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Lesson in having friends in your band...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by B-NoteCowboy, Oct 13, 2005.

  1. Had to replace a very good friend this week as lead singer/rhythm guitarist of our band. It sucked, but it was beyond obvious that it had to be done.

    The really bad thing is that we are in the middle of a month long committment and I know he was enjoying it and looking forward to more shows, but the move had to be made for the best sound/performance/chemistry etc. sooner than later.

    The moral of the story is be careful about having friends in your band because as your band matures and expectations and performance standards grow, sometimes they don't always have the same level of committment, time or talent to match what you want to do and then it's very hard to replace them if you have to. :bawl:
  2. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    I went through the same type of thing a few years ago. I had been friends with our drummer since we were very young--early gradeschool days. Conflicts with other band members, different musical direction, much heavier gigging, etc., forced us to part ways with him.

    Things were rather tense between us for awhile, especially since we also worked together at our day jobs at that time, but eventually everything got back to normal. In fact, we ended up being much better friends down the road as the band drama was now gone. I just made sure to not bring up anything about the band to him. ;)
  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    It goes both ways, it could be YOU getting the boot just as easily.
  4. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    This is something that has been heavy on my mind lately. My best friend just asked me to join his band. I accepted. Now - I worry that if I'm not "making the grade" he'll be afraid to tell me. Or, if another band member thinks I'm not making it, they'll be afraid to tell him. I told him from the beginning to not just say "Matt's in the band" - but rather, let's have some kind of a "probationary period" so that he's not in an awkward position if he has to let me go. I've asked him to tell me if I need to do something different or if I'm not making it and I've also told him that if it’s not working out or if any other band members don't think it's working out - just let me know and we can all still part ways as friends.
    I worry a lot. (in general) On this. I worry because I've only been playing my instrument for 5 years and the two main members have been playing their instrument for over 20 years. These guys as a group (4 of them beside me) easily have a combined 70 years of experience. While I'm more than ready to join a band, I don’t pick things up quite as quickly as they do. I don't want to be holding these guys back. He tells me that asked me because he thinks I'm the right guy for this project and that he's sure I can handle it.
    What's the best way to handle this? I was thinking that after a while I would ask my friend to have a band meeting with the rest of the band (with me not there) and talk about whether I should be in or not - that would give him a chance to let me go without me ever knowing who voted for me to go. But on the other hand - I feel like I need to show some confidence, and asking him constantly if I'm cutting it doesn't come off very confident - nor would asking him to hold a band meeting to talk about me. Do I just show up every time and do my best and try to forget my concerns, or should I ask my friend to have a meeting with the other guys? What's the best way to handle this?
  5. Pruitt


    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    Matt, practice your songs on your own time, go to band parctices, play to the best of your ability, have fun, and just let the chips fall where they may. But I wouldn't dwell on it. Just work hard, have fun and I'm sure everything will work out. ;)
  6. Gorcbass


    Sep 16, 2005
    Galway, Ireland
    I was in the same position as you Matthew and I done pretty much the same thing. The bandmates were all good freinds of mine but when I entered the band one of the guitarists in the band wasn't cutting it. The rest of the band were afraid of hurting his feelings and they didnt want to ask him to leave. So when i came into the band I made my position clear at the start, If the rest of the band thought that it would be better without me then I would leave and thank them them for at least letting me try. 5 months on and I am still in the band and the guitarist is not. :)

    I dont think that you need to bring it up again after the first week as long as everyone knows where you stand.
  7. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    One other thing Matt... The quickest way to progress in your ensemble playing, band, or live playing is to play with people better than you. Having the confidence that when you screw up the other guys will be able to muscle through to a point where you can jump back in, gives you the confidence to screw up, which gives to the opportunity to learn to recover from a screw up... An on and on...

  8. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Thanks guys. I appreciate the support.
  9. I play with guys that are band members first, friends later. I get along great with both of them, but I always think of them as band members when it's something band related. If not, they're just like good friends.

    Being friends can have its advantages: you know the people you'll play with. On the other hand, you might not complain about some things because they are your friends. Really depends on the kind of person you/they are.

    And Matthew, I too know the position you are in. I play with guys that have been playing music longer then me (5 years and more, nothing compared to your situation but I can imagine something). And as long as you are comfortable with what you are doing, no problem. I remember when I started with my band: first couple of rehersals I played nothing but roots. I just didn't know what else I could do. And now, 11 months later, I'm playing lines I came up with that these guys really like. Nothing wrong with learning how to swim by being thrown into the deep end, as long as you keep your head above the water:)

  10. Not really.... That almost makes it seem like a random stroke of bad luck instead of a guy not living up to the standards I requested of him two and a half months ago.

    I think I get your point though - which is that all of us have performance standards to live up to and if it had been me in his position I should expect to be replaced if I wasn't getting it done. **right?**

    Anyway, it wasn't a fun conversation but he's being an adult about it and I know it was the right move for the band.

  11. Hey matthew, for what it's worth... my first band ever was with my father, uncle and a few other older musicians - all of whom had been playing professionally for 30 plus years! And mind you.... this wasn't after a lot of training. This was basically me being dropped into the deep end of the pool to sink or swim. Not the most stress free way to learn an instrument, but in retrospect it made me good a lot faster than if I had just noodled around with other beginners for awhile.

    First, don't expect to fail or be fired. Expect to succeed! Your friend expects it or he wouldn't have asked you to be a part of his group. Most experienced musicians like what you are talking about are more than happy to impart their knowledge to help you become better and more versatile. Use that collective wisdom and soak it up.

    Just bust your tail, be on time and don't overpromise what you'll be able to do. That's essentially the problem that resulted in my band (original post above). The guy told me he would be able to learn the guitar parts and not let them distract him from front man duties and vocals. That didn't happen, and it was a performance issue. He didn't put in the time to do what needed to get done. Not necessarily his fault, because he has a lot of irons in the fire and lives an hour and a half away. But.... he did tell me he would be able to do it, so he was held to that standard. It just sucked to realize he came up short and then be the one to have to deal with it.
  12. Bass2x


    Jul 25, 2005
    Similar situation. I was in a startup band of friends that went up the club ladder pretty fast. At one point, it was decided a replacement drummer who was recommended would be a better fit. That move was made, then it was the lead singer (the new drummer's bud) then the guitarist... soon the keyboard player and I looked around and all our friends were gone. It wasn't fun anymore, more like work. The gigs were better and the money was too, but the laughs were gone.
  13. ebladeboi123


    Jul 11, 2005
    Oberlin, Oh
    You guys bring up a great point. In my band, all the members are my best friends. We spend so much time around one and other it's hard to not be. We're all in the same grade, 10th. And we've been together since the 7th grade. I've known all them since atleast 5th grade, and we've basically grown up with eachother. Luckily, we've all shown the same level of commitment so far. But right now, the lead singer/rhythm guitarist is giving us some issues. He is finding it more important to spend time with his girlfriend, then to spend time gigging with us. He looks at recording as a useless effort. And refuses to make any more commitment without a record deal. He refuses to go to the same college when it comes time (it's early, but talk has begun). And he can just overall be an ass. We've talked of replacing him, but honestly the band wouldn't be the same without him, he's the heart and soul, and main writing voice. I think he finally realized it, and now he's taking a control of his situation. Makes me sorta mad, that he's unwillling to make a commitment to a band I feel has a very strong chance of making it (www.myspace.com/eclyptic) for only being 15, I feel we all have an immense amount of talent.

    So basically, when you have friends in a band, it is harder. But honestly, I remember when i didn't really like the drummer, and every show sucked. We were never together, we were allways try'n to show one an other up. We were both constantly doing fills, it was just an overall immature expireience (i was in 8th grade, my bad). But in 9th grade, we really started to blossom, and we realized we had to get over our stupid differences to make this thing work. If you wana hear the difference between us being on good terms and us being on not good terms, I would be more than glad to send you a mp3 of our older recordings. (aim: claykrabs)

    Moral: Friends in a band is good and bad- bad when you disagree, but I feel the good times you have together definatly out weigh all the times that suck.
  14. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Weird thread...I ONLY play with my really good friends. Am I somehow doomed to a bitter confrontation in the future??

  15. Pruitt


    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    Nah, I've been gigging and jamming with close friends for 25 years now. Very little problems at all. Nothing that wouldn't happen if we were'nt playing. lol :)

    Well, I do have one friend who is an excellent lead guitarist, but gets lost when playing rhythm, but we just turn him down when he's not soloing (it's worth it, the guys is a tremendous soloist with great feel). :rolleyes:

    Have Fun!

  16. Not at all. If you are all going the same direction, that will help your chemistry. If not however....
  17. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Alright cool. We're all on the same page so no worries. :D

  18. protoz


    Nov 30, 2000
    Found out first hand myself, I got the boot when I was in two bands and one started gigging a lot and I couldn't keep up with both bands plus work so I got booted. I'm still friends with em and let their bassist use my big boy amp until he gets his own, which hopefully he will listen to me and pick up a Traynor YBA200
  19. UtBDan


    Oct 29, 2004
    my band, we kicked out our drummer (one of my better friends since kindergarden) in July and in early October our vocalist (my best friend since 7th grade) quit.

    We're seniors in high school.

    Everybody's cool with each other.

    Point being... it's not always as hard as you'd think it'd be. It's hard to work yourself up to it, it's awkward for a week or so after it; but past that, it's fine.
  20. I play in two bands. Both bands consist of my best friends! I spend time with those people even in non-music situations, like going out or going shopping or whatever. I work very hard to keep the music "professional" and not make it personal. We have had many arguments and so many disagreements over music so far and I am still friends with these people.

    But that doesn't mean I have not come upon this issue at all. We had to fire a bandmember once. That member was a very good friend of the drummer. They are not friends anymore...