1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Issues with former singer.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by podiumboy, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. Quick backstory: In high school (roughly 1997), myself and 4 friends started a band. The singer and I had been best friends since 5 years old, and dreamed of being the next John & Paul, Mick & Keith, Bono & Edge, etc. By the time we reached college age, we finally ended up with a decent lineup and got a lot better, had gigs, wrote a bunch of songs, etc.

    Then, this singer became really depressed in about 2008. We were about 26 by this time, and it was becoming obvious that while we were a good band and enjoyed it, we weren't going to "make it". He was in a really bad relationship, had financial problems, became an alcoholic, and gained roughly 100 pounds. He hedged all his bets on our band "making it", and he lost. The rest of us were much more sensible, went to college, built careers, etc. He started contributing less to the band, wouldn't show up for gigs, or practice, or even various other social events. We eventually got to the point where the band functioned much better without him. There was a big blowup at our last gig (Thanksgiving Eve, 2009) between him and the drummer, and the band pretty much stopped existed after that night.

    4 years have gone by since then, and the rest of us just want to play for fun. Nobody wants the old singer back, including me. He is still living in the past. He is now 32, and still lives on a college campus, parties more than most college seniors 10 years younger than him, has no future, no woman, no prospects of any kind really. He is a truly depressed individual, and blames all his friends for getting married and moving on with their lives. He left me a message the other day saying how we need to get the band back together, because it's the only thing he's ever loved, and thinks it will fill the huge void in his life.

    The problem is, the rest of us just want to do it for fun. We want to continue writing originals, but also be a cover band and actually get some decent gigs. We have 2 gigs lined up for next summer already, and are gonna start looking for more. Also, we have already found another singer. He's like us: has a career and a family, and just wants to do this as a hobby.

    I feel like I'm too old to keep it a secret. I'm gonna post pics, vids and annoucements about the band on facebook. But the former singer is not going to be happy. In fact, I fear that this might be the straw that breaks the camel's back. I'm seriously worried he may try to kill himself. He just lost another girlfriend, this time she left him for one of his closest friends. His parents recently got divorced, have sold his childhood home, and both have new homes with new partners; he has no home anymore. He works in a deadend job, he's an alcoholic, he's just extremely lonely.

    I realize that he's made his own mess. I know I'm not responsible for the poor decisions he's made in his life. And yet, this is my oldest friend, and although I barely have anything in common with him on the surface, there is an intangible element where we know each other better than ourselves, can finish each other's sentences, could carry on an entire conversation without saying a word, etc. I'm really stuck on this. Meanwhile, the other guys don't really see what the issue is, or they just don't care about him like I do.
  2. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Here's what you do. Get together with the guy and try to help snap him out of this downward spiral he's in. Tell him you want to talk about ANYTHING but music. Try to help him see that his behavior and choices are really stupid (without actually calling them stupid). Talk to him about night school, losing weight, growing up, etc. Explain to him how he needs to deal with the fact that there is no rock star life in his future FIRST, and then move on with the rest of his life. Tell him about all the amazing things you are experiencing in your "regular" life and how he should be working towards something fulfilling and meaningful.

    In short, try to help him get his crap together. But tell him how much you care and WHY you want to see him do better. You may have to get a little touchy feely with the guy (of course not in a sexual manner). But you might have to open up to him a little bit.

    It may help him. But it will certainly help you. If he does something awful to himself in the near future, it will haunt you for a long time if you don't make a good solid attempt to help your old friend.

    Sometimes it's not easy. I'm getting ready to do the same thing with my dad, about his health. He is a stubborn old guy. But he needs to make some serious changes. Having the conversation with him is going to suck. I hope it works. I hope he "sees the light" and does better. But if he doesn't, I will still be at peace because I tried to help him.

    So, do it for him. And do it for yourself. But the only rule is no band talk. He has bigger fish to fry.
  3. Robus


    Aug 25, 2013
    Chicago Area
    Sounds like it's not just your decision. The others in the band have a say and have had their say. They don't want him. Besides, you've got another singer already. Are you going to boot him in order to turn the band into a support group for your depressed friend? Most likely you wouldn't have a band for very long.

    Give your ex-singer whatever support you can as a friend, but move on musically with your new lineup. My $0.02.
  4. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Hmm, you're noble. But your friend made his choices in life and it's no one's fault but his.

    Continue to be his friend in whatever way you can, but go forward in your band without him. That's my 2¢.
  5. Thanks for the great advice. I'm sorry you have to go through that with your father. Best of luck to you, hope it works out!
  6. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Thanks. You too.
  7. Give him some Prozac, and give him a ride to a shrink. I have a couple of old friends in that state. They remind me of either Schleprock, from the Flintstones, or this guy......

    It's sad, but funny.
  8. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    You need to be honest with him that he's not going to be involved in the band, without reference to his predicament.

    I have a similar non-band situation with my housemate. We got to a point where his living with us wasn't appropriate or working out any longer and my partner and I essentially saw the writing on the wall that he would have to move out. Problem was, similar to your situation, this guy has nowhere to go and some pretty obvious personal issues so I kept deferring the problem to spare him further hardship. This led to us trying to put up with him for about 6 months longer than we could actually bear and in the end things broke down really badly, there was a fight and now the friendship is kaput and we still have to get him out of our house.

    Honesty when a problem arises is the best policy, and while empathy is really noble it almost always places too much pressure directly on the person trying to be considerate.

    I would keep it simple. Tell him that you're working on a band with other people and it's in a format that works for your collective lifestyles. He doesn't require any more information. You're not responsible for his life choices and you shouldn't be expected to hold his head above water.

    You stand on your own merit in life or you fold.
  9. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    While I absolutely believe this to be true, the two are not mutually exclusive. The OP's friend will sink or swim based on his own choices. And it is not the job of the OP to "hold his head above water". However, that does not mean some effort can't be made to help the guy UNDERSTAND what he is doing to HIMSELF.
  10. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    Agreed. I mean this all comes down to personal philosophy, and I've found from experience that people like this usually won't receive or act upon advice, so there's every chance that any kind of "Get it together" style interjection will fall entirely on deaf ears and be a proverbial waste of breath. Call me jaded or a cynic or whatever, but I've had it up to the eyeballs with trying to assist those who can't take themselves to task, and it'll be a very cold day in hell before I stick my neck out for somebody again.

    My advice is that the OP should tell the singer he's not involved before he announces his shows on the Fbook. Be a man and tell the guy that the band has gone forward without him and offer whatever encouragement or explanation he feels is appropriate. Whatever you do, don't under any circumstances give him any false hope. You give this kind of person an inch and they'll take a mile and never thank you for it.
  11. nojj

    nojj Guest

    May 20, 2013
    I think your ex-singer has watched the Blues Brothers movie too often.

    Dude didn't show for gigs? As in plural?
    I'd have canned his drunk ass in a minute, friend or no friend.
  12. sm49341


    May 12, 2013
    Wow. Truly a tough situation you're in. My band has recently had a similiar situation, but not quite as bad. My guy has a pretty successful life and career. We restarted the "old band" about 4 years ago. He has always been a heavy drinker, even back in the first band. When we started playing out again he was a trainwreck on our very second gig. This continued at rehersals and gigs for 4 years. We had several meetings about it. He is diagnosed with depression. He told us this band is a big reason he's still here. Said it was his therapy. I felt that put a lot of pressure on us. We just played on another 18 months. Drinking was still a big problem. Plus we was never learning his new material, and his practice consisted of printing out tabs, for when we rehearsed. He was not prepared one time for a rehersal, and was never practicing. He was faking a lot of parts at gigs, just didn't know the chords to songs. Soundman kept his volume real low. Finally after a very public gig, where he showed up trashed,it was a bad gig. He resigned later that week. He said he had lost interest 2 years ago, and disliked our direction.
    Couple weeks later he said he changed his mind. After much consideration we said, "NO". We realized he was not going to quit drinking as long as he played with us. He needed to have a bad consequence. He gave us the whole therapy speech again. I feel very terrible about moving on without him. But at the same time I feel its the right decision for him. He seems to have accepted it now, and has already not been drinking for a month.
    I like Two fingers idea. Offer help like he suggests, but not in a "join the band" way. If he joins the band and is still a trainwreck, the band will eventually fail or dump him. Failure either way. Trust me, There is nothing worse than an irresponsible drunk in a band. Its no fun for anyone. His postion will be short lived. You can only try to help, and you sound like a very good person for considering his feelings.
    All this being said, I have lived thru a band member suicide almost 25 years ago, over typical stupid band drama. Over time I've come to realize it wasn't my (our) fault. You can't hold your concience as a ransom for someone's crazy irrational decision. Like girlfriend breakup. If something bad happened after that, she can't be held to blame.
    Offer to help, that's all you can do. A drinker has to want to be helped. But also you deserve to get that band going.

    Best of luck to you.
  13. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    I'm not going to try to give advice in this situation--that's a tough, tough one. I'll just wish you and your old friend the best.
  14. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware
    Your friend needs serious help. Advice (words) won't change him. Being in a band won't change him.

    If he doesn't have health care yet, get him to sign up so he can start getting his health together starting in a few weeks. It's up to him to move himself forward.

    Based on my personal experience with various friends and family members, no matter how hard you try, you can't fix him. He'll suck you dry of your time and resources so he can remain the same.

    If he doesn't change, unfortunately it may be time to cut ties with him. :atoz:

    Good luck with your friend and the band! :)
  15. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    OP: I wish you the best as you try and help your friend. That's a truly tough situation you have in front of you. Good luck.

    "Bring me four fried chickens and a Coke."
  16. Really there's nothing you can do - he needs professional help. Tell him you can't play with him because you're already playing with some one else and get on with your life.
  17. OEW3


    Nov 6, 2011
    You're a very nice guy. Most people would not put that kind of work into it. You're right, it's worth trying. Good luck to the OP.
  18. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    First question in any situation is "what can I do to change the situation?"

    If the answer is "nothing", then you must accept it and move on.

    If the answer is anything else, you owe it to yourself to follow up on doing those things. If this friend means as much as you imply you may be the only hope he has of reversing his impending crash.

    If you truly believe your friend is at risk of doing himself serious harm, check the laws in your state and see if you can have him involuntarily committed for treatment of depression. Many states allow this and some even require you to report anyone who has said they intend to do harm to themselves or others. Since most people in your friend's situation are unable to pay for any treatment, there are all kinds of programs that offer inpatient treatment at no charge.

    As far as the band goes, tell him up front he's not included because he's too effed up to function at all, much less in an environment requiring any kind of structure or cooperation to succeed. Tell him the truth and don't gloss it over. Make it clear he's out and why, then tell him while it may be too late to salvage his place in the band, there is plenty of hope for turning his personal life around, and be ready with solutions should he ask for your help. The hardest part to prepare for is his total rejection of any offer of help. If that happens and you are truly worried about him doing something stupid, see what you can do about taking that decision away by having him committed to some kind of inpatient care.

    Here's the single most important aspect of this whole situation. If you are not prepared to put in the time, which could wind up being every spare minute you have for the next few months, don't approach him at all. The last thing he needs is being offered hope from someone who's only real interest is lip service. If you are not prepared to take him to AA NA meetings, visit him if he winds up in lockup, talk to him when he calls at 3AM, etc., etc., cut him loose and let the chips fall where they may.
  19. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Here's my compassionate outreach to potential suicides:


    Sounds cruel, no?

    Well, it's not. It is not my responsibility to give you something to live for. I have run that treadmill enough times. I have dealt with people who hold you for ransom, using their life as the bait. It's my job to keep ME alive. It's your job to keep YOU alive.

    Most of my dead, suicided friends never said it was coming. They seemed fine, if anything, more at peace than ever, and then BAM. Ripped my freakin' heart out. Sad? For life.

    Most of my friends who were "potential suicides" are either still with us, still playing emotional blackmail games on those who will let them, or died from other things, usually just plain alcoholism.

    Your former singer is NOT your responsibility. You get one life, and few chances for any joy. Use whatever chances you have, and don't apologize, and don't look back. If he dies, go to his funeral, and tell his friends and loved ones what he meant to you. But don't forsake opportunities, and the comradery of people who DO have their stuff together, just because you're caretaking his fragile psyche.

    He's a grownup.

    Either go all-in, and help him get professional help, and manage his life, or keep your distance, and support him however you can, while doing whatever it is you need to do.

    Emotional blackmail: IT'S NOT PRETTY.
  20. +1