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Tale of two drummers...decisions - LONG

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Sundogue, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I'm in a very good originals band. Our music is not run of the mill 3 chord rock crudely put together, struggling to get gigs, play for the exposure kind of garage band. We have two CD's out already (professionally recorded in a studio in Nashville, produced by a Grammy award winning producer).

    I have a dillemma. I'm the bass player. The founding members/writers got rid of the rhythm section because they weren't cutting it and we have an opportunity to land a fabulous keyboardist once we're set. The previous rhythm section wasn't involved for the CD recording, nor was I. It was the guitar player/songwriter and studio musicians on them both. We are the band for live performances and are involved with currently writing our 3rd CD going forward though. We all have day jobs (for the time being...we'll see where this goes).

    I got the drummer for the band to fill out the rhythm section. An old friend who is extremely talented and creative and can play anything. I've played on and off with him for many years. However, he is unemployed. I had to get a drum kit for him because he sold his to pay bills. Although he is extremely talented musically, personally he is extremely unmotivated. He can't find a job, can't seem to find gas money to get to rehearsals, or can't find a babysitter, or him and his wife only have one car so if she's working he has no way to get there. He lives in another city 30 miles away. I can only do so much for him.

    The thing is, he's only missed two rehearsals and musically we all gel extremely well. We've got both recorded CD's down and making progress on the third. Every week we never know until the last minute if he can make rehearsal. I feel bad for him and I know he is struggling financially, but it's really wearing on us. He has a rep over the years for not being terribly responsible. Not once has he ever missed a gig, but he knows he's good, so learning new material or making rehearsals are another matter. Lots of rehearsals we had to skip tunes because he said he didn't have time to learn them, even though we all knew them and he has WAY more time than the rest of us.

    When I talked to him last, I told him I know his heart is into it and I know he wants to do it, but realistically can he? At some point he's going to have to buy this drum kit from my friend or buy another...and he needs new cymbals. But he's got no money and I don't see that changing anytime soon. We also want to upgrade our PA and it's his responsibility to buy the drum mics, but of course we don't see that happening either.

    All I wanted from him was at least some kind of commitment...like "I'll do whatever it takes to make it work". But rather than that, he got all miffed for even asking, and replied..."This isn't about me, but about your expectations." Well duh...it's about the whole band's expectations of him. His reply didn't really give me warm fuzzy, you know?

    OK. Now there is another drummer available whom I've played with for almost 8 years. The guy is a great drummer. Not quite as expressive or creative as our current drummer, but he can definitely play with us and get up to speed learning these tunes. Not sure how he would be with originals as we've only played covers together in the past. Some guys can learn what's already there for covers, but have a hard time creating there own part on originals. Don't really know how good he'd be at that, although he is certainly good enough to. So that's an unknown.

    This other drummer also has a full, HUGE outdoor concert PA and professional LED lighting like you wouldn't believe. He has a huge trailer, his own mics and various other equipment, (full IEM system, etc). I know him very well and this drummer is impeccably professional in every way and has a lot of contacts for gigging. He also has a job that pays almost 6 figures and a better place to rehearse, no kids or wife. So he isn't relying on the band for income (as we are not either). That's a plus, but down the road his job might not be.

    I've talked with him already just to see his level of interest. He's very interested and understands our situation currently so he's just waiting on us. He's cool with however it shakes out.

    What to do? On the one hand we have a kick-ass creative drummer that is not especially responsible or accountable, nor does he even own his own gear, but I know would be there for gigs. Then there is the other drummer who while not quite as good, is more than good enough, but has so much more upside to him, aside from future bookings due to his job.

    My heart tells me to stick with my friend through a tough time and see how it shakes out. My mind tells me hiring this other drummer is a no-brainer.

  2. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
  3. gttim


    Dec 12, 2009
    Atlanta, GA
    April fools! There is no drummer like that!
  4. StevieMac

    StevieMac Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2005
    Vancouver, BC
    I’d opt for the more reliable/professional person in ANY business situation.
  5. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Drummer B for sure.

    Drummer A is a flake.

    April 1 is not a good day to be on / post on a forum. Cant be sure who's serious or not...
  6. skydogg


    Dec 26, 2013
    Drummer A for sure. Go with your heart, man..this is music, no room for letting your brain get in the way.

    Also, please PM me Drummer B's contact info. plskthx
  7. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    No...sadly this is no April Fool's joke. I'm dead serious.

    There are two things that make this a difficult decision.

    Drummer A (current drummer) lives for music and while he has no job (which makes it hard for him to buy his own equipment or cash for gas to rehearsals, etc.) every band I've ever been in with him, he has always known his parts, always showed up on time for gigs and played his ass off. Plus, having no job and living for music would allow him the freedom to pursue this, should the band take off.

    Drummer B has everything one looks for in a professional musician. But he makes a very good living with his day job and would never give it up should the band actually go places, go on tour, etc. That's really his only downside and since we don't know what the future holds, it's not a huge concern right now.

    Still, Drummer A has all the warning signs of abusing either drugs or alcohol, or both. I know he likes to indulge in both, but I've never seen him wasted or not be able to do his job. But his actions, and now words lately, along with where he is at personally leaves me wondering if he isn't the same guy I played with only two years ago.

    I just don't know. I just talked with the Drummer B for quite a while in person and he really digs the music and the opportunity. He's aware of the situation.

    All I can do right now is play it by ear...see how the next rehearsal goes. Drummer A has not talked with me since I outright asked him if he can do this (where he used to talk to me at least 3 or 4 times a week). IMO, depending on his actions, words or reaction at the next rehearsal (should he make it) will tell me more how to proceed.

    None of us are delusional about this band or where we'd like it to go. We've all been in this game far too long to not realize how hard it is to make it in this business. But, you never know. Stranger things have happened, the music is good enough, and we do have some pretty nice connections. It's always a roll of the dice. None of us are quitting our day jobs (and one doesn't have a job). But we take this very serious nonetheless.
  8. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Um yeah...

    This is music. Choose Drummer A.

    This is a business. Choose Drummer B.

    PM you Drummer B's contact info? Not likely. :D
  9. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Nice big bass sound on Bonesaw.

    If you want the highest chance of being a working band:
    I would go with Drummer B, unless Drummer A makes the band sound hugely better, in which case you have a harder decision. You say B is a good drummer. He can grow into the parts, even if he's not as creative as the other guy.

    If you want to shoot the moon and either become huge or go down in flames:
    Go with Drummer A. Keith Moon and John Bonham, unstable as heck but helped propel their respective bands to stardom. While they survived.

    I would go with the first option. But that's me, and I type this from my (great) day job where I do (really cool) work and yet dream of playing in a world-famous band.
  10. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Thanks for the input. I've played with both drummers and I know everything about how they play and I am confident both can play this music (it's not Rush or Yes, you know?).

    Drummer A is pretty creative and his playing inspires me spontaneously to play things where I am left wondering "Wow, where did that come from?" in a very good way. Yet, some of that improvisational excellence on his part sometimes sabotages the song, even though he catches himself and can pull it back together pretty damned quick. He takes chances and I like that for the creativity aspect of writing new music (or even performing it live to keep it fresh).

    Yet Drummer B, while not spontaneous or likely to improvise as much (if at all) is rock solid and very tight. And by that I don't mean he just plays basic stuff. He is very good. While his playing doesn't inspire me as much, I know as a bass player I can count on him to ALWAYS be where I need his playing to be. ALWAYS. So in some ways it's more liberating for me to improvise knowing he has my back.

    Ugh. What to do.

    Oh and thanks. I didn't write any of the bass parts on the recordings, but I have them all nailed down and they are a ton of fun to play. In writing the new tunes Drummer A helps me craft bass lines I might not otherwise create. Would Drummer B do the same for me? I don't know that yet.
  11. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Only one reason to take A- B is not good enough to cut the mustard. This is a business, unless you intend to fund his share without complaining.
  12. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    This is a question??

    No offense but if I were you this would be Drummer A's next fortune cookie:

  13. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yes it would seem that Drummer B is the clear cut choice...but this is an originals band and Drummer A is more creative and his playing inspires me to be more creative.

    But if he ain't there, well...that's pretty uninspiring.
  14. Hmm. Thoughts. Yeah, I think you need some good paying gigs so you can "hire" a good drummer. Problem solved.
  15. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Sounds like you are seeking validation rather than advice.
  16. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Validation for which one?
  17. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Sounds like you want A in there for personal reasons. I see the following red flags:
    1 No equipment, never mind buying the new stuff you will need
    2 Can't make practice, let alone when/if you get regular gigs
    3 Leaning on you to get his equipment
    4 Possible drug issues

    Any one of those should be enough to say no. As you said, you don't see it changing, even with the carrot of the band.

    Unless you just want to play in the garage for fun, or you and the band fully intend to continue to pay his share, he just is not in a position to commit. The band is not going to "take off" by magic - it is hard work. Not only is it a red flag for me and others here, it will be a red flag for managers/executives.

    Take a breath, and make the smart move. Be a realist, and good luck.
  18. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yes, from strictly a professional viewpoint Drummer B is the right choice. And I am leaning that way. I really wish my friend's fortunes would change for the better. He hasn't always been unemployed, but at the moment he is. And we all know that our fortunes only change when we change them.
  19. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    We have gigs lined up. We have an entire summer's worth of gigs, a marketing plan, a business plan, etc.

    This ain't no garage band. As someone mentioned, musicians (especially the truly creative ones) have issues due to their wacky nature and outlook on life. Keith Moon, John Bonham...hey Drummer A falls into that sublimely creative force category that trips my musically creative trigger. Reliability issues notwithstanding.

    And really, life itself is about taking chances, taking risks for greater rewards. That doesn't always pay off, but if it does it usually pays off in spades (I know this from my own personal experience). However playing it safe, while it's more reassuring, sometimes doesn't do much more than maintain the status quo.

    Ultimately it isn't my responsibility anyway. Things will happen as they need to. I can nudge things in a certain direction, but life will play itself out either way.
  20. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    It is good that you stick by your friends. Things can change, and for his sake, I hope they do. If and when that does happen, hopefully he will have opportunities, either with you or someone else. But right now he is not in a position to do what you need. You have to be fair to everyone.