No guitarist better than bad one?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Denver Max, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. OK. "Bad" may be a bit harsh. Let me explain. This may be a long read.

    I've posted a couple times about this but its reached the point where I feel like I have to make a decision. I started a noise rock/punk band with a buddy of mine. We have close to 10 songs written and are currently auditioning drummers. The problem is, my GP seems like he's not really into this. He never gives any input in the songs, just saying "whatever you want, man. This is your show.". I've expressed to him that I encourage input, but nothing. So, I end up writing these songs, start to finish, with no input, and then he puts parts to them.

    Which leads us to issue number 2. I can never hear him. And I'm not playing too loud, he just refuses to turn up. Both drummers we tried out asked him about 5 times to turn up, but we still could never hear him. I couldn't tell you what he's playing. There's pretty much only 2 songs where he plays anything memorable. But I've heard him play with others, and he doesn't have this issue. But the music he plays with his other project is pretty different from what we're doing. Also, my bass is pretty dirty all the time. I have a Rusty Box always on, and an OD that stays on about 90% of the time, plus a couple fuzzes that I make good use of. So, we have this gnarly nasty bass, and then the most polite guitar distortion ever, courtesy of his Boss multi fx. I've asked him SO MANY TIMES to turn up, crank the distortion, and generally just play the appropriate guitar for our songs. But to no avail.

    So, kick him out, right? Guitarists are a dime a dozen, right? Sure, if I want to play country or nu metal. But noise rock guitarists are a rare find in my southern town. But my guitarist isn't really bringing anything to the table. I have a buddy in another band and he's always showing me demos and recordings and talking about how fun it is to write with his band mates and I'm so envious. I feel like I don't even have a guitarist sometimes. Just someone I'm obligated to play for every week.

    I just don't know what to do. The guy is a pretty good friend, and he has stuck with this for a couple months, but I'm not seeing any change in his playing. With a few more effects, I could probably make this a 2 piece, but I don't know about that either. And if I stop playing with him, I'm basically back to the bedroom until I lock down a drummer, which is a whole other issue in itself.

    Feeling pretty discouraged right now. Any advice from you veterans out there?
  2. EddiePlaysBass


    Feb 26, 2009
    Talk to him. He's clearly not happy in this musical situation.

    Heck, he's probably out there posting on a guitarist forum: "How to quit my friend's band?"
  3. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Four possible solutions, not sure if they would take the band too far away from your vision, but just putting them out there:

    1. If you have a laptop, try using that as the guitar effects unit instead. There are free VST effects that are great for mangling guitar sounds beyond recognition. Truc2 is my favorite, also try some multiband distortions, trance gates, and FSUs. Who knows, the guitarist might suddenly feel inspired by this new world of possibilities, or at least go "I don't know, you set the sound to something you like". Don't push it too hard, just try it once as a last resort because what do you have to lose?

    2. Do you need a really skilled guitarist? Or would a singer who has some basic guitar skills and is OK with getting noisy be enough? Singers are usually less into nu-metal, at least.

    3. No idea if noise rock is still the same thing it was 20 years ago, but Cop Shoot Cop had two bassists and didn't add a guitarist until much later. They were pretty noisy. So, I know this is a longshot, but if you know any like-minded bassists...

    4. Having a normal guitarist in a noise rock context worked for Slap Happy Humphrey, didn't it?
  4. GigJones


    Jun 10, 2009
    This is the way I feel about drummers. :bag:
  5. +1. Yep

    OP: He's probably hiding - but, if no one can hear him, what's the point of even having him? Talk with him and fix or replace the problem.
  6. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    You already have no guitarist.

    Get one.
  7. I'm actually doing the singing/yelling/menacing talking. I'm not looking for a virtuoso (can't have anyone upstage me :bag: ) I just want someone confident. I want someone to make screeching ugly metallic noises that fit with my bass parts.

    And I've thought about the 2 bassist thing. The only like minded bassists I know are on here and ILF. Nobody within 100 miles, haha. I would definitely be open to that. Even a synth would be ok if it didn't sound cheesy.

    We have practice again on Tuesday. I'll try to coax him into having an opinion. If he's not into it, I'd rather him quit so I can start moving forward.
  8. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    Just a guess here, but here are a few things to think about.

    You mention in your OP that he plays well enough in a different style and doesn't have these other issues when playing in those band(s). It could be that he either does not like the style music you are playing or simply doesn't know where/how he fits into it.

    You are probably taking up a lot of the sonic territory with all the various dirt pedals you are using, he may feel that there is no room for him in the mix.

    This could also be a passive-aggressive response to a clash of egos. From statements you made this band sounds very much like a "look at me" project for you.

    ....I'm actually doing the singing/yelling/menacing talking. I'm not looking for a virtuoso (can't have anyone upstage me ) I just want someone confident. I want someone to make screeching ugly metallic noises that fit with my bass parts....

    That doesn't sound like much fun for anyone but you and might explain his lack of enthusiasim.

    You say that your options to work with other musicians of similiar stylistic intrest is limited in your area. I would point out that your current guitarist has been working with you up to this point, so there must have been some interest there to begin with.

    Perhaps you two really need to have a discussion about what each of you want out of this project and you may have to be willing to compromise in order to move forward. Either that or it's "back to the bedroom" as you put it.
  9. Joebarnes


    Oct 4, 2011
    Surrey, BC
    You have to tell your guitarist to turn UP? Let me guess, you also have a vocalist who owns their own mic and helps move gear.

    Just throw a 57 on his amp and then turn him up at the mixing board.
  10. I was kidding about the upstaging thing. I meant to clarify-I would rather have someone who isn't an amazing player but plays with passion, than someone who is amazing but plays without any life. He's sort of taking the middle ground here-a decent player who lacks intensity. I just feel like this music requires some confidence to play.

    I also purposely left him some room. I originally wrote parts where I was all over the fretboard, but I reworked them to stick to mostly lower frequencies, leaving him ample range to play in. He also uses some effects that I don't, like reverb and delay, so I feel like I left him room.

    We share similar music taste, and he has a couple songs he seems genuinely excited about. Like I said, he only has a couple memorable parts in a couple songs, but he does some great stuff. I should also mention that he wrote one song and I put parts to it, and I really enjoy it, but he hasn't brought anything since.

    Just had a thought while typing this. Maybe I'll figure out what it is that he enjoys about the songs he is excited about and write more along those lines. He has expressed some interest in doing backup vocals and call-and-response type stuff, which I totally support. I may be getting ahead of myself here. I'll let him use one of my nastier distortions next practice and see if anything feels different. If its my show, as he put it, he shouldn't have a problem with me dialing in his tone.

    And I know I'm coming off as a control freak. I've spent so much time in bands being "just" the bassist with very little input, that I'm really enjoying taking the lead. I still need ideas from him though. I definitely wanted a collaborative project, I just have a specific vision.
  11. OP: Do you have a sound sample link we can hear? - that may help answer a lot of questions.
  12. We have some rough tracks we recorded at practice. I'll post one or two when I get off work tonight.
  13. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    Why are you asking us instead of him
  14. zongo


    Jan 17, 2006
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Audition time. He's just not into your band.
  15. Crg2


    Feb 9, 2012
    I was a guitarist in a noise band about 7 years ago.

    Traditionally, I had been the member of my previous bnds who was too loose and too weird. Even when I was studying classical guitar, I was the one who personified wild indiscipline.

    Much later, I started this band with two younger guys. As the band started rehearsing, I quickly went from being the distorted, unrestrained character to being this "anchor" for the other two. The only way that I could fit into the instrumental soundstage was to play oh-so-slightly overdriven rhythm guitar with higher position chords. I counted in, I was tasteful, I was bored.

    . . . but it sounded good.

    He may not have found a way to fit a part to what you are doing, so he's nervous, and keeps his volume low so you don't hear what he believes to be goofs.

    I can also tell you, as a busy-sounding bass player, when a band is playing outside of their traditional roles, the bassist using distortion is a huge, sustaining nightmare over which the others find it hard to cut.

    If he actually does want to be in the band, I suggest long hours of free-form jamming with you giving him formal permission to make glaring mistakes, and you practicing "creating space" for him, much in the way you have to make space for a guitarist in a more traditional band. If that doesn't work, you can't teach him the "you can't make a mistake" mentality of Noise music. I can play Noise because I know how to hear chromatically, and have learned how to alternately fill and create the empty spaces in the improvisation at hand.

    He might be a fine conventional guitarist, but he may not have the instinct that you require.
  16. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    A real specific vision in a niche genre can make it really hard to find people needed to fill it. But I don't think you're in such bad shape there. If you're OK with having guitar, another bass or a synth, then your vision might be unusual but it's not specific in a super-detailed, annoyingly micromanaging way.

    You might have to let this guy go, always hard when it's a friend, depending on how things to tomorrow. But I don't think finding somebody else would be too terribly hard.

    Maybe try to make your niche sound a little less out there when you tell people about it. I mean, instead of "noise rock" call it "noisy rock". One letter's different but it makes it seem like it's not as far from regular rock. It's like me looking for a singer for vocal trance and electro house - it helps to just call it "electronic pop".
  17. teleharmonium


    Dec 2, 2003
    For that style, if anything not having the guitar will be a plus in terms of you being more memorable and it would represent a better opportunity for you to develop in other ways.
  18. IncX


    Jul 23, 2007
    a lot of guitar players who really studied guitar would have a problem in a genre like "noise rock" especially if they never grew up listening to it. check the guys record collection or play list ...

    i have a friend who does noise rock, and i could never write songs like he does, nor do i understand the concept and structure of the genre. sometimes it is him playing with feedback and fuzz or delay knobs - and its never consistent, sometimes he does it for 4 bars, sometimes 5, sometimes 17 ... i guess it is pretty much a "feel" thing.
  19. I think noisy rock is a better descriptor for what I do, as opposed to noise rock. The structures are fairly straightforward. Not a lot of noisy walls of feedback or delay freakouts or whatever. Just some discordant parts and abrasive tones but fairly simple structures. Even some hooks thrown in there. One of our songs is surprisingly danceable. It's the "poppier" stuff that he tends to like and be able to write to a bit better than the all-out crazy thrashy stuff. So maybe I'll take it a bit more in that direction and save the really crazy stuff for certain parts. Havent had a chance to play since I last posted-we both just started new jobs, but Thursday I think we're practicing and I'm going to try to approach it a bit differently.
  20. Well, we haven't practiced since my last post. In fact, we haven't spoken. He won't return my calls. I think this chapter of the band may be closed. Maybe something's going on, I dunno. Feeling pretty discouraged right now. Just put a good bit of money into my rig and now I'm not sure I'll even get to use it for a while. Ugh. I think maybe I drove him away. I had planned on sitting down and working on our dynamic a little bit but I never got a chance. Not sure what to do now. I'll probably update later if anything happens. Maybe lock down one of the 3 drummers we jammed with and get a loop pedal and carry on as a 2 piece. Maybe scrap this project and hit up craigslist. As soon as I quit wallowing in my own self-pity haha