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Well, that was fast (flaky bassist content)

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by ThinCrappyTone, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    tl;dr: Committed to band, quit after 2nd rehearsal.

    I don’t join bands anymore. Just don’t have the patience for the drawma, volume wars and other insanities. These days it’s just more satisfying to solo recordings, one-off projects with friends, or maybe little temporary projects that gig a few times.

    But about a year ago, a singer who lives in my town, who I know through some recording collaborations, called and said she had an originals band that needed a bassist. I checked them out and they sounded really good. But I declined because of the reasons above.

    Over the last year, she would occasionally send videos of them gigging, saying “hey the door is still open”. In the videos of their gigs, they sounded great, looked pro.

    I was intrigued by their format: They were playing as a stripped-down little three piece: vocals, acoustic guitar, and a drummer who just played a floor tom with mallets. Tiny footprint. Great blend. Very mature. Since one of my biggest pet peeves of being in a band is being forced to move and set up a truckload of gear, every gig, just to facilitate ear splitting volume in tiny rooms for 45 minute sets, I loved the maturity and efficiency of their setup. The idea of a stripped-down little stage plot like they were using was really appealing. And more importantly, it was working really well.

    After a while, and a few more offers to play, I got to thinking that not too many people are busting down my door to join their bands, so this might be a great opportunity. Three quality musicians, close by, with great songs, rehearsal space, discipline and maturity? Yeah, sounds good. I said I'd learn some songs and stop by.


    Learned five songs, went to rehearsal. Everyone was so nice! And on time! What?? Crazy.

    We ran the songs. Sounded great, right off the bat! Woo! I liked playing the tunes. They liked me playing them. But man did I love the blend! guitarist was at a reasonable volume. Drummer with his mallets was glorious. I was playing a single 12" combo. We could all hear each other really well. Sounded like a recording, almost. I thought "this is what a mature band sounds like!". I was glorying in the fact that we would be able to play anywhere. With a footprint like this, moving, sound-checking and setting up would be easy.

    After, they said… “So.. what do you think?”

    “Don’t commit just yet.", I thought

    “I’m in!”, I said

    And all was merry.


    Drummer shows up with a full kit. Not just a full kit, but the biggest, loudest, John-Bonhamish full kit I have seen in decades. I query him about it, and realize he is drunk. Very drunk. He slurs something about “now that we have a bass player, I can play a real kit.” No more mallets + floor tom. We’re talking 24” kick, rack toms, 16” and 18” floor toms, and about half a dozen cymbals.

    Guitarist now has changed his setup as well. His volume is much louder, due to the drummer, and he has for some reason switched to a hollowbody, which is now having feedback issues.

    We jam. It's a super loud mush. The singer looks distressed, and I can no longer hear her. The 1x12 combo I am using which was fine the week before is now inaudible. I find myself squatting near it so I can hear myself. I sigh, realizing that I will have to start shlepping a stack of some sort.

    Drummer who was awesome last week has now, through the magic of many craft beers, turned into the loudest and worst drummer in the world. I turn around in the middle of some horribly messy fill that he comes out of badly, and he is literally trying to drink a beer while playing, and its running down his shirt.

    The singer looks at me across the room with a look of horror on her face.

    After stumbling through the set, we sit down and try to talk about stuff, but the drummer keeps completely misunderstanding what we are trying to say, because he’s out of his mind.

    We sort of ignore him, and talk some more, and the guitarist starts saying how he will need me to commit to spending $500 on gear for an IEM setup. Because he has all the stems from the recordings and wants us to play with a click and backing tracks. Whaaa??

    At this point, I’m like “hey, well, you know… what I loved about you guys was the small footprint acoustic thing you were doing. What you’re proposing is way more complicated.”

    Then they told me that the acoustic thing was always just temporary until they got a bassist, and what they really want to do is have this full rock band thing with backing tracks.

    Like Gob from Arrested Development, I realized I made a terrible mistake

    I committed. But this was a freaking mess, and exactly what I didn’t want to be involved in.

    Do I stick with it? Be an honorable person and commit because I have a strong character that would not allow me to go back on my word?

    Nah. Thought about it for a few days, then called, thanked them for the opportunity and said that I decided I’m not going to continue with the project. They asked why, I was annoyingly vague, and just said “It’s not what I’m looking for.”

    They understood, but were not happy. And now I am sure that I will forever be known as “that flaky bass player”. Alas.

    Lesson learned: never commit until you see the drummer at his drunkest.

    Their lesson learned: Never believe a bass player when he says he's in. Or at least never believe me when I say that.
  2. sneauxman


    Jul 14, 2017
    I side with you on this. What was presented to you on first meeting and accepted was entirely different than what they intended to be. This should have been relayed to during that first meeting. Sounds like the classic bait and switch to me
  3. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Thanks man. I feel bad because I shouldn't have committed then bailed. But yeah, we had talked a bunch beforehand, and they never mentioned any of this.
  4. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I would had bailed too, commitment be damned. The whole nature of the band changed literally overnight and it instantly became something you would not had committed to in the first place. I think the fact that they didn't have a bassist for a long period of time is telling. Wouldn't be surprised if they turned off a couple other guys before you.
  5. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    Insert any of a dozen "That was the interview, this is the job" jokes.
    I'da run too.
  6. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    That's good to know! I feel slightly less like a dink :)
    Aqualung60, Frankie Fender and Bobro like this.
  7. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    I would have been honest - "this was presented to me as an acoustic group, with reasonable volume and a small physical footprint, so we could play anywhere. I didn't sign up for a loud rock band, or people being drunk at rehearsal. Thank you anyhow."

    I wouldn't worry about it. There are two things I will never put up with - excessive volume, and people not being prepared. You were smart to bail.
  8. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    it happens. bands are like dating. Everyone seems great at first. It takes 2-4 weeks to find out what they are really about and whether it's for you or not. Nobody really commits to bands - everyone is essentially a free agent, and independent business person. Few musicians any more take attitudes further than "what's in it for me?" nor would I expect it. bands come and go. just keep playing
  9. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    00 images2b2.

    things change. you get to change, too. good luck! :thumbsup:
  10. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    hadn't considered that. Interesting.
    instrumentlevel, Thumpr and Bobro like this.
  11. yikes! I'd say be thankful it was only two rehearsals and you didn't commit more valuable time to a project that was NOT what it was originally presented as!
    retslock, jezyorkshire, Bobro and 2 others like this.
  12. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Mostly harmless Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Thanks. And that sounds like a good way to handle it. I considered being straight up, but my concern was if I tried getting into the reasons, it would turn into a long, unfun conversation.
    EddiePlaysBass likes this.
  13. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Even worse, I'm sorry your band experiences have been crap. To me, nothing beats playing with a good drummer.
  14. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    Sound like you married Rachel and woke up next to Leah :)
    Bahjark, jefff100, Thumpr and 9 others like this.
  15. oldrocker


    Feb 13, 2005
    Long Island, NY
    Why would you be "annoyingly vague". Why not just be honest and tell them the real reason. The real reason being that you were interested in the initial stripped down thing and not the full blown loud band experience.

    There is a chance the singer and maybe the guitar player are interested in continuing the acoustic stripped down format and there would be no chance that you would come across as being flaky.
    getrhythm, Mr_Moo, DirtDog and 11 others like this.
  16. Fretless1!


    Feb 19, 2007
    I would have bailed just as fast if not faster than you did.
    ThinCrappyTone likes this.
  17. J_Bass


    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    Uau, that escalated quickly!

    I think you did the right thing. You were invited to a project that you liked, it worked, and then they changed everything. I would do the same.
    rmayer, retslock, Bobro and 1 other person like this.
  18. Sounds like you acted reasonably. Bait and switch I think is the right term?

    I would have done the same.
  19. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Doesn't qualify as flakey. Bait and switch. What you did was perfectly reasonable. The one thing I would change is that I would have explained why.
  20. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    If the singer was 'horrified' and the guitar guy was unhappy, clearly the way forward is 'fire the drummer.'
    The good news is, you can probably still get work as a drummerless trio with a bass during your search. (Ask any bluegrass ensemble...)
    The bad news is, in situations like this, the drummer and singer/BL are probably best buds from highschool or somesuch interpersonal entanglement...
    MattZilla, Thumpr, Woofer and 7 others like this.

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