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The Conceit of Professionalism

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Nick von Nick, May 16, 2018.

  1. Nick von Nick

    Nick von Nick Supporting Member

    Oct 29, 2014
    Upstate NY
    [Warning: This is basically another "should I quit the band" thread.]

    Last autumn, an old friend enlisted me to play with a group he was forming with some other folks. I had only been playing infrequent sub gigs, so this was a welcome change. It was thrilling to play with other musicians regularly and to perform with them around town.

    Right now, however, things are clearly going south.

    I have an extensive background in academic jazz, I can easily sight read charts, I've spent nearly two decades honing my theory chops, I've gigged extensively, and I can fill in on a dime (three hours to show time? I'll do it!). And, when I'm not navigating a Eb dorian walking line over a Miles tune, I listen mostly to "dark" music (early Goth music, some of the better Sabbath-clones, eerie prog, and their ilk).

    Each of these factors is in stark contrast to my bandmates (they can't read, rarely practice alone, and are obsessed with jam bands), but I can look past this. However, there's one thing I cannot: their absurd lack of professionalism.

    I do my homework. I show up to gigs early so that our setup/breakdown will be seamless. I regularly chart and learn the songs by myself, woodshed difficult parts before rehearsal, and listen to my bandmates to adjust to their solos and changes.

    Most importantly, I have a sense of holistic awareness. At our last gig, the audience was leaving the floor in clear disinterest, but no one noticed. I tried to pull the solo section back to the theme, but the rhythm guitarist was jumping around madly to his sustained open chords and the lead guitarist was lost in his own world (he noted, verbatim, "I wasn't ready to finish!"). It felt like the straw that broke the camel's back.

    I brought this up, but they dismissed me as being arrogant. They became incensed when I condemned their amateurishness, simply saying "you clearly have more experience than we do!" I can deal with the fact that they do not have the same experience I have, but I simply can't get past their unwillingness to work as a unit. If we can't work with the audience because you haven't finished your solo, we are doomed.

    All in all, it's a good hang (they're solid people), but the music is too directionless, and there is zero profit. They do not worry about honing their craft because they are guaranteed gigs through local connections (half of them work with a few local bands as sound people/roadies). It's becoming a scene that celebrates itself and nothing else.

    I already have one foot out the door. Is it time to for the other to follow?
  2. filmtex


    May 29, 2011
    Someone here at TB said:
    1) The Hang
    2) The Music
    3) The Money-
    Pick two.
    Looks to me like it's time to move on...
    qfbass, Alik, ElGoodo and 34 others like this.
  3. 1. Lack of preparedness.
    2. Lack of audience awareness, far too musician-centered.

    I wouldn't last a week in that band. It's not so coincidental that #1 and #2 above lead directly to a lack of commercial viability (i.e. no payday).

    There is a progression from musician to performer to entertainer, and your band is doomed never to evolve to the last step.
  4. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    Sounds like a bunch of wankers but you also sound excited to play with them so it can’t be all that bad. There must be a lot of redeeming qualities and everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.

    Be direct and try to focus the group. If that doesn’t work out then you’ve tried. As far as not learning parts, call it out and just cut that song from the list until they can master it. I mean stop it mid-song and say “that’s enough of that. Moving on until you get that part.” If they want to work on it there just say they’re wasting your time.

    Unless you find other educated musicians you will always have to “help them along” when talking about things musical.
    Artman and MrLenny1 like this.
  5. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Why are you in this band? It's not making money, musically you are not connecting, and as far as your attitudes toward professionalism, you are not connecting. Unless the hang is REALLY good, no reason to stay. I would just leave it with something like "we are just not on the same page musically", and wish them luck - give them a certain notice time where you will play any gigs on the books.
  6. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    That sounds like guys who would be fun to jam with, but I'd never play out with them. Just my opinion.
  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Are you sure it was your content and not your delivery that offended them? Reading your post, it is apparent you like $5 words. The average Joe might find that language in itself to be arrogant, regardless of the message you are trying to convey.
  8. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    If you're asking the question on TB, you already have the answer.
  9. craigie


    Nov 11, 2015
    P.s. it sounds from your post if you split it will be mutual.
  10. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    It sounds like you are not happy with the music or the way things are handled, so those are pretty major deal breakers. I can get down with being in a jam band, but it still has to be done well and generally the musicianship has to be high for it to be entertaining.
  11. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Alik, retslock, Spidey2112 and 2 others like this.
  12. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    My impression is they're lacking a bit in the seriousness department - obviously that's second hand info, but from what I can discern, that's my best guess. I'd also say you might be a bit overkill in the seriousness department. I'd probably have a great time playing with them, or you, but not sure if we're all on stage together, if the vibe would be all that great.

    Although I don't make a living at it, I try to approach music as professionally as I can, given limits on practice time, etc. But if it isn't fun on some level, or rewarding in some other way bedsides being excellent, I don't know how long I could continue. If you want the rest of the band to up their professionalism a notch, it might be best to lead by example, rather than giving them a hard time about things. Yes, it'll take time, but trying to force people into doing things isn't typically a fruitful approach.
    Lobster11 and Nick von Nick like this.
  13. bearfoot


    Jan 27, 2005
    schenectady, ny
    That's a stark mismatch, yes.

    If they are obsessed with jam bands, I would google up the interview with Jerry Garcia in which he talked about his practice habits. Once a year, Jerry would stock up on new books of notation. He said it'd be anything, clarinet charts, whatever. And he'd dig through those for stuff to read from, to stay sharp.

    Phil Lesh - trumpet playing theory head.

    The list goes on. "Jam" does not mean, as the horn players say, "blowing chunks".
  14. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    Clearly they don't deserve you and you don't deserve them.
    retslock, Liam Wald and matthewbrown like this.
  15. It sounds to me like you've already made your mind up and are looking for confirmation that you have made the right decision.

    I don't think you are going to get a single vote to stay so move on and hopefully up.
    retslock likes this.
  16. DrewinHouston

    DrewinHouston Not currently practicing Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2009
    Houston Heights, Texas
    Disclosure: I am not a great bass player
    How's the drummer? Perhaps a change is needed :D
  17. DrewinHouston

    DrewinHouston Not currently practicing Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2009
    Houston Heights, Texas
    Disclosure: I am not a great bass player
    In all seriousness, part of finding the right group of folks to play with is to align your goals, and that includes all of the things that you have identified as being misaligned. You're judging them as amateurs, but it's just that their goals (jam band) are significantly different than (and perhaps incompatible with) your goals. It's perfectly fine for them to have a jam band and not work outside of rehearsals and have long solos, but that doesn't sound like what you're looking for.
    kesslari and Keyser Soze like this.
  18. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    If a situation doesn't pay well and it's not fun, find a situation that's one or the other or both.
    csc2048b likes this.
  19. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    You don't mention how long you've been trying this, but this really doesn't seem like a good fit for you. You either need to adjust you expectations and accept them for who they are, or move on.
    PaulJSmith likes this.
  20. foolforthecity

    foolforthecity Supporting Member

    You can lead a horse to water.

    I'd be moving on if they're not willing to drink.

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