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Wanting to curb band-drinking at gigs - striking the right tone.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Forgetful Jones, Jun 5, 2005.

  1. Howdy folks.

    I'm in a new working cover-band, playing the better venues in town. We're just establishing ourselves, but we've all been in bands before. I'm the most 'established' in the local scene though.

    I know some people in here are adamant that *no* drinking as appropriate on stage. I'm not that strict, I don't mind a drink or two over the course of a night. However, our singer is taking things, I believe, beyond the levels of appropriateness. I'm not sure how to deal with the situation diplomatically though... I don't want to quit this band, but I'm prepared to if I can't exact some change here.

    Here's the email I'm planning to send out. What do you think? I've removed names & places to protect the ambivalent :p

  2. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Good email. To the point without pointing fingers.

    You're going to get a response along the lines of 'But I play better when I'm relaxed". The truth is you only THINK you play better. I once made a recording of a gig to highlight just how bad you play/sing when drunk. It worked. I played it to everyone in the band at a rehearsal and stood by watching as people cringed at what they heard.

    Maybe use this as a backup plan if the email falls on deaf ears.

    Personally I limit myself to 1 drink per set (so typcally 3 drinks for the whole night). It's enough to keep it social and relaxed, but it's not enough to get me drunk, affect my playing, or put me over the legal limit for driving. If I feel like having more, I do so AFTER the gig is over. These are self imposed limits and they work for me. It's all part of having your act together, and that's why I gig constantly while a lot of guys who are better players than me sit at home gigless.
  3. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    If you were to meet the rest of them and spit out a condensed version you would be better off.

    Use herd mentality in your favour. ;)
  4. I'm not 100% convinced the herd mentality will be effective. I suspect I might be the only one who's bothered by it. :scowl:

    I'm more inclined toward the "dazzle them with reasonable-ness" approach :)
  5. 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
    It should be fine if you delete the first sentence and the following paragraph.
  6. played a gig last night at a wedding function centre and they refused to give the band a drink. Flat outright refused!!!!!
    Said they had some bad experiences. Well we are a responsible band so this just basically made us pissed off and who suffers. Well the client who is the bride. but of course we remained profressional and did the gig. But man it was like being in a dry county of Mississippi or something!!!!!!!!!
  7. I think the old "tape the gig" and give everyone a copy isn't a bad idea. Make sure they play it when they're sober.

    The email can backfire too. In person would work better, but only if you can keep from being judgemental. People can get defensive if they feel attacked. So approach is everything.

    Something along the lines of "Hey, we're a new band, still getting tight. I'm worried we're all drinking a little too much at one gig or another. Shouldn't we tone it down until we're tighter, when we're all way more familiar with the tunes we're doing? A beer every set or two isn't going to kill anyone, but we aren't quite tight enough to risk too many unnecessary mistakes. Not saying we're getting trashed, but maybe drinking enough to make a handful of extra mistakes a night, and sooner or later someone will make one that the crowd notices."

  8. Thanks for the tips so far folks...

    We have a first gig at a new venue (for us) this Saturday, so at rehearsal tomorrow I think I'll just mention it in terms of "New venue, first impressions, let's all be at our best, try not to write ourselves off either at the gig OR the night before". It's not at all confrontational, just good sense.

    Then I'll tape the show (incase I need cold-hard evidence) and see where we are on Sunday morning :)

    Excellent advice by the way, playing back the mistakes on tape (or minidisc, in this case). You're right - "little" mistakes that you'd skim right past on the night, can sound absolutely awful the next day, minus all the gig-night adrenalin (and, in this case, beer)

    I shall let you know how it goes.
  9. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    :soapbox = on:

    Personally, I feel that this is a discussion that needs to be done face-to-face... I realize that e-mail has become the de-facto way to communicate, but remember, if it can be taken wrong, it will be taken wrong... If you can't say something you feel this strongly about in a band context, (rehearsal, unloading, etc), you may be in the wrong band altogether. IMO, "Getting Cards On The Table" means being there to look others in the eye as they read your hand... Believe me, as a complete "Confrontational-Wussy", I realize exactly how hard this can be... Nothing at all wrong with writing yourself a few notes on the high points to have at hand while discussing. I can tend to get pretty tongue-tied myself...

    I very much respect the musicians that I currently play with and am learning to respect myself more... Music is important enough to me that I am forcing myself to speak my mind when I have an issue and expect others to do the same. I'm fortunate enough to be playing in bands with like-minded members. If I were to receive an e-mail like the one listed, I would walk away without looking back. "If you cannot say it to my face, then I will not hear you", (he says smugly from the safety of his keyboard...)

    :soapbox = off:

  10. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Good move... you posted this when I was writing my previous post... Let us know how it goes, and good luck!

  11. That's the reason I drafted this in email form. I'm a pretty good speaker, and reasonably articulalte, but I'm also a 'confrontational wussy' as you say ;)

    But you're right... if the person in question can't take my concerns for what they are - constructive suggestions to protect/assist the reputation and standing of this group - then it's probably best that it come to light now.

    Very good attitude. I shouldn't be so worried about bringing up what I believe to be a perfectly reasonable concern. At the end of the day, as I said in the email, (which I will probably never send now) I can't dictate anyone else's behaviour. What I can do is choose whether or not I associate myself with it. If that means removing myself from the equation, well I will make that call if I have to.

    Heh! :) That's fair enough I suppose... although it would be mis-judging my reasoning behind the choice of email delivery. Most of us work office jobs as well at the moment, and we often use email to discuss setlists, rehearsal times, bookings etc. simply because it's convenient. On top of that, the written word, while containing far great risk of being misunderstood, also allows for taking stock and making sure the message is accurately conveyed.

    That said, I will bring it up in a low-key manner in person, and see how the dialogue progresses from there.
  12. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    I am dealing with this problem in my current group, and it's a bummer. But, it needs to be dealt with. My only suggestion is to make your point in person. E-mail is a weird thing. People get really strange interpretations of text from the almost total lack of emotional intent. The most benign of messages become some sort of mean-spirited personal attack. Have a band face-to-face.
  13. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    +1 on face to face. This is touchy, and email is bad for "touchy".
  14. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Oh don't get me wrong, (and it doesn't sound like you are, by the way), e-mail is fantastic for the non-emotional type of communications above... How did we ever live without it??? :cool:

    I'm merely speaking for myself in saying that, in a collaborative environment where everybody is an "equal", I wouldn't be able to tolerate an e-mail as a means to communicate a behavioral/ethical/motivational concern... Even face-to-face, there is a chance to mis-interpret, but at least the discussion is immediate and contains all of the important non-verbal cues...

    Again, good luck! I think that you really can't go too far wrong with the self-effacing, good-of-the-band approach that you've outlined :)

  15. Diggler


    Mar 3, 2005
    Western PA
    Personally, I think it may be OK to send the email, especially with our critical eyes reading it first. It looked reasonable to me. The bonus to the email route is that you can get the whole point across, without egos allowing you to get sidetracked and attitudes escalated. You might say something at the beginning of the email that pisses someone off, but at the end the message clarifies it so that they say, "Oh yeah, I see what he means."

    If it's in person, you might not get the chance to clarify before they jump down your throat and get defensive.
  16. Chiba


    Mar 11, 2005
    I'd go face-to-face too - less chance of being misunderstood or your tone coming off angry or whatever. E-mail is tough to convey "Hey I'm not p*ssed but we really have to pay attention to this" in without sounding like an ass.

    I might have one beer before a set, but that's it. I don't play with drunks - had my fill of that garbage in the 20 years I've been playing in bands. You want to drink, that's fine - wait til after we're done playing. Hell, I'll even drive you AND your gear home if you want to get blotto - AFTER OUR SET.

    The guys that said "You don't play better drunk" are spot on - you also don't play better stoned or high or whatever the 'in' term for doing drugs is now, but I suppose that's another thread.

  17. Hey! Lets see your union card, buddy, you sound suspicious! :D

  18. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    Sorry but...emailing something like that is first class Chicken****.

    You got band cancer brewing. Handle it face to face.
  19. gretschman


    Nov 22, 2004
    Lewisville, TX
    I'm really skeptical that anything you say is going to have an effect. I played in a band for a while where the bass player once yelled "Drum solo!" in the middle of a song and then ran off stage to throw up. Another band featured a guitarist who almost started a fight with an audience member WHILE HE WAS STILL ON STAGE.

    Every time anything was said about excessive drinking (or indulgence of any kind) the comments were met with denial and derision. I think you're going to get similar responses. Many musicians truly believe that drinking doesn't affect their playing. For others, it's just an integral part of playing gigs. Either way, they rarely appreciate having the error of their ways pointed out, and will even more rarely respond by saying "Wow! You're right! I'll quit right now."

    Hint: if someone brings a 6-pack to rehearsals you're likely to have problems down the road.

    I'm a drummer, and learned the hard way a long time ago that I can't indulge without it affecting my playing, so I don't drink until the last set, if at all. I've played with guys who can imbibe reasonably and still perform, and with guys who are worthless after two hours. The latter I move away from as quickly as possible.
  20. giantjerk


    Jan 18, 2003
    Allen, TX
    1. Too wordy
    2. You presume too much
    3. deliver it face to face

    Your position can be summed up as follows:

    I am putting in the effort to make this band successful. I expect the same from each member. Drinking/getting drunk does not further our efforts or performance. Adjust, quit or I walk.

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