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Vocals "not working for us"

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Depth_Charge, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. I auditioned for a group last week on bass. The singer/keyboardist was a no show (and looks to be out of the group now).

    The guitarist struggled through some vocals and I laid a few backups down. They asked if I led at all. I said no, but am willing to get more lessons to do so, adding I took lessons a couple years back to compliment a 3-piece I was working with, and have been singing since, but stopped lessons while between bands.

    They called the next day offering the spot. I said I'd arrange lessons to brush my voice up and the guy got hesitant. He said I could sing OK but they "didn't feel it would work for what they're doing". (commercial rock covers).

    Is that a polite way of saying I can't sing?

    I was kinda looking forward to working on my voice with them, and am feeling a little down at being "just the bass player". I'm not sure if that's a good foot to start off with, and am worried the bad feelings will linger, especially if they can't fill that vocal/keyboard slot quickly. Any insight appreciated as usual.
  2. lavaxtris


    Feb 3, 2009
    one of the main reasons I dont sing lead in my band is because my voice simply doesnt fit the style of music.

    maybe you are bad... maybe your not. sometimes the case is just because they cant see you singing the type of music.

    nothing to get upset about though. kurt cobain was a horrible singer, I cant see him singing any other type of music, but it really fit with Nirvana, and Nirvana wouldnt be the same without him.
  3. in TB speak that's exactly what it means, maybe Aussies beat about the bush like that too, but I'm leaning toward "you could front someone else, just not them".
  4. Robdrone


    Jul 27, 2012
    Lancaster, PA
    In my opinion, if you don't already know if you're good enough to sing lead, you probably aren't... Being a lead vocalist requires a certain confidence in your ability that you don't seem to have... That's not to say that if you're a decent singer you can't lay down some lush harmonies or do small passages of alternate lead vocals.I'd just advise against getting your mind set on being a frontman. Not everybody is cut out for it. Hell most of the people i've auditioned who do have that confidence still aren't good enough at the actual singing part. The difference between the good bands and the really good bands you see out there is often the presence of a proper frontman.

    Personally I'm a well above average singer I'm good enough to sing lead, but i'm no frontman. That being said I really enjoy laying down harmonies and it makes a huge difference in the overall sound and professionalism of our band as a whole. Maybe you could get into doing that as well. I'm not saying you're definitely never going to be a lead singer, but if you have aspirations of playing out anytime soon I'd focus on what you can do to help the band now. No point in wasting your band mates time as you develop into a singer or not. Start taking singing lessons again, build your confidence, and maybe the next project, or the next time the band needs a singer you'll be ready.

    Just imagine if you were in a band with an awesome guy, who is a so so singer. I've been there and you wind up just spinning your wheels and it's hard to get rid of somebody you really like because they don't develop into the frontman your band needs. I actually applaud the band for telling you up front instead of saying "maybe" and skirting the issue. It means they're probably looking at the big picture and might be good people to work with.
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    If you want to know the truth, you're going to have to post a vid. :)
  6. Thanks guys.

    This wasn't so much about my singing lead as what I was doing on the night - harmonies, backups, alternate lines like the Na Na's All The Small Things.

    I have no aspirations of being a front man, unless wanting to lead a couple songs a night qualifies as fronting. :)

    @Joe, I don't have a video camera at present. I will try sneaking my Zoom recorder into the next rehearsal and see if they let me in front of the mic ;)
  7. The good news is - you got the bass job, which is what you auditioned for. I would take the gig. You never know, they might want to try your back up harmonies later on. In the meantime, take the voice lessons- it can't hurt.
  8. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    ^This. Take the gig, and take more voice lessons now.

    As your vocals get stronger, you might end up doing some of the singing with this project. Even if you never end up singing with this new band, at least you'll be better prepared the next time you have a similar opportunity.
  9. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011
    Knowing one's limitations isn't a bad thing. I'm fully aware, and not offended in the least when I'm told that I couldn't carry a tune if you put it in a bucket. I'm okay on backup when I have another voice to follow, but that's where it ends for me.
  10. craig.p


    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I agree with lavaxtris. The style of music is crucial. For example, I can clone Dwight Yoakam no problem. I can sing A-list quality harmonies to anything, no problem. But... ask me to sing rock leads and I suddenly sound like Bobby Barone five minutes after a booze & crack cocktail. Like Flying Frets says, I'm aware of my limitations.

    Record yourself at home, whether it's just harmonies or also leads, and listen. It'll take 2 hours max. Then you'll know for sure what you can and can not pull off. You can't go by what you hear in your inner ear -- it'll fool you every time. (I mention that only in case that's what you've been relying on.)
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    If you need to take lessons, you're not there. I sing backups in all my current and past bands, but I definitely don't have a lead vocal voice or presence. I sing the lead part in one song, the only one I've done in 35 years - "Teach Your Children." But TYC is all two- and three-part vocals, so nobody knows who's singing what anyway.
  12. fishtx

    fishtx Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses/Genz Benz - RIP/Mojo Hand FX
    Take the lessons anyway if you want to improve your vocal ability...whether they want you to sing lead or not...
  13. If I follow your story well enough, you 'laid down some b/vox' with a struggling singer. Hard to judge who was better. If you hadn't rehearsed the vox beforehand and attempted them for the first time at the audition you should cut yourself some slack on the end result.
    Agree with a lot of the posts here - take the gig, work on your vox (either with lessons or on your own) and come back with a better polished delivery. If the other guys in the band are struggling through a part, you may be able to come in and shine. Having another voice in the band is always important imho.
    Good luck.
  14. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    You auditioned as a bass player. That's what they wanted. There's no such thing as "just a bass player" ... you are an integral and important part of the group, take the job seriously, and give it all you got.

    I started sub'ing with a country band about three years ago ... on a very regular basis as the regular bass player was dealing with family issues out of state. I came in and did my thing, they liked me and I them, and late last year the other bassist gave notice and they took me on as the regular bassist. I hadn't done much (if any) singing while sub'ing, it wasn't my job. But as a regular with a vested interest in the continued success of the band I began to bring new songs to the set list and sang lead vocals to them (I can sing and do so as a solo guitar/singer, my primary interest). I started improvising harmonies to songs they were doing already. The other guys sang harmony to my leads. The band took on a new dimension with added emphasis on vocals and tight harmonies. The other members liked it, and I was having a LOT more fun.

    I suppose if there's a point to this it's this ... I was hired to play bass. I didn't even tell them I could sing, it wasn't part of the interview/audition for the slot they were filling. I would have been happy to remain a mute bass player if they hadn't asked me to sing. And I'd have continued to give my best in my assigned role.
  15. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    ^ This is the gist, right there.

    I recently had to dismiss a vocalist because her voice just wasn't a fit with the others. She sang fine for the audition doing a couple of leads. But in terms of harmony they weren't a fit. It caused a ripple effect with the other vocalists, affecting their performance and confidence. The harmonies are very important to the sound, thus I had to let her go, even though she could probably sing in another project fine.
  16. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    The voice is a very limited instrument in terms of both range and tone. Look at it more like a horn than a guitar or piano in terms of range. A tuba can't play high notes, and neither can a baritone singer. A piccolo can't play in the bass clef, and neither can a soprano. It's a rare and amazing vocalist who can sing in 4 octaves, while any ordinary guitar can do 4 octaves. Even a cheap 4 string bass has 3 octaves, which would still be a good range for a vocalist.

    As far as tone, the voice is limited like any instrument, even moreso. In the same way that a trombone won't sound like a xylophone, one voice won't always sound like another. With instruments, if you want a different sound you can get a different instrument or add effects that drastically change it. You don't have that option with vocals, unless you want to sound like a robot.
  17. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    I am not sure if I am missing the something here.

    What is the appeal of this band for you?

    There seems to be a few red flags. Did they offer you the gig on the spot?

    If the keyboardist and singer didn't show up aren't you concerned that your joining a sinking ship?

  18. Here's my take. I have always believed that a lead voice has to have an identifiable character to it that fits the style of music, i.e. you don't ask an opera singer to sing Motorhead. I've never felt my voice had that "it" factor, so I've never willingly stepped up to do lead vocals.

    That said, I can and will sing any harmony, any time, in any range. Being able to play bass as I'm doing so has kept me working as much as I want.
  19. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Amen, this is a social gathering it isn't a "band" at all from your description.
  20. Knowing your vocal limits is the key to being a successful singing player. I have a Broadway/Jazz voice, so I have to choose my rock material with some care. Oddly enough, I find some of my departed dad's SW Missouri twang coming through, when I sing country material (and I do, in my main band). Additionally, just because I have a working vocal range in excess of 3 octaves does not mean that it gets used, that often...but it makes a difference, when getting hired-gun work (which usually means shared vox duties, anyway).