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Issues with drummer

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by LennyPenny, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    Hi all,

    I'm aware there are probably a million threads like this but here I go anyway. I tend to ramble so I do apologize for the rather lengthy piece of text.

    Short version:
    Our drummer doesn't seem to put in as much effort as we'd like her to but either doesn't seem to realize it or doesn't want to face the issue. What would you do?

    Long version:
    A few months ago a guy (pianist) from school asked me if I wanted to be in a new band he wanted to form, along with another (female) classmate who would be the drummer. I accepted the offer and since then we've been able to (tentatively) record a few songs, so no problems there.

    The "problem" with the drummer is that she doesn't seem as motivated as the pianist and me. We had exams before the Xmas break so she didn't have time for rehearsal that week but she said we should do an extra rehearsal or two during the break. She proposed to get together on two consecutive days, but cancelled last minute (half an hour or so before I left) because all of a sudden she had other things to do on both days. Last Friday was the first time in a month where we were all present.

    Every time she blew it off, I did go because I like to play everything through on a regular basis, but because of her absence, the vibe isn't as good as it used to be during the first few rehearsals. The pianist and me have become really good friends and we have a pretty strange sense of humor, and it seems she isn't "in the zone" as much (jokes she doesn't understand or doesn't find funny and such). Even at school we don't talk as much as we used to, so I'm getting the impression she thinks we're angry with her and/or she has an issue of her own but doesn't want to tell us.

    On top of everything, she isn't the best drummer in the world, which on its own isn't a big issue but it does mean she's often struggling to play relatively basic drum lines. It's just that the pianist and me are set on really getting something going (competitions, gigs, albums,..) whereas she just isn't putting in as much effort as we'd like her to, even though she told me she wanted to live off playing music. When we told her we thought it was a shame that we hadn't rehearsed in a month, she said that it's normal not to get together for several weeks.

    There's another drummer in our class who's very skilled and with whom we get along great. We've seen him play and can tell he would be a good addition to our band (if he'd want to join) but we don't want to backstab our current drummer by kicking her out and immediately replacing her with someone she's also friends with.

    So what would be the best thing to do:
    -kick her out and ask the other drummer if he's interested?
    ----> will most likely damage/ruin our friendship
    -kick her out and ask someone outside our friend circle to replace her?
    ----> will probably hurt our friendship but hopefully less than the above option
    -see how it goes for a few more weeks and then make a decision?
    ----> could mean we're still nowhere further than where we are now
  2. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Have you talked to her already, saying exactly what you posted here?

    I'd try to be upfront with her (without being aggressive or anything) but don't hit her over the head with the other drummer yet. If she says she can't or doesn't want to put in the work for your band, ask nicely if she would mind you asking that other dude... I think that would be the path of least butthurt.
  3. dont bother too much with this friend thing.
    talk to the current drummer, say she needs to get her thing together other wise you will have to replace her. if nothing changes -replace her with the best drummer you can find. be it her friend, brother or boyfriend it really shouldnt matter to you. you dont have to suffer lack of progress just because youre friends with a band mate.
    most people would either start caring about the project or leave without grudge. well i dont know how old you all are but usually adults should not get upset if they fired with a reason. and you have one. and if she cant deal with it thats her problem
  4. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    I'm 22, the pianist is 20 and the drummer 18.

    Other than subtle implications about us wanting to avoid going several weeks without rehearsing, we haven't discussed it with her at all because we're worried about upsetting her, even though we know this shouldn't be a factor as you say.

    Thanks for the suggestions, really appreciate it!
  5. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Talk to her
  6. Thank you for calling the Klingon Advice line.
    After carefully considering your position,
    we say "DESTROY HER!!"

    Honestly, you need to talk to her, and get her back on board.
    Try to find out what the issue is. Once.

    If that fails, and the rest of you are serious about getting things done, replace her. Period.
  7. Talk to her first, voice your concerns. In any kind of relationship that has a problem, trying to work it out should always be your first solution.

    If after the talk she falls back into the same routine, don't waste any more of your time, sack the drummer and go with the other guy quickly, before A: You guys lose your enthusiasm, and B: You get invested any deeper in this drummer. There is something about the psyche of a drummer that makes them outcasts in the band. As if the rest of the band is putting their heart and soul into the music, and the drummer is just hitting things. So that usually leads to a disconnect in that respect.
  8. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    I don't entirely agree with that last bit. I have to play in two combos at school and both drummers are really passionate and not outcasts in any way. Plus I respect what drummers contribute to a band and I'm sure our pianist does so as well.

    Other than that, all relevant and helpfull information, thanks!
  9. Sorry didn't mean to generalize. Obviously some drummers are passionate and cooperative band members. This is just a stigma, a cliche that many believe to be true.
  10. Jeb


    Jul 22, 2001
    I'm pushing 50 and have played with dozens of drummers and I can count on one hand the ones that I 'remember' who played well and actually listened to the bass player and played off of that dynamic. I read alot about bass players on this forum who enjoy playing with a good drummer. I'm not one of them. One of these days, I'll find another who can do that. Until then, I play on.
  11. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    You guys are young. Part of what comes with being grownups is talking things out and then STAYING FRIENDS no matter what the results. I have left bands, been replaced in bands (long ago when I was new at this), fired people, turned people down at auditions, and had really loud arguments with band mates. But with very few exceptions, I can pick up my phone and call anyone I have ever played with and they would be glad to hear from me. Life is too short to beat around the bush or hold grudges.

    Maybe she thought we wasn't too busy but she is. Maybe she thought she would dig the vibe of the group but she doesn't. Maybe she's bummed out that she doesn't get you weirdos and your jokes. It really doesn't matter. She's allowed to change her mind. And you are as well.

    So just talk to her. Let her know that either way you just want to know what's going on. And let her know that there are no hard feelings either way. You guys are grown now. Handle it like big boys and girls. And then AFTERWARDS continue to be NICE to each other.

    Best of luck.
  12. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    Thanks again for the kind replies. I told her everything yesterday: that we're under the impression she doesn't enjoy it as much as she used to a few months ago and that it seems difficult for her to combine the band with all the other stuff she has going on.
    The response wasn't terribly good, she sounded quite offended and was still griping over something we thought was already settled: when she missed a rehearsal, our pianist showed me two songs (of his own making) that he wanted to try, so I worked out a bassline on the spot. That evening the drummer sent us a rather angry text that she hadn't heard from us about what we'd been up to, even though we did intend to update her the next rehearsal because we had enough songs to keep busy anyway and she could work out a drum part by the rehearsal after that.

    Anyway, she said she still enjoys playing together but I can tell the atmosphere is going to be far from pleasant the next few rehearsals. In all honesty, I'm 99% sure we'd be better off with that other drummer I mentioned but we're sort of stuck because we have to take her word that she still wants to go for it.
  13. metlman72


    Jun 29, 2011
    Long Island NY
    You are serious about this band and are 99% sure the other guy is a better fit. If this is the case and the keyboard player agree's then I think you gotta make the switch. If its the right thing for the band than do it before any more time passes.
  14. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    In my experience, a lot of "hard" decisions became very VERY easy once I had made them.

    This seems like one of them.
  15. Ender_rpm


    Apr 18, 2004
    St. Louis MO
    Time to move on.
  16. LennyPenny


    Mar 14, 2011
    Just to let you know: we decided to fire our drummer. She didn't take it too well and started walking away while we were still explaining why we believed it was the best thing to do. This was a first for us so we were a bit upset about hurting her feelings and such, but two other classmates who are in a band as well and with whom we're good friends reassured us she'll come around again. She removed everything referring to her from our fanpage on Facebook, which we appreciated, but she forgot about one detail by leaving "Jinx consist of three members", followed by only the keyboard player and me :p

    Yesterday we had our first rehearsal with the new drummer and got proof that we did the right thing: we managed to play our entire repertoire of about 6 songs and try out some new material. Given the fact that on a typical rehearsal we could only practice about 3 songs and often not even play them through without interuption, and given the fact that the new guy only had one or two days to get to grips with the songs, I think you'll understand our amazement. And he's not even playing basic beats but he seems to really understand the music and is able to make the songs more interesting without being one of those annoying drummers who decide to change the rhythm mid-song and playing massive fills every four bars. AND he's a really easy-going dude.

    So yeah, we're pretty darn excited :D
  17. Johnny DeVille

    Johnny DeVille

    Feb 18, 2012
    Good decision !

    It seems what Melloinman said applies:

    In my experience, a lot of "hard" decisions became very VERY easy once I had made them.
  18. Just went through this almost to the letter.

    If you're interested, read my thread "When Do You Replace Someone?"

    Long story short, we dismissed the old drummer and it made a huge difference in almost every area.

    Never underestimate the importance of a solid, good drummer in a band.
  19. Short answer :
    Ask Her which one it is. Don't realize, or don't care.
  20. On one level, it's too bad you had to do that, since it seems you would have liked to have kept her. But it seems, after talking, despite what she said, nothing really was going to change. So you did what you had to do.

    I am glad, though, to hear that it is working better so far, with the new drummer. Best of luck with it, and I hope you start getting where you want to go now.
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