. Musically it got better, but was never going to be good enough.
    Next band stayed too long, issues betwixt the two guitarists, issues about just getting together to rehearse. I didn’t look forward to rehearsal, I didn’t practice like I should have. I wasted my time and could have improved, learned songs in that time.
    I found it hard to blow up the first band, leave the second band...but felt very free after.
    Hope the partings go well and you can find better fits.
     
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  10. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    SEPA
    I always feel like I'm one whim away from being replaced in my projects ;-) ...
    ( We are our own worst critics. The other side of which is, as previously mentioned, that unless you are truly clueless, you already know where your struggles lie. )
    Effort spent in learning material is, as also mentioned, irrelevant.
    Learning repertoire falls into one of two categories: 1) a tune I knew was challenging but took on the learning process as a growth challenge. 2) A song in my genre I should have known already. I have learned songs, left projects thinking I'll never need to play -that- again, only to have it re-appear on someone's audition list 6 months later. Learned music is never wasted.
    And ultimately, effort is meaningless. You need results. This is a fundamental step-function on the growth to adulthood, which many never reach: "I tried really, really hard" just does not matter. It may be personally satisfying knowing that you can put in the work, but if you can't produce the results, someone who can is going to be a better fit. Which sucks, sometimes, because not getting what you want sucks, but there are only two teachable take-aways: 1) find a project where you -are- good enough and 2) (not mutually exclusive) Keep working to get better.

    I'm struggling in a project right now (and yes, I should be down practicing and not typing this...) and the only reason I haven't bailed before now is that I believe I can have all the material gig-ready in time for the first scheduled gig mid-July. There is always a chance the BL will come to believe that I won't, in which case I expect to be replaced.
     
    DJ Bebop and lfmn16 like this.
  11. mikeluch

    mikeluch Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2004
    Ocala, FL
    Great advice from everyone, thanks. We have tried the route of providing songs to listen to, charts, etc.
    After 8 months, it is really souring the project to the point of 3 of us possibly calling it a day.
    Also, I really think the people who don't have "it", just do not realize that it isn't clicking.
    I do agree that we need to take action and not drag this on, or just being a mediocre band.
     
    DJ Bebop and LBS-bass like this.
  12. lfmn16

    lfmn16 SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I used to play guitar in a trio with a bass player that didn't have "it." I felt bad for the guy. He practiced regularly, took lessons, watched videos, put in 100% effort, but everything he played was just really mechanical. I never met anyone who tried harder or wanted it more, but in the end, if you don't have it, you don't have it.
     
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  13. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    California
    It's a tough situation. I'm in a similar place, but with a guitarist. Unfortunately the guitarist is also our principal songwriter, so we can't just let him go. The drummer in that band is brilliant, and a good friend, and I don't want to stop working with him. But I may end up doing that because the guitar situation is becoming unworkable. We've talked about recruiting another player to do the heavy lifting and prop him up but, frankly, no one else wants to play with him. So we're stuck.

    So my solution for the time being is to take on other work and lower that project on my priority list. I have a new project that's very promising, and if that project takes off as I suspect it will, it will make it easier to dial back my involvement with this other band. I know that at some point soon I am going to have to say goodbye to them. It will break my heart, but I am not enjoying playing with them anymore, at all. And as I know the other members have similar feelings about it, I suspect my leaving will break up the band. But they will have the option to recruit another bassist if they want to.
     
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  14. mikeluch

    mikeluch Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2004
    Ocala, FL
    That describes the guitarist perfectly. Really works hard, takes feedback and criticism, but just is not consistent, comes off leads into chords late, and never seems to play above the 12th or so fret.
     
    lfmn16 likes this.
  15. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Sorry, I am not in the start another band camp. If the other band works, this band will slow down, and you will have to keep answering questions why the first band isn't playing. That's hoping they will quit and do dirty work for you.
     
    lfmn16 likes this.
  16. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    California
    I didn't start another band. I was recruited into another band; I have always played in multiple projects. There are no questions to be answered. The reason I'm not available is because I'm already booked; they get that. The drummer and I both work several projects and it's a hobby band for the other two so they don't really care. However, when it gets to the point where my new project is keeping me from committing to a large number of dates for this first project, it's clearly time for me to move on, and that's where it's headed.
     
  17. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    I'm talking about the other posts where people suggested doing that rather than Han tearing off the bandaid and dealing with the issue.
     
    lfmn16 and LBS-bass like this.
  18. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    California
    Ah, ok. I misread your intentions there. Sorry!
     
  19. lfmn16

    lfmn16 SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    +1

    More importantly, why would you waste your time playing with people that can't cut it? More power to you if you have that kind of time, but for most of us, we have to prioritize where we spend our time and get the most bang for the buck.
     
    nixdad and LBS-bass like this.
  20. Think of this as being like a boss in a job. You have a couple employees that seems to be working hard but is a bit over their head with things. Are they in a position to be coached? Can they be brought up to your expectation level? I would consider taking this route. It may take a bit longer, but you will be happier in the long run. Especially since they seem to have the foundations there. They work hard and they are nice. That is rare, especially in guitar players who tend to thing the world revolves around them.

    If the person cannot be coached, then it may be time to find someone new. Its not easy to do this, but you need to think of the band as a business.
     

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