our bass player quit last night, gig in 5 weeks. Various options

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by morgansterne, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. morgansterne

    morgansterne Geek U.S.A.

    Oct 25, 2011
    Cleveland Ohio
    So I play keys in this classic rock/soul band. We normally play 2-3 gigs a month but we've had a break with no gigs in January and February. So we're using the opportunity to learn new songs and relearn old songs that fell off the set list ages ago.

    After we're done playing, the bass player expresses his frustration that people aren't learning the songs well enough in advance. (I'm guilty of just forgetting we're supposed to learn a song and not listening to it at all, and I admitted as much.) He gets louder and louder about this, ranting for about five minutes and swearing.

    Eventually the drummer and de facto band leader -- having been prompted by bass player to speak instead of "pouting in the corner" -- vents back about Bassist's antisocial behavior, and how tired we all are of having to watch what we say for fear of offending him as he has a record of blowing up about stuff and threatening to quit. Drummer gets loud also and goes on for a while. The rest of us are calm and trying to get both of them to calm down also. But the upshot is bass player very officially quitting.

    After bassist is gone, the drummer asks a couple of us left about cancelling our gig in 5 weeks. HOWEVER, both myself and the percussionist/backup singer play bass just fine. Percussionist has been learning bass parts for our songs for a few months since our bass player's last threat to quit (over different issues). I haven't been learning the bass parts, but playing keys I'm aware of all the chord changes and structures of the songs.

    so options

    1) the percussionist and I split bass duties -- I play bass for songs that don't really need a keyboard part

    2) we call up the band's previous keyboard player (who left 2 years ago) and revamp our set list to do songs he knows

    3) The percussionist plays all the songs he's learned on bass and I attempt the dreaded "keyboard bass" on others

    4) find another bass player entirely to play the whole night (I know several but they're on the other side of town, and probably demanding more than the paltry sub $100 per person pay we make for a gig.)

    5) carrots

    No, I don't consider reaching out to our old bass player and making amends an option. I'm not mad at the guy, but I absolutely won't be in a band with him again.

    Anyway thanks for reading this far and I welcome everybody's input on where to go next.
    bdplaid, JSBassman61 and pudgychef like this.
  2. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    Option 1 sounds like the best option to me.
    gregmon79, St_G, djaxup and 6 others like this.
  3. morgansterne

    morgansterne Geek U.S.A.

    Oct 25, 2011
    Cleveland Ohio
    this would also have the side benefit of reducing the band from 6 members to 5.
  4. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Try option 1 and if it isn't amazing go with 1 until you can do 4.

    And learn your parts man!!!!

    I'm not siding with the bass player who quit. He may genuinely be a jerk. But in this day and age of technology there are exactly ZERO excuses for simply forgetting to listen to or learn a song. Make a note in your phone. Pick someone to email a list of new songs to everyone.

    Again, that dude may be a jerk. But few things frustrate me more in a band setting than showing up to a rehearsal having done hours of homework only to find that both THAT time before rehearsal was wasted, and THIS time in rehearsal is wasted while you guys teach each other a song. :banghead:

    So, on that one issue, I gotta side with the guy who bailed. Good bands only need a few rehearsals a year. And those rehearsals are for running through songs everyone showed up knowing so you can arrange vocals, figure out intro/outro cues, and make sure the song fits the band. They are NOT for learning songs.

    And if I took the time to nail a song before I showed up, and then we just put it on the back burner for now because someone "forgot to learn it", I would be pretty pissed as well. You are devaluing the time of others when you do that. My time is valuable.

    Edited to fix a few typos.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2018
    Ikkir, jonlimo, makaspar and 52 others like this.
  5. Torrente Cro

    Torrente Cro

    Sep 5, 2013
    What he said ^^^
    Ikkir, Reedt2000, smogg and 2 others like this.
  6. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    number 1 sounds like the best option. regarding number 4, which would have been my first choice, if these are all covers, you might be able to find a bass player who knows most of the songs, but that motivated a player isn't going to stick around with a band where others don't practice so they nail their parts ahead of rehearsals.

    we have cover band members here who never rehearse at all because they all learn the songs at home on their own time.

    agree with every word, and i have bailed from bands where other players didn't find the time and motivation to learn their parts.
  7. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Nothing worse than having band members taking forever to learn songs. At rehearsal last night, a well known guitarist was fumbling all night. Annoying. Made rehearsal a chore.
    FunkHead, MikeMig, G On Bass and 4 others like this.
  8. Best option would have been to learn the songs. Nothing shows more disrespect to your band mates than showing up to rehearsal unprepared.
    DWBass, Ikkir, FunkHead and 12 others like this.
  9. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I like option 1.

    Not gonna lecture you about learning the tunes, some bands just function this way. I don't learn the songs myself and pick them up in rehearsal, but my group uses charts and plays in few set styles(swing/latin mostly). Since i am improvising the tunes anyway i get by just fine.
  10. Oddly


    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    It'll be interesting if the bass player is a member on here and chimes in...

    Anyways, option 1 sounds like the best option but it'd be no harm to reach out to the other players from option 4 and see if one of them is willing.
  11. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    How complex are the songs?

    If not overly complex or too many in number, i wouldn't think you'd have too much trouble finding a fill in (to possibly turn permanent) that you could get up to speed in a month around Cleveland.

    Option #1 seems legit, too, from your description
    BOOG and LowActionHero like this.
  12. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

  13. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    Option #1.
    If you don't know your material prior to rehearsal call it off.
    I freelance and hear that the ex bass players did not know the material well,
    made train wrecks every gig and/ or was a drunk, stoner or had sand box issues.
    Theses issues also pertain to any other lazy band member.
    Treat it like a business.
    60bass and smogg like this.
  14. jeff7bass

    jeff7bass Inactive

    Apr 9, 2009
    I'm with you. Same thing happened with me and my last band. The other guys kept wanting to do more material, which is fine in itself, but I would end up having to teach them how the song goes and after so many songs, I finally went off on them. I wasn't an ******* about it and I didn't swear, but they never looked at me the same and in the end we split up. Sad because we were a talented 3 piece. If bars are paying you money to play, learn the material the right way which is practice on your own to learn the songs, then iron them out in a band setting during rehearsals. Some songs require more work and simply cannot be "jammed". If you like jamming live, play more jamming songs. I hate it when I'm playing one part (the right way) and somebody decides to play the chorus at the wrong time. That's another thing, brush up on your questionable parts before the gig. Rant over.
    Ikkir, design, Oddly and 1 other person like this.
  15. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I've got to agree with the others; learn the material. That is very frustrating and disrespectful to fellow band members who DID make the time to learn the tunes.

    Regarding you current issue, I vote number 1 also.
  16. 4SG


    Mar 6, 2014
    Couldn't have said it better, on both counts.
    filwitheneff and lfmn16 like this.
  17. smogg


    Mar 27, 2007
    NPR, Florida
    I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
    Bass player was right to be frustrated and angry if it's been an ongoing issue. I will not work with people who don't learn the material on their own time. Learn, practice, commit to memory, and polish the tunes on YOUR time not OUR time. Practice at home rehearse with the band. Quit making excuses for lazy musicianship and poor time management.

    That said...... fire the drummer
    Edit: What makes you think you and the other cat can properly learn all the bass parts in five weeks when you guys could not learn your own parts in two months?
    aaronious, MikeMig, japhy4529 and 8 others like this.
  18. red_rhino

    red_rhino Currently on Double Secret Probation Gold Supporting Member

    +1. Nothing bothers me more than having spent time to learn something, only to have others blow it off. I wouldn't stay in a band where that was the norm.
  19. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    I'd go with 1 as an interim to 4
  20. +1 to learn the damn songs. Before you drag somebody else into their own personal hell, where the band can't be bothered to learn it's own songs, fix the issue within the band. And given that:
    Keep it within group, don't become a new player's reason for high blood pressure.