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New band drama...what do you think?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by casualmadness, Jan 20, 2020.


  1. casualmadness

    casualmadness Man About Town Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2005
    VA
    Just wanna get some more thoughts on this...it’s a long one. Apologies in advance for the length.

    I haven’t been in a band in about 10 years or so. But I’ve been in many and have gigged extensively when I was younger. Well I decided it’s time to get back on the horse so I recently joined a local band. I auditioned last week and they offered me the gig right on the spot.

    Some background: the band had just recently come together with another bass player, who died just after a few practices with them. He had some health issues apparently and died suddenly. So they began the search. As I said, I auditioned last week and was given the job. We are set to practice again tomorrow night (practice number 2.)

    They are all competent musicians. But what I noticed at the audition was they were sloppy. The drummer literally told everyone else “all of you need to look at me when it’s time for the bridge” for one song. 2-3 songs, none of them seemed to know when the songs ended. One song, the two guitar players couldn’t agree on what chord was being played (all cover songs.) I chalked it all up to they’re a new band and I’m brand new in the band. Will take some time to iron out the wrinkles. No worries.

    So I went out of town for the weekend (just returned today) and found a long email chain between all the band members. Apparently the BL booked a showcase gig for next Sunday. He didn’t ask anyone, he didn’t make sure we could all make it, he just did it and sent out an email with a time and place. My first thought was “really?!?!” We literally have played together one time. We have people who don’t know the songs. We have people who are arguing about how the original band played it. And this guy books a showcase??? Kind of a “what the f***” moment.

    What followed was a long chain of back and forth between all members...one guy was angry because his pub trivia team had some trivia thing planned for the same day. Then another guy suggested we do it without that guy (second guitar.) So then that guy loses his mind and starts all cap typing to everyone. As I read through all the emails, all I could think was “man these people are behaving like children.”
    After a long drama filled email chain, everyone kissed and made up.

    This has given me pause.
    If you’re thinking after reading this “well they’re probably young and will grow out of the nonsense” you might be surprised to learn that I’m the youngest member and I’m in my 40’s. They’re all over 50.

    At this point, I of course am not throwing in the towel (it’s one incident) but I’m definitely on alert now.

    Everyone in the band has a day job. I do very well in mine and don’t “need” a gig but I sure do miss gigging. But this little drama filled pissing session has reminded me of the crap you have to tolerate when in a band.

    So what say you? No big deal here or would you too be concerned? Am I seeing a tempest in a teapot here? Or is there legitimate cause for concern?

    You’re in my shoes-what would you do?
     
  2. db59

    db59 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2015
    Pray....a.lot
     
    pellomoco14, zenrad, neuman and 11 others like this.
  3. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    I'm thinking the original bass player may have faked his death to get away from these guys.
     
  4. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    SEPA
    Wait and see.

    BL was presumptuous booking a showcase, especially without verifying availability.
    OTOH, some bands need the incentive of a real performance to focus attention.
    And some BL's won't do didly squat until the band "is really ready" which IME never materialises. Spent a year hearing "we're not ready' with one project.
    IMO/IME - if you have no shows and no plans to book one after 90 days, you're going nowhere.

    In your case, the red flags are in place.
    OTOH, you've also been advised (warned?) not too wade too deep into the drama too soon, because probably the issues will work their way out on their own.
    Sloppy and inadequate prep is the bigger issue. Spend a NONPLAYING session listening to reference tracks and comparing charts. If you guys can't figure out how you want to play the material after that, consider it doomed - it is not a band, it is a loose collection of solo artists.
     
  5. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe

    Jul 8, 2008
    Connecticut
    It just reminded me of what I won't tolerate in a band. Lack of direction and focus, lack of communication with complete disregard of bandmates' other obligations, wasteful rehearsals ... BTDT; but never again.
     
    murphy, Yellow Bang66, osonu and 10 others like this.
  6. bolophonic

    bolophonic

    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    None of this sounds like something I’d be willing to add to my workload at this point in my life, but everyone has different priorities and motivations, so maybe you can make this work.
     
  7. kevindahl

    kevindahl

    Aug 21, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    The issues and band dynamics that come up our very specific to each situation. I cant tell what to do because I am not involved. How much do you care about negativity between members? The lack of preparedness and musicianship? The lack of communication? I could go on and on but the point is every one has a threshold for this kind of stuff. My gut would tell me right away to leave or not. I have very very little patience for unorganization, lack of preparedness, and mediocre musicianship.
     
    Yellow Bang66 likes this.
  8. RyanOh

    RyanOh Gold Supporting Member

    People still use email to communicate things like this?

    Group texts and phone calls would have ironed it out, not cool to book a date without knowing everyone's availability.
     
    Sav'nBass and daddycool69 like this.
  9. dramatwist

    dramatwist

    Sep 27, 2019
    Run away!
     
    Thorny1, Rezdog, pellomoco14 and 8 others like this.
  10. Start ups are hard, and that's what you have on your hands. Unfortunately, you also have too many cooks working from different recipes.

    Rather than identify and comment on each red flag, I'll just tell you what I would do:

    I would identify the "leader," if one exists, and I would tell him point-blank that this is a disorganized mess and someone needs to step up and play referee more often. There is no way I'd do a gig with this band at this point. And if someone can't be the cooler head, command some respect, and get to play tie-breaker and have a little last-word authority, I would be out of there.

    You don't need an evil dictator, but bands without a person who everyone looks to and respects for decision-making are more trouble than they are worth.

    It is entirely possible that some of these folks' personal and professional styles and work ethics are forever doomed to clash. Sometimes two people just don't belong in the same band. I get no sense that this is a group of people who share the same goals and strategies for success. Until someone steps up and those goals and strategies are clearly defined and everyone gets on board, you are in the land of too many chiefs and you will suffer the consequences.

    Whatever you do, you can immediately make it clear that you have no intention of taking a paying gig (or any gig for that matter) with so many misunderstandings and loose ends. Rehearsing and face-planting on stage is a bullet I won't take for anyone. I don't need perfection, but we do need to agree on chord progressions and song structures, and have intros/outros that are well-rehearsed and played consistently, at a bare minimum before I'll even think about taking it public.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  11. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    Let's see: They don't know how to rehearse. The BL acts on personal whim. They may be in their 50s, but they're acting like children. No thanks.
     
  12. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    LoTS of red flags.

    I think you have three choices (in order of how badly you need a band):

    1. RUN RUN RUN.
    2. Have a discussion with the BL about band rules and expectations, and let him her know your concerns, and what you will and won't tolerate.
    3. Join, but be prepared to bail if what you experienced is the norm.

    What I would do depends on what others options are put there, and how badly you want to be in a band right now. I'd look at door #2, and if I don't get answers I like, move to #1.
     
    hrodbert696, Jane Smith and DJ Bebop like this.
  13. It's too early to decide if you should run away but I would keep an eye on the front door just in case it continues.
     
    Zbysek, Cliff Colton and DJ Bebop like this.
  14. Quibbling is par for the course but booking shows without checking to see if everyone is available is a hard pass for me. It's incredibly disrespectful, unless this band is intending to be everyone's full-time job, which is super rare these days. So, based on that alone, I would be packing up my gear and bidding them all a fond farewell. There are some lines that I won't allow to be crossed and that one is big on my list, as it's a major boundary violation.

    If he didn't already realize it was a boundary violation, you can waste time trying to talk it through, but a guy who will be that disrespectful once will do it again.
     
  15. oldrocker

    oldrocker

    Feb 13, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    The drummer seems to be trying to reign everyone in with the "watch me for the bridge section" remark. For the songs where no one could agree on the ending was the drummer right?

    An organized prepared drummer who is willing to take control can make a sloppy band better. I've seen it happen. So for me the ability to lock in with the drummer and make a tight rhythm section would tell me if the music will ever be good and if this is a project I would pursue.

    Dealing with a BL who books a gig without checking everyone's availability is a whole 'nother story ....

    Good luck
     
    Bassdirty and LBS-bass like this.
  16. casualmadness

    casualmadness Man About Town Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2005
    VA
    No...the drummer didn’t know when to hit the bridge. After we all (including me and it was my audition—aka first time meeting everyone) told him multiple times, he still couldn’t get it. So he said “everyone look at my when it’s time to play the bridge so I know when to do it.”

    There are definite red flags and I think most of you think like me. It’s only been one practice so I’ll be a little patient and try to help iron out wrinkles now that I’m in the band. But yeah I don’t see me giving this a lot of time if the shenanigans continue. Thanks for input so far.
     
    Nunovsky likes this.
  17. Tazziedevil

    Tazziedevil

    Apr 2, 2019
    Tasmania
    Double check everyone is playing from the same chart ( or listening to the same version)!
     
    LBS-bass likes this.
  18. Yep, and if they aren't that needs to be addressed ASAP moving forward. I'm thinking that, otherwise, if your drummer can't count measures to know where the bridge is, you should think about whether he's the guy you want playing the drums. That's like, the core of his job.
     
  19. I would not be available next weekend.
     
  20. Tazziedevil

    Tazziedevil

    Apr 2, 2019
    Tasmania
    this happened in my last band. I was finished and the guitar was still playing on one song that’s had several interpretations. Turns out we both assumed the other was playing the same version!
     
    LBS-bass likes this.

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