Lesson learned - poor audition vetting

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Bullitt5135, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    I made the mistake of judging the book by it's cover. I'm in the process of launching a new band. We just need to find a lead guitarist. I went online and found a candidate. The dude's profile said all the right things in terms of experience, musical interests, gear, etc. After exchanging a few emails with him, he was saying all the right things. I thought for sure we had a solid candidate. Well, the guy showed up for the audition. Nice enough guy, but I think we all could tell before he played a note that this wasn't for him. Despite telling me he knew a bunch of songs on our list, he was only able to stumble through a few songs. I don't expect people to show up knowing a dozen songs, but you think they'd take the time to prepare and nail just a few songs?

    Lesson learned. Next time around I will insist on seeing/hearing demo material. Preferably video. So disappointing to waste an afternoon like that.
  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    yep: auditioning others can be a drag!

    but there's no surefire way/method, IMO. you can do some 'filtering', but sooner or later you'll have to actually meet with folks and see/hear for yourself...and then there is that 'personality assessment' thing: the best player could be messed up in ways that could sink your ship! you can minimize risk, maybe. but you can't eliminate it.

    sorry you had that experience. but onward/upward! good luck! :thumbsup:
  3. 3Liter


    Feb 26, 2015
    I'm always curious about this request. Was this guy unable to play at all?

    A video will tell you if a guy can play, but it won't tell if he can play with your band. (Over generalization).

    What do you look for in such a video?

    I'm especially curious since it looks like you recruited off something like bandmix and he made it through you're initial screening.
    dralionux, jamro217 and grimjim like this.
  4. waveman


    Sep 25, 2008
    Yeah, I was trying to find another guitar player for my current band, because the current guitarist was having some personality issues. Anyway, the singer didn't let me do it my way and found this kid who writes his own music and is a shredder. While he has skills, he didn't take the time to learn the songs and was just non-nonchalantly giving me that nod and oh yeah not a problem thing. He didn't work out, because he didn't learn the dang songs. I could have played them better on guitar, and I'm the bass player. My take is you gotta find guys who will spend the time learning the songs. I will take a lesser player with drive than a highly skilled slacker.
  5. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    I had a similar story recently. The guy said all the right things, was well spoken, and just needed a bassist who would come in knowing their parts. "Great," I thought. The only issue is when we finally got together they didn't know any of their parts. Biggest waste of time on my part since I spent a couple hours learning songs and then another hour auditioning with them.
  6. saabfender

    saabfender Inactive

    Jan 10, 2018
    You know, having tape of him playing competently doesn't preclude this sort of thing from happening. He simply didn't prepare. I learn as much of their book as possible before showing up for an audition.

    As you might guess, I think the "let's see a video" requirement is lazy, pointless and obnoxious. It doesn't tell you much of anything. I can't wait until that's no longer a thing.
    moonbass-de, Plectrum72 and 3Liter like this.
  7. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    In my case, it would have told me the band I auditioned for couldn't play at all before I invested time and energy. It definitely has value.
  8. glocke1

    glocke1 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2002

    SInce the early 2000's and the appearence of relatively small recorders (back than it was minidiscs) I've always made a point of asking people for recordings before they even come out to play. My free time is just too precious to waste on an unknown entity.

    These days, there is just simply no reason for anyone to NOT have video or audio of their playing. Even the crudest ipotato recording will allow others to hear how well or how poorly you can play. If someone doesn't have a recording of themselves it sends up a giant red flag for me.
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  9. saabfender

    saabfender Inactive

    Jan 10, 2018
    Betcha Op's dude could have sent something of him playing presentably.
    HolmeBass and 3Liter like this.
  10. Not entirely true. I came back into this after quite a few years' absence. When I decided to pick up my bass again, there were many pro level recordings of me singing, but none of me playing. Fortunately I was able to land a gig with a band by actually learning the songs and nailing the parts during the audition. That's the old-fashioned way. Nowadays I have audio and video because I've played quite a few gigs since then, but there was no hidden, terrible reason I didn't have it before :)
  11. saabfender

    saabfender Inactive

    Jan 10, 2018
    I'm frankly more than a little surprised by bass players (of all people) buying into the corporate HR paradigm of auditioning players in demanding videos/recordings as a quasi-resume.

    The last heavily gigging band I was in last was a country band. Although the current jazz combo thing is OK, I'm looking for something heavier. Maybe a power trio doing Strat stuff (Hendrix, Mayer, Vaughn, etc.) or some heavy, grungy stuff (done it before but that's been 7-8 years now). Rockers see that country and jazz stuff and think that's all you can do - or won't be as good as someone who "specializes." Really doubt they'd want to see me playing upright from some years back, either.

    Bass players tend more than any others to be generalists. Nothing pigeonholes you like a video. Do I gotta have video samples of every genre? Madness. Again, it really tells you next to nothing about how that guy is going to fit with your band, whether he'll be there on time and sober or whether he'll put the work in. It's lazy and it's hurting bass players.
  12. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Yeah not easy but asking probing questions professionally usually does the trick.

    Often it comes down to separating ‘in my old band’ to what was your role in that band?

    I think vids and tapes are good to ask for, let’s you see/hear what they were doing then
    smogg likes this.
  13. I have three regular gigs now. The first was the old-fashioned audition I mentioned above. The second I talked to the guy on the phone, told him my background and what I'd done, and showed up for a paid gig sight unseen. The third is my husband's band and I do that as a favor to him because their bassist quit and they practice at my house. I've yet to have a situation arise where I actually got work because I sent someone a video.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
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  14. Joebarnes


    Oct 4, 2011
    Surrey, BC
    I have learned that even performance links tell you very little about people. I have found the best solution, is meeting for a coffee before having them come to rehearsal. This is of course, extra work for me, but then I don't waste a rehearsal night. I lay the ground rules down for everyone, and get a feel for them. There are many people who don't come out after I advise them things like: be prepared its rehearsal not practice; don't commit if you're not completely interested, because we don't want someone around for a month then quit; Rehearsal is every Tuesday night.

    I have found many flakes weed themselves out when I explain we have fun, but we don't just fart around once a week without a goal. I'm more about a good personality fit than the best musician available. We can adapt to limitations in ability, but we cannot adapt to someone who is a jerk.
  15. glocke1

    glocke1 Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2002

    You could always record yourself with your phone playing along to an piece of music. It would be crude and the Audio wouldn't be the greatest, but it would be sufficient to show your level of ability.

    Seriously...there really isn't any excuse to not have something that shows how well you can play.

    These days I'd be hard pressed to set aside 2-3 hours on a weekend to audition with anyone that is unable to supply a recording.
    pwhalen, Not yet, equill and 3 others like this.
  16. I suppose I would have done this, had it come to that. Luckily, I didn't need to :)
  17. AdamR

    AdamR Inactive Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    [QUOTE="Bullitt5135, post: 20963900, member: 179630" I don't expect people to show up knowing a dozen songs, but you think they'd take the time to prepare and nail just a few songs?


    Depending on how much notice you give them why not ? If this is a cover act and they have played in cover bands in past many bands are playing the same set list.
  18. smogg


    Mar 27, 2007
    NPR, Florida
    I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
    I will rarely accept an offer to audition for a band or for players forming a band with out some form of reasonably current video anymore. There is too much affordable tech out there to not have some proof of what you claim you can do. It's just one of several criteria I require to weed out the fakers if I'm going to block time for an audition. At my age time is one of my most valuable commodities and I try to avoid wasting it if I can. Of course no system is fool proof but I do try to. I always keep in mind that auditions are a two way street.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    man, I hear you.. we were looking for a drummer to record an album. there's this guy that I recorded before. he's an amazing drummer. anyway, it's a paying gig. I sent the guy the demo songs, backing tracks with the demo drums, versions with no drums but the click, the bpms etc. we all agreed that he'll learn his parts. we wanted to have a practice session before the actual recording session so we do minor tweaks if needed. I'm glad we did! he didn't learn $#!+ a total waste of time. we ended up hiring another drummer who killed it. Professionalism is NOT how well you play your instrument only.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  20. Confusing practice with rehearsal. We practice at home, so we can have a productive rehearsal. Some folks think they are the same thing.