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I lost my cool with a bandmate.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by consectaneus, Jul 7, 2020.

  1. consectaneus


    Sep 23, 2016
    We're not really in a band (at this point) just trying to build a small set list and have some fun playing in a no-pressure environment. Were all old dudes (and a dudette) having some fun (at least that's the idea).

    Well, I actually work on this stuff at home and try to get it right. We all have varying degrees of talent/time/and inclination to work on this stuff. I guess I'm just here to get it off my chest that I told the rhythm player that what he was playing wasn't right, and it it's not right the rest will fall apart and it will be a train wreck. That rattled him and he said that he only really became familiar with his part two hours prior, and that he only considers himself a beginner guitar player anyway and how he didn't expect to hear "that isn't right...you're messing everything up" (referring to me) in an exaggerated accusatory impression of me obviously.

    So anyway, I felt about this low and tried to make amends as the rehearsal went on to encourage him and say how much better it was sounding and "yeah, you got it now...you really held us together there, etc..."

    I feel bad because I actually consciously TRY to remember that we are just there to have fun, but my ambition to be good and be right still got to me in a weak moment of frustration.

    I may just not be a very good person for these situations. I have basically avoided playing with people most of my life. The thing is, I have sometimes been the weak link in a jam situation so I certainly empathize with this guy. He's being asked to play chord and rhythms he's not comfortable with, and that's the whole point here...to get better.

    So this is not a defense of my actions, more like an opportunity to vent so I can stop beating myself up over it and try to use this whole endeavor to develop more patience with people and stop transferring how hard I can be on myself to others.
    sears, RodRy, Roosterhead and 20 others like this.
  2. rzamites

    rzamites Supporting Member

    Jun 27, 2020
    Been there with the band I was in as a young man. Just be encouraging and help him along; it'll get better.
    RodRy and consectaneus like this.
  3. Sonicblaze

    Sonicblaze Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2016
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Did you directly apologize?

    You may have done nothing wrong, however he seems to have took it hurtful and that's what matters. I'll admit it, call me out on my playing in front of others and I used to get overly defensive too. That was before I realized that even if they come off harsh/direct, it's 99.9% constructive criticism said in their own way and to take it to heart and work on it.

    Yes some people are easily offended, doesn't matter. If you like him and the band, be the awesome person and mend it with humility; and from your post, I think you're totally that awesome person who wants to mend it.

    I've been there before with drummers, and my response usually is something like 'hey man, I'm sorry if that came off the wrong way. I lose my own place without that part for reference so I was a bit frustrated, and that's my fault. You think that specific part is something you can play so I can follow along easier?'

    It's amazing how flipping the narrative to 'hey, can you help me' usually works out. We're all here to help and play along to each other, and most people are usually on the same page there. If they're not, well, I usually walk away from that person because it's not a team-game at that point.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    The fact that you feel so badly about means you're a good person.

    If the goal is to just hang out, and MAYBE play a little bit of music, fine.

    If the goal is to be a band.... even a garage band.... I simply can't play with people who can't play. Sorry. I don't mind helping someone outside of a band setting. I don't even mind helping someone else's band get it together. But if we're trying to get through songs, even just for ourselves, it has to be right enough that it doesn't bother my ears.... which is pretty close to right. Heck, we all bust a clam here and there. Nobody is perfect. But if you simply don't know enough about your instrument to even KNOW you're playing something wrong, no thanks. That migh mean I'm the one who has to leave. And that's fine too. But one of us has to go.

    But back to your main point.... you'll be fine. He'll be fine. And he likely won't get much better any time soon. It is what it is. Either you can live with it or you can't. But you're not an awful person for pointing out someone is playing something wrong. We do really complex vocal harmonies in my band. Thank goodness we all have small egos. We pick each others' vocal parts to death. But we all want it right so we all put up with each other. It helps that we're great friends and love each other dearly.
  5. Tell him that you’ve been thinking about it ever since it happened. He will know that it bothers you because you say that. Then just say:“Maybe I was too harsh, I’ll try not to do that again” Then jokingly say something like, “You’ll be playing better than me soon, and then You can critique me”. They’ll understand you’re trying to make it up to them.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
    RodRy, JC Nelson, TimBukToo and 9 others like this.
  6. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    One of the inherent problems here is that playing music can be different things to different people...plus some people consider it art which can lend itself to a lot of subjectivity....but either way you should all know what and why you’re there. Maybe you would enjoy it more if the rhythm guitar player was better prepared....maybe he doesn’t want to fall under anyone else’s scrutiny...either way these things always work themselves out one way or another.
  7. Phaenomenal


    Jun 12, 2020
    New York
    If it festers with him and he brings it up, maybe admit to him you have something to learn in this situation too.

    Be careful about singling him out for too many compliments to compensate for feeling like you need to make it up to him for snapping at him. Some take that as condescending. Maybe focus on the whole band sounding better.
  8. consectaneus


    Sep 23, 2016
    By the end of the session everything seemed to be cool. On the way out, I was really close to saying something but I decided to let it lay. I'll see him Thursday. There will probably be an opportunity to do as Guild B301 says some time. We were just getting to know each other musically before this COVID thing hit, and have only recently started up again. I just have to figure out how to balance unrealistic expectations with the reality, and possibly even my own delusions of grandeur. I'm just a little surprised I got triggered like that and cracked. If I can't dial it back I may have to make a graceful exit. The de facto "leader" is so easy going, non-judgemental and positive, and the rhythm guitarist in question is the nicest guy you would ever want to meet, so I feel like "that guy" I guess because I am. I know I can get critical and impatient.
  9. Sonicblaze

    Sonicblaze Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2016
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Me too :laugh: I have to remind myself daily with my normal job (IT) that although most computer users are idiots :wacky:... Everyone starts somewhere, and years ago that someone was me. As long as they're putting in the effort, might as well help them and in the long run, it helps me too become a better teacher/helper/confidant/team-player/etc.
    rzamites and consectaneus like this.
  10. Shalto


    Aug 23, 2019
    I find a generally helpful approach to hopefully avoid or at least reduce the risk of bad vibes is the criticise in private/praise in public approach.

    Basically it stings your ego to find out you are messing something up, and it stings worse if there is an audience. Sometimes our ego needs some deflating buts it's easier without an audience. So yeah in bands, like workplaces it's often better to put criticism in the language of "this is what needs to improve" and to do it one on one. Then when they nail something at rehersal or sound good, don't keep it to yourself that you noticed.
  11. Aceman


    May 1, 2020
    Tampa Bay
    Yeah - been there heard that. There are people who are on point spot on technicians. They couldn't play a non-original note to save their lives. Then there are the Ar-teests. They refuse to play anything the way it is supposed to be. And all shades in between.

    Based on you didn't know "2 years" etc, I'm saying you are a little bit "tight". Never a bad thing to loosen up in this context.

    In my band I always say - There are "signature lines, you need to know them. Then there is the rest. It needs to be in key and in time. Play it like you own it. Attitude and tightness/swagger beats technical correctness (almost) any day.

    Unless you are like a Rush tribute or something. In which case there is absolutely ZERO tolerance for error.

    Find the spot that's right for you.
    Peltor, Thundertips and consectaneus like this.
  12. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    maybe you could have put it better, but you're there to have fun, too, and it's no fun at all when one of the players doesn't know the songs and can't be bothered to at least listen to the songs over the week if not play with them.
  13. jpmcbride

    jpmcbride Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    A direct apology would be the right thing to do. Last thing you want to do is discourage a new player, even if it wasn't intended. I've been there, its no fun.

    In a band situation you often have to discuss what each other are playing in order to fix problem areas. It can be a tricky thing. I try hard to be tactful and easy on others, and to be thick skinned and not take offense when I'm on the receiving end. I don't always succeed at both :) Do the best you can and fix it when you mess up. The fact that you're aware of the situation is the most important thing.
    slapshot and consectaneus like this.
  14. bmusic


    Oct 22, 2017
    Los Angeles
    I had a little band going for a while, and it basically died because a couple people weren’t up to the task of learning their parts.

    One of them was my wife.

    Sometimes she dangles a piece of bait out there, basically copping to wrecking the band, hoping I’ll say, “No, baby, it wasn’t your fault.” I don’t fall for it. I don’t tell her lies.

    What I do tell her is that learning a bunch of keyboard parts on a Nord, switching sounds mid-song...that’s just not her thing as a musician. She needs to be plunking out chords on an acoustic piano and singing lead.

    As of today, we’re still married.

    I guess my point is that it helps to understand where your band mates are coming from as musicians. On the other hand, you can’t stay in a situation that drives you up the wall.

    I think you get it. Like you, I don’t play with other people a lot. It’s like being in a marriage with 3 or 4 or 5 other people all at once: the compromises, the tiptoeing over broken glass. You’re in a tough spot and I think you seem to be handling it with all the requisite empathy. Hopefully the dude will chill a bit and not take things personally.
  15. consectaneus


    Sep 23, 2016
    You guys are the best. I feel like I see a little of myself in every post. I don't consider myself a natural musician so I fall into the "technician" category above to put it charitably. Someone suggests a song, I go home and find a YouTube bass lesson/transcription of said song and do my best to have it reasonably nailed down as close to the original as I can come next practice. That's because I can't learn a song on the fly with every one sitting there trying to find the chords. The flip side is that others have been using the rehearsal time to learn the song. That leaves me sitting there while they practice the chords and progression. That is fine if it works for them. It may even be the way they envisioned this whole thing going down. It's kind of a bummer for me though.

    Having said that, today there was some indications of them having done some practicing beforehand, if only (in the case of the rhythm guy), the couple of hours before rehearsal. That may be progress. I tell myself it's because they are busier than me, have more of a life, more obligations and responsibilities, or pressing issues than me etc, so forgive them if this is their recreational "fun" jamming time and to stop taking it too seriously. Not taking things seriously is difficult for my personality.

    Maybe in the end this will be more about me learning to relax and get along with different personalities than it is about music.
  16. darwin-bass

    darwin-bass Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2013
    Salem OR
    Relationships are like bank accounts. Hurts, insults, taking for granted, borrowing gear, free loading - these are withdrawals. Kindness, helping, yielding to the other, and giving of your time - these are deposits.

    Too many withdrawals and the relationship goes bankrupt. A healthy account can suffer withdrawals. A near zero account could go bankrupt with one withdrawal.

    Do you want the relationship to be in the red or black? If the latter, make a deposit with a sincere apology. Do not hint at it. Do not justify it (I was tired, drunk, whatever). Do not place blame on the other. Use the word "I". "I'm sorry for what I said to you". "I am sorry for being demanding". Something like that.

    If you want to really make the point stick, follow it up with a request for forgiveness. "Can you forgive me"?

    And it doesn't matter if you actually did anything wrong. If the other was hurt by your words you've made a withdrawal.
    Aceman, Rumblin, rzamites and 7 others like this.
  17. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Talk to the guy. Apologize, and tell him kinda what you said here. You were an ass, and you let your emotions get ahead of your common sense. Tell him it won't happen again (and don't let it).
  18. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Try not to beat yourself up, my friend.The stress of guilt can be crushing. I am sure you do many good deeds and kindnesses every day, so don't be too hard on yourself for a momentary lapse. Combinations of stress, lack of sleep, work crap, medications, maybe missing a meal, in addition to the surface issue, can cause just about anyone to be less tactful than they want to be.

    That said, maybe it had to come to this, on some level. Meaning, if you're at all like me, you can only suppress your feelings for so long before you do the record scratch and tell whats on your mind. And it seems like you may have reached that point. Perhaps you're playing with someone that's too far below your level to be satisfying, which never seems to work, ime.

    In any case, best of luck and don't lose sleep! :)
    Troy Eggen and consectaneus like this.
  19. MynameisMe

    MynameisMe Have a purpose and live it out. Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2018
    Jax Florida
    It takes a humble heart to ask for forgiveness and obviously you are feeling some remorse over the whole thing.
    My sister gave me some of the best advice one time when I was asking her about how to handle a situation she said "always take the high road you will never regret it."
    That has helped me through many a relationship blunder.
    Troy Eggen and consectaneus like this.
  20. DavC

    DavC Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    i find simply offering to help someone work on stuff is a good thing .. and usually both improve or have a better understanding and direction of what needs worked on .. !

    if you've learning and working on actual Songs = that's rehearsal ... and everyone should learn their own parts before band Rehearsal ... i know that makes it sound more serious and not like it's fun , but it's more fun to actually 'play' when everyone is properly prepared while sharing everyone's time together ... i always kinda felt like the unprepared were selfishly wasting my time during rehearsal .. ?!

    i think of Jamming as a different approach to making extemporaneous music ..!?

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