How to release a band member without hard feelings??

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by scorpionldr, Sep 2, 2004.

  1. Ok, right now I've been dealing with my guitarist, and it's come to the point that I've finally had it. In the midst of the hours worth of feedback from distortion and a crap guitar, and the fact that the guy has no good playing skills, it's done. Time to "flush the toilet" and find a new member.

    Here's the story if you just happen to be interested:
    Last Saturday was basically a gig for a birthday party. We did the usual agonizing practice, with my brother (a drummer to sit in) and the rest of the band. We were practicing, and all the while my friend (the nominee for this let-go) is just screwing up for no reason. I ask him why he can't get the job done, he says "You've never taught me how to play this" (which is BS) even on our originals, which we've had for plenty long, and he's playing nothing but pinch harmonics in between. We start, and three songs into it, after recognizing that the kids we're playing for have absolutely no interest in live entertainment for some reason. Afterwards we decided to sit inside while he just keeps on going playing all the riffs he thinks is "hardcore". So I once again asked the question "is it me" to my friend who answered simply "the kid just doesn't know when to stop. all this is to him is just another hangout session where we get pissed off at him."

    So we're all sitting down and the question that arises is basically that we all consider him a friend, and that's fine, but we need to kick him to keep the band going, but how to we let him go without any hard feelings? it's not that we don't like him, it's just whenever he picks up a guitar it always turns into a hate fest. we practically abandoned him when we decided to take a break and eat when he brought along two idiot friends of his the last practice through.
    My friend, who has been involved with bands for 4 years has basically said that the best way to get rid of a person is to piss him off during a practice to the point where he realizes that he doesn't want to be in the band anymore, but seeing he doesn't get angry at all, and talking to his friends, I can see it won't work. any ideas?

    also, I'm trying to figure out to see if i should go with having a new guitarist, bassist, or even keyboardist, cuz so far, I don't think that as a 3 man band (drums bass vox) it'll be so hot, so if i leave some sound files on this thread do you think you can make a few suggestions??
  2. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Just tell him he's not working out and that your holding auditions for other guitarists, so you are cutting him loose.
  3. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    It's definately a bad idea to attempt this 'piss him off technique', especially if he's a freind, right? (!?). I think it's pretty wild for you to even consider that.

    There's something a little funny with the whole scenario. He shouldn't be diddling-around at a gig - you guys should have arrangements to the songs and a certain setlist, and somewhat of a planned show.

    Here's one idea: Why don't you enlist an older guy to help (sorry, but I can only assume you guys are young) - someone who's been in the buisness, and is respected; it could be someone who works at a music store even. The trick would be to find someone who has a professional, authoritive air about them, that you all kind of couldn't help but respect for their experience or whatever. Let him be the objective, professional 'bad guy' - a consultant, you know? It might sound kind of spun at first, but I'll bet you could find someone who'd be willing to do this for you if you explained your situation.

    Now picture this: You announce that it's time for the band to take the next step in its development, and you all have had this excellent opportunity to have a pro come in and fine-tune your show. It would be like he's stepping in as sort of a manager/consultant. Have him honestly, concientiously critique the band's performance and management. You'd want this guy to be honest and critical, and even 'brutal' if need be - but be ready! - if he does it right, he well may have some brutal critique for ALL of you. He can tell you many things you should do to take it to the next level (like song arrangements and a real show and all that).

    I'd love to do it, but I'm in Milwaukee.

    What do you think??

    Joe (brutal old guy who's been in the buisness)
  4. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Hmmm. Be ready for some fallout. You could be as tactfull and diplomatic as possible and still have bad feelings. He might not be 'mad' at you but he will be disappointed. I've had to deal with this a bunch as a guy that books players for jobbing jazz gigs, and I have the added benefit of the groups I put together not actually being 'a band'. I promise it will pass with time and all will be right with the world again.
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    This is the worst idea I've ever heard! It's like cheating on your wife so you can get a diviorce! Tell your friend he is an idiot from me!

    As cass says, just tell the guy it's not working out and that you need to find a replacement to get the band to where you want it to be. If he asks for more detail, give it, be honest and fair.
    Whatever you do, dont get angry or be rude as that will just upset him/ make him angry and everything will turn sour. He might be pissed to start with, but ifyou are perfectly honestand fair, he should respect that and posibley even learn from it. If he dosent, then it's his loss. Ideally, I expect you want to part company and still maintain respet for each other - if you can do this, then you've done well.

    ..and dont put it off, the more it builds up, the more tense you'll get about letting him go and the harder it'll be

    good luck :)
  6. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    You know - the more I think about it... That's so idiotic that you should be embarassed for not scolding the guy INSTANTLY upon him mentioning it. That's a major no-brainer, dude. That idea really bothers me. The guy who suggested this is NOT the guitarist's friend. He's not. Is he yours? You should print-out this whole thread after it gets more replies and have him read it. I appreciate that you said "I can see it won't work", but even that is way off the mark - Howard had it right; THAT'S the correct response. This is an ethical issue MUCH more than a pragmatic "will it work" issue.

    As I put this whole story together, it makes me think there's a possability that you two guys are very nearly just as spun as him. If you guys are all just shooting from the hip as a band... I mean has it ever been made clear and distinct to y'all the baby-formula-basics of professionalism for a band? Talk to some old geezer.. I mean gigger from your area - now I'm thinking that you may not have to get rid of him; you can just ALL together learn the basics of performing and friendships.

  7. baba

    baba Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2002
    3rd stone from the sun
    I don't think there is a way to do this without hard feelings. All I can say is be direct and honest. Cut to the chase. You've already put it off to long, do it now.
  8. 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
    There you are. Just tell him that. It's what you really feel.
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    You know it astounds me how underhanded people can be when it comes to bands/music... although it shouldnt, it's no different to any other facet of life.

    Personally, I do my best to surround myself with people who share the values I see as important. In music of course this isnt always possible, as you often have to pick people based on their skills to play the music you want to play.

    Although, to-date I've been pretty lucky (is it luck?) nearly all the people I work with are cool. My main band, BratG, has the coolest band members in the world, depsite the fact that the singer has a HUGE ego and the band leader (keys) has no scruples whatsoever - they're both still great fun to work with.

    waffle, waffle, blah, blah...
  10. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    I just went through this two weeks ago. Had to let go a drummer/guitarist (how's that for a wierd combo) that I have known and been friends with way longer than the other band members. We talked to him as a group - we were honest, to the point, and talked like friends. I also stayed and talked to him for a long while after everyone else left. Of course there is gonna be hard feelings. If he cares at all about the band, he will feel unhappy, upset, mistreated, etc. The fact is, if there is really a friendship there, he'll get over it.
  11. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Your friend who has supposedly been involved with bands for 4 years is a weak coward. For future reference, I would advise doing the opposite of whatever this guy tells you to do. And, if you have a sister, refuse to let her date him. He's a tool.

    Simply be direct, and tell the guy that he isn't working out, and that you've decided to look for someone new.

    He'll either get over it, and remain friends, or he won't. Simple as that. But, DON'T start auditioning people before you tell him, and don't LIE to him. In the long run, he'll be more likely to remain friends if you are honest with him. Funny how that works out--not lying to the people you call your friends keeps them as friends.
  12. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    1) Drive him to a remote location

    2) Let him out the car.

    3) Yell "Your free!"

    4) Floor it, drive away.

    5) Pan to a shot of both of you shedding a melancholy tear, one after the other.
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    How often are you guys gigging? If it's not much, you could always use that time honored passive/agressive method -WE'RE BREAKING UP THE BAND.

    And then two weeks later you get together with the cats you want to play with.
  14. The only way to do it is to be upfront. I was going to say "honest" but you're probably going to have to say 'we all think you're a great guitarist, but it's just not working with all of us...'

    Another thing, have everybody there. Do it in person, not over the phone. I spent the better part of 10 years holding a grudge against the guys I was in a band with... Part of it was they were knobs about it, part of it was me feeling victimized and dwelling on it.
  15. Joe P,

    Whereabouts in Milwaukee are you? I live out in Rockesha.
  16. adam on bass

    adam on bass Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2002
    New Braunfels, Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Spector, GK, EMG and D'Addario
    Get this:
    I just did the same thing to my guitarist but he's not only my guitarist he's my cousin! It was one of the hardest things I had to do in my life. Gotta do what's right for you.
  17. The most foolproof way to handle this sort of thing is to tell the truth. I used to have a sign in my office that said "Tell the whole truth all the time, because if it is not the whole truth, it is not the truth at all." It is a hard-core, painful way to live, but over a period of time, you will earn the reputation of being a woman or man of character, and you will benefit enormously from this. Don't be a liar. There are always stupid justifications for telling lies, but you usually get caught, and over the long run, the truth usually works just as well.

    Professionals tell each other the truth. Men and women of character and integrity speak the whole truth, all of the time. Weasels lie. Make a choice. It is disrespectful to give the guy some stupid excuse. It is remarkably stupid to attempt to piss him off to the point of quitting. If you care about this guy, and/or care about yourself, get him alone to minimize his embarassment or need to perform, and calmly and respectfully tell him the truth. You can give him no greater gift than that.
  18. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    Yeah, tell him the truth. I suppose you're all mature enough to solve problems this way, and I hope he'll understand your point and leave wihtout any crap.
  19. Jerry Ziarko

    Jerry Ziarko Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    First give him $5000 in cash, then tell him your fired. Some how that always seems to soften the blow!
    Seriously though, be upfront and honest. There will surely be some hard feelings, but over time, they sometimes fade. Hopefully you BOTH will see it as a learning experience later on. Unfortunately some people never get over it, but the reality of it is it's just a part of life. Good luck!
  20. mattmcnewf


    May 27, 2004
    Stop trying to take the easy way out. Either Break up the band completely and restart at least one month later. Or tell hhim up front.
    DO NOt get him to quit by annoying him or something like that and do not Stop calling him while your jamming with other people.