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The mindset of moving from band leader to the underrated bass player role

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by King For A Day, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. Hello all,

    I'm fortunate to have located this site. I have been a lead guitar player, who has been playing lead guitar or as a guitarist/vocalist for the past 20 years. As of 2 years ago, I switched to bass and have not looked back. Bass is where I feel I belong.

    I dont want to be long-winded, however I took an offer to join this group about 6 months ago. The initial "agreement" was that the the guitarist, vocalist, and I would be the core of the group. Decisions, etc.

    This is what I would call a pop-rock group, however my influences are much different from theirs.

    The vocalist is the money maker. In all my years, I have never encountered such a raw talent, with a vocal range I would kill for. The problem is now he knows he is good, and although he has yet to prove himself in the eyes of the public (we've played 1 show, with others scheduled) he has the biggest case of L.S.D. that I have ever worked with.

    The guitarists and vocalist are best friends.

    To cut to the chase, what started out as equal, has now become the vocalist as the decision maker, and in my opinion, is too erractic to run this band effeciently. He has garnered a bit of praise by some high rollers in Nashville, and we are scheduled to have a meeting in March with a famous country artist who owns a label. We are also scheduled to meet one of the biggest producers in country while we are in town. So two main leads.

    I dont mind playing the supportive role. I dont mind a switch to country (although its not my thing). What I do mind is being dictated to, even though I'm in my early 30s, and started playing bars at 13. I've got years under my belt, and this vocalist steps out and in 6 months has people drooling over him. Yes, my jealousy is there, I know.

    Alas, the LSD has kicked in full effect, and since the vocalist and guitarist are friends, I feel I am not "on the level" with these cats, they grew up much differently than me, and every opinion I have gets shot down. I also feel my ears burning at times with these two, although they love my lines. I have a home studio, and while I have stated that we would be better off going to a professional studio (Nashville wants to hear more tracks) I have to re-arrange my life and get the family out of the house on multiple weekends to record. Needless to say, with the leads they have, they want the recordings perfect, which means I'll be mixing and at their bidding for the recordings till March. They do not believe the 8 track album will take that long, but I know I'll get calls everyday from them wanting me to tweak this and that. I normally charge, but since Im in the band...

    I've worked as a hired gun before. I consider this gig as such now. I've been teased by the industry many times, so I take these Nashville leads with a grain of salt.

    As a guitarists you're praised more. I've noticed I dont have a spotlight anymore unless I'm throwing down some bass leads and fills here and there. Im comfortable with that.

    What I am not comfortable with? A Mamas boy as a vocalist who schedules shows without checking for other members schedules, always being "right", and the god-awful "Scott Stapp" type of attitude. He has the looks, the sound, and the lyrical chops to possibly get to the next level, in which I will be joining as well if it goes down.

    I've learned to keep my mouth shut, as I have been in this position before. But this is different. These cats havent even cut their teeth yet, and I've been around the block a few times.

    This is a long ramble, but should I put pride aside and ride this wave? Or tell them to kiss my ---? There are paying gigs on the horizon, and dealing with members who consider you in an non-effective role is hard to swallow. The underrated bass player. These Guys are not much younger than I, but they have only recently hit the scene, and what I hate the most, the singer talks trash about other local groups, which offends me deeply.

    I know I touched on several matters, but I cannot seem to "put a smile on my face and just play".

    Any words of wisdom or advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. djello


    Oct 28, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    In my opinion, although they may have talent, I don't think they'll get far with the attitude you describe, especially if other bands or people in the local scene find out. If they don't appreciate you and take advantage of your recording gear AND talent you should leave, there's no point in riding a "wave" that will never reach the shore.
    Good Luck!
  3. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    Without getting too long winded:

    If your golden goose gets picked up out of Nashville, HE will get picked up. The rest of y'all will be standing on the side of the road waving bye bye to the bus.

    That's how they roll, that's always been how they role.
  4. hublocker


    May 17, 2007
    Aspiring Nashville superstars are a dime a dozen.

    You know what Dan savage says in cases like this eh?

  5. This is what remains in the back of the ole cranium. You can throw a football down a street in Nashville hit a professional session player.

    My goal was to work the local scene here and network w/ some musicians without the ego and more of a similiar genre as I.

    But djello has a point. If his mouth gets him on the outs with the bands around here, I could very easily be lumped into his small-minded ideas by association.

    Tough decision, since the music is catchy. Our first show, we had people headed to the door after our set. The headliners weren't too thrilled, but all the chicks know the vocalist.

    The guitarist is level headed and tries to keep the vocalist mouth to a minimum.
  6. Well hold on there... you're not so undervalued are you?

    By your post, you are not just the bass player, but the producer and the recording engineer of this 8-song album project too. Extra hats to wear means you're more valuable. Are you singing backups too? Songwriting? Quietly put your tentacles deeper into this project, with your name subtly all over it, and you'll stick around longer.

    I guess the choice of not using a pro-recording studio was because of money?
  7. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    Maybe, but it reads more to me like you are being used and will be dumped when they are done using you.
  8. Very hard to determine. It seems as though they know I'm a good player, and I have a good rep as a guitarist and songwriter in town.

    The vocalist wouldn't hesitiate to show me the door after the recordings, however given the current state of bassists in this town, most would have to keep to the root, as all the cool people in this town play guitar, and I try to keep things interesting.

    These Guys tell me I'm the best bass player in town. That comment is not well received with me. I'm known as a laid back and respected player, which is all I want.

    Saying someone is the "best in town" is not a complinent, its just being a ----.

    Ideolology and music wise, I am the polar opposite of these Guys, however I'm trying to show others in town my transition to bass and that I learned/learning that I am dedicated to the instument, and strive not to play the bass like a guitar.

    And as far as other bands in town to join that are gigging, its slim pickings. Most stay in the garage.
  9. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains

    Actually, it is a compliment. It mean's you're the best bass player in town. Why are you not taking it as such?
  10. BobWestbrook

    BobWestbrook Mr.

    Mar 13, 2006
    Philly suburb
    Your band has no formalized, written policies?
  11. I believe there are too many different comparables to name anyone as "the best".

    Not saying I'm not appreciative, however there are a few bassists around here who I respect too much to believe such a broad statement.:bassist:

    I guess if I accepted that title, I wouldnt practice as much.

    Thats how Clubber Lang won the title.
  12. Negative. We have a gig on the 20th of this month, and I was looked at like a martian when I mentioned last night that we need to get a set list together.

    Great musicians, amatuer mind-set.

    Wow, now I'm bashing them. Not healthy.:meh:
  13. jay loren

    jay loren Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2011
    You're saying "...every opinion I have gets shot down." I'm not sure what you mean here, musical ideas, their personalities, etc?
    It all sounds like they are just using you and are not interested in your contribution. Complementing you (we love your lines, best player in town, etc) keeps you in line.
    Keeping one's mouth shut is not a long-term solution.
    If you need this environment you'll have to put up with this until better opportunities come around. If you don't and being/playing with them is becoming painful you know what you have to do. A meaningful discussion with all the cards on the table may help you decide.
    Just my 2cts.
  14. There are guys in Nashville serving sandwiches that are better players than most on Talkbass, including myself. A singer gets signed, the band comes along only once in a great while and really not even that often. Good luck
  15. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    That being the case, is it hard to see why you might be the odd man out? You need to decide if you can roll with their vision because, otherwise, you're going to be increasingly unhappy and maybe disassociated. It's clearly their group, so can you hang?
  16. ^^^^The core of the matter.^^^^

    Setting matters of personality and ego aside, I think you should be asking questions like:

    "Who has the copyright on the material?"

    "If they record in my studio, do I own and control the recordings?"

    "If singer gets picked up by a legitimate distributorship, where's the guarantee that I'll go along for the ride?"

    Yes, you are the bass player, and that is often a subservient and underappreciated role. Yes, band leaders (perceived or otherwise) are often an egotistical, self-centered PITA. But you don't have to be a sucker and put all your eggs in one basket, or your trust in people who may not deserve it. There are practical matters at hand, and that's where you should focus your thoughts and energy.

    The law. Contracts. Attorneys. That's the only place where you can get some security in situations like this.
  17. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    Hope you're tracking your studio time so you get an idea of what you're investing in this project.
  18. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I agree, I'm not saying you should, but don't think they're being a ---- or whatever. Just say thanks and move on.
  19. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    If the kids actually got talent it doesn't really matter, because he himself, or handlers will remove him from your presence at some point anyhow and you'll be back hoping to find an adequate at best vocalist.
  20. rnilson


    Mar 8, 2008
    Kansas City, MO
    Dude you need to get out of this situation now....It really sounds like you are getting used.

    Don't put in a ton of work so someother guy can make it to Nashiville.

    You can already tell from the way they treat you you will not go along for the ride once they get access to a professional studio. The producer/record label of the new record will pick the backing band including the bassist. I think you already understand it is the singer they are after, and is sound like he has no loyalty to you.

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