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Song Choice Rant - Sorry long

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Michelob_64, Jul 10, 2013.

  1. Is it wrong to be pissed off about being handed a list of 30 songs and a “dream set” list from the guitar player with no input from the rest of the band and told this is what we should be doing? The drummer/band leader piped in agreeing with him saying “this will open up so many more avenues for us." Last week he just “happened to have” 5 copies at our band meeting, & I smelled something fishy. The songs picked are really out of our realm to do. We don’t have keys or a ton of background vocals; we are not familiar with click tracks & sequencing. So I see us headed for failure & frustration, with the added bonus of losing the audience we’ve built over the years. And I am not alone in how I feel. Secretly the singer is planning to quit and pursue a side project, our other guitarist is less than thrilled with all of this & I find myself looking thru Craigslist hoping to find something.

    A little background on us, we’ve been together going on 4 years. Within that time we have risen quickly to the top of the food chain so to speak, playing many the most popular venues, festivals, etc. We are 2 guitars, bass, drums & vocalist with 2 of doing most of the background vocals. We have been booked to open for Bret Michaels on August 10th,, etc. So we’ve had a fairly successful business model based on the theme of “bad girlfriend/wife”. A nice mix of rock with some Journey sprinkled over some Jessie’s girl and a side of Crazy B*tch topped with some Nickleback & Poison. WE don’t dress up in goofy outfits but we engage the audience throughout the entire show in a variety of ways, sorry guys’ trade secrets involving shaker weights & guitar hero guitars, lol.

    Picking song’s in our group has always been a delicate issue. One side I have a lead guitarist that doesn’t care what he plays as long as it is pop music, he’s willing to fake playing if he had to in order to make a buck. This is his first successful cover band & he’s now picking songs that I don’t think we will do very well and songs that put us in direct competition with other bands, more popular bands that do them extremely well (mostly thru soundtracks coupled with silly outfits). His rationalization is we should do the same songs that the popular bands do so that we can be popular and pull in more people. While I understand his rationale, I don’t agree with his choices & really don’t agree with him taking it upon himself to dictate the next 30 songs we learn.

    On the other side, I have a singer that is into heavier rock music that is often played on satellite radio so not mainstream music. Sometimes he doesn’t understand that because he likes it or his GF likes it that it might not work due to not being very popular or well known. The other guitar player and I tend to be in the middle, a little of this & a little of that, whatever fits our instrumentation & vibe of the band. The drummer (originator of the band) at first wanted to do new rock music playing on our local station, cutting edge stuff.

    In the past we’d submit 5 or so songs each, talk about them & then pick from the list. However, now we’ve been given this list & told what we’ll be learning with no input or discussion from anyone else. The general feeling among the other members is that the only opinions that matter are those of the lead guitarist & the drummer just agrees with him. Plus it is pretty apparent that the guitarist has been going behind everyone’s back, talking to the drummer to push his agenda/song choices. If anyone else would have done this the lead guitarist would have went sideways over it. Not sure what to do or how to handle this. In the past anyone that dissents from the drummer has felt his wrath. Either way it goes someone will be leaving.
  2. Drunk Heffalump

    Drunk Heffalump Tone that I have. Skill? Oh, that? Well....

    Feb 28, 2009
    Great White North
    Hard to lose all that hard work ain't it? Found myself there in very similar circumstances receintly, ergo.......
    You either go along to get along in order to save a TON of hard work and let your following do the talking, when you start to lose them then you can say 'See' and then edit out the dogs. Keep in mind there MAY be a gem or two in there. Audiences can be weird so sometimes you've got a winner where you didn't expect one. Or you bail, there are really only 2 avenues. The third option, the 'carrot' and the 'stick' approach of which you're about to get a ton of varients suggesting on always requires more stick than it's worth, or are legally allowed to apply.

    My complete understanding and empathy either way you go. In my case I came out way better in the 'newer' version that arose from the ashes. Perhaps you will have this luck too!!

  3. nojj

    nojj Guest

    May 20, 2013
    Feel for ya, Man.

    I was recently handed the same 'opportunity'
    Singer wants to throw out everything we worked up over the past 10 years,
    and do 'danceable music', and I was asked the fateful question:
    "Give me a list of all the tunes you know"
    Honey, I've been playing bass and backing people up for well over 40 years.
    It just ain't that simple.

    So, two days of rehearsal with a bunch of sidemen who are totally unfamiliar with our product,
    whole new setlist that the core group is not familiar with, and we're gonna "knock 'em dead".

    I hear that train a-comin'...............
  4. Nojj, same deal! Danceable music, if they aren't dancing then the song needs to be replaced. I want them dancing from the first song to the last song. Nelly, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, LMFAO, Macklemore, Usher, and the list goes on. All songs that have certainly earned their place in music. But I doubt how well a a group of 40 something rockers used to playing Warrior's Call, Cryin' Like a B*ch, Journey, Bon Jovi, Buckcherry, etc. will do playing them.

    No offense to anyone, I'm almost 50 and very caucasion, I'm not going to be rapping anytime soon! Sorry ain't gonna happen. I'll leave that to the younger players that are way better at it than me. I grow up in the 80's big hair and my roots run deep. I'm at the age where I play for fun the cash is a bonus.

    I hear the train a comin' too. Was hoping the light at the end of the tunnel wasn't the train!?!?
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I don't know what they are thinking. In almost any bar in America you can play BonJovi and Journey (and stuff like that) all night and have the crowd eating out of your hands.
  6. Factor88


    Jun 21, 2011
    First I read this:

    Then I read this:

    So, are you at the top of the food chain, or not?

    How important to the band's success is the singer? That is the key. If the singer will be very hard to replace I see some very self-distructive actions by the gui**** and BL/drummer.
  7. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    I don't think there's any need to keep things secret from one another because that's just where problems end up coming from.

    If I were you, I'd more or less say something along the lines of:

    "We appreciate you trying to step up and take the lead, but we don't think you've thought things through. For one, these songs put us in direct competition with other bands who already do these tunes and do them better/more convincingly than we ever could due to talent, backing vox, costumes, stage show, etc.. Two, we don't even have the means to pull off these songs as the band currently has no keys, ability to use samples, etc... Third, this goes against how we've traditionally chosen songs with each person choosing five songs and us discussing them. We think it's pretty inconsiderate and rude of you to assume we'd be fine learning these 30 songs without us getting our say or vote on them. If you'd like to choose your top 5 of these songs we will gladly discuss them as part of normal band procedure and go from there, but we won't learn all thirty because, again, they'd put us in direct competition with other bands, because we realistically couldn't do them all, and because it's not fair to the rest of us."

    If he argues from there then tell him you and the singer have already discussed starting another project so perhaps it's time to split ways since the lead wants to do his thing and you guys have been thinking of doing something else.
  8. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    a few issues:

    1. Guitarist put in a bunch of work by himself w/o consulting. Is the band's uneven leadership dynamic unbearably grating on you? If not, I'd be inclined at this point to bracket off issues with his persuasive tactics. Instead, I'd be inclined to just thank him for his initiative, so I could focus any necessary discussion on the other aspects of the proposal.

    2. The songs might not work for the instruments and players you have in the band. I always think in disagreements about whether a song or arrangement will work, it's easier and quicker to give it an honest try than to argue about it. That said, I wouldn't try all 30 as an experiment. Instead, as a band pick four of five of the most promising from the list to try out. It may be you're absolutely right on this front, in which case playing the songs will make your position pretty clear.

    3. You'll lose your band's current audience if you add these 30 songs. Maybe; but there are ways to expand your band's range and expand the kinds of gigs you can take. Lots of us play in bands that play jazz sets for part of a gig and become dance bands for the rest. Others play with a stable group of musicians that take different kinds of gigs under two (or more) different band names. Other mix in a new genre gradually, and find which tunes work with their established core crowd.
  9. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    My band approach. Someone propose that something is out of line, you TELL them it is.

    THEN ask if they want to put it to the test?

    Audience reaction determines final say. BAM! Problem solved.
  10. IMO once a band has enough songs to be gigging.... every song they add should have a purpose. In other words, don't waste peoples time learning songs unless they fill a void you are missing or are MONEY SONGS. If your band can't play a particular tune, they need to move on rather than butcher it but the general public is more tolerant of bad playing than bad singing...so if your singer can sing it than you can probably pull it off.
  11. Thank you so far for the advice and your input. Factor 88, we have been very successful in the 2nd year of playing. Four years into things now & we play gigs that some bands with 20+ years under their belts don’t play. Our calendar year booked up by February, bars & festivals want us to play their event and we have to turn them down because we just can’t do it. So I think we are very successful.

    Don’t get me wrong, I understand that we need to grow & expand; I’m just not sure we are going in the right direction. Maybe I am wrong but there is no “I” in team, and a band has to be a team. No one can do it alone. IMHO, one person picking his “dream set list”, going behind everyone’s back to convince the drummer/BL that it’s the direction to go is simply no way to run a band. This all should have been discussed by all 5 members. There may be some gems in these songs, but there is so much more music out there that fits us that we could do better.

    To add insult to injury, this past Saturday night, a longtime patron of the band came up & asked about playing a song. The lead guitarist said “I hate that song & you will never see it on the set list again because I make up the set list, we play what I put on the list.” She said “we’ll see about that” & went to the drummer/BL and talked him into playing the song. She then told the BL’s wife how he behaved & let her know that no one should treat a longtime fan of the band that way.
  12. Ive experienced something similar, in my first "real" cover band.

    After rehearsing pub rock cover tunes for 6 months and on the cusp of finally gigging the material, the band leader brings in a new vocalist, hands us a set list of over 60 R&B, blues and cruisy songs and says "change in direction guys".

    When the band pushed back, he snapped (over email) and "dissolved" the band (also over email).

    Never again.

    Another band I auditioned for (and would have declined) told me their method for choosing songs was democratic, with the first criteria being 3 of 5 members must "know of" the tune or its automatically out. Yuk! Whatever happened to just listening, liking, learning and testing a tune live?
  13. JohnMCA72


    Feb 4, 2009
    To my mind, if somebody's going to be dictating to the band like that, the "sidemen" better be paid well for their silence. No say? More pay! If I don't have a voice in what happens, then I should be compensated accordingly. That means guaranteed money for gigs, paid rehearsals, paid photo shoots, paid interviews, meal allowance, lodging, mileage, etc.

    In a "partnership" arrangement where a band is composed of equals, everybody should respect & be supportive of everybody else's ideas. I think it's also good business sense. You just never know where a good idea will come from, & you also don't always recognize a good idea until you see it in practice. Anything that any band member wants to try should have the other members' 100% support. Try it & see. If it doesn't work, drop it. But at least give everybody in the band their due respect. Else, pay for people's silence.
  14. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Dude, time to get rid of that guitarist! He seems like a control freak who only cares about himself.
  15. Good luck, Michelob. With these two wanting to push through their agenda it's going to be tough keeping harmony in the band. As they've already dropped the bomb instead of just 2 or 3 tracks and let it be known that it is no longer a democracy I don't see how anyone is going to come away with this without losing face.
    I believe you may need the help of Jive1!
  16. The lead guitarist might as well spit on and slapped the patrons face. Treating a long time fan like this in a major band felony in my book. I would put my foot down at this point and have a band meeting to discuss and determine if the band has any future with it's current members.

    Edit: Sounds like the lead guitar player has hijacked the position of BL from the drummer. Only he makes up the set list?
  17. NWB


    Apr 30, 2008
    Kirkland, WA
    I agree with this position 100%.

    If you do what the boss says to do, then you should get paid accordingly.