Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Unfocused Band

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Collin.A, Dec 30, 2005.


  1. Collin.A

    Collin.A

    Jun 22, 2005
    So here is the deal. I play in a three-piece right now. All-in- all I like the situation and the guys in the band. We all can work together in and out of the practice room, but there is one problem. We seem to be getting increasingly unfocused. It seems like every time we grab our instruments we just go into a massive jam session. Don’t get me wrong I love that, but we don’t get a lot done as far as song writing and we don’t seem to make a lot of progress. I’m wondering if anyone has been in a situation like this (you really like the band, but the lack of focus really prevents things from getting going) and how did you deal with it?
     
  2. Record your jams. Then listen to them later, pick the parts you like, and work them into song format. Walla :hyper: next...
     
  3. Trevorus

    Trevorus

    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I'm pretty much giving up on my current situation to hone my instrument skills, and look for a better situation. I need to find good subject matter to write about, because I like to be the steering force behind the music, myself, and I need to find a band that is in line with my goals.

    I want a band where we can all contribute, but we get things done.

    I would mention this to the band and sit down with the amps turned low, and just grab a riff, and make it a song. Then write it down!!! This might help give some goals that will help give focus.
     
  4. You didn't mention if your three piece is a cover band or an originals one. If you're a cover band, I've found that unstructured practices can seriously be a detriment to the progress of the band. Everyone sits around wanking off on their instruments, and new songs don't get learned, and your current ones don't get practiced. Then everyone wonders why you're not getting shows booked, and if you do stumble into getting a gig, you have to scramble to learn a set list.

    I think you need to have a discussion with the guys at your next practice. Make sure everyone is on the same page as far as goals and expectations. Maybe lay out a loose schedule for each practice. Maybe something like:

    - Set up/sound check (if necessary)
    - 5 - 10 minutes: Jam session/warm-up.
    - Work on five songs you already know.
    - Work on about five songs you want to learn as a band.
    - Break (10 - 15 minutes max).
    - Work on five to ten more songs.
    - Wrap up, discuss progress made, and band issues, etc.

    That is very basic and might not fit your band completely, but having some kind of schedule will really help your practices be more productive. My band has a similar "schedule" for each practice. It's not set in stone, but I got sick of our band wasting time and wanking around on little ditties where the guitarist knew one riff from the song, and no real progress would be made.
     
  5. txbasschik

    txbasschik

    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    My band plays both originals and covers. We find it very useful to record our practices. We just use plain ol' cassettes -- cheapo and easy. For covers, I make practice cd's and give them to the band. We take turns buying blanks.

    Also, it helps your focus to have someone take rehearsal notes. I have a background in theatre, and learned long ago to take good rehearsal notes, so its become my job. I take notes on each song, type them up, and e-mail them to the band each week. This way, everyone remembers what we need to spend more time on in individual and group practice. It is a great resource, too, when it comes time to put together a set list.

    Doesn't take a whole lot of effort, really. I keep a writing tablet and a few pens on top of my amp during practice, and just whip out as many notes as fast as I can before we go on to the next piece. That little bit of work *really* helps to maintain focus and direction.

    Try it, ya like it! ;-)

    Cherie :)
     
  6. DaftCat

    DaftCat

    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    Just to add to the above two posters.

    I also prefer invader3k's approach but do allow for the odd jam to happen, just to "set free" and avoid the monotony of rehearsal(this is the cover band aspect, btw).

    Also, I think it is EXTREMELY important if you are a cover band to learn songs TO THE ALBUM. That way, there is less room for error on why (insert band member here) cut corners or didn't learn their part.

    Like txbasschik, I take notes. I strongly encourage establishing a healthy sense of criticism amongst whoever I play with. If they tell me I am doing a bassline wrong, I don't get defensive about it. I am the same way with the drummer and guitar player. I am fortunate to work with mature players who don't get offended by my honesty.

    Instead of CDs, I own a webserver and just chuck the new learns there for the others to download. That way, we are on the same page as to what version of what song we are going to cover. Case in point, Billy Idol's "Dancing with Myself". Seems there are plenty of versions out there and when we went to try it out we were all on different trips. We didn't trainwreck but it was confusing. The webserver I own made it easy and efficient, and the cost of CDs is not my problem. If the other band members want to burn to CD, that's their interest.

    Hope this helps,

    DCat
     
  7. Do you guys have a specified band leader? If not, it sounds like someone needs to be that guy. A good band leader can help keep things on track, and also communicates to people prior to practice what needs to get accomplished, and reviews what got accomplished. You don't have to be a jerk to be the leader, you just have to help get things on track. Organizing musicians is sometimes like herding cats.

    If you aren't already, you should record or video your practices. That not only gives you a great reference for spotting mistakes or cool things to build on, it is a built in performance measure and adds a little sense of urgency to get songs done and done right.

    This can work against you, but sometimes I find we have better more focused practices when we have guests over to 'get a free show.' We always screw around a lot less when there are people there who want to hear some tunes. Even if it's just something we are working on learning.
     
  8. Any group of people, whether it be a duet or a football team needs someone to emerge as a leader figure.

    So someone has to step up and start providing direction and focus to the band.

    Set the goals, listen to suggestions, make decisions. Sure often that person takes the heat or gets labeled as a dictator,
    but 3 months down the road that person can point back and say "look where we are now."

    Appoint a band leader that can use wisdom, or step up yourself to achieve the common goal.
     
  9. Tingly

    Tingly

    Jul 16, 2005
    Yonkers, NY
    Great suggestions, above!

    Yeah, it sounds like you are suffering from the lack of a leader. Musicians hate dictators, and being in a band means cooperating WITH others, so no one wants to assert themselves. But, if no one says, "Let's practice THIS song," then you never practice THAT song, and, when you PLAY that song, it sucks. LOL!

    And I don't mean to feed off anyone's misfortunes, but it's great to read this stuff, and realize that most bands are all ****ed up, not just mine...