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Think I’m going to have to take a pass

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bucephylus, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Circumstances have caused me to ramp up my on going quest for better gigs. One recent audition with a 3 piece has sounded promising; but, as almost always, there’s a catch.

    This particular band has mostly been together for 35 - 40 years. Guitarist is BL. Drummer is a replacement for the original, about 5 years in.

    Original bass player has some life changes going on, which creates the opening.

    BL records everything, rehearsals, auditions etc. (a good thing); and I’ve now been through two sessions. Everything sounds great; but, here’s the catch.

    Original bass player is your common semi noodler, learn just enough of the tune, then play your own thing type of player. Fine. But, after 35 years, BL is so used to hearing those “versions,” that they have become the standard. So, they have these less than great rehearsal recordings, and BL wants me to play EXACTLY what’s on those recordings.

    Now, I will admit that first of all, I usually detest covering someone else’s cover; with a few notable exceptions. Second, nothing against this particular player, but, his lines are not great bass lines; and critically speaking, they tend to depart substantially and awkwardly from the rhythmic motifs that put people on the dance floor.

    I do play orchestra, and if a part is written down, I’ll play it. No problem. I will also learn reference studio parts pretty much verbatim. In fact, my take on covers is to learn the reference studio part in detail, and then “invent” appropriate (and subtle) variations for the context instrumentation and arrangements, maintaining the original sense of signature motifs.

    But, transcribing noodly “versions” to be played verbatim is just a bridge too far for me. So, think I’m going to have to take a pass. Which is a shame, because the recordings sound pretty great; and because there aren’t a whole lot of open gigs in these parts.

    Band Leader is always right, even when they’re not.

    Tucson is a tough town.
  2. If it's a good gig, start learning the parts! You style will emerge in time and your playing will become the standard.
  3. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    It’s hard to be the new bass player when the band wants a plug in “replacement” for the last one. I’d pass, too. I can’t imagine having to learn a cover of a bad cover version. :rollno:
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
    John6, HardNHeavy, EdO. and 12 others like this.
  4. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    getrhythm, Luigir, nozkcb and 2 others like this.
  5. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Before you turn down a bit in an area where gigs sound rare, why not have a berr or coffee with the bandleader and talk things out (rather than trying to talk at a rehearsal)? See if he is willing to consider your position.
  6. TheDirtyLowDown


    Mar 8, 2014
    It sounds like there is some significant history to overcome here. But if you like the people and the music, perhaps try to find a way around this, in person with the BL? Tell them what you said in your post: great sessions, recording is a big plus, long history of music, which is really cool, (I mean it -- a 35 year history as a band is a big deal!) and so on. Hopefully they are as happy with you as you are with them on the positive side.

    But then explain how you feel burdened a bit by that same history, and that you want the freedom to bring your interpretation to some of their tunes. Try not to diss the noodly, bad 'expected' versions -- it won't help you persuade anyone -- but instead talk about it in terms of your approach and your vision for what the music can be on your watch. After 35 years, some change can be a breath of fresh air, especially if you are bringing a new level of musicianship to the group. Then hope they agree to let you open a few stuck-shut windows!
  7. DoctorZee

    DoctorZee Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2018
    New York / New Jersey
    I'd go for it. Suck it up and learn the parts, and slowly improve them over time. Once you've earned some trust and developed a relationship, I doubt the BL will say, "Hey! Stop playing those better basslines and go back to the crappier versions." (Of course, you just have to make sure your lines are actually better.)
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah it's worth at least one conversation. He's grown. You're grown. It may yield zero results. But it can't hurt.
    bluejack, Wisebass, FF Petro and 18 others like this.
  9. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    I like the approach of a coffee and a conversation outside of a rehearsal--but that kind of expectation from the bandleader in the first place would completely kill the buzz for me; or, require a different (read: sideman who gets paid by the call, including rehearsals, and transcription fee) approach.
    DirtDog, Nevada Pete and Charlzm like this.
  10. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Ask the BL to indulge you. Record a few of those songs with the old bass players lines and then with the correct studio lines. Listen to them together and see which he likes better. If he still likes the old bass players lines, well..at least you gave it a shot.
    cactus1, mntngrown, SactoBass and 8 others like this.
  11. If the BL is going to dictate what you play, what else is he going to dictate?
    retslock, Border, Aceonbass and 5 others like this.
  12. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Thanks all for the supportive comments. Really appreciated.

    I suppose half the reason I posted all that was part of thinking things through before making a call.

    Totally agree with the several comments about discussing the matter with the BL. What I left out of the OP was that we had that discussion after the last session. So, yup, I’m on the same page.

    On the face of it, BL said that he had listened to the recordings and they sounded great. But, then he went on to detail the band’s history. And, then stated that he heard me playing things that he would not have allowed the other bass player to do; but, that I did them so well that I can get away with it. Something to that effect. But, then went back to the “use the band’s previous recordings as reference” line. And further, his comment concerned me about the whole issue of control vs collaboration. I’m NOT used to being told what notes to play for this particular material, especially when I’m mainly playing what was originally recorded.

    So, what I took from that is that he is just unhappy about losing his accustomed bass player. So, I suggested that maybe he could use his old bass player for most of their gigs, and I could come fill in where needed. To which he replied that he didn’t want to run two bands.

    IDK, the overall impression I get is that there would be constant unhappiness over an aspect that the audience wouldn’t even notice. Yes, I’m looking for a gig; no, I’m not looking for drama.

    Anyhow, again MANY thanks for the thoughtful comments.
  13. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

    This. Asking you to play like a 'bad' bass player is really dumb. I couldn't do it.
  14. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Great suggestion. But, I’m more concerned about underlying control issues. If the gig was desirable enough, I might work through things as you’ve suggested. Not sure this one is worth it.
  15. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    OP, i'd wait for as long as it took for a band that i felt happy about playing with. if it meant spending a year or so recording and writing songs on my own, for me that would be preferable than having a BL who is that concerned with my copying the previous bass player.

    i don't know how small the scene is there, but if there are open mics or jam nights, that might be a good way to get to know some players.

    it seems the BL doesn't think the previous bass player was a bad bass player. maybe he always liked the noodly approach of the original bass player. he did play with the guy for over 30 years.
    Nevada Pete, 40Hz and bucephylus like this.
  16. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Right. But, it’s all a bit relative. They had worked out their own thing over three decades. I didn’t think much of the bass part of that; but I’m certainly no one to pass judgement on what someone else decides is correct. I just choose not to follow.
    Haroldo and kesslari like this.
  17. I think I'd approach it in a way that I'd just tell the guy "this is what I do". If I got fired, so be it. No loss. Wouldn't quit the band I was in until I had an understanding with the new BL.
    John6 and bucephylus like this.
  18. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Did you ask the drummer if the same thing happened when he replaced the original? Tough to replace 1/3 of your band and not expect some changes.
    dave64o and bucephylus like this.
  19. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    I get your point. At some point, it becomes kind of a turf issue. This particular BL does not seem to me to be very flexible on this point. But, as part of a bow out call, I do plan to discuss exactly this point with him.
    Pendulous, Charlzm, red_rhino and 2 others like this.
  20. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Oh, I’m pretty sure the drummer has struggled with the same issue. During the whole of our conversation the drummer was pretty much squirming with discomfort and putting in comments that he much preferred what I was doing. I had great hookup with the drummer.

    But, as I stated in the OP, the BL is the boss. Just the way it is.
    bluejack, Pendulous and Spidey2112 like this.

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