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Not clicking with a session drummer

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BryanM, Feb 11, 2016.


  1. BryanM

    BryanM

    Dec 15, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I'm not a session player by any means. I can read charts, I can learn songs pretty quickly and I can pull out a reasonable handful of styles, but I like to express myself. I recently was asked to fill in on bass for some shows by a friend who filled in with my band on drums for a few gigs. Since I like his music and he helped us out, I agreed, even though it's not paying much (No pay for rehearsals, small pay for gigs).

    I showed up at the rehearsal space, which is a small pro/home studio owned by the drummer playing and we dug into some of the songs. My style of playing when I have creative freedom is more rambling, lead style bass so that's what I started off with and the songwriter/guitarist didn't have any criticisms and liked what he heard. The drummer, however, immediately started critiquing my playing, insisting that I hit specific notes on specific accents and even calling out the accents to me while we were running the songs. He's a very competent drummer, but also has a very straightforward, accent on the upbeat style of playing, and to play what he was suggesting takes a lot of the momentum out of the songs.

    I don't foresee this being an ongoing project for me, because double duty on rehearsals in addition to shows and a full-time work schedule puts a bit too much on my plate, but I do like the songs, and would like to see them performed the best that they can be. Had I wanted to continue to work with this songwriter, though, I'd probably reconsider it if it meant having to continue to work with the drummer. I don't really have any particular question, just needed to vent a bit.
     
  2. denhou1974

    denhou1974

    Mar 6, 2008
    You're a fill in. Play what the band wants while putting a little bit of 'you' in it. I would love to play with that drummer since I approach the drums/bass as one combined instrument.
     
    Joe Nerve, hover, tbz and 16 others like this.
  3. You're filling in for them. They're not filling in for you.

    They know what they want the band to sound like. You should respect that.
     
    hover, MDBass, jonlimo and 11 others like this.
  4. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    MEXICANADAMERICA
    ask the drummer to explain why. there may be something else going on. are you overplaying? is he competing with you for space? is he overplaying?
     
    SanDiegoHarry likes this.
  5. Seanto

    Seanto

    Dec 29, 2005
    USA
    Well, its probably because you were playing "lead style bass." Don't do that if you want to be a successful bassist. Play the rhythm. If a drummer came in playing "lead style drumming" i would be pissed off.
     
  6. Biggbass

    Biggbass

    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    In many cases the best you can do for the music is to fit the pocket, hit the roots,
    accent the drum fills and follow the kick...but you probably already know this.
    Too many notes from the bass can clutter up a good groove.

    Lead bass? That's cool if you consider yourself that sort of stylist.
    According to Rev Billy G, Dusty Hill is a lead bass player.
    But you'll notice he stays in the pocket and rides the roots.

    Just try not to collide with the drummer...both musically and personality wise and
    the project will be more pleasurable for everyone. And remember, sometimes
    keeping it simple is the hardest thing to play.
     
  7. rufus.K

    rufus.K

    Oct 18, 2015
    SoCal
    agree with all above... youre the fill-in. I would try to find the center with the drummer. If he is as good as you say, there is something to learn. Learning to drop in, be a chameleon, and be mutable is a great thing for a bass player who wants a variety of work.
     
  8. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    It's not the first or last time you may hear someone say of your playing, "you're doing it wrong, more like this".

    Even with bands/songs that I don't like, I look for its essence and try to get on with it.

    You don't like the vibe then get to moving on..
     
    twinjet, BlueAliceOasis and LowNloud1 like this.
  9. jwilson67

    jwilson67

    Jun 2, 2015
    San Dimas, CA
    "Rambling, lead style bass"?? Every drummer's best friend!! Play WITH the drummer first and then - and only then stretch out if they want you to. Remember you are a fill in. Do what is right for the groove.

    Also - remember that your friend's reputation is on the line with you as a fill in.
     
    bassbrad, pcake, Need Gigs and 2 others like this.
  10. subbeh

    subbeh

    Jul 5, 2012
    UK
    It almost sounds like the drummer is trying to teach someone to play bass!
     
    howlin likes this.
  11. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Wow! Came right in dictating how you're gonna play on someone else's project! Yeah, I think there would be some drawback to that!
     
    Fat Steve, Billybladez66 and howlin like this.
  12. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    No. Just telling him what he wants. It's their project.
     
  13. BryanM

    BryanM

    Dec 15, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I should have mentioned that the drummer is also a fill in for this gig. We're playing as a pickup band behind my friend on guitars/vocals and my first rehearsal was also the drummer's first rehearsal with myself or the leader. I do sit in the pocket and work hard to click with drummers, but I didn't appreciate being chastised, for example, for playing more than just quarter note roots on one of the songs that's meant to be more raw and bass-driven, or being told that I strictly have to walk a shuffle line with no transitional notes whatsoever. I also didn't like that his justification was that it takes it too far away from the "radio-friendly zone" (his words), when the music is 60s styled garage rock with grunge and blues influences.

    Again, I'd be perfectly fine with these criticisms if they were coming from the band-leader who had asked me onto the gig in the first place, or if I was being paid specifically as a hired gun to do what I'm told. As it stands, some of what the drummer was saying was actually in direct contrast to what was asked by the band leader, but the band leader himself is fairly shy and not assertive, and hesitantly agreed to what the drummer was suggesting. My aversion to that sort of rigidity in what I'm allowed to play is specifically why I've stayed away from pickup gigs and sessions in the past, unless it was to help out a friend.
     
    MDBass and One Drop like this.
  14. TripleDouble

    TripleDouble Guest

    Aug 5, 2008
    You're allowed to not like the drummer's approach to the overall situation, and he's allowed to not like yours. Ultimately, the band leader should be a leader and make the choices. Even if you and the drummer don't end up "clicking", if the leader likes what you both do and keeps paying you, then that's the gig, take it or leave it. If you and the drummer can't stand each other, then one of you will have to leave, and again, that's the leader's choice. It doesn't always work out, and isn't always worth the fight.
     
    BlueAliceOasis likes this.
  15. pnchad

    pnchad

    Nov 3, 2005
    Be a bassist first. Park your ego and if you can't serve the music as it is, learn to. It's your job, as a bassist, to make everyone else sound great. If you're not into this, get a guitar.

    I love having someone say the band grooves because I know I have a LOT to do with that. Don't care about personal gratification. It's a mindset.
     
  16. elgecko

    elgecko

    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Music where everybody's playing lead is chaotic.
     
  17. jwilson67

    jwilson67

    Jun 2, 2015
    San Dimas, CA
    Well - if he's a fill in then that definitely changes the parameters. I'm going to reiterate what TripleDouble said that the band leader needs to be king in this situation. I HAVE dealt with one guy in a band who didn't like anything I played. It's hard. Just do the best you can and try to get in the pocket and realize that you can come to some creative agreement through disagreement!
     
  18. jwilson67

    jwilson67

    Jun 2, 2015
    San Dimas, CA
    And what the heck is the "radio friendly zone"?? LMAO
     
    WheatPenny and preside like this.
  19. I don't know the level of your abilities. In similar situations I've felt like walking out but I swallowed my pride as I understand that it's the music that's important. If I feel someone is getting too overbearing I ask straight up what they want and if I'm having difficulty with it, tell them so. Most of the time it requires patience on their part so I can relax and get it right. On the other hand, the drummer is a hired gun like you so tell him to relax unless he wants to play (or wear) the bass too.
     
    DwaynieAD likes this.
  20. Beavisplaysbass

    Beavisplaysbass

    Dec 11, 2015
    Ask the band leader after a rehearsal.. " Do you want the Bass line I'm providing or what the drummer is telling me to do? I'm fine with either, I just want clarification for YOUR project. "
     
    derg, pcake, sotua and 7 others like this.

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