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Playing in More Than One Band

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by lbbc, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. lbbc

    lbbc Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Seaford , DE
    This is not a rant on musicians who do so.....just my experience. I have had 3 bands fall apart, in the past 1 1/2 years, due to one or more musicians playing in other bands. I live in an area with a few really good musicians. I put bands together to play quality covers in a quick manner. Having gigs scheduled with these guys is a gamble at best. I never know what and when I can book a gig or if they'll show up (unprofessional IMHO). Unfortunately, this makes me look bad to the establishments who hire me.

    So, I've put together a trio (no drummer) and cover everything from the Beatles to Country to Bruno Mars with my wife and a guitarist I've worked off and on with for the past 15 years. I am having more fun and less stress than I've ever experienced working with a "full" band.

    My question is....has anyone else run into this issue or is it just an issue in my area?
  2. Billy Backbeat

    Billy Backbeat

    Jan 14, 2011
    I'm a hobby hack who plays in three bands. As most musicians in this small town. Us hobby hacks need the practice and experience!

    Sure, it's a question of professionalism but also a matter of communication. I've been booked for gigs without knowing about it. That weekend was one of the reasons why that particular band went belly up.

    Some who play a lot of styles, in different settings and with different band "cultures" learn how to play, communicate, and manage the necessary time and resources for bands.
    Some have learned those skills in other areas of life (work, sports, ), half of it is to know how to play. YMMV and all that.
  3. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    I ONLY do Power-Trios now- anymore is just a recipe for disaster and I am 100% thru with (2) guitarist band volume wars. (1) guitarist= NO volume wars (at least between the guitarist)
    Hell, my guitarist actually told me yesterday- "You should come up again with your volume."
    And I don't miss that 2nd guitar part enough on ANY song to ever go back!
    The problem is that 2nd guitar part on the records is usually only playing in 50% of the song.
  4. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    It's certainly prevalent here in NYC, and I play in multiple bands, but I think it really comes down to how responsible everyone is.

    I've always been very careful to book as far in advance as possible and to keep all the bands in the loop in regards to my schedule. There have only been a handful of schedule snafus in years of juggling bands (only one was my fault) and they were caught and corrected well in advance of any shows.

    I can't imagine playing for someone who would wonder whether or not I would show up. I have never pulled a no-call/no-show on anyone. Not for a rehearsal or a gig. As a result, I hear very few complaints about playing in other bands.

    I'm sorry to hear that the people you've been working with aren't as considerate.
  5. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    I did it for a while. 3 bands. Half the someone had issues so I decided not to stay home and wait.
    I stayed busy for 3 years.
    Now, Same situation here for trio type bands with no drums.
    Most venues won't pay more than $300 a night.
  6. I play with three groups, of which one gigs on a more or less regular basis (i.e. the main act). I'm flexible, keep others well-notified of my schedules and am open about expectations, responsibilities and priorities. Works like a charm. However, I don't think it would work (for me) if all three would gig on a regular basis, odds are I'd need to quit one if that would happen.
  7. Some people commit to more things than they can really handle, and then don't want to admit they've done so later on.
  8. Just be a cool dude and play well and try not to over book and be on time....I show up, help w gear, smile, and play... all the other stuff can stay home...
  9. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    I play with at least four different bands, all of them made up of some combination of musician friends from this small community. There are about eight or nine players and singers whom we mix and match, depending on the needs for a particular gig. Everybody is super capable, super versatile and super reliable. We can basically plug in anybody as needed (except for the drummer, who is about the only indispensable member of this little community).

    It's a dream situation.
  10. marmadaddy


    Oct 17, 2005
    Rochester, NY
    I play with three acts right now, one main band, one duo and one band where I'm the first call for anything they book but it's understood that I won't be able to take every gig. I also do the odd subbing gig or one off.

    The key is communication and dependability for everyone involved. I make sure that I'm clear with everyone regarding my availability and the time I can commit. It's expected that they'll do the same.

    Logistically, I keep equipment checklists for each gig/type of gig. They make getting loading out of the house so much easier.

    As to someone not showing for a gig, the first that happened I'd lose their phone number but I've never had that happen in over 30 years.
  11. I work with different bands, and do theatre work, and back a couple of local singers. (And I still have a day job.) Many of the musicians I work with do the same. When any of us commit to a gig, we do it. Period.

    Very rarely, something will come up, and I won't be able to make a gig for some reason. In that case, I find a sub.

    Anyone not up to those standards doesn't get the jobs.
  12. dangerouscello

    dangerouscello I wore a suit under this Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2011
    I understand your frustration. I would prefer to play in only one band, but every time I narrow it down and leave the others, the first one falls apart or stops gigging. I want to play, and that means I have to hedge my bets with multiple bands.
  13. 9mmMike

    9mmMike Would you happen to have a cookie for me? Supporting Member

    My ONLY band (six piece) has the three front folks (the vocalist, and lead guitar/vox/harp and "front" man who is also the second lead guitar/vox/sax) that are all in several bands.
    Once I came to grips the idea that MY band is the second or third band and treated this way, it became less stressful for me. If I had to do the scheduling, I'd be a wreck but that honor goes to the guy who is in the most bands. Seems fair to me!
  14. mancefine


    Jul 7, 2013
    Endorsing Artist: Orange Amplifiers and Spector Basses
    I agree with the OP, at least if your talking original bands. If you are in multiple cover bands I can understand that, as you are probably trying to manage bills, and shouldn't be an issue if you manage your time well.

    However, I get really annoyed trying to play with guys in multiple original projects. They think it sounds cool to tell people they are in 4 bands, but all it really does is keep them from putting their all into one project, at least in my experience. I would rather focus on one band and put all my time/money into it instead of half-assing 4 bands. Just my 2 cents
  15. This mirrors my thoughts; the problem is not really with musicians who play in multiple bands, it's with people who cannot properly schedule their time or honor their commitments. Blaming the later on the former is a mistake that can bite you in two possible ways:

    1) You don't work with some potentially killer musicians. Good musicians are in demand and usually have more than one gig unless that one gig is a very serious touring act.

    2) You could work with someone who is in only one band, yours, and they're still a flake and still miss a gig "because, um, my aunt died" or whatever lame-o excuse they come up with. There will always be competition for a person's time, and if they're flaky and don't honor their commitments, they'll ditch your gig to go camping with that hot girl, or to a music festival, or whatever.
  16. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    Holmebass pretty much nails it. Except for our BL, all four other members of our working country band have other projects/bands. We're all responsible adults, honor our commitments, maintain good communication with the band and our side projects. We use subs when we have to (not a problem). One guy is a choral director at a large high school, and he has about 10 gigs a year we need to replace him with a sub (school concerts, trips with the kids, etc) but we know months in advance.

    It's not a matter of being in multiple bands, it's a matter of playing with fully functional adult musicians.
  17. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    What's with these guys? This is why google calendar was invented!
  18. 9mmMike

    9mmMike Would you happen to have a cookie for me? Supporting Member

    That is what we use as well.
  19. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    The thing is, in my experience, is that bands can also fall apart for all kinds of reasons OTHER than members being in other bands. Egos, drama, sheer incompetence, people move or change jobs, or not knowing how to get gigs... So when it's a question of start-up projects, I feel no hesitation whatsoever about having a couple of irons in the fire at once. The track record shows that, almost certainly, one if not both will nose dive without ever playing a gig. Any scheduling conflicts I may have are the least of the issues. And if I put all my eggs in one basket and it doesn't work out, I've gone and committed six months or a year to a project that was a waste of time. I'm not young enough to shrug that off any more.

    When the issue comes up, the thing I've noticed is that the bands that raise concerns or react negatively to me playing in another band are always the least promising, the least professional groups. The strong groups with quality people trust me to be professional about my schedule, let them know my conflicts, and they know I'll be there for them because they know they have a project worth being there for. The ones who kvetch about me playing with others are the ones who are weaker musicians, less professional, or who can't seem to get a gig booked. The less they have to offer, they more they worry that I won't stick around - which, sorry to say, is how it goes.

    I have seen cases where musicians' overcommitment goes overboard. There's a bassist in my state who, as near as I can tell, is actually trying to make cover bands pay his bills, and at one count was a member of no less than nine of them. I got to know a bandmate of his from one of the nine, and it turns out, of course, that the band kept having to turn down gigs because he was never available. That's not OK. My bands know what my schedule is, and I make sure I can always make practices and gigs. If it were to get to a point that being in one band interfered with my being able to pull my weight in another, I would bow out and let them replace me. So far, that has never happened.
  20. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Very simple solution: Pay better than anyone else in town, and work more often than anyone else in town.