Oh man, what have I done?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Bullitt5135, Jul 17, 2021.

  1. Bullitt5135


    Nov 16, 2010
    SE Michigan
    A couple of days ago, I got a message from an online acquaintance of mine, a guitar player who lives about 10 minutes from me. Over the past few years, we've talked on the phone and exchanged emails, but we've never actually met in person or jammed. The last time we spoke, before 2020, he was asking if I could sub for NYE gig, but I was going to be out of town. We left it at "maybe some other time."

    Fast forward to a couple of days ago, and he sends me a message asking if I was interested in jamming. I had no reason to say no, so I went over that evening with no idea of what I was getting myself into. It sounded like they had band practice scheduled and the regular bass player had to cancel last minute. Long story short, it was shambolic. The lead guitarist seemed adequate, but the drummer was a no-show (i don't think they expected him in the first place). My acquaintance was, how shall we say, rough around the edges. He also was the primary vocalist. Maybe he could actually carry a tune years ago before his 2-packs-of-Marlboros-a-day-habit obliterated his voice. It was bad. Like an angry duck fighting with an ornery goat kind of bad. Like, "how did I get myself into this" kind of bad.

    After about 30 minutes, I was seriously thinking of sending my wife a text message and having her call me back with a "family emergency." Mercifully, the power went out a few minutes later due to storms in the area. I packed up quickly and headed out. I said "nice to meet you...hope things work out with your regular bass player." I also mentioned my schedule is pretty packed this fall, which it is, with other band/family/work obligations.

    The next day, my phone and email started blowing up. Basically, this guy thinks I'm his new bass player. He wants to start booking gigs immediately. I can tell by the way he's talking that I'm the bass player he's been searching for, and now he's ready to hit the stage. Yeaaah, umm, no. I mean, I'll be the first to admit that I'm pretty mediocre, but this band is hopeless. Now I feel bad because I need to call the guy and weasel out of a commitment I never even made in the first place. I've been to plenty of auditions (and vice versa) where I've called afterward and said "thanks, but I'm not feeling it...best of luck." But this guy seems like a bit of a friend since we've had a good repoire for a few years. Why do I feel so dirty about this?
  2. wmhill

    wmhill Inactive

    Aug 20, 2012
    upstate NY
    MTD basses endorsed artist Bartolini pickups emerging artist TECAMP bass players gear endorsed
    Bail gracefully- but don't leave any gray area. I've done it and it's not always fun.
    P. Aaron, Mr_Moo, SoCal80s and 26 others like this.
  3. TNCreature

    TNCreature Jinkies! Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2010
    Philadelphia Burbs
    You don't need to do any new explaining. Jest text back with a Thanks for thinking so highly of me, but to reiterate what I said as t the jam, my schedule is much too busy to join a band...even part time...or a jam...my fingers fell off
  4. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    You told him you were too busy to join up. Just tell him thanks, but you do not have the time for a new project, and wish him well
    Mr_Moo, SoCal80s, mrcbass and 8 others like this.
  5. ELG60

    ELG60 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    You feel dirty because you're a decent chap and don't like letting folks down or hurting their feelings unnecessarily. Still, as others posted, there are diplomatic ways to avoid further involvement.

    Also, the energy vampires of the world rely upon decent people who won't set immutable boundaries. Whether he is one or not is immaterial, but they're out there.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA

    A similar thing happened to me a while back. I bumped into an old friend from high school. (I'm about to turn 50, so a friend from the way back machine.) I didn't even know he lived in my town. The restaurant we were at has an open mic night. He said he usually comes to that. I told him I would come up there sometime and we would have a beer.

    I get there, and he has a guitar with him. I didn't even know he played. Then it turns out a guy he does duos with is another guitar player I've known for years. That guy asks if I had brought my bass. I said "Nah. I'm just here hanging with this guy.

    Fast forward about thirty minutes. I hadn't thought anything of it. Then, the second guy calls me to the stage. I'm thinking we probably know some of the same stuff and he wants me to sing. Nope. He had gone home to get his (horrible) bass and brought it for me to play. Uh..... OK din.

    We play a few songs. They're pretty bad. They do really watered down versions of songs that weren't hard to begin with.... like taking a four chord CCR song and turning it into a two chord song.

    Anyway.... we get done and they start asking me what's the best night of the week I can rehearse!!! What???? The second guy even said "You passed the audition with flying colors!"

    Whoa, there, Hopalong!

    Yeah, it took several days of squirming out of that one via text. They kept sending "What if we do this?" or "We wouldn't have to rehearse that much then we could just start gigging as a three piece until we find a drummer."

    Yeesh. People are weird.
    getrhythm, Mr_Moo, PaulS and 11 others like this.
  7. Goatrope


    Nov 18, 2011
    Sarasota Florida
    I went along for about three months of weekly “rehearsals” because I knew a couple of the band members as mutual acquaintances. Ultimately, I bailed, but it was much harder than doing what I should have done, which would have been to never agree to continue after the first chaotic get together. Ugh. Save yourself. Don’t be like me.
  8. mstillman


    Dec 6, 2011
    MetroWest MA
    In the land of the hopeless, the mediocre one is King!

    I echo @ELG60's assessment that you're a nice guy who'd really like to help, but this looks like it'd quickly become a soul-sucking endeavor.

    Nice to be wanted though, eh?
    Mr_Moo, ladybug, DirtDog and 4 others like this.
  9. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Just tell him you're trying to kick the second hand smoke habit.
  10. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Do the whole "too much going on" bit. "Not able to commit" "work's crazy right now"

    Or, "No. Sorry, but you guys suck"


    I've only had to do that once. It was bad. But, I just said it straight up, "Nah. You're going to have to find someone else. That guy can't play guitar." While playing, the drummer was like "play something more simple for him" I said, "it's a D minor. The whole song, is a Dm. It literally doesn't get any more simple than that. This dude just sucks."

    Worked out good for me.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2021
  11. smogg


    Mar 27, 2007
    NPR, Florida
    I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
  12. MG Wolf

    MG Wolf Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2014
    Due East
    The SADDEST of all keys. ;)
    Crusher47, 12BitSlab, 31HZ and 7 others like this.
  13. JeezyMcNuggles

    JeezyMcNuggles Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2018
    Santa Maria, CA
    I suck, but nobody really notices
    Saddest of all guitar playing.
  14. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    I’ve been through something very similar. You feel dirty about this because you’re a decent human being with empathy!

    in my case, I went to an audition and left with the impression that I had become family with this guy. He went on to say that our daughters will be the best of friends (they were about the same age, but live 60 miles apart). I felt like I had been bait and switched. Guy had a really good CD thet he’d self/produced…good quality, good songs, hood musicianship. But in person…shambolic is a good word! Could barely play his guitar, guitar tone was terrible, lead guitar and drummer had to cancel at the last minute but they were, apparently, excellent…and so on. The voice on the CD and in person were hard to square.

    Day after the audition, he calls me to confirm some gig dates. I had to let him down not so easy. Not to say I’m some great catch but he latched onto me like a horny octopus. I think maybe I was the first bassist to show up at his place in a while. Incididentally, a drummer friend of mine went through this with the same guy not too long after. And the bass player and lead guitar had to cancel at the last minute. Weird that. My drummer friend declined any further involvement.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2021
  15. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    If you had lied and told them how much you were looking forward to playing with them again I would understand your feeling "dirty" now. But you didn't; you made clear that you would not be available to do so. Evidently this guy is delusional or he's a bad listener -- yet another red flag (as if you needed one).

    Also, 10 bonus points for using the word "shambolic." :thumbsup:
  16. Low Down Brown

    Low Down Brown Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2018
    Woof. Nope, hard pass, hit the ol' dusty trail, etc.

    I had a couple of experiences like that . First time was an impromptu restaurant jam/open mic deal set up by a local guitarist/songwriter. He had been wanting to jam together for a while so I agreed. I heard the cat could play and was a good song writer. I thought it would be a nice, quiet, laid back kind of deal, but right when it was time for us to play, his "drummer" for the evening showed up pulling a trailer behind his truck. He proceeded to unload the trailer and set up a drum kit that would make Neil Peart say "Damn...that's a lotta kit". They thrashed so loud that it drowned out my 12" combo and the room cleared in less than 15 minutes. We were asked to leave after about an hour and I could not have been more ready to do so, but I couldn't get out of the parking lot cause dude was bombarding me with the set list, rehearsal times, and all the gigs we were going to play.

    Second time was similar to the story @two fingers mentioned. I showed up at an open mic to support a couple of friends who were putting some songs together and hear what they had going on. Next thing you know, they hoist a shoddy bass and amp on stage and begin calling me up as their special guest bassist...without even asking me first. I tried to gracefully bow out but ended up getting pressured into it. It was horrible. El terrible. "Shambolic". They had no timing, barely in tune, stopped in the middle of songs to talk about what words/parts went where. Truly cringeworthy. After about 3 songs worth of that, I had to bail and made up some BS excuse to get out. Next day...they blow up my phone with all their setlists, rehearsals, etc. I had to tell them I was just too busy with projects already and couldn't do it. Luckily, they knew I was involved in 3 different groups already and were understanding, so it didn't cost me any friendships. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
  17. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    I just wanted to quote this because it’s so true I felt it needed to be said twice.
    QORC, DirtDog, DJ Bebop and 3 others like this.
  18. Its not a comfortable situation, but I would feel no requirement to do anything else than say no and give a reason if you think it is necessary. He has bad boundaries, you do not. And the energy vampire quote in this thread says it all.
    MynameisMe, getrhythm, Mr_Moo and 2 others like this.
  19. bearhart74


    Feb 26, 2009
    Be civil but be clearly no
    Mr_Moo and DJ Bebop like this.
  20. Matt O

    Matt O

    Feb 19, 2013
    The Mitten
    I landed myself in a couple uncomfortable situations like that until I learned the phrase:

    “I don’t jam”

    Repeated as a broken record with a smile, but without apology or excuse. Never offer an excuse, a manipulator will always come back at you with a solution to your excuse.

    I once agreed to jam with a dude that called himself “rock and roll Bob”. Bob was in his 50s. Turns out he was living in his mom’s basement. He had to remove a ceiling tile to put the head in his Marshall stack. He played a pointy, very pointy, Jackson. He would play only hammer-ons and dive bombs. On 11. When Bob’s mom asked for him to turn it down, I witnessed a man in his 50s tell his 80 year old mom to **** off.

    “I don’t jam”

    I showed up to jam with Guillermo at his apartment. He opened the door dressed like a matador. He led me into a room with a mirrored wall. He had every effect pedal ever made wired together. He then proceeded to turn them all on and strum, I’m guessing, flamenco style, but it was hard to tell through the complete effects mess. He sang in an operatic style while checking himself out in the mirror.

    Both stories are somewhat entertaining in hindsight, but I felt so bad for Bob’s mom. Not funny. Both those dudes called for weeks trying to set up another jam.

    “I don’t jam”