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My Trio is about to implode (Long)

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by TWolf, Nov 3, 2018.

  1. TWolf


    Jan 20, 2011
    The Deep South
    Skip to the end for the tl/dr version.

    Here's the long version:

    A year ago (yes, October of 2017) the G/V (guitarist/vocalist) put out feelers on his social media about wanting to start a project, looking for bass and drums. Several co-workers pointed him in my direction and he approached me about a classic rock cover band. It's been a few years since I've played in a group so i say, sure, sounds good to me. I already play a pretty good catalog of that stuff anyway. He says he will be looking for a drummer and maybe a 2nd guitarist and will let me know. My intention at this point is to show up when told and be the bass player, not much more.

    Now I should also clarify that although we are co-workers, we don't work closely together. We may see each other a few minutes a day in passing. We knew of each other before this project but were not friends or hung out.

    So a few weeks go by and I haven't heard anything. Which seems odd because he had mentioned that he wanted to get something up and running quickly and start booking for right after the first of the year. (I'm sure you know where this is going). He also assured me that he had played this town before, and had the contacts to get us booked just as soon as we were ready.

    So I see him one day and he says no luck finding a drummer. That seems odd too, we do live in a smallish city, but not that small. There are musicians around. During this time we get together, just the 2 of us and run through a few songs of his. Basic stuff, Clapton, CCR, etc. The kid sounds good and has some talent. I say kid..he is in his late 20's and myself and the drummer we did eventually find, are in our late 40's.

    So a few more weeks go by and still no progress on the drummer. I watch CL and hadn't seen where he had posted an ad, but I figured he must have his own avenues for recruiting. I should have noticed it then, but RedFlag #1, the inability to fill out the lineup.

    Now we are into the holidays, and then the New Year, and I pretty much have given up on the situation, thinking that that there just must not be any drummers out there looking for a classic rock cover band. But I was enjoying practicing on my own on a regular basis again, and started getting that itch to play out. So now it is April and I go to G/V and say if you still want to do this, I will find us a drummer and we will get this going. Remember it is now April and he had originally stated that he wanted to start playing that January. So I put out the standard CL ad and go to bandmix, talk to some guys at the local music stores, etc....and have 7 drummers contacting me within a week. So it appears we have now wasted 6 months when the drummers were there all along. I won't go into the audition process, but we end up scheduling 3 auditions, 2 of which showed up (which as you know is a pretty good % for online recruiting). Both were solid but we went with the guy who could also add some pretty strong vocals. He turns out to be an excellent choice and he and I click almost immediately. He is always exceptionally well prepared and brings a professional approach to the dynamic. He also plays guitar, has been a frontman, and brings 20 years of gigging experience to the group. He was new to the area, and I considered us lucky to have grabbed him.

    We start rehearsing one night a week with a goal of adding 4-6 songs each week and to have 3 hours of material within a couple of months. G/V is to sing about 2/3 lead vocals and the drummer will pick up the other 1/3. I do a little backing vocal, but trust me when I say nobody wants me singing any lead.
    Adding songs at this pace quickly begins to go off the rails. Instead of adding 4-6 we are only able to add 1 or sometimes 2. G/V is constantly saying things like "can we put song A and B off until next week? "I didn't have a chance to look at those yet". This happens each and every week. This is huge Red Flag #2 and I know it should have been addressed right then and there. Especially since the songs he usually knew were the ones he suggested and he didn't have the time to learn the ones the drummer and I suggested. There were other times he would call me up on rehearsal day and ask me to print out the chord sheets or lyric sheets to a particular song for him. Meaning he hadn't looked at them all week until then. He wasn't learning the material, he was printing it off and reading it at rehearsal. He is talented enough to kind of get by like this, but it soon became more and more obvious that he was not actually learning the song structures. He was missing nuances and vocal cadence would often be way off. He couldn't play or sing anything without his music stand and lyric sheets in front of him. I told him on several occasions that he needed to start weening himself off of the sheets. He never did.

    We slogged along like this for a few months, slowly building a couple of sets, but I was growing frustrated and dropping hints to him, but nothing seemed to be changing. I was quite worried that our new to the area/accomplished drummer would get fed up with him and leave us both high and dry.

    It’s now September, and we were able to secure our first gig at a local outdoor festival. We were asked to provide 2 hours of music, which was good, because although we were 5 months in, that’s all we had. We were nowhere near the 3 set/36 song goal that we had set back in May.

    We played the gig and it went reasonably well for a first gig, but there was G/V right up front with his silver-metallic grade school music stand and big orange binder, reading the songs as he went. I and the drummer ended up doing most of the crowd interactions. It happened to be breezy that day up on the stage and his music stand blew over twice. Some guy from the crowd went and picked it up off the ground and put it back on the stage for him. I can't make this stuff up. To me the situation was incredibly embarrassing but I think G/V is so oblivious that he doesn't even realize how bad it looked.

    Nevertheless, I was determined to push forward and use this gig as a jump start to get a 3rd set nailed down and start playing regularly. I talked to G/V about those "local connections" he had and that maybe he should start to make a few calls because we knew that most places are booked several months in advance and i felt like something on the calendar a month or two out might help motivate us (him). Well it turned out, (surprised?) that he only knew one guy at one bar and when he called him, he was told that they weren't doing full bands anymore at that particular establishment and only wanted acoustic solo or duo acts. Red Flag #3, not having the contacts to get booked, despite assuring us that he had that part handled.

    Instead of the jump start I had hoped for, things went even further downhill. We only managed to get together to practice twice in the next 6 weeks, with 4 cancellations by G/V. His son had to go to the fair, his baby-momma had something he had to do, his guitar input jack was broken ( yes he only has 1 guitar), he forgot what day practice was, ...something different every week. And speaking of the one guitar (no back-up) situation, we are also using my PA, he sings through my mics, my mic stands, and he is using the drummers pedal board; which he hasn't learned to use properly, btw. His patch choices are terrible. (Probably because he only listens to the songs 10 minutes before practice; yes he made that "I just listened to this song in the driveway for the first time before i came in, haha" statement at practice one night. Talk about being oblivious to how disrespectful and frustrating that is to the other two of us who are trying to make something of this project.)

    So back on point...we practiced twice in 6 weeks. One of which he left early after an hour of playing. (We usually plan for 2 hours). 45 minutes in, he announces that he has to leave in about 15 minutes because he "has a date tonight". Not only is it clear that this project is far down on his life priorities but so disrespectful to not even tell us earlier in the week or even at the beginning of practice that he would be leaving early. To just pop that on us in the middle of our session is ridiculous. At our other practice during this 6 week stretch, we get to one of the songs on the schedule for that night, but he can’t find his pages. This song has been on our list for at least 3 months now. We played it at the gig. But he can’t play it without his sheet. We have to put it off until next week. This was probably the final straw.

    The next day, the drummer contacts me and says he has had enough. I can't blame him. We meet and he says he is still interested in getting something going with me, but that we aren't going anywhere with G/V playing our lead lines and main vocals. I agree completely.

    The options as we see them.

    1) Find a replacement guitarist and dump G/V. Continue on under the current name with drummer handling vocal duties to get us by until we find a full time front man.

    2) Add a guitarist and take the load off G/V. The new player would play all the lead lines and G/V would be reduced to playing rhythm and part-time vocals. It would reduce his load but I don't see him changing his ways. It would allow us to continue on and hold rehearsals even when he cancels or leaves early. He would soon be left behind and hopefully step aside voluntarily once he realizes he is in over his head.

    3) Start a side project with a new guitarist. Similar to option #2 but our current band would still exist, we would just hand full control over to him (which was how it was supposed to be in the beginning anyway). We know what would happen then. The same thing that happened the first 6 months while he was "looking for a drummer"..nothing! The new project would be my main priority at that point of course, and I would gladly let the current name and situation fade away.

    We are leaning toward #3.

    Whichever way this goes, it's going to be an awkward conversation because he is a co-worker and has become a friend. I just wonder if he is totally oblivious to his unacceptable pattern of behavior or if he knows in the back of his mind that he is just in over his head and underestimated what it was going to take to be successful in this venture. Maybe a little of both. Anyway we all get along great together and I had high hopes for this when it began. I just missed all the red flags.

    I know I will most likely get blasted for letting this behavior go on as long as I did, but I do feel better getting it off my chest. Maybe somebody has an idea or insight that I haven't considered. I apologize for the length. Thanks for reading.

    Semi-talented guitarist/vocalist who could have potential, but is just not putting in the work. What complicates the matter is that he is a co-worker of mine and the original founder of this project. As a trio, this band isn't going anywhere if he isn't putting in the work. The drummer and I are just spinning our wheels. We have decided that after 6 months and only 1 gig, it is time to cut ties with him.
    Mr_Moo, nixdad and joebar like this.
  2. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    G/V has to go. He's being very disrespectful by continually wasting everyone's time. You guys have been pretty patient. Couldn't be me. This band is dead. Start a new one. Let G/V go find himself. Being in a band is not for him.
  3. Redaxes


    Aug 8, 2015
    In my “vast experience”( in my second band now)life is short, your time is precious. You have wasted more than enough time with this guy. You can find someone else. “Founder” doesn’t mean anything here. You can get around the “friend thing” by blaming the breakup on the drummer(see below).

    I’ll share my experiences here..
    Originally band#1, 4 members, 1 guitarist. We decided to add another guitarist, placed an ad on CL. Found a very talented guitarist who was also a great guy/band mate.
    The original drummer in band #1 we stuck with far too long. He was a PITA and not very good. (See “If i hadn’t already left the band” thread this covers the “founder” issue as well) He was easily replaced. We placed CL ad, arranged for 4 to audition, they all came, we picked one. He was a marked improvement but other issues doomed the band.

    As time went on, people weren’t learning their parts and the band was not making any progress. I hung on longer than I should, but finally it reached the point where I said I didn’t want to do it anymore.
    This helped out guitarist #2, who was friends with guitarist #1. #2 felt that we were wasting our time, the band was never going to go anymore as well. Me calling it quits made me “the bad guy” so he it gave him the out without him being the band killer to his friend.

    After a few weeks of not playing with others I answered a CL ad for a band looking for a bass player. I passed the audition.

    So you can see it is can be easy to replace a bad apple, add players or find a whole new band.
    Mr_Moo and TWolf like this.
  4. Cut him, you don’t want to lose the drummer/vocalist.
    Do it soon, don’t drag it out, just say it’s not working and move on.
    A lot of bands have issues because people are afraid of conflict. Don’t let it fester anymore, just cut it.
    Mr_Moo, joebar, pcake and 3 others like this.
  5. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Unless you think the "Guitarist" can mess up your job prospects at work, replace him asap. It sounds like he has nothing to add to the group. Don't do it behind his back.
    Mr_Moo, fretter and LBS-bass like this.
  6. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    Band lasted a year? Good run. Now move on.
    fretter likes this.
  7. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    To me the only complicated part is that he is a co-worker. Hopefully you guys don't have to work closely together. If he wasn't a co-worker it would be a simple case of telling him it is not working out because of his lax ability to learn material. But since he is a coworker i am wondering if blunt honesty is not the right approach and best to just pull out without pointing out his deficiencies. Also, it almost sounds like the band will cease to exist on it's own if you stop booking gigs.

    I would go with #3, but again, keeping the name and all that might create a soured relationship at work. Maybe better to just start something new and fresh with the drummer, and keep an open mind about who you will recruit to fill out the band as you might not find the perfect guitar/frontman to round out the power trio.
    Mr_Moo and TWolf like this.
  8. FunkyD

    FunkyD Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2011
    NJ, USA
    Friend? Or simply a dude from your job? There are plenty of people I work with who are just acquaintances now because of all types of flaky behavior. My friends don't pull that stuff on me, in or out of a band situation.

    He's young, he'll bounce back from this. Or not. Either way, he needs to learn how society works.
    sm49341, TWolf and Plectrum72 like this.
  9. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    If you choose the third option, please make sure you let the guitarist know you are starting a side project so that he doesn't feel you're going behind his back. Personally I would just talk with him and let him know that you and the drummer don't feel like he's as committed to the project anymore as he used to be and that the two of you would like to do more rather than less, so you feel it's not working out very well and want to start something else. He might well be looking for an excuse to move on but, like you, doesn't want to upset a co-worker.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
    Mr_Moo and TWolf like this.
  10. Chango Malo

    Chango Malo

    Apr 8, 2017
    you don't have a band. you have three dudes who play in a basement/garage about once a month if the pace in the OP continues. Let that stand as it is, play the tunes the G/V already knows (he's not going to learn stuff suggestion by you or the drummer) and have what fun there is to be had there. Don't put money into that situation, or spend much time outside of jam nights on it. Get with the drummer and form a real band. No reason you can't be friends and jam with the flake from work, just don't think you're going to be in any kind of working band with the dude.
  11. Boundary Effect

    Boundary Effect Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2018
    Maryland, USA
    If you and the drummer want to keep going, replace the guitar player. You are doing him a favor. He is young. If he truly wants to play guitar in a working band, then he also needs to learn that he has to put in the work. The lesson is the favor.
    Mr_Moo, Plectrum72 and TWolf like this.
  12. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Be honest with him. Tell him it isn't working because he is the rate limiting factor. Do it in a kind but direct way. You never know, he may grow up and ya'll could be in a another band together down the road.
    Mr_Moo and TWolf like this.
  13. 2tonic


    Dec 22, 2015
    Option #4: Cut your ties with this G/V, and the project name, in no uncertain terms. He is an unprofessional time waster, self awarded glory taster. He is, in no way, a "friend". Full stop.
    Friends don't denigrate your worth by abusing your goodwill, diminishing the value of your time and contributions via their slothfulness.
    Meet with the drummer, set your goals, find one or two new members to fill the G/V role, polish ten songs a week ( it's classic rock, you've all heard these songs enough to chart them in your sleep!) and be ready to gig in 4~6 weeks.

    WARNING!!!! Do not allow the "friend G/V" to entertain any illusions as to the continued status of your affiliation. Make certain, to the extent that you can, that your local music scene members are aware of this dissolution, otherwise it WILL surely come to bite you in the ass!
    Reputation damage ensuing. Stop it now!
    Strongly worded message to follow.......
    Plectrum72 and TWolf like this.
  14. Koog

    Koog Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Central Iowa USA
    Let the G/V go. If you and the drummer lay down a good groove, find another guitarist and move forward. They are a dime a dozen. The G/V you describe has neither a dime, nor a dozen anything to contribute.

    The G/V is not your friend. He has been untruthful and less than forthcoming with you on numerous occasions. He is a taker, not a giver. This means he is using you and the drummer for whatever his amusement might be.

    Your "band", as is, is over....dead. You can resurrect it by getting this guy out of the picture and sharing your musical experience with a replacement that conforms to your values and work ethic.

    I hope all works out well for you.
    Mr_Moo, Plectrum72 and TWolf like this.
  15. TWolf


    Jan 20, 2011
    The Deep South
    Thanks for the response. He can't effect my work. We work in different departments and I am a couple levels higher up the ladder as I am older and been in the career much longer. The only thing could be that it could cause some at the job to take sides. I'm sure I'll be portrayed by him as the bad guy around the office. I would just have to live with that and say it wasn't working out. I wouldn't throw all our dirty laundry out there as to the real reasons we parted.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  16. TWolf


    Jan 20, 2011
    The Deep South
    One year as a concept. Six months practicing, and one 2 set gig. Yep...good run..lol
  17. TWolf


    Jan 20, 2011
    The Deep South
    I think this hits the nail on the head. If he were just another guy who tried out for the spot, he would have been sent packing long ago. The whole co-worker thing is what has been stressing me out on the best way to handle it. Yes, we must move on..just trying to have this not turn into anything bigger than it already is.
  18. Plectrum72

    Plectrum72 Supporting Member

    Fire the drummer (TB requirement). Then rage quit the band and re-hire the drummer to form a new band. I would not concern myself with the G/V reaction at all.
  19. TWolf


    Jan 20, 2011
    The Deep South
    Agree. Thanks for the post. I don't want to blame it on a generational thing. I know plenty of guys in his age bracket that are hard working and conscientious. But you are right, he does need to figure out how life works. I think that is the problem, he has no idea how unacceptable his behavior has been.
  20. TWolf


    Jan 20, 2011
    The Deep South
    Good point. We would not go behind his back. No way to hide it and that would surely cause hard feelings.

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