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New band...How do I bring up that the drummer is horrible?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Vinnie Boombatz, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. Vinnie Boombatz

    Vinnie Boombatz Banned

    May 26, 2010
    UPDATE in Post 18...

    Just joined a band that primarily does covers of lots of Outlaw, old school country type stuff and some newer Americana type stuff. Everything from Willie, Waylon, Steve Earl, Slaid Cleaves, Chris Stapleton, Wilco, Son Volt, George Jones, etc.

    We've practiced a couple times so far. The two guitar players have played together a few times before they started looking for a bass player and drummer. Basically came up with a list of songs, picked 5 to learn for the first time we got together and adding a couple more for the second time we practiced.

    Being the bass player, I obviously want to lock with the drummer, but man, this guy's timing is pretty bad. He's always speeding up, especially after fills, usually hits way too hard and can't really hang back and just stay in the pocket for this type of music. He also has trouble with counting off songs, and I swear I heard him say that he's "not the best with counting off to start a song", and make the guitar player do it.

    He's a heck of a nice guy, super easy to get along with, super pleasant and chill. I just don't know how to bring it up to the other two guys. The one guitar player is very good, super technical and I'm sure he's picking up on the drummer's sloppiness, and most of the time he's mentioning that the timing wanders all over the place.

    I'm just not sure how, or if I even have a right to mention that the drummer isn't very good, and if I do, how do I go about it? I feel like a snake going behind his back and mentioning it to the other guys, but the other side of me thinks that why continue to waste time playing with a bad drummer when we could be actively searching for a competent one.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  2. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Is he blissfully unaware? & How long or how many practices have the 3 of them had before you, the bassist, stepped in?
    sbpark likes this.
  3. Vinnie Boombatz

    Vinnie Boombatz Banned

    May 26, 2010
    The drummer and I stepped in at the same time. Two rehearsals so far with myself and the drummer, and before that it was just the two guitar players working stuff out together. I don't know if he's blissfully unaware or not!
  4. How long has he been playing drums? A beginner might get up to the mark but your Mr Blissful veteran will still be shagging you around until you fire him.

    Don't wait, say something directly to the point to the other two to the effect of ''dude's gotta go''.
    Jimmy4string likes this.
  5. TOOL460002

    TOOL460002 Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Santa Cruz CA
    Better to bring it up now than in a month when you've all wasted more time. If the guitarists are good as you say, they know. They may appreciate your ears and confidence.

    Plus the goal is to make the music quality, and this drummer sounds like he needs to practice more and maybe play with less serious people. I would have given him a second chance, and you did. This is not a fluke.

    It must be done. Pull the band aid off right quick! Everyone's better off that way. Even if the drummer doesn't realize it just yet.
    Skeptismo, loopee and Amano like this.
  6. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Fire the drummer?

    There, I said it.:smug:
  7. Perrygoround


    Jun 27, 2016
    I guess it depends also in which are the goals of the band. Maybe if all of you give him some time and help him, he could improve.
    Last saturday I went with the 2 guitar players of my 2nd band to record some basic tracks for a new song one of them wanted to showed us. I joined this band 2 months ago, and the 2nd guitar player 1 month before me.
    The 1st guitar is a skilled guy, but when we tried to record his parts, he struggled in keeping the timing. He said he has never used a metronome before. Apparently they had recorded only 1 song previously and they struggled so much with timing that ended up recording it live without metronome.
    So, we spend all evening working on that and his progress was evident over the course of a couple of hours.
    When we were practising for the gig they had when they called me I also did some work with the drummer. She had also some issues on keeping a constant pace. Also, she and I were crashing a bit. She was playing over me. So I told her, "I leave some spaces in between notes, just listen to me and hit the snare on my silences". We repeat the song and the groove improved inmediattly.
    If the band is a long-term project, the guy is a good guy and is aware of his limitations, maybe working with him will improve things enough.
    On the other hand, if you need someone awsome for yesterday, then, maybe trying to find someone else is the only way.
  8. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    We have a great drummer - his name is 'Sil-e-Con'! Does exactly what is asked of him, turns up on time, doesn't get drunk, never misses a beat, is happy to sit some songs out and takes no money.
    On a serious note, timing and dynamics in the drums make or break a band - so the 'brush up or pack up' question seems appropriate...
  9. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Nip it in the bud.
    bolophonic and two fingers like this.
  10. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    This is why everyone should be made aware that their initial tenure is probabtionary from day one and that just because they showed up to the audition, does not mean they have secured their place in the band. This saves for a lot of hurt feelings when someone is told "Thanks so much for auditioning, but we've found someone who we think will be a better fit. Good luck in your endeavors. You're a great drummer." It sounds like you're in a position where it's not really your call, also being the new guy. What you can do is let the guitarists know that while you'd like to be a part of their band, you can't really serve your role to its fullest potential without a better timekeeper, so you'll be stepping out for now. Otherwise, you can count on many months or years of false starts and much frustration trying to whip the drummer into shape. If you're a glutton for punishment and absolutely must be in a band despite it being a miserable chore because of a lousy drummer, then by all means proceed along. If the drummers inability is not as painfully apparent to the other members as it is to you, then they might not be the best fit for you either.
    rodl2005, Ekulati and SactoBass like this.
  11. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA

    @sbpark here's the question. How does the ownership of this band work? (It amazes me how often bands will get months into a project before ever addressing ANY of the BUSINESS aspects of their BUSINESS.....and make no mistake. A band is a business.)

    Does the band belong to the two guitarists and you guys are hired guns? Or are you all on equal ground here?

    If the latter, bring it up now and be professional but firm. If the former, simply mention to at least one of them that locking in with that guy is "challenging to say tue least". Then stand back and see if they deal with it.

    The only other question is this. Is he so bad that it will ruin YOUR experience to olay with him? If so, then you have to figure out when to drop the "him or me" ultimatum.

    Good luck with it.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
    mikewalker and DirtDog like this.
  12. jchrisk1

    jchrisk1 Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    My guess is if you can tell he's not good, so can they. Just bring it up and get it dealt with. Before the misery sets in.
  13. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Yeah. Do this. Life is waaaaay too short to play with a bad drummer.
  14. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    Yep. Better to rip that bandaid off right now and get it over with. You'll just refgret it later when you're in front of an audience. Life's way too short to play with drummers like that.
    SactoBass likes this.
  15. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    If he auditioned, then they are aware of it most likely. Since you are the new guy, and presumably don't want to look like a weasel in the first days, I'd just causually ask one of the guitarists "How long has the drummer been playing?" Their answer should tell you how they feel. Maybe they know already and are giving him a chance. Maybe they are already discussing options. Maybe they think you are the problem. Being the new guy, I'd ask some leading questions to get the lay of the land before calling someone out to the rest of the band.
    Oleg BassPlayer, TWolf, JRA and 2 others like this.
  16. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    You can bring it up, but be willing to walk.
    bholder, bolophonic and back4more like this.
  17. Old P Bass Guy

    Old P Bass Guy

    Nov 26, 2017
    If he is that bad, the other two members know it too. Stay out of it unless your asked.
    sbpark and bholder like this.
  18. Vinnie Boombatz

    Vinnie Boombatz Banned

    May 26, 2010
    I actually brought it up to the lead guitar player who's basically the band leader, and he's the one who started this band. I told him that the drummer is super nice, reliable, easy going, etc., but his timing is pretty bad. He wrote me back and said he's obviously noticed that as well and was actually happy I brought it up. He said to give him a shot for a couple more practices and if he still can't make it happen we'll start looking for another drummer.
    mrcbass, pwhalen, petrus61 and 7 others like this.
  19. Old P Bass Guy

    Old P Bass Guy

    Nov 26, 2017
    Glad it worked out.
  20. Better spell it out to him that as much as you like him personally, he's on notice to shape up doubletime. If he's a realist he'll walk right away.

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