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Suggestions for finding and screening other musicians (Michael)

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Damian Coccio, Jun 18, 2003.

  1. Damian Coccio

    Damian Coccio Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Fodera Guitars
    This might not seem like a question about solo bass, but I think its a problem a few others may be able to relate to. I would like to direct this to Michael for some ideas and suggestions, because while I really enjoy your solo compositions I also really value the work youve done jointly with David Cullen on Equilibre'.

    Im 29 and been playing since I was 12. Ive played in cover bands which wasnt really satisfying. I live within an hour of Philadelphia. Ive been writing a ton of material over the past two years. I play well but I guess my tastes are a little obscure or something.
    My goal is simple, to get together with other musicians, jam, create music, enjoy eachothers company and see what happens if the chemistry seems good. My tastes are jazz, funk, anything wierd.

    The probelm is trying to find others that have open hearts, open minds, arent alchoholics or drug addicts, dont have rock star syndrome (in a nutshell). Ive tried internet and music store ads, networking through friends. Its led me to alot of hurt feelings and frustration over the years.

    I guess Im looking for advice on networking at this level and some general wisdom.

    Thank you much.

    I just wanted to add that I am open to anyones wisdom on this topic. I specifically added (Michael) to the title to keep it from getting moved to another forum.
    Thanks again!
  2. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    I can certainly appreciate your dilemma and I'll do my best to offer encouragement. I don't know if musicians tend to be flakier than other folks, but it can seem that way at times. One way to deal with this problem is to try to meet the musicians around you on their terms rather than hoping to bring them around to your way of thinking. It can be frustrating when you feel your creative dreams are un-realized, but there is a lot to learn from trying to play music the way someone else hears it. I definitely recommend steering clear of folks who have destructive habits, especially if you're likely to get drawn in. You may find that you have to go outside the genres you normally listen to, but I think you'll find that the similarities in different kinds of music are more compelling than the differences. It's pretty rare to find musicians with exactly the same taste and interests, so try the "glass half full" way of thinking – concentrate on the musical ground you do share with someone and try to think of the differences you have as being opportunities to see things from a new perspective.

    Another approach is to see how much you can accomplish by working alone. With all the technology that's available today you can create a very complete music on your own or, as some of us have, consider developing a solo performance concept. I find it very inspiring to balance working alone with collaborations. I can use what I learn in each situation to try to make better music and I find that working alone gives me new perspectives on working with others.

    Finally, I advise patience. If you are clear in your heart about who you are and what's important to you, I believe you will eventually draw people to you who can appreciate what you have to offer. It is frustrating at times, but be positive and keep looking. You never know when or where you might end up meeting someone who will end up being a true musical collaborator, but most likely it will be in the process of just doing what you love, whether it's going to concerts of music that appeals to you, jamming around town, through an internet site you like, or even just by striking up a casual conversation at the grocery store.
  3. Damian Coccio

    Damian Coccio Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Fodera Guitars
    I read your reply several times very carefully. Im greatful that you took the time to share your wisdom and generousity on this topic, and you hit on several issues and some perspectives which I did not previuosly emphasize. I will definitely put effort into manifesting these ideas, especially focusing on similarities between musical intrests and styles with others as well as the glass half full mode of view. I think its a great positive way to deal with some of situations I have found myself in.

    Thanks again...
  4. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Good luck and please let us know how things go.
  5. Damian Coccio

    Damian Coccio Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Fodera Guitars
    Michael(and friends),
    Its simply nothing short of amazing... I know its not been much more than one month since the initial posts. Im finding that these shifts in perspective (in combination with a little creative visualization) have really have changed many of the music relationships I have positively. More importantly there's been considerable positive effects in other life areas. So Im meeting many new folks and finding old relationships have improved (musically too). Im also learning to act with a greater degree of patience. Again, many thanks for taking the time to respond.
  6. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I have to say I looked at this thread because I thought why on Earth ask a solo bassist that question?! :D

    I'm also 29, been playing since I was 16 and had never really had a shortage of people to play with. I think the reason for this is thus...

    As MM says no two people, let alone musicians or even worse artistés ;) have the same tastes.. but with a little give and take you can find common ground fairly easily.

    I am in 3 bands and frequently we disagree over what should happen with a set/ song/ section/ part/ bassline (grrr!), but in the end the reason I want to play in a band is because I live for the interaction between band members and the live gigs.

    From your initial post it sounded to me as though you may have been focussing very much on your own material. Which is fine, of course, but if you want to produce your music precisely as you hear it, you more or less have two options 1) pay other people to play with you or 2) clone yourself as required! :D

    Really, in my opinion, the whole point in a band is that it is a mixture of influences and personalities.
    For example, the drummer is my latest band has done vast amounts of folk drumming, touring, recording, sessions, gigs, producing albums, the lot.
    Now, I detest folk music, with a passion, HurdyGurdys and stuff, I can't stand it!!! He plays me his stuff and it makes my skin crawl!
    ...but we get on really well and we really read each other when playing, sometimes to the point of it becoming a little spooky!!

    I guess my point is that just because you dont like the same music or even have the same ideas or agendas it doesn't mean you wont make great music with another musician.

    As MM sayd if you have a very clear an definitive vison then maybe you should hang on for the rioght opportunity to make it happen?

    But there will be propblems doing this, mainly if you want it your way you'll have to pay for everything.
    Of the 3 bands I'm in, I contribute financially to just one. The other two dont pay me, but I dont pay for anything either.. so I have a say, in that they will ask my opinion and I write my own parts (sometimes I play written lines, but I always make them my own!), but in the end it is their band and I am a bassist, suits me fine :)
    Basically, I doubt you'll find many musicians who will contribute financially if they cant have their say in what happens. Therfore you lose some control over the output.

    A bit of a horror story for ya...

    I've been in a hard rock band for over 3 years now. I'm bored of the material and I dont believe that every member of the band is a good enough musician.
    On top of that our tastes vary so wildly that I find some of the stuff they did to our latest recording in the studio so tacky it's on the verge of being offensive!

    So, now I'm in the band for 50% that they have THE BEST industry connections known to man, 30% obligation and 20% because I still like playing the material live!!! Sad but true.
    Beware what band you join!!!

    good luck :)
  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I agree with just about everything said in this thread, but the above rang most true to me.

    Something else that I've learned is that it becomes increasingly difficult to find people that will match our vision as we get older. Younger people seem to be more open to try other (more experienced musicians) material. They're less set in their ways. I mention this because i had a friend who was searching for the right musicians for a long time, and would call me saying, "i talked to this drummer today who sounded great, but he was 18 so I said forget it." To find musicians to "jam, create music, and enjoy each others company" through ads is a rough (but not impossible) thing to do. I believe that the majority of talented people looking at ads are looking for something that's already established. the kind of bonds it sounds as though you're looking for is the kind of stuff that tends to come from relationships that have been established over time. i don't think it's found all that often by just meeting someone through an ad.

    also, i hope this doesn't come out the wrong way - i think we all tend to think that "our music" is really great, or really innovative, or has that little something extra that we're sure others are going to love and want to be a part of - but the truth is there is sooooooo much great music out there that not many musicians are really going to give much of a damn what you wrote, or what your vision is. not saying it's not out there, but i think sometimes people expect others to realize the genius they are, only to be disappointed.

    paying people to play is the simplest way to get the best musicians to do what you want them to. and if all works out well, perhaps bonds and relationships will form and they'll want to be a part of what you want. or something totally new and even better will evolve.

    lastly, i'll say that playing in bands with others, even if it's not the music you like playing most, establishes relationships. i play my own stuff now in The Nerve! and love it, and it evolved from playing for someone whos music i hated. We became great friends, started really working together, and now all is beautiful. most of the time :D .
  8. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    Playing the same thing all the time can get tiresome, but we may tend to do that if left to our own devices. I learn more about my playing as I adapt it to someone else's concepts. Being a good suuportive and cooperative contributor is an asset I try to provide to a project. I can't write lyrics or work out melodies on their own.
    What I've found is that over time, my "style" actually does start to have a dominating influence on the overall sound and how the compositions end up.

    To the topic, to me it's all about communication - sounds hokey I know. Letting others know what I'm willing to do and where I'm not able to compromise and getting them to express similarly really is so much more important to me than the demo someone slipped me.

    But look at Mr Manring...from Montreux stuff, Drastic Measures, Thonk, Book of Fire, Equilibre (all the recordings I had) he's been able to explore the music he makes in the context of a group setting or as a soloist, or colaborating with just another artist.

    Being able to work with other people is so important.

    But here's a couple of tips...

    go to Open Mics in the area (I'm up in the Lehigh Valley and there are plenty up here) and listen to soloists who's vibe you're digging.

    drop by studios to listen to whos making demos. I got into my current project that way. I just told the guy I'd like to help him out with the bass parts and he was so excited. Bass players are pretty hard to find around here.

    go to artist managment firms and recording studios, give them your contact number, maybe a demo CD, and tell them you're available for session work. I'll get calls to just do bass parts on CDs for indie artists because the studio knows I'm capable, professional(attitude), available, and cooperative.
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Right on zulu!!! Precisely what I've experienced too. Now, why didnt I think to say that :meh:

    When I joined my latest band I learnt everything more or less note for note - now, less than 6 months later the band has changed in accomodating (perhaps accomodating is the wrong word?) my style and I have improved as a musician in learning their material.
    Many listners who saw the band before and after I joined have complemented me on how much the band has improved since... which is very nice to know I must say :)

    AS I said above, this is whole notion of a bands, you change a player and the band will undoubtedly change!
  10. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It depends on the band. I think that the model of an authoritarian central figure who controls the direction of the music is a valid one - they select the musicians who will best serve their vision of where it's going.

    However, it's not the only one. I prefer being in a looser ensemble like the one I'm in now, where each person gets to bring something of themselves into the mix. We can cope with somebody missing, somebody new and reflecting the mood of the evening. It might be more clearly focussed if we had a specific 'producer', but it probably wouldn't be as much fun :D

    BTW, Howard - sounds like you've landed a good gig there and established yourself well.

  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Absolutley, it's equally valid, but I believe bands are less likely to happen this way in amateur circles.

    Personally, I like to think I'm fairly open minded in that I'm happy for others to comments on my lines or suggest I play something else specific, or whatever... but if I'm being told precisely what to play and having no musical input whatsoever I'll need be paid for it, or it wont happen.

    Also, quite often someone has to take a back seat in a band. If the band is personal to you then it's difficult. I was thinking about starting my own band recently, but I need a writing partner.. so it wont be my band... it all gets complicated!

    Thanks, I hope so at least?!
    Hopefully we'll have some more gigs somewhere soon, I'll PM anyone vaguely local when we do :)
  12. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    That's cos we're doing it for love, not money ;)

    I get the impression that even players who work in very strictly controlled environments (eg. session work or backing big names on tour) tend to have a few looser projects ticking along just to keep the creative juices flowing.

  13. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Absolutley, the drummer from my hard rock band currently drums for Gary Moore and Primal Scream! He plays with us for free, I think, because he gets to play a lot heavier and because I believe his two major paying gigs are pretty strict.
    Incidentally the drummer the oethr band I was talking about is a pro too, though ona more local level, our band is the only one that he does for free, because he digs the music.

    Playing for free is definitely a nice environment... I wonder what it's like to be paid :rolleyes: ;)
  14. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    a few random thoughts on the topic -

    It's far easier to work on your own attitude to the music you play than it is to influence that of the people you're playing with... So if you can find a headspace that keeps you happy without having to drastically alter the way a particular group operates, everyone wins.

    Sometimes crisis points can lead to good things - bringing things to a head if relationships and hierarchy within the band are unclear or not right can be a good thing. Bottling it up and leaving it to fester is never a good thing, and also a waste of your time - playing music is the most wonderful thing in the world, so don't waste it on situations that are screwed up.

    Most groups that work end up together by accident. Not all - sometimes the contrived approach works, placing ads etc. But most of the time it's about the coincidence of finding musicians who are open minded, fun and live not far away. Ive got quite a few guys who play with on a regular basis. All are amazing musicians, but I doubt that we'd travel 100 miles each way to play together. As it is, they all live within 5 minutes, so getting together to jam or record is no trouble at all. :)

    Also, you'll get much more out of any musical situation if you go in looking to learn - what can these people teach me? some situations are just rubbish, most have something you can learn from. Unreliable people are generally more trouble than they are worth.


  15. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    As are people who just don't put in the effort to get stuff right.

    la-la-laaa I'm not listening la-la-la ;)
  16. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    I'm so glad to hear things are working out for you, nuwavedc! Thanks for keeping us informed.
  17. Damian Coccio

    Damian Coccio Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: Fodera Guitars
    Thanks again for everyones input. Michael, I hope to catch you with John Gorka at the Folk Fest this year.

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