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Rant:. Please learn the songs, darn it

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by 3Liter, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. 3Liter


    Feb 26, 2015
    Ug. We've been playing these new songs all summer. We have a gig on Saturday. Dontcha think it's time your remembered the arrangements? All summer. This song is 50 years old...any time you could have made a chart...or downloaded one off the internet.

    Also, we play all the other ones the same way in the same keys every time. You don't need to flip through the book before we start. You should know them by now. Plus, they are all on YouTube...we didn't write them.

    And drummer, don't play fills over the lyrics. We've already discussed this.

    I put in my own prep time and always feel I play like crap because I'm too busy managing the madness when folks cant recall the key or arrangements.

    OK. rant over. Nothing new here. :)
  2. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Sad, but true...
  3. Torrente Cro

    Torrente Cro

    Sep 5, 2013
    I had a singer that couldn't even bring her own lyrics to rehearsal, she always took my charts for lyrics.
    It forced me to learn all songs by heart so I stopped bringing charts ;)
    After that she was singing and reading lyrics from a mobile phone :banghead:
    After some time I quit and now have much better bandmates without issues.
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I DESPISE people who can't show up ready to go. I make that clear before joining/starting a band. I won't bother unless I get assurances from all involved that everyone shows up with music memorized BEFORE a rehearsal.

    I have shut down rehearsals before when it became obvious that we weren't going to get anything done. One was at my house. I literally put my bass down, told the band what day I could do next week, and said "Lock up when you're done. I'm going inside to watch the Red Sox game."

    The next rehearsal was more productive.

    So walk out. You'll either be fired and won't have to worry about it anymore, or they'll get the point. Either way, problem solved. ;)
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
  5. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Last band I joined, I learned about 45 songs in 4 weeks. I had a one page cheat sheet for a few gigs, but that's it. Some people aren't willing to put in the time. I'd get through the gig, then have a sit down and decide as a group how you are going to proceed. You have to decide if it's worth walking over.
    zon6c-f likes this.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    take a deep breath...and lower your expectations: it's a hobby for everyone involved, right? :D
  7. mstillman


    Dec 6, 2011
    MetroWest MA
    I feel your pain. I make sure I've listened a few times to the songs (that probably counts for 80% of my 'practicing') and have played through our setlist at least twice. Between bass playing and singing leads on some and hvox on most of the remainders, I'm certainly not perfect. But I show up prepared. Almost always; life sometimes gets in the way.

    It sounds like we both wonder if others ever pick up their instruments between rehearsals. I've been pretty sure some of my bandmates leave theirs in their cars until the next rehearsal or gig.

    That's true in my case, and likely with many (most?) here. Still, any group endeavor in which you give at least 95% whilst others are around 50% quickly loses much of its attraction. Worse yet, it will likely negatively affect your skills/motivation.

    If that happens, I bail. I did so from 2 bands in the past 2 years due much more to lack of effort than lack of talent. I can put up with the latter to some degree, but the former is inexcusable. Life is too short to play with people who are half-assing it. Find others who are more motivated; they're out there.

    Good luck! Let us know what happens.
    Bondobass, smogg, Oddly and 4 others like this.
  8. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    This right here. I used to be motivated to work hard to get everything right between rehearsals, then I'd show up and invariably discover I was the only one prepared at that level. The slop some people come in with makes it hard to remain that motivated. You start to wonder why you're bothering to work so hard when the end product is never as good as you wanted it to be.

    I have a short set of songs I have to begin to learn for a show in October. We're going to weave a bunch of songs together for a ten to fifteen minute medley of songs that showcase every decade from the sixties to the present. Most of them I could probably play already, but there are a couple of them I'm less familiar with. I've been trying to get motivated to start working on them since last Thursday.

    We have a new guitarist in the band, who is very good, and I think he will work on this. So I'm going to give it my best, and I think today is the day. It's going to be a disappointment if we can't get this together easily.
  9. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    I agree - but at the same time, when there's a gig on the books, there's a higher level of readiness required than if you're just jammin'.
    smogg and The Mogpipe like this.
  10. I think this laziness when it comes to learning new material is one of the reasons why so many bands seem to play the same tired old songs.
    Thorny1, BazzaBass, Moose22 and 13 others like this.
  11. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    I'm sure it is, though they'll tell you that audiences only respond to those 45 songs they learned in 1983.
  12. 3Liter


    Feb 26, 2015

    It is. I just felt like blowing off some steam.

    The bass player (not me) is usually the least prepared but has the best ear and can fake it. That’s the problem. He literally NEVER listens to the music ahead of time, afterward or anything else. Some we’ve played for a long time he doesn’t know the names.

    We started this as a jam and he joined to meet people. He’s a super guy but blues is not his genre. But still for the good of the rest of us, listen to this stuff in the car or something. He’s a great guy doesn’t drink or create issues. Brings the PA (I have one, we rehearse at my house). Just doesn’t know the tunes. All summer we’ve spent on one 3:00 song. Arg.
    Wisebass and JRA like this.
  13. 3Liter


    Feb 26, 2015

    Yup. In our case, I have 4 guys that have a wide breadth when it comes to what we like and know. Or know of. And one guy that doesn’t know the songs. Or the bands. I have found many new bands I like playing with bands. But this guy literally only listens when we’re together.

    I share him with a band I quit. They play more hard rock and country. So you can’t fake it as much. But it was the same issue there.

    So as a service to others...,if you’re not into the genre, learn it. If you don’t want to learn it be a dick so it’s easier to fire you!

    (Nobody is getting fired here, I know the good side of what I got)
  14. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    It's very frustrating and is cause for me to move on if it is a regular thing. The righteous side of me loves to be able to look down my nose at the lazy bandmates - "I know my parts - what's your problem?", but it also wears me out.

    As a rule, I know that I have it easy in that department - for most songs, the bass line can be faked through pretty well, so it's less effort for me to be prepared with something. I will typically develop a simple working line and focus on the form at first and then develop a more complex line as I see what the band needs from me. But just because it takes more effort for bandmates to get their parts together doesn't excuse them from not being ready.

    And guys that show up to auditions unprepared is just maddening. We're auditioning for new lead guitar player. We brought in a guy who is going to sub for us an on a gig in about 6 weeks. We gave him a list of ten songs, mostly low hanging fruit along with the tracks in the keys that we do them in (we play in Eb tuning). Guy showed up with no clue on the song forms or even the chords. HE was trying to watch my fingers, but my 5 string didn't help him much. When it was solo time he blew the lights out, but when not he sounded pretty crappy. Don't expect perfection, but come on, at least show up with a cheat sheet so can get through the songs.

    Back to OP's frustration: You gotta decide what's important to you and create it/find it. You'll go crazy trying to stay in this band with your current expectation. You'll probably have to find a new band if this is a chronic issue.
    bfields likes this.
  15. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    If there's one thing I've learned in 30 years of playing music, it's that musicians generally don't want to do anything that falls into the realm of "responsibility." That could mean anything from learning songs to being on time. Yes, there are some that are responsible, but they're outliers. I've met maybe 3 or 4 responsible people (including myself) in all the years I've been doing this.
    dr doofie, 3Liter and Lex P. like this.
  16. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I play in several churches. I work with a lot of people that, while we do occasionally make mistakes (we're learning new songs all the time, so that has its own challenges), they are, to a person, responsible people. They all bring their A game, and on Sunday morning, with 6 AM call times and everything.

    When I played bars, I recall a lot of what you're talking about, but it is possible to find responsible musicians nowadays, if you know where to look.
  17. gotta say, now at age 50, I can't memorize like I used to. Specifically lyrics - I'm screwed for remembering lyrics, and I'm the lead singer in one of my bands.

    So yea, it happens. If that particular band of mine makes it big (LoL), I can do what many famous older stars do as they get older - read their lyrics from teleprompters next to the floor monitors. :)

    charts? nothing wrong with them - classical musicians have had to read from music for live concerts for most of their careers. It doesn't show a lack of preparation, it shows a complexity to the music. I was never one to feel that they represented anything other than a busy, professional working musician. Nothing derogatory about that imho.

    It could be looked at like this (just throwing the concept out there...): maybe the musician is spending their focus energy on actual playing and performing, less energy on trying to make sure they don't forget something.

    But yea - learn the changes, learn the songs, be able to perform perfectly (with or without charts).... it's not cool otherwise.
    Evil Funk and Sav'nBass like this.
  18. BwanaDust

    BwanaDust Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2019
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Lincoln Learning Solutions - Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center
    Why aren't you ranting to the band? I doubt anyone here can help you with your problems.
  19. Bodeanly

    Bodeanly Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    Having lyrics for reference is okay, but watching a singer read lyrics will suck the life from any performance. All summer to learn a song? Nope. I don’t care if they’re hobbyists or pros, I would not play with these people, let alone pay to see them perform.
  20. dr doofie

    dr doofie

    Jul 6, 2017
    I like you, 3Liter. You’re the perfect mix of grumpy and funny and right. But your blood pressure is gonna shoot through the roof... ;)
    If you want to see some change, pick one thing in this to highlight. Bring it to the rest of the group. This sounds nuts, but if you haven’t said anything to them, they’re probably oblivious to the problem(s)... crazy, right?
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
    LowActionHero and 3Liter like this.

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