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Threading the thin line of band democracy?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by EddiePlaysBass, Jan 8, 2012.


  1. EddiePlaysBass

    EddiePlaysBass

    Feb 26, 2009
    Belgium
    I just sent the band a mail re: some rehearsal recordings, and in that same mail I asked if

    - we are going to work on more covers;
    - focus on recording a demo; or
    - work on the material we currently have, as some of it is not 100% right (tempo being the main issue)

    The reason why I am asking is we decided to drop a song we'd been working on during the last 3 rehearsals and decided it just wasn't working.

    I realized after I hit send, that this might come across as me trying to take control of things. Now, this band -like most- started out as a democracy but pretty soon afterwards the singer has asserted his role as band leader. As far as I can tell, we all feel comfortable with this, and I am in no way trying to claim that title (been there, tried that).

    Guess I'm just being overly sensitive, but still: where is the line in such instances?
     
  2. Often times, you're unlikely to know where the line is until you've crossed it.
     
  3. You're taking responsibility for the sound of the band, which everyone should be doing. if they get bent out of shape over that then I declare them sensitive susans.
     
  4. cableguy

    cableguy Supporting Member

    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    Words to live by. :D
     
  5. MLC_BassPlayer

    MLC_BassPlayer Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2010
    Apex, NC
    I think as long as you are tring to build consensus you're good. It's when you start becoming a diva that becomes a problem...
     
  6. If you asked those questions as you said you did, there's no harm in that. Everyone should ba aware of the plan, and if there isn't a plan, I don't wee the harm in making suggestions. You just have to becareful you don't become pushy.

    Sometimes it's just how you word things. If you ask "What do you guys think if we were to do this", it comes across more tactful than if you were to say "I think we should do this".
     
  7. EddiePlaysBass

    EddiePlaysBass

    Feb 26, 2009
    Belgium
    Before I update this thread, some background: we use Dropbox and each have a folder with songs we suggest as possible candidates. Every now and then we listen to each other's suggestions and pick songs from said folders.

    Alright, so the conclusion to my paranoid story: singer replied stating that maybe it is indeed a good idea to replace the song we dropped with another one, and went on to suggest one of the songs that are on my "wanted" list :) He also suggested that one of the guitarists suggests some more songs, since he just got into learning slide guitar and we want to work this into our set.

    Like I said: I am paranoid.
     
  8. Yes...you're paranoid.
     
  9. Are you finished with your woman?
    Frowning all the time?
     
  10. EddiePlaysBass

    EddiePlaysBass

    Feb 26, 2009
    Belgium
    Well ... all day long I do think of things (as proved by this thread) :D

    :bag:
     
  11. Skarekrough

    Skarekrough

    Aug 7, 2006
    You asked others if they wanted to do those things. You gave a choice of options that were likely previously discussed or are obvious that they need to get done.

    A band without a bandleader is just a bunch of people standing around the room with instruments. Rarely do things get done that way.

    I think if anything you should be commended for asking and giving options as to the next step.

    A few years ago I was in a band that was generally a democracy. There were four of us and we weren't making much and gigging once a month. The idea came up to add a keyboard player; I said I thought it was a bad idea as our payout barely makes it worth playing. They said they wanted to try some out to see what it would sound like, hoping that I would be so blown away that I would want to bring someone on.

    This dude comes in with a keyboard and a electric guitar and amp. He spends most of the "audition" playing guitar and illustrates that he's not really all that decent of a keyboard player; he misses notes, can't transpose, etc.

    A week later I get to spend an hour in traffic on the phone with the guy that was running rehearsals trying to convince me that we should hire him. After I got tired of it all I said "the band is a democracy and if everyone else decides he should have a spot then it's his. But my vote is for no."

    I did one more gig with the band and that was it. Drove off that night with my PA in the car and my payout. From what I heard the keyboard player showed up for the next rehearsal with a 30 brick of cheap beer and proceeded to down most of it and then drive home. He got picked up by the Staties for DUI. The rest of them called it quits.

    ...kinda lost what the moral of the story was there. I guess it's that even when it is a democracy you still need to be careful. However I would say that the level of attention you're giving to your words is evidence enough that you are.
     
  12. Jake Saint

    Jake Saint

    Dec 31, 2011
    Mine Hill, NJ
    I would say the moral of the story is that a democracy in a band doesn't work, but that's prolly just me....
     
  13. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    A band can run as a democracy yet still have a clear cut leader. The importance is to have a unified vision, with similar goals in mind, with everyone working towards the greater good of the band. When it comes time to vote, having an odd number of band members help (and granting the bandleader with veto power, should anything try and oppose those goals).
     
  14. Skarekrough

    Skarekrough

    Aug 7, 2006
    Funny...that was my conclusion from that experience as well. IIRC the phrase "I'll learn acoustic and how to sing and never have to deal with all that crap ever again" was borne of this.

    .....I'm up to about 60 songs.
     
  15. nobodysfool

    nobodysfool

    Apr 22, 2010
    Shelby, OH
    I'm in a 4 piece band, which is run pretty much as a democracy. I'm the newest guy in the band (coming up on 8 years; the band has been around since 1979). Most of the time, we have no real problems, we all are pretty much on the same page musically. Occasionally there are disagreements about song selection, but those can usually be ironed out. As time goes on, I've been able to exert a little more influence than when I first started with them, but we have learned over the years that there are just some places we don't go when it comes to ideas. I have brought songs up for consideration that I am sure would have been really good, and would have fit us well, only to be met with blank stares from the other 3. They've brought up some songs that leave me cold, and I'm not afraid to say so, but the dynamic is that majority rules, so if I'm outvoted 3 to 1, I'm doing the song whether I like it or not.

    The one sticky thing for us is benefits. Personally, I know that when you give of your time, it comes back to you in other ways. They don't really see that, and pretty much refuse to do benefits, citing the likelihood of even more requests coming in, and then looking like a**holes for refusing them, and the likelihood of getting stuck having to be there the whole time, and getting roped into providing equipment for the benefit. I can see where they're coming from, but I still am not opposed to being very selective about it, and doing one occasionally, just for the possibility of some good press, and some good publicity. The chances of us doing one any time soon? Zip.
     
  16. EddiePlaysBass

    EddiePlaysBass

    Feb 26, 2009
    Belgium
    nobodysfool, I understand what you mean - to a degree. In this band, the two "founding members" (i.e. they who had the idea of starting this band, and found the rhythm section and additional guitarist) focus on getting gigs in blues bars.

    I have suggested a few times that we branch out to different types of venues, which pay less but which will lead to better gigs (which I know from experience with my previous band) but they simply will not do it.

    Last week, the guy who rents us the rehearsal space told us of a free stage battle of the bands kind of thing, where the prize is an opening slot at some local festival. Whilst it is nothing to get TOO excited about, it would mean at least 1 gig (so far, we have 1 confirmed gig for 2012 and it is in August ...), a chance of getting a second one and some exposure! But our singer does not seem too charmed with the idea.

    Getting back on topic, this is one area where I will not push at all. In my last band I was continuously trying to get gigs (with varied success) and I am really not up to the task again. Let someone else do it for a while, and see how it goes.
     
  17. If I think something needs to be said/done, I'll go ahead and do the doing. If people get their panties in a bunch and think I'm being a self-serving control freak, I'm ready to point out that if I was in it for personal glory, I wouldn't be in this band...

    I've been doing exactly this...
     

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