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Pathetic audition/jam

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Sep 20, 2002.

  1. I saw a bassist-wanted flyer in the music building, followed up on it, and jammed with the drummer of the band this afternoon.

    I sucked it up! We grooved on some funk stuff for a good long while, which was cool, but these guys are more on the modern rock end of things, so inevitably we were gonna play some songs. Problem is, I don't know tons of songs off-hand, and the ones I do are all eclectic stuff like Japan and King Crimson.

    So, we were playing along with stuff like Pearl Jam's "Black" and Santana's "Smooth," and I picked up the chords pretty quickly, but I wasn't syncing up with the drummer (he wasn't bad at all) and I wasn't really feeling it. Then we played some Dave Matthews Band songs, which were for the most part considerably trickier (lots of feel changes) and I was having more fun on those, but not doing all that well with them. In my focus on actually playing well, I was ignoring the vital task of actually hooking up with the drummer--admittedly, though, he wasn't giving me any help. At least I gained a new appreciation for DMB--Stefan Lessard really does play some cool stuff!

    If I were a better musician, I'd have picked up those chord changes the first time through and been rock-solid the rest of the song, but I just couldn't figure it out. I don't have anything resembling perfect pitch, which probably hurt me.

    So I doubt I'll get a call back. Ah, maybe I can blame the heat and humidity (mid-80s, no AC, >75% humidity), but that's such a cop-out :rolleyes:
  2. Jon Burnet

    Jon Burnet

    Jan 21, 2001
    Memphis, TN
    hey man in the band i toured in we did alot of DMB stuff...it's no joke. i am sure you did fine. good luck
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Best is to ask whether they want you to prepare any songs before the audition. Then learn the azz off of those songs.
  4. Yeah, definitely. I'm surprised I wasn't asked to learn anything.
  5. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    I've had similar experiences lately. I'm trying to step out of my comfort zone a little more, and have tried a little of the "open mic" thing. It stinks. The biggest problem is that a guy my age is expected to know "Born to be Wild," "Hey Joe," and all of that crap. I can figure those tunes out from a CD in about 10 minutes, but I don't have them or their ilk memorized. And it's pretty tough to follow changes when the guitarist you're "jamming" with is a quarter-step out of tune. :mad:

    There are some things I am pretty good at. I could probably be better at just stepping into a situation like that and playing cold if I did it more often. But after doing it a couple of times, I'm asking myself, why? Am I going to memorize the changes to a bunch of songs I don't like, just to play in a smokey bar with guys who can't even play in tune? I have other musical outlets that are much more fulfilling, and think I'm going to stick to those.
  6. One thought, that might make it more interesting and challenging, would be to tell them you do know these songs, even if you don't, and see how well you can fake it. Often times songs that people like to do impromptu versions of are very simple and easy to follow along on. I've done this a few times and, although I've fallen on my face once or twice, I've come up with some interesting and unusual bass lines that occasionally even work. ;)
  7. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I've always enjoyed just getting up with a few guys, someone telling me the key (and showing me if there are any tricky chord changes I should know about) and just jamming. I actually did that last week when I auditioned for a band. It was at a bar and they just called me up at the beginning of their set, and we played some 12 bar stuff.

    Peter, my advice is when you play a song, don't worry about "Not knowing it". To be honest, I don't know a single bass player who sits and learns cover songs exactly as the orginal, note for note. Of course, in certain cases, you have "signature bass lines" (i.e. Riders on the Storm, My Sharona, Too Rolling Stoned, Another One Bites the Dust) that you must know exact, but for the most part, I have never seen a bass player who learned every cover song verbatim. Also Pete, I don't know how much you've played with other people, but playing with other people is definatley different than playing by yourself. From seeing your post here at TB, I would say you are fairly learned in theory, so all you have to do now is apply that theory to a real world situation. Believe me, I've been in musical situations where I've looked back and said "Man I could have played that 100 times better" but you just take the expierence and go with it.

    p.s. There are certain times where it's hard to just improvise over a song you've never played. I find that songs that are "riff based" usually aren't great to improvise on. (such as heavy metal)

    Hope some of this helps, and then by the next audition, you'll rip it up and you'll do so good, it will justify you being a smug bastard. ;)
  8. LM, It's funny you mention about jamming with other people--this drummer had quite obviously never even attempted to start a band in his life. He was having a blast when I was coming in and setting, simply playing along with various recordings, note for note, fill for fill. It was more than a little unsettling; he was really precise, yeah, but I wanted to say to him, "Dude, get your own style, alright?"

    I've always preferred to play with guys who have a looser, more organic feel and don't need to stick to doing the same thing again and again. It's why I play jazz (poorly, but I play it nonetheless): it's never the same way twice.
  9. sobie18


    May 5, 2002
    Shaw AFB, SC
    They should have given you a heads up as to style of music, songs to learn/listen, etc. That way you could have been better prepared. But, it sounds like you did O.K.

    Keep hanging in there...
  10. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    IME the best way to pull this sort of thing off is to let the people know you don't know the song. If you're lucky, they'll tell you the changes or at least the key. If you're not lucky, hold on for dear life, as it were.

    Start out by sticking to root notes for the first few bars and LISTENING. Once you get a feel for what's going on in the song, you should be able to play more intricate lines (if that is what's called for) that will sound good, as opposed to gibberish.

    Don't be afraid to look at the other musicians to see what they're doing. Hearing what's going on is more important, but watching them will give you added clues as to when the changes will occur.

    Don't bother with trying to play the song note-for-note unless you KNOW it. The last thing you want to be doing during the middle of a song is trying to "find" a riff you aren't sure about. Stick to what you know will sound good, based on what's going on around you.

    Open stages are a great place to pick up jam chops (if that's the proper thing to call them!) and an even better place for networking.
  11. The dude was a drummer. I kept telling him, "I'm familiar with the song but don't know the changes," and he kept saying, "Whatever, you'll figure it out." :rolleyes:

    But that's definitely a valid strategy for the future. I try to do that when I jam with people I've never played with before.
  12. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Do you REALLY think the drummer knew the changes? :D

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