Taking criticism and dealing with conflict

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by dontblvehislies, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. dontblvehislies


    Jul 8, 2013
    I've been in my current band for almost a year now. They auditioned a number of bassists before I came out and gave it a shot, and they accepted me on the spot. I'm not saying I'm a fantastic player objectively speaking or anything, but that's how it happened.

    I've noticed for the last 2-3 months that I simply have very little desire to attend rehearsals. Maybe I'm just lazy. But I've been involved with 5-6 projects over the course of the last 10 years and I've never experienced this lack of desire before. I partly think it could have to do with our lack of gigs. I also wonder if it's the music itself though.

    Recently, my singer/guitarist (we're a 4 piece with another guitarist, and he's the primary song writer at this point) has started to criticize parts that I've been playing for the last year. He said to me that for one of our songs, he doesn't like the part in and of itself because it feels too involved, and also that I drag at a certain point sometimes when I play it. It's a simple four chord progression that I play the root as quarter notes over. He also decided that I should stop playing a part in unison with him during another song. The specific part is fairly rhythmically involved and is the bridge for the tune. He says that playing in unison is generally a bad idea unless you know that you can consistently nail the part. I respect this perspective, but at the same time, I really enjoyed the way I played this before even if it isn't consistently perfect live at this point.

    I've never been criticized regarding my ability to keep time in this way, and I've gone on to talk to people who I respect very much musically, having played with them over the years, ever since receiving this criticism. Many of them were surprised to hear such criticism when I asked them if they thought it had been an issue in the past with me. This project isn't any more technically involved than any other project I've ever been in. I myself honestly don't hear what he's talking about when it comes to my so called dragging at times.

    I realize that collaborative endeavors often require compromise. I'm just not sure how to react to this criticism when it's something that's never come up around many of the musicians I've played with over the years. I'll be the first to admit that there are many areas I can improve in when it comes to my bass playing, but this has really thrown me for a loop to the degree that I feel emotionally bruised by it. Maybe my ego is just too invested. We have a gig this week and I'm considering leaving after the gig. I'm not sure if I'm leaving for the wrong reasons though, and I love playing live.

    Just wondering if anyone has any input regarding my situation.
  2. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    Are these original songs or covers? If original songs, were they written collaboratively or were they written completely or primarily by one person? If they were completely or primarily written by one person, that person has 100% right of input on the arrangement, including your bass line. Whether or not you choose to accept the input is up to you, and whether or not the primary songwriter wants to continue working with you is up to him or her.

    If the songs were written collaboratively, that means at the minimum you contributed to decisions about the song structure, the bridge, the groove, and possibly the basic chord progression. Just writing your own bass line is not, IMHO, enough to qualify as being a co-writer of the song. If you truly collaborated on the creation of the song, then you have an equal say in how the bass line should be structured. Discuss and reach consensus.

    If these are cover songs, you either play them like the original recordings or you don't. If you don't play them like the originals, then the bass lines you play should be considered the same way as if you had collaborated on writing (in this case re-writing) the songs.

    IMHO, YMMV, etc.
  3. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    A couple of thoughts:

    1) Are you bored?
    2) Are you guys still playing the same 5 songs you were 9 months ago, without any new songs being added to the set list?
    3) Is the material pushing you to be a better musician, or more expressive musician?
    4) Are you playing to your abilities or is the material putting you on autopilot
    5) Is the main song writer willing to let you contribute or write a song yourself or is he/she a tyrant? Are you "allowed" to contribute to the material?
    6) Based on #5, is this a band or Mr. Diva and some back up guys?

    1) Is he being accurate in his criticism of your playing?
    2) Is playing a unison line the problem or does he expect the bass to only "ride the root"?
    3) Are you coming up with actual basslines for the material or are you merely "window dressing"?
    4) Have you asked the rest of the band about this "dragging" or "inconsistancy", not just musician friends? 5) Is grumpy deflecting his own issues on to you?
    6) Is anyone else in the band receiving this kind of treatment from this guy?
    7) Remember that even a founding member can be kicked out of the band.

    In short, just take care of yourself and make sure you are the best musician you can be. Keep it professional as this is not junior high. Treat people with respect and if you need to, walk away and find, or establish, another band. You never know, the other guys in your band may be feeling the same way as you and be interested in starting something new.

    I hope this helps in some way. It's a undesirable situation, but not unsurmountable. ;)
  4. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Criticism aside, if it's a group you're not even excited about being in then maybe it's time to quit.
  5. AngelCrusher


    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Record your rehearsals and listen outside of playing the song to solve timing/writing issues.
  6. Hmm, maybe post audio clips of the songs in question so that we may offer better comments/ suggestions/advice?
  7. geddeeee


    Jun 30, 2006
    The golden rule is... Serve the songs...

    I would try some of his ideas and see if this makes the song better. Sometimes the original bass part is not the best bass part for a song.
    The secret to songwriting is to hone all the parts, so the song is killer. My guitarist and drummer suggest ideas all the time. Not just for me, but also drums and guitar. I do the same for them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but it's good that the ideas are there.
    Take comfort that your guitarist is actually listening to the bass parts..... A lot of guitarists are content to strum and wail away with no thought for anything else....
  8. Caeros


    Jul 24, 2002
    Branford, CT
    My band tends to bicker and argue a lot because we're all close friends and rather passionate and opinionated about our music and individual parts. Sometimes I argue just for the sake of arguing but 9/10 if someone has a better idea for a bass part than I do, I'll integrate that into my approach instead of letting my ego get in the way (I'M THE BASS PLAYER, DAMMIT, C'MON MAN!) Several of our songs have bass parts written by our singer or drummer which would have bothered me at one point in time. But now I'm totally cool with it. Sometimes other people can hear something you can't because you're too invested in playing a part a certain way.
  9. bluewine

    bluewine Inactive

    Sep 4, 2008
    It shouldn't be a secret on how I see this.

    No gigs is the kiss of death for most bands unless the band is simply together to record or it's a have fun in the basement type of arangement.

    If theres no gigs there isn't much of an incentive to even take the guitarist up on his sugestions.

  10. bigswifty1


    Dec 8, 2011
    If there are no gigs then it is not a rehearsal, it's a jam. And at a jam you get to play however you like.

    Up to you to decide whether any criticism is valid or not, and whether to change your playing or not.

    If you were working toward definite gigs I might answer differently.

  11. tubenutq5


    Mar 27, 2013
    Corvallis, OR
    I think you answered your own question when you uttered this:

    "I partly think it could have to do with our lack of gigs..........."

    You and the band have gone stale. (IMHO only)
  12. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    Go out and get some gigs! I always feel that gigs are important at some point.

    Criticism is tough. I don't like it either and some guys don't know how to be critical without being condescending. Maybe you can get together with the guitarist and, in a quieter atmosphere, understand and get to know what he's talking about.

    Don't take it too seriously...
  13. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    I'll jump on the band wagon here as well: Play a gig!

    Just like how jamming with another musician taught you more than the previous year of noodling in your bedroom, a single gig can teach you more as a band than another month of arguing in moms basement.

    If you have enough material to fill a half hour, go play a gig somewhere, or even at a house party. Get out there and go DO it instead of just talking about it.
  14. just beat the $*!* out of each other once a year.