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Rejoin old band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by JACink, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    I will warn you that this will be a long post, so I apologize.

    Around 15 years ago I did a couple of songs with a young band that was just starting out. I had already been doing rap for 6 or 7 years previously, with a couple of groups and then on my own. The tracks went down well, and as I had just released a solo CD, I would back them up on their shows and they would do the backing at mine. This soon turned into us becoming a full time band.

    Things went pretty well, and after a couple of years, we were doing at a least a couple of shows a month, and a couple per week in summer. The pay wasn't great (when there was pay) but we did it for the pure enjoyment we got out of it.

    Although we were doing hip hop, it was more a fusion kind of thing, where we would mix in flamenco, jazz, blues, reggae etc. For the first few years we were 3 on vocals, a DJ and an amazing young keyboard & flamenco guitar player (who we used to have to smuggle in to some shows as he was under age :) ).

    At first, we would rehearse twice a week, but that dropped to once a week when we were constantly gigging.

    For around 5 years, everything was great, but then due to the work situation, I began to travel more and rehearsals basically stopped happening unless it was the day before a show. I was only able to make around 30% of the shows a year, so we had 2 versions of each song, with and without me.

    We ended up adding another guy who sang flamenco and then another melodic HH guy, which started really well, but due to reasons that I won't go into here, it started going down hill. To be honest, I started making it to a lot less shows as I just wasn't inspired anymore, so I stopped trying to change schedules in order to be available.

    I carried on doing solo stuff, and recorded another 2 CD's, but was never inspired enough to actually release them. In the end, I completely gave up on hip hop (at least vocally). Soon after, the keyboard/guitar player left and now only plays in church. The rest of the band officially broke up around 3 years ago as it just wasn't working. I had only done one show with them in the last 2 years.

    The original band members are like family to me, and although we don't see each other as often as we once did, I would say that they are my closest people outside my immediate family members.

    I still do work with the guy who was our producer and sound engineer, and around 18 months ago he mentioned that the band was going to get back together, but just the original members. I said great, but without really paying much attention.

    A couple of months later I met up with the band at a party and they told me they had a gig the next day and would I join them? I politely declined, saying that I was totally out of practice and would need a bunch of time to rehearse. They answered that they hadn't rehearsed either and that they would "see how it goes". I wished them luck ;)

    I met up with them at another party about 6 weeks later and asked them how the show went. They said that it went great and that they had done another 2 since and were booked for 4 or 5 more in the near future. They again asked me to join up with them. I said that I would be happy to do shows with them , but we needed to rehearse. They energetically agreed and said they would call me for the next rehearsal.

    History then kept on repeating itself, each time I would meet them, they would say that they were doing shows and that they had more lined up and that they would love to have me. Every time I would reply that I was still waiting for their call for rehearsal. The reply would always be something along the lines of: "Bro, we rehearsed for an hour that same morning" or "We didn't get chance to rehearse for this one".

    Finally, last night, I got to see them live for the first time since I left. It was only a small crowd and not great, but the band put on a great show, sort of. They are still as good, or should I say better, at interacting with the crowd, creating a great atmosphere, where even those who would never dream of listening to hip hop bob their heads and tap their feet, that is the thing that I most loved about this band. We used to do shows in all kinds of situations, and although we were officially a hip hop band, we managed to get everyone from punks to old age farmers having a good time.

    But on the negative side, I saw was obvious lack of rehearsal. I mean, they have no issues with the lyrics, or music, but if you don't rehearse running around and jumping about while singing, then when you go on stage you suffer. Another part that I noticed was the lack of musicality. A lot of the more known songs were recorded with live instruments and 5 voices, now there are only 2 voices and a DJ. This detracts (IMO) from the show that they are capable of doing.

    Anyway, when the show was over, the band came up to me and asked what I thought of the show. I was totally honest (as I always am with them) and noted the points I just wrote. They agreed totally with everything I said and then said something that is what is sparking this thread. They told me that they had been talking it over and they know that they need to rehearse and want to, but that they had never been capable of organizing rehearsals since I stopped organizing them 10 years ago!

    They asked me if I would be willing to rejoin and at the same time, get them back on track with organization. They have a bunch of material that they are not playing/recording due to lack of rehearsal. They also said that they really miss having live instruments on stage and would love it if I could play bass also (I can't sing and play at once, so it would be on songs that only need simple backing vocals from me).

    So, I am really tempted to get back together with these guys, as I really did have some of the best years of my life while I was in the band, and we are all more grown and relaxed now. However, on the other hand, I still have to travel for work and I don't want to be put in a position where I feel guilty for putting my job before my pleasure. I am also not sure if I am looking for drama here.

    Well, if anyone read this far, thanks.

    What do you think, what would you guys do?
    TinIndian, eric_B, PauFerro and 3 others like this.
  2. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Queens, NY
    Go for it, brother!

    If you still like them, and are interested in playing with them, I say give it a go.

    Organize the rehearsals and see if they respond well, rehearse, and get better. If so, you are doing well.

    If not, you've only wasted a little time and can walk away.
  3. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    If you get back with this band, just realize, they don't care about rehearsing and sound like they are just having fun. You may never make it to a show if you wait for a rehearsal.
    james condino likes this.
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware
    Since you're still traveling for business nothing has really changed since you left the band.

    Seems to me you shouldn't commit to something that still doesn't fit into your schedule especially since they don't do anything on a regular basis.

    Maybe help them get organized when you have time, some kind of manager or MD.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
  5. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    since you're still traveling, can you still make a couple rehearsals a month for now without undue pressure? if so, i say go for it. if it doesn't work out, at least you gave it a shot. let them know straight out, which is sounds like you would, that you're not sure if you'll have the time but you really want to play with them.
    JACink likes this.
  6. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    Regarding my own schedule, it is a lot more relaxed than it used to be. I used to do 6 weeks away and 1 week at home. Now I still have to travel to some meetings or projects that I cannot avoid or change, but they are usually short periods (a few days to a week tops). So my guess is that I could make 90% of shows and rehearsals.
    GKon likes this.
  7. I have a rule that I have seen useful in life. It applies to girlfriends, jobs, and bands:

    Never go back.

    In my experience the issues that ultimately led to splits always resurface.

    My 2 cents, best of luck with your decision.
  8. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Tell them you will join but rehearsals are your baby. Become a "musical director" of sorts.

    And get them in the gym. If you're gonna jump around and sing all night you gotta have lungs. :D
    Dean N and JACink like this.
  9. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    This is my main worry.

    However, thinking more about the subject, the main reasons for which I left this band are mostly related to additional members (who are no longer involved) and lack of rehearsal. If I could seriously get rehearsals going again, then maybe the issues are solved? I guess I won't know unless I try.
    GKon and AngelsBassBall like this.
  10. Oddly

    Oddly Unofficial TalkBass Cartographer! Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Go for it.
    It seems like they've realised how much they needed you, and are willing to put the organisational stuff in your hands.
    If you can manage it without it affecting your own family and work commitments, and I get the sense that you can, it's worth a shot.
    Good Luck!
  11. beatnut


    Sep 27, 2016
    Western Mass
    It sounds like a lot of maturity going on. One good thing is that the rest of them told you they needed you to organize rehearsals, so that gives you a moral advantage, and lessons have been learned and so on. If you and the members of the band are that close it should be a good thing to rejoin, as long as everyone is gracefully kept aware of the history.

    You also do not have to stick to the same gig schedule as before, i.e. you could do fewer shows and rehearse more for each show. Have sectional rehearsals where you don't have to have all members present e.g. separate rehearsals for dancing, for vocals etc. Make each show a special event - it sounds like that sort of attitude fits with your music style. Organize the band calendar around your work calendar - if the band considers you valuable enough, they might agree to that.
  12. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    It sounds like all is well, but the rehearsal thing is the biggest hang up. Give it a trial for a few months. Try to be the rehearsal coordinator and truly see if everyone is one board with doing it. If you are successful and rehearsals happen, then awesome. If you start to see a pattern of not doing rehearsal, back off.

    I think the only thing that would worry me about this is, if they haven't been rehearsing already, why will they suddenly do it when you are organizing it? Perhaps no one wanted to lead or be "that guy." Not sure, but hopefully you being present truly does accomplish something.
  13. lbbc

    lbbc Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Seaford , DE
    Playing with former band members is always tough....even if they are well rehearsed and talented. There will always be comparisons to former issues, personality conflicts, habits etc. I only went back to an old band once...it lasted 6 months (lack of preparation, substance abuse, significant other interference etc, so I left). Maybe my experience is different from others, but wouldn't go back now.
  14. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Might work, might not.
  15. Dean N

    Dean N

    Jul 4, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I was going to say it sounds like you guys need a band leader. It also sounds like you're best suited for the job.

    And that means bass can be put very, uh, forward, in the mix. :woot:

    Best of luck!
    JACink likes this.
  16. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    My opinion, based on both the content of the OP and the length of the OP is that you are overthinking this.

    Ask yourself in the most basic sense... "What do you actually want to do?" If you can't answer, try the old coin flip trick. Heads you go for it, tails you don't. The second that coin is in the air you should know what you really want and which way you are hoping it lands. Go with your gut regardless which side the coin lands on.
    JACink likes this.
  17. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Queens, NY
    Those were my points, exactly.

    The problem people are gone, and the issue with rehearsals has been addressed by them admitting that you were the rehearsal "glue" that held it all together.
    JACink likes this.
  18. eric_B


    Apr 19, 2015
    The Netherlands
    Well, considering how many times they asked you to come back and the fact they didn't get a replacement (or maybe they did and it didn't work out), they sure seem excited for you to join again.
    They already know your 'do's and don'ts' and, considering your post, you seem to want it as well.
    So, just give a try.

    BTW: I don't get why organising rehearsals would be so difficult. Just pick a fixed day when everybody is available. Or alternating days when people work on changing shifts (or whatever). If that doesn't work (maybe people receive their work schedules last minute): set one rehearsal day and at rehearsal set the next.
    Important main rule: unless there are calamities, everybody has to come. No last minute call offs.
    JACink likes this.
  19. wmhill


    Aug 20, 2012
    upstate NY
    MTD basses endorsed artist Bartolini pickups emerging artist TECAMP bass players gear endorsed
    I recently rejoined a band that I had left because of issues with one guy, and the lack of support from the rest. When asked back, i wanted a sit down with the one i'd had issues with before. I expressed my concerns and stated that we had to move past that ugliness and start anew, or it would be the same this as before. We have been working well together for the benefit of all, it's been close to a year now. Lay your cards on the table and stick to your guns.
    QORC and JACink like this.
  20. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    if you go back, given the number of years that have gone by, I doubt very much it will feel the same as the nostalgic, or even 100% accurate, vision you have of your time with them in the deep past. Assume it will be different. but what do you have to lose by trying? it's not like you're under contract and rejoining Metallica. If it doesn't work, you quit. If you like it, you stay. There is precious little loyalty in this business. there's nothing wrong with trying it out and seeing what happens.