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Revolving Door Band Members

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by PluckyThump, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. PluckyThump


    Jan 4, 2008
    The Hammer
    Wondering if others out there have had similar experiences:

    I joined my current band in January 2011. Weekend warrior type cover band, but experienced musicians; at 43 I am the youngest. Rock and blues, anything from 1965 to 2005. Five-piece, vocals & guitar/harp/keys, lead and rhythm guitar, bass, drums. The band has gone through the following personnel:

    2 bass players including me
    2 lead vocalists
    2 lead guitar players
    4 drummers
    1 rhythm guitar - he is the only founding member left (nice guy and a decent player).

    Everyone has been basically good people, no jerks or addicts. The story:

    Original bass player was in two bands, plus he liked to do jam nights, and he had a family and a day job. He could not devote enough practice time to the music so his playing deteriorated to the point where they canned him. I am his replacement. The band has always been very happy with me.

    Original drummer was an older fella, I never met him. I was told that he was rock solid but had some trouble with endurance due to his age. He went on vacation one summer and when he got back he didn't want to be in a band anymore. Second drummer was with the band when I joined. He had a good sense of the pocket but his meter was terrible and he tended to forget the beginning and ending of songs. He showed no improvement and so he got canned. Found another drummer in a couple weeks. He was a decent player but was unreliable, showed up late, bailed on practices, we canned him. Found drummer number four in a couple weeks. He is the best drummer we have had and he does backing vocals which is a plus. He has experience, connections, PA gear, just what you want in a band.

    Original lead guitar player was the classic stubborn big ego type. Phenomenal lead player with a tendency to extend his solos but had trouble playing basic recognizable licks straight up. When drummer number four joined he called out the lead player for things that we had let slide. That didn't go over well. Lead player threatened to quit several times, eventually we had enough and canned him this winter. His replacement is not nearly as skilled a player, though his playing is more tasteful. It is taking him a long time to learn some of the material. This frustrated our lead vocalist.

    Original vocalist had health problems and was from out of town, got tired of driving in for practice, joined a band more local to him and quit just days before we had a gig, which we had to cancel. (The venue we were supposed to play went out of business a few months later.) It then took several months to find someone who had a decent voice and could actually recognize pitch and sing in key. He stuck around until this week when he up and quit, citing the inability to commit due to life issues. But really he doesn't get along well with the current lead guitar player and ran out of patience.

    So here I stand, I've been in this band over 2 years and we have gigged 6 times in that stretch. Every time we get a new member it takes at least a few weeks to get them up to speed and then inevitably there are a few songs which they can't hack so we have to dump them and then we all must learn the new songs which takes several more weeks. Me, I can learn songs in a week, everyone else seems to take much longer. I don't know if I'm doing the right thing by sticking with this. I'm not interested in forming up a second band from scratch, one is enough. I feel like I could step into a band that is much more together and fit right in but my options are limited, in my area there just aren't many established bands looking for bass players. Do I hang in there or do I start spreading my wings? Both? Thanks for reading.
  2. fretlesswonder

    fretlesswonder Supporting Member

    Jul 26, 2006
    New Jersey
    I think you should stick it out, finding bands at our age, I'm 43, it isn't as easy as it was when I was younger. I have had no luck with Craigslist, some of those bands are not what they say they are, crazy, insane are words I use. I think if you can handle another gig and still hold this one, then do it. I think, just playing with real people, always helps me with meter and tone. I miss playing in a band, it was the best and worst times I ever had, but that is what a band is about, right? Good luck with your decision.
  3. David_70


    Mar 28, 2012
    I'm pushing 43, so have a similar perspective. It all comes down to this for me: am I having fun, and am I getting better playing with others? If those two questions are 'no', then move on. If you stay, and the answer to those questions is sometimes "no", then you should always keep feelers for a better fit out there, if there is one, while staying in your current "job." No different than most peoples' perspective on job searches. Grass may not always be greener - but always worth keeping an eye peeled. Good luck.
  4. David_70


    Mar 28, 2012
    I should also add that at 42, I posted on Craiglist a candid ad looking for people about the same age with the same expectations I had about practice, gigging, etc. I started my own band, and felt I had much more control over "who" joins, and the expectations we have of each other. After 6 months together, it's working out great, and we've been recording and starting to play out. Might be worth you taking charge, rather than trying to "fit" into a situation that might be less than ideal. I got a great response from like-minded "mature" people.
  5. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    3 gigs a year?!

    I guess it depends whether you value gigging or just jamming/rehearsing.
  6. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Sounds like they're about due for their 3rd bass player. Too much time wasted when other ventures could be more productive IMHO.
  7. Marial

    Marial weapons-grade plum

    Apr 8, 2011
    I'm 40 and have been in my band for a little over two years, I think. We had somewhere between twenty and thirty gigs last year. It's been a little slower this year, but steady, and with the release of a new record in June I expect the second half of the year will fill up quickly (we already have gigs into September). That said, we're about to start looking for our second back up singer, are on lead guitarist number three or four, and on our second keyboard player. Turn-over happens.

    I think if you want to gig more you need to find another band, bottom line. Six gigs in two years is pretty slim pickings.
  8. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    This band sound kind of like a classic rock band I was in years ago..my advice? Get out now and find a real band.
  9. A lot of tough luck with this band. Imagine how the rhythm guitarist feels.
    Maybe see if there's something else out there but keep your feet in this band. You may not find the great chemistry of yourself, drummer & rhythm guitarist with another band. It sounds like the new guitarist is working out but see if there's another clash with a lead vocalist which may mean lguitarist needs to be shown the door.
  10. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Revolving Door Band Members


    Most bands change members a lot.

    Look how many guys played in YES and also consider ABWH that's over 20s guys.
  11. I am about to turn 40. I am the youngest one in my band, but only by a few months. I replaced their old bass player last summer, and at that time all of the other members other than the BL were also replacements. Our core group has always been 5 positions; 3 guitars, bass, drums. Recently we replaced our old rhythm/lead singer with a stand alone vocalist and a stand alone rhythm player, upping the number to 6.

    In my time there, I have seen;

    2 singers (1 singer-guitarist)
    3 guitarists
    1 steel guitar player
    2 keyboard players (1 keys-female vox)
    2 drummers

    Over all, the revolving door worked out....mostly....as each person that was replaced was replaced with someone more competent and more talented. As the band stands now, there are booking through the summer and our demo CD is being recorded Tuesday. Last summer this was not the case as the members couldn't get through a complete set.

    Which makes me believe that sooner or later, I'll get the "pink slip", too. Which is okay, I'll just move on when the time comes.
  12. We're on our sixth lead guitarist in about five years!

    First guy bailed because he was a recovering alcoholic and his wife didn't like him playing in bars.

    Second guy bowed out for medical reasons.

    Third guy quit because he didn't take criticism well.

    Fourth guy was canned because he was "too good" for us and if we didn't ship up he would have to leave.

    Fifth guy was hired because we had gig obligations to fill and then was canned because he wasn't really the "cover band" guitarist we were looking for. He never played anything the same way twice!

    Sixth guy has been with us a year now. He's a great player who played in his previous band for 15 years. Downside is he's a bit rude and annoying but we've learned to chuckle at that and he's about to surpass all who came before him in the amount of gigs played with us.

    The really interesting part is that they all could sing lead vocals better then the rest of us who also sing!
  13. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    As I've gotten older, it's harder to keep a band together. It was much easier when I was younger because there weren't as many competing priorities. One of the things that I had to accept is that people come and go, and your band isn't their top priority in life. And there is nothing wrong with that.

    - In my 20s, I didn't deal with health problems from my bandmates, except 1. Now that I'm in my 40s, it's much more common. Heck, I've filled in for people who have retired or passed away now.
    - In my 20s, very few if any of us were married. Now, most of us are/were/getting married, and have kids which trump band priorities.
    - In my 20s, a $100 gig was good money compared to what the rest of us could make in the outside world. Now in my 40s, gig money competes with salaries for folks who work in law, medicine, IT, engineering, trades, busines, etc. There's no way gigging could touch those salaries.
    - I also had more energy in my 20s. I've done allnighters on a weeknight, and still made it to work at 6:30 the next day and repeat the process again. If I did that now, I'd have to take a nap at lunch.
    - In my 20s, the gigging experience was more novel. "Play in a dive bar to 5 people?!?! That's awesome!" But, after doing that 100s of times the novelty wears off. As much as I hate to say it, but there have been gigs where taking a nap on the couch would have been more appealing. I get more chances to gig than take a nap, so a nap really seems novel to me.

    You add all that together, and it's just harder to keep a band together as you get older. But, the positive is that you are hopefully working with more mature people that can handle people quitting or getting fired without too much drama.
  14. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    IMO, flags don't come a whole lot redder than this.
  15. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011
    I'm 52. Our band has been together coming up on 2 years. Only lost 1 member so far (had some downtime over the past winter due to medical issues with the drummer & I). One of our guitar players wasn't happy about the break (and he's 61). Decided the travel wasn't worth it to him anymore and moved back to Seattle.

    Replaced him in November (with our youngest member who's 28) and been rehearsing every Friday, Saturday & Sunday since mid-February.

    Because of the music we play, our busiest time seems to be the spring & summer, so we're just gearing up for the upcoming season right now. Yeah, it can be a royal PITA trying to juggle everything life throws at you, but our families all enjoy the benefits of the extra income, so there's not much bitching on that front.

    FWIW, last year we did more than 6 gigs a month from April to August. Doesn't sound like there's much to hang onto in your situation, but you've gotta do what makes you happy. If you just enjoy the jams, hang in there. If you'd rather be gigging, I'd start looking for other opportunities.

    Good luck...
  16. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    This is the problem. If you had a gig every other week, or even monthly, and everyone was getting some pay, you probably wouldn't have this turnover. The reasons these people are giving are generic. They may be made up to hide the fact they think the band is a waste of time.

    I am in my late forties and after several startups, have learned my lesson -- get the gigs first, THEN rehearse.

    Last night I got my first two gigs with my jazz trio without even having a) a website b) a facebook page c) a business card or d) a repertoire. And its a legit gig in a high-end club.

    Now the trio is energized and has a gig booked two months out. This will give us time to build repertoire. I have proven a bit of "market acceptance" for our concept -- now it's time to get to work.

    I find members don't quit when there are things always happening.

    It's the same principle as you see on Shark Tank, the TV show. The investors listen to a business idea and then decide whether or not to invest. The entrepreneurs who show up with a something on the horizon -- an order or a patent, get the attention of the Sharks. You are the entrepreneur, the musicians are the sharks deciding where to put their effort (investment). Get a gig booked and watch the band membership stablize -- provided the pay is consistent with expectations. If you worded the Craigslist ad right, the guys should work for whatever the gig pays.
  17. craig.p


    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    OP, sounds to me like your vetting process is all wrong. Sounds like rather than waiting to find what's right for the band, you're just taking the best you can get. (Or the least sucky.) So you go over the same ground again and again. You should do a post mortem on each failed member, merge them, and come up with a list of things to watch out for in the next person/people applying for membership.
  18. soitainly


    Aug 21, 2012
    It seems like there is a lack of ambition/direction, and coupling that with a bit of perfectionism, I can see why people don't fit in. It sounds like you are expecting everyone to be equally talented and committed, but with out the motivation of upcoming gigs, people lose interest and leave.

    People that are good at what they do and are dependable expect something in return for being in a band. Maybe not everyone wants to go pro and play every weekend but most talented musicians want steady gigs. You have define what you want out of a band situation and find like minded people.

    You do have to consider yourself lucky that you have avoided the addicts and jerks that are so often in these revolving band member situations.

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