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Our timing is so bad that the band "Skips"...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Wes Whitmore, Aug 4, 2005.


  1. Wes Whitmore

    Wes Whitmore Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    I have been playing off and on with the same drummer and guitar player for around a year and a half, and we really aren't much better than when we started. We have been playing the same songs the entire time, but only get together once a month until recently (now weekly in anticipation of a Sept gig). I don't really want to leave the band because we are a bunch of friends and have been for many years. I know the drummer only practices when we are jamming (he has a child now), which is frustrating. He really wants to play, but not put in the time away from rehearsal). The guitarist doesn't have good timing either, and usually ends up changing the "accents and strumming" of the cover song to fit his comfort, just adding to the problem. The drummer isn't even near verbatim either, but must importantly, coulding keep a steady tempo to save his life. I'm finished suggesting that everyone needs to listen to the CDs of the same songs we have been doing for a year. It wouldn't matter anyhow because the drummers idea of practice is listening to the songs in his car on the way over and "remembering what he heard". It doesn't work. He looks to us for changes, and pauses, lunges, and forgets parts.

    What I would like to do is add a click track into our practices for a while. It will be very hard at first because we simply won't be able to keep in time with it until each of us learns to listen and our timing improves. Is it too late to add it? I can add it to the monitor system via laptop.

    What should I do?

    Wes
     
  2. If your drummer doesn't want to practice, he doesn't want to be in the band that much. He sounds like one of the types that just like to hang out with his buds and make music, not someone who wants to put together an act to take on the road like you are. About the guitarist, as long as he makes the song sound good and interesting then it doesn't matter if he's 100% perfect with the original tune. If he's way off, then tell him to play it right or pick a song that he CAN play right. I'd say keep pushin them and stop being so lenient with them when they don't learn the songs. If you're the only serious one in the group then you aren't going to be having much fun babysitting them through your career... that's my opinion anyway.
     
  3. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Do you record your practises at all? That might be a better use for the laptop than putting down a click track (playing with a click is very difficult if you're playing with people who can't play with it).

    Set up your laptop so you can grab a feed of the sound using a program like Audacity (free, easy to use and plenty of recording time if you've got the diskspace). Record yourselves playing a song. Listen back to it and make a note of where things go wrong. Go back and listen to those bits more carefully (this is where recording direct to the laptop will pay dividends - you can see exactly where you are in a tune). Work out wha t the problem might be and figure out some exercises you can do to improve (often, just playing the section slowly enough times until it becomes natural will work).

    It will be slow going and might not sort out all the problems but you should see some unmistakable progress and it may inspire the others to practise more.

    Wulf
     
  4. If its so bad that the band actually "skips", you may not want to record it.

    I mean you read about the London bombings, but do you really want to see the carnage up close?

    Just kidding, hey, recording is a great idea, make them listen to it sober and see what they think. Only problem would be if they think only professional musicians, the cream of the crop can play stuff relatively flawlessly, and you're being too picky. Then its time to find a new band, friends or not. Better to find new band and keep them as friends, rather than try to keep them friends and bandmates and losing both.

    Randy
     
  5. You and the drummer are the critical ones, but I suspect you already knew that. The key statement, I think, is that the drummer has a kid now. I don't know how old the child is, but my wife and I just got custody of our 8 month old and 2 year old grandsons. We both work an hour from home and get up at 5:30 to get the morning chores done. We have 6:30pm to 9:00pm to take care of household tasks, fix dinner, have dinner, clean the dinner dishes, get baths done, dress them for bed and read them to sleep. This leaves -0- time for practice except on the weekends. I think you need to discuss this with your bandmates and decide to live with it because you are friends and just in it for the fun, or find another group to be more serious with. If your drummer puts the band before his kid, he wouldn't be my friend for very long.
     
  6. RicPlaya

    RicPlaya

    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Sounds like a lost cause.....

    A click will help but if he don't practice then whats the use?
     
  7. The drummer is the key to any band. It doesn't matter how solid you are as a bassist, or how many killer licks and riffs the guitarist knows...if the drummer is inconsistent, the band isn't going to be synching up properly (which seems to be your situation).

    I think you need to sit down with your drummer and discuss the issues you mentioned. It's understandable that he has a kid, as that _should_ be his number one priority. However, if he wants to be in the band, he needs to respect the fact that only putting in effort during practice time isn't going to cut it, especially when you guys are just starting out. Just listening to the song on the way to practice is not going to get him where he needs to be. He needs to sit down with his kit for an hour or two, minimal, outside of practice, and get his drumming to the point where he can keep a solid beat. If he is unwilling or unable to do that, then he probably doesn't belong in your band right now.
     
  8. Wes Whitmore

    Wes Whitmore Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    Thank you to everyone who took the time to type up those replies. I read them all, and all come from different angles. Just to add some more info, Our singers (Lead and backup) are husband and wife, and have a 2.5 month old. They are even more angry than I am about the timing, and they do all of their homework learning their parts.

    I have everything to record. Maybe we should talk about how to approach the recording. Maybe just record a couple of songs and review that song immediately and just iron out a few at a time?

    I'm not excellent, but I have good timing and play it as close as possible with the CD before I got to the practice. I'm closer than anyone else to the original, thats for sure.

    Keep it coming!
    Wes
     
  9. Yeah, but you're the bass player right? Isn't that the easist instrument? Of course you get it and nobody else does!

    I just had a son, so I know what it's like having your practice time taken away from you, but I've got a great wife and a few hours on the weekend is not a big deal. Especially if your wife can train herself to sleep when the baby's sleeping!
     
  10. Bah! Put the kids to bed early, wait until they fall asleep, and then go downstairs and beat those drums like a rented mule .... Plenty of time!
    :D

    Randy
     
  11. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Maybe even just try one song. Running through everything you know is okay once in a while but it's concentrating on one song and ironing out the problems that will really make a difference. Perhaps you could spend an hour on one song, take a short break and then play through a few other tunes in more relaxed style. You'll probably find the other songs sound better as a natural consequence and, if you've ironed out a few of the normal mistakes, that should be of lasting benefit.
    It depends on what you're aiming to do as a band but it's probably helpful not to get too hung up on that point. I can feel your pain ( ;) ), having been in situations where I'm the one who's done all my homework, but ultimately the goal has been to make the songs our own and make great music. The rules are a little different if you're setting out down the tribute band route but, just for covers, it's acceptable to have it not sound like the CD as long as it sounds good.

    Wulf
     
  12. Wes Whitmore

    Wes Whitmore Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    I will try the one or two songs and hour route, and see what happens. I am going to suggest it before the next practice so people will have a chance to really study the music if they want to (IE, if it's important to them). I'll record the entire event on the computer, and we can use it to iron out problems. I hope it works! It couldn't hurt the music quality any, that's for sure.
    Thanks,
    Wes
     
  13. I've been doing this a long time and I've played with every bad drummer in the area. You say you've been together 1 1/2 years. That's way too long to put up with a bad drummer! Time to move on. I wish I'd had the nerve to do so many times. I know it's tough, especially if you are all friends, but LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO PLAY WITH BAD DRUMMERS!!!!!!!!!!!!
    BTW, I play drums as well, and it's not that tough to do the basic things like keep a good tempo, not dropping beats during fills, etc.
    MOVE ON!
     
  14. Wes Whitmore

    Wes Whitmore Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    The best part is that the lead singer used to be my drummer, and his timing is awesome. He doesn't try to play fills that he cant do, but honestly put the time in. He wasn't flashy, and hung it up. Sometimes after practice he gets behind the kit and plays. All the sudden, everything starts sounding better.

    Our next gig is a wedding reception for the guitarist of a local band, which we are all good friends of. I don't want to sound like crap there, but the drummer is friends with them too, and asked to play with us (we were actually going to go accoustic band after he had the kid). I can't tell him no now, so it's deal with him for this show, or don't do the show at all. I don't think I can drop out before this show, so I'm going to have to try to get through this with him, and then move on...
    Wes
     
  15. RicPlaya

    RicPlaya

    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    The drummer in my band was a human roller coaster. We put a nome in his ear and charted the BPM for every song we did and he played along to the nome while we all played live.

    We have been together for 3 years now...guess what? He's still not a good drummer, never will be. Maybe he can overcome his shortcommings but we are all busy and he don't practice enough. Some guys just are not natural musicians and need to work 3x as hard to be passable. If they guy don't have the work ethic, dedication, or time, he will never be good enough.

    Put your singer behind the kit and stick a mic in his face and get on with your lives.
     
  16. Man, I've got some of the same issues in my current band. The guitar player has two children, one of which is less than a year old. I'm not great, and I don't expect perfection - just a little attention to detail. He cuts corners a lot and says, "oh, I'll learn that". He doesn't like to practice because he thinks we can all just do our own thing and put it together when we need to.

    We just lost a drummer who was just like yours. Listens to it on the way over and regurgitates the licks.

    Band practice is just that. Learning how to play TOGETHER. Learning your bandmates' tendencies so you can be tighter as a group and, well get gigs! I truly think it's like someone else here said - we have some guys to just want to get together and make music. If we're going to put time into this, we should be good!

    Too many times we shrug off practice until a gig comes around. Then we find ourselves cramming and re-learning the most fundamental stuff. And our stuff ain't Rush either - we do Green Day, Blink, STP, etc. We get to a gig and our tempo is off, or we stand around trying to figure out "who starts this song?" or my personal favorite, not knowing how to end a song and watching the drummer just stop thinking that was the end.

    Good luck to you. You, and anyone else, in this situation deserve more for your efforts. Don't settle.

    :bassist:
     
  17. MichaelScott

    MichaelScott

    Jul 27, 2004
    Moorpark CA
    Re-quoted for truth.

    Kick that drummer to the curb and find a new one. Music is about music- not about friends.
     
  18. Wes Whitmore

    Wes Whitmore Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    I got two drum tracks last night and I am very happy with them. I immediately fired them up and played along with both , twice. It's like having a perfect drummer. He's never late, never looses timing, and doesn't ask for beer! I open up the laptop and can say "drums are ready!" The confidence is there again. Lock in with the drummer is super easy now.

    All jokes aside, these tracks are very nice. They are recorded in stereo in studio. Turn around time to download songs that are already available is less than two hours, and I'll see how long it takes for the songs he doesn't have on the site. Price was $9 each. Money very well spent.

    These are good enough to use in practice and to gig out with. The stages can be smaller too!

    Anyhow, maybe this will help someone out who can't seem to find a drummer to fit their needs.

    Thanks,
    Wes
     
  19. 3 simple word: Find New Band!! You're much better off telling them the deal and just bailing if you really want to have a career in music. It's all about playing with the right people.