Looking for advice

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by wintremute, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    This will be a very long read, as I'm trying to give as much detail as possible to get the best possible advice.

    Background: I'm in a 90s hard rock cover band that consists of 2 singers, a guitarist, a drummer, and myself. It's my 1st real band (other than playing at church). None of us really have much (if any) experience in being in a band that plays gigs.

    There was a blow-up between the two singers this past Sunday. The guitarist, drummer, and myself are going to meet tonight to discuss. I have a strong feeling that this will be the end of the band.

    Here's the soap opera details. At one point the band consisted of the drummer, the guitarist, and myself practicing on Sunday nights in the drummer's garage. Then we added singer 1. After jamming with singer 1, we talked about adding another person that could do backup singing, backup guitars, and backup keyboards...just fill the spots that are needed. The drummer suggested his best friend. So, singer 2 came in and practiced with the band. On his own I thought he was an ok singer, but when the two of them sang together, I thought is sounded really powerful. The drummer and the guitarist agreed.

    So then starts the experiment of trying to get the two of them to sing together. Singer 2 was all for it. Singer 1 hated it. Singer 1 said he wanted to hear a recording of it before he would completely agree to it. Singer 1 never seems to be able to get along with singer 2. In situations where we'd joke with each other, if singer 2 said something about singer 1, singer 1 would take it super personal and get angry and nasty. I blame myself for not trying to put a stop to this/saying something. Singer 2 seemed to just ignore it, so rather than confront singer 1 about his behavior, I thought it was growing pains and it would get better. Sometimes when it got too heated, one of us would speak up, but we never really addressed it properly. After time the aggressive nastiness seemed to go away, and was replaced with the occasional snippy comment.

    We started getting more songs down, with the weak link being singer 1 still needing to read some of the song lyrics on his phone (not having them memorized at the pace of the rest of us). We moved from practicing in the drummer's garage to having our own rehearsal studio ($300 a month split amongst the band). Pretty much from the beginning of being in the studio, singer 2 would come to practice with alcohol. At first I thought it was just because he was excited we were in our own studio, but then noticed it became a habit. At one practice, he was very obnoxious and disruptive, to the point that the drummer (his best friend) was calling him out on his behavior. He apologized at the next practice, and I thought we all moved on.

    We went to an open mic night and recorded it (), and things seemed to be progressing well. Then the next practice after that open mic night, singer 1 states that he doesn't like the two lead singer format. He said he listened to the video a lot, and he's just not a fan of it. So the 5 of us discussed it, and decided that we'd pretty much split our song list in half, and each of the singers would take turns being on stage (singer 1 gets set 1, singer 2 gets set 2, singer 1 gets set 3, singer 2 gets set 4). We decided that the two singers could decide that in the coming week, and that we'd just practice songs as normal for the rest of rehearsal. The last comment on the picking of songs was, if there's a disagreement on who sings what, then they each take turns picking songs.

    So that brings us to this past Sunday. The guitarist wasn't there, as his wife just had a baby. I knew the two singers would not have communicated during the week, so I brought two list printouts and two pens. The four of us arrive, and singer 2 shows off a small bottle of Jack Daniels. He offers some to the rest of us. Singer 1 and myself decline. The drummer has a little bit. Then the singers are both "now what?". I hand them the pens and paper, tell them to go outside and figure it out. The drummer and I start practicing, but about 15 minutes later the singers are back. There's confusion. Singer 1 has chosen 2/3 of the songs. What? Oh, he was on a completely different page from the rest of us. The whole split the song list in half just went over his head. He brought up how singer 2 was invited into the band on the premise of backup singing, backup guitar, keyboard, and how that never happened. How it just became "he's a lead singer, too". Singer 1 said he was still processing this. The drummer and I talked about what was discussed at the previous practice, how we specifically said that if they couldn't decide on songs then they should just take turns picking songs. Singer 1 was just sitting there dumbfounded. So we said, ok, we don't need to do the whole list tonight. Each of you pick 12 songs, and we'll start with that.

    So, each of them picked a handful that were definitely "their" songs (ones that both singers agree one did better than the other, or ones that one of them didn't want to sing so by default the other one did). Then it came time to do the drafting. Singer 1 picks a song. Singer 2 picks a song, and singer 1 spends about 5 minutes complaining that singer 2 picked that song. Finally singer 1 picks another song. Singer 2 picks a song and singer 1 spends about 5 minutes complaining that he won't get that song. This continues until they each have 12 songs, and the Jack Daniels bottle is empty.

    Now we're finally going to practice. Singer 1 picks a song, and we play it. Singer 2 picks a song, and we play it. Singer 2 turns down the volume on the mic before handing it to singer 1. Singer 1 complains about that, implying that singer 2 is trying to sabotage him. Singer 1 picks a song, and we play it. Singer 2 picks a song, and we play it. Singer 2 turns down the volume on the mic before handing it to singer 1. Singer 1 complains about that, implying that singer 2 is trying to sabotage him. After a couple more cycles of this, singer 2 gets really angry and points out that he's just taking care of the equipment (which is not theirs but belongs to the guitarist), and that loud popping can blow a speaker, and that singer 1 is ignorant if he doesn't understand that.

    Tangent: while playing with just singer 2 I realize that for the most part I'm not happy with him as a lead man. I think his singing is just ok, and that he's not really lead singer material. I'm not relishing the thought of playing a whole set where he's the lead.

    The word "ignorant" was deeply offensive to singer 1. Then begins a circular argument of singer 1 saying: singer 2 is wrong, there's no popping, and calling him ignorant was really disrespectful...singer 2 saying: there is popping, he's doing the right thing in protecting the guitarist's equipment, but not saying anything about the "ignorant" comment. After that goes on for awhile, singer 1 says, "I'll see you next week", and leaves. I decide I'm ready to leave, too, so the rest of us pack up and leave. On the way out the three of us comment on how singer 1 is a bit hypocritical as he's talked so disrespectfully to singer 2 in the past, but the first time it's done to him he flips out.

    On the way home, I call the guitarist to fill him in on what went down. We decide singer 1 needs a day or two to cool down, and then we'd call him. I also find out that singer 2 has been calling the guitarist every few days just to chat, and they are starting to develop a friendship. After I get off of the phone with the guitarist, the guitarist sends me a text saying (effectively) "To be clear, I'm going to call singer 1 and give him an ultimatum - split the songs 50/50 or take a hike." I tell him that an ultimatum is a bad idea, and that he should just call singer 1 and hear his side of it. The guitarist doesn't see the point in that, as it's pretty clear what singer 1's side is, that he wants to be the only singer. He suggests that the 3 of us (the guitarist, the drummer, and me) meet to discuss things after he talks to singer 1. I suggest the 3 of us meet before we make a call to singer 1. He agrees, and we loop the drummer in and make plans to meet on Tuesday at the guitarist's house. I then get a text from the drummer telling me that he and singer 2 won't be drinking at practice any more.

    I plan to go into the meeting tonight, listen to what the other two have to say, and then proceed with the following. From the beginning I've been treating this band like a business, and I'm looking at this from a business perspective and nothing is personal. As such, I see the following as the only two realistic solutions.

    1: The last time the band was all on the same page was before singer 2 joined. I suggest we roll back to that iteration, and get rid of singer 2. We then talk with singer 1, and tell him that if he wants to continue as the singer of the band, he has to start doing a better job of getting the lyrics memorized so that he's keeping up with the rest of us. Also will mention that when we make band decisions, we'll probably have him verbalize how he interprets it, as we seem to be having communication issues.

    2: Get rid of both singers and look for a new singer. Singer 2 was brought on board as backup, and I was fine with that. If singer 2 auditioned for the lead spot today, I would vote no, so I don't want to keep him as the lead. Singer 1 seems to have a lot of drama attached to him, and while he's a great front man, it's not worth the price. We now have a better idea of what our band goals are, and it will be easier to communicate them to potential new singers.

    If you read all of that, thank you. Are there other options that I am overlooking? Do you have any suggestions?


    Had the band meeting tonight with the guitarist, the drummer, and me. Unfortunately, it went as I predicted. We talked about the current situation, and how it's not working. The guitarist brought up how he can see things from singer 1's point of view: that we added a guy as backup and now he's having to share everything 50/50 with him. We talked about the pros and cons of each singer. In the end, the drummer unsurprisingly said he has to stick by his best friend (singer 2), and his logic was that he thinks he's the better singer of the two, and that he has a lot of potential to be so much more. The guitarist also thinks that singer 2 is the better singer, and mentioned how he had become friends with him, while singer 1 is not really in contact with him and so they don't have that type of relationship. They both felt that of the two, singer 2 was the more professional. Both the drummer and guitarist were fine with getting rid of singer 1 and keeping singer 2.

    I gave my two options, either keep singer 1 or get rid of both singers and look for a new one (with me preferring the latter option). When pressed, I said that it's not personal, but I just don't want to be in a band where singer 2 is the lead singer. If we were auditioning singers today, he would not get my vote. I let the drummer and guitarist know that this is completely a business decision for me, and if I leave the band it's not under bad terms, and I would love to pursue future projects with them (which I absolutely would, they're fantastic). I also said that the core of the 3 of us was very good, and we should get a singer to match.

    The drummer tried to convince me that singer 2 has potential and with time I will see it. I mentioned that I don't want to take on a project that may or may not pan out. The guitarist was against getting rid of singer 2, because he didn't want to be without a singer, as that would be a step back and rehearsal wouldn't be productive. He suggested that we keep singer 2, while I look for a replacement. I said I'm not going to string anyone along and tell them "you can play with us now, but we're looking to replace you". Plus, I'm guessing that whoever I find won't be good enough for the drummer to boot his best friend.

    With that impasse, I wished them well. I agreed to take a couple of days to think about it, but I really don't see me changing my mind.

    UPDATE #2 IN POST #157.

    Quit the band Tuesday night. Wednesday was mulling over what to do. Checked Craigslist and found this:



    90s, 00s, Classic, Nu, Metal Cover Band. Buffalo/Charleston.

    Looking for Bass player for pro cover band. All pro band, just missing low end of the rhythm section - we have Singer/Guitar, Guitar, Drums.
    We have multiple practice spaces but the main one is set up for video. We want to record a demo within weeks of getting together for better gigs. Speaking of, we can get paying gigs but we want better paying gigs.

    That being said, we are daytime job type guys, all with families. We all hang out, are friends, and BBQ all summer long. No one has drama, substance problems, or are bums but we aren't pussies and we do party. No ####, we're musicians.

    Setlist pictures attached but we are open to similar music. If you're on the fence, send me a message and I'll record and send you over a short video of just myself to see if you like my style. I'm the singer and I shred.

    The Setlist picture has:
    Main In The Box
    Machine Head
    The Red
    The Middle
    Hey Man Nice Shot
    Keep Away
    So Cold
    I alone
    Bound For The Floor
    Change (in the house of flies)
    She Sells Sanctuary
    Bullet with Butterfly Wings


    So basically the songs I was already playing. I showed up and they seemed to have their act together. They have played out before and have contacts. With me on board they think we can be playing out in 1 month. I like that. So Thusday night I joined a new band.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  2. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    A solution?
    Instrumental-only band.:D

    I do think singer 1 feels he's been sidelined by a supposedly backing singer now sharing lead duties. You say that when the 2 sang together, you, the guitarist and drummer felt it worked. Anyone ask singer 1?

    I feel your best option is getting a new singer. Clearly singer 1 alone wasn't good enough. Nor is singer 2.
    Hope it works out for you.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I only made it through chapters 1-3....

    Just kidding! :roflmao:

    Yeah this is all bad. I only made it through about 30 seconds of the two of them singing together. That was HORRIBLE. It kinda made me want to cut my own throat. So staying with that plan is no good.

    But this was no good to begin begin with. Having two lead singers with very similar voices is not great.

    You have a couple of choices here.

    1) Keep one of them and hire a completely different voice to join the band. A female couldn't hurt. There's a lot of female fronted radio pop rock from the 90s and a little before and after.

    2) Start over vocally speaking.

    The problem with either is that people seem to have chosen sides. Even the original three of you won't be completely satisfied with the outcome.

    Good luck with this.
    ThePez, mdogs, rodak and 4 others like this.
  4. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    Thank you for reading all of that.

    We did ask singer 1 how he thought it sounded, and he said he wanted to hear a recording of it. It's difficult to hear how they sound together when he's actively singing. We recorded a couple of songs on a phone, and then played them in the drummers truck (which has a massive stereo system). The four of us thought it sounded good, while singer 1 was still undecided.

    Regarding looking for a new singer, I'm leaning that way, too.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  5. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    Thank you for reading every chapter. Wow, you really thought it was all caps horrible when they both sing? I liked it. However, to prevent your suicide, I will definitely make sure that doesn't happen again.

    I do like your idea of recruiting a female singer. I had not thought of that. However, the issue that came up with having a second singer was there's not that many spots where a 2nd singer is truly needed, so what are they doing when they're not singing - it's a lot of down time. So I think we're probably going to go with the one singer route, and if absolutely needed the guitarist may do backing vocals. I am a HORRIBLE singer, so all mics are kept far away from me.

    And yeah, it's that part where everyone seems to have chosen sides that is making this whole thing overly ugly.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  6. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    I can't imagine a scenario where a dual lead singer situation will ever work. Just too many ego issues to navigate. It's one thing to have a guitar/bass/KB/drummer take a couple leads during a set to give the primary singer a bit of a break, but to expect to have two "front men" is just a disaster waiting to happen - which you are already experiencing.

    One thing that I see having gone wrong was to bring on the second guy as a back up and then let him just double the first guy. When I initially read that, I expected a true backup singer (harmonies and the like) and maybe a few leads to give #1 a set break. But when I saw them doubling the same line I cringed. It does not sound good to do that on a regular basis, and yeah if I was #1, I wouldn't have been happy about how that evolved. I wouldn't have played the childish games he did, but would probably have just moved on. How would you like it if they suddenly decided they need a second bass player?

    It seems like both of these guys are pretty immature and either would probably be some sort of other problem down the road. With that being said, you could decide which of those two you collectively prefer and send the other guy packing. Honestly, I don't put a lot of pressure on vox to memorize words until it's show time and even then discreet notes are not awful - staring at a lyric sheet all gig or even all song? Absolutely not. (I know that as a bass player I take for granted how "easy" my parts are to get down and try to remember to give lead folks a bit of a break regarding locking down all of their stuff as quickly as I can.)

    But I would probably dump them both and find someone new that can come in clean. I know it means delaying your ability to perform, but I'd want nothing to do with anyone who can't figure out how to play nice with a band mate on something as simple as chopping up a song list. If you are going to try to go with two front people, then as @twofinger suggests, make one of them female. There will be less fighting over songs and will give you the ability to expand your catalog a great deal. And having two different voice types doubling can work - in moderation.
    Evil Funk, AGCurry, gregmon79 and 4 others like this.
  7. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006

    That video was a long listen.

    You definitely only need one of them. And all factors considered, it wouldn’t be a major loss if you elected to clear the decks and start from scratch with entirely new vocalist(s) IMO. Because this isn’t going to go well with either of them staying. Both are unprofessional. And both are only adding fuel to the fire rather than figuring out ways to make it work.

    And yes, next time you’ll absolutely want to be more proactive as well as quicker to nip any bickering or incivility in the bud. Once sides form in squabbles like that it seldom bodes well for the long term survival of a band.
    Omega Monkey, AGCurry, leto and 4 others like this.
  8. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    your welcome! disclosure: i'm retired with nothing better to do. :laugh:

    :D god love 'em.

    really? i've played in bands with "two stars" regularly, for decades. i play in one now. ;) the current line-up happens to be a male + female, usually, but it has been two females from time to time, and was two males a couple of times....but they all had adult/'grownup' communication skills.

    in any case, OP, mrcbass is your huckleberry:
    good luck with your personnel issues! :thumbsup:
  9. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015

    I have never in my entire life seen a band that simply doubled the lead vox when performing live. You do not need this. And no one cares if they don't hear this. Backing vox and harmonies are something else entirely.

    Give the gig to the long haired dude and let the other guy play whatever instrument he wants, though I believe he's only in the band because he's best friends with the drummer (again, unneeded as most 90's rock is fine with one guitar).
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
  10. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    OK, I listened to a bit of their double thing with a singer's ears. First of all, when a singer is good, they don't need anyone stomping all over their vocals. All that ever does is bring in the need for both singers to be dead-on, pitch wise, with vibrato and other nuances being sung by both at exactly the same times, and it's rare that happens: you need two really good singers to make it good, and you need world-class monitors and musicians who are disciplined enough to play at a level where both singers can hear every mouth noise they make, which never happens. So what you usually have is one decent singer getting annoyed because their good work is being trod upon by someone who can't keep up with their technique, and no one will ever hear how well they were singing it because the doubling part is not good. I don't know which of those guys was singer 1 or 2, but if I were a band leader, I wouldn't do that to them. It's rude. And the end result is painful to hear. Doubling should be left in a studio or done sparingly with a pedal, if at all possible. It seems somehow someone in your band heard about this as a studio trick for a weak vocal and decided it should be done live. It shouldn't.

    And if a singer is not good, bringing in someone else to sing over their parts feels like an effort to prop them up, which it well may be. Singer 1 might be resisting because he feels threatened by Singer 2, who brings more to the table in terms of additional instrumentation. So this was a train wreck and resentment just waiting to happen from the start, IMO.

    Now you've got bad feelings on the situation, and it may not be possible to work this out. As others suggested, the best solution is to bring in one very *good* singer and let them sing.
    theretheyare, rodak, AGCurry and 6 others like this.
  11. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    That was the initial plan. Somewhere along the way it evolved (or devolved).

    Singer 1 did bring up that point, that no one is asking the guitarist or the drummer or the bassist to only play on half of the songs.

    That is what I'm thinking, but I think the other two guys will vote for singer 2, and I definitely don't want to continue with singer 2 as the lead. That's why I'm leaning towards getting rid of them both and looking for a new person.

    That is a very good point. I will be less quick to judge on this.
  12. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    Thank you for listening to the video and getting through my wall of words.

    I thought that having read all of the stories and advice here on TB that I would be prepared for anything that came down and everything would run super smooth. Reality has checked me.
  13. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    Honestly, at this point singer 2 is just a huge red flag to me. I don't want him in the band. It may come down to me just bowing out.

    If we do go forward, I'm going to stress that we just keep things simple and have only 4 members.
  14. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    Flip a coin. Somebody's gotta go because the doubling is just not working. If I were you, I'd stick with whoever is the the best singer, the easiest to work with, and/or brings some intangibles to the table (will they take on booking, packing the room, etc.?) Next, I'd be looking for a female vocalist who can sing both lead and harmonies.

    I'm not one to talk since I'm a lousy singer. But it should be said if either of those guys are serious about music and performing, they would be wise to take some vocal lessons. One of these days, I need to take my own advice and do the same.
    AGCurry likes this.
  15. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    Thank you for the feedback. I think part of my problem is that I'm not a singer, and so I don't listen to or hear things that singers would listen to. I hear two good singers singing together, and I just think it's good. Maybe it's my church background, where multiple people sing the lead line all the time, so I just think it's all fine and good. But church is a different situation, where the music is secondary to the overall goal of worship, and if someone messes up no one is getting upset or judging them, because the congregation is singing and worshipping along.
    Spidey2112 likes this.
  16. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    What really grinds my gears is that neither singer opted to do the backs/ harmonies for Wicked Garden. It was like watching two bros doing live band karaoke. Long haired dude is more than capable of hitting all the notes for the three songs posted. It's 90's alternative, not Queen or Prince.

    I'm done now. :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
    LBS-bass, Spidey2112, Seanto and 2 others like this.
  17. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    I can't do the coin flip, because I don't want to be in a band where singer 2 is the lead. I also think there's going to be a split decision on who people thinks is the best singer.
  18. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    mrcbass said:
    you could decide which of those two you collectively prefer and send the other guy packing.
    Click to expand...
    That is what I'm thinking, but I think the other two guys will vote for singer 2, and I definitely don't want to continue with singer 2 as the lead. That's why I'm leaning towards getting rid of them both and looking for a new person.

    This could be the biggest issue to a clean resolution to this story. Are you prepared to walk if the other two insist on #2?

    You speak as if you are the BL; if that is true, rather than try to take an "I'm the boss, what I say goes" approach, you may try to suggest that the cleanest solution is to start fresh if you ALL don't agree on one or the other and don't go down the "I don't like that guy" road. You'll likely lose the drummer if you directly insult his boy. Based on your story they both acted like richard heads and neither would be in my band and I would be inclined to use that argument to clean the decks and start fresh.
  19. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Guest

    Nov 22, 2017
    Singing together is a skill; people in a choir know how to do this in a way where no one person is standing out over the other and their voices create a blend. And you can have two great lead singers in a band, singing at different times, and harmonizing together, and that will make it ok. But singing exactly the same thing together with few voices (like, not in a chorus or choir) requires a ton of vocal discipline and most singers, really, are not up to that task.

    I didn't listen to a lot of that but I'd say the long-haired guy is the better singer of the two, from the bit I heard. If he's singer 1, I'd say you're right about singer 2 not having what it takes to really pull off a set of lead. And if he's singer 1 he probably knows singer 2 isn't that good a singer, so he kind of has a reason to feel resentment over having his vocals doubled by that guy. If some BL was doing that to me, I'd probably just quit.
  20. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    Singer 1 has complained that singer 2 doesn't harmonize when singer 1 is singing the lead (while saying he does harmonize when singer 2 is singing the lead). I blame my ignorance for not understanding his complaint. Thank you again for your input on how vocals should work.