What would you do?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by JEDI BASS, Aug 3, 2021.


    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    Band history first:

    A drummer I've been in multiple bands with, over the last 15+ years, called me up about 5 years ago. I had just quit an all original rock band that had bigger aspirations than I was comfortable with, at my age (44 at that time) and career level. They wanted everyone to sell homes and quit jobs to tour full time until they became famous, paying to play - opening for big name bands, etc etc.

    My drummer (a very good friend), when he called, was considering forming a cover band with a guitarist he had been playing with. I knew a very good singer that I'd seen out playing around with pieced together bands, mostly retired guys or people that are always playing at blues jams etc etc. We all got together and everything clicked very well! We put in the hours (some way more than others) creating a diverse and fun list of around 40 songs that would keep people dancing and put us on the map as a pro level party band. Our goal was to play 2-3 shows a month max, preferably high paying parties or weddings.

    Pretty quickly, once we started booking gigs, the guitarist (youngest member of the band in his mid 20s) started showing that he was a slacker. He would be the least prepared at rehearsals.... almost never doing his homework on new songs. He complained about the venues not being the nice ones that he wanted to play, not understanding that we had to start somewhere to build a fan base and reputation. He showed up last at gigs and left first, leaving the heavy carrying and PA setup work to me and the drummer. Our female singer can't lift heavy things and talks to the patrons (a good thing) while we set things up.

    I found and brought another guitarist into the band when the first kept turning down shows and missing rehearsals. We played about half our shows with just the new guitarist. He had/has our work ethic and professional attitude. Everyone finally got fed up enough that I got them to agree to let me fire the first guitarist, and I happily did.

    We've done well since getting rid of the free-rider guitarist, typically getting offered more shows than I and our drummer can do. The band is not a source of frustration anymore, and more like a 2nd family. Drummer has a very successful career that has gotten more demanding, and he struggles to do 2-3 shows a month. We haven't landed many high paying parties, and no weddings. But, there's plenty of $400-$500 bar gigs, with nice perks (free food and beer at some), and often crowds that tip big ($100 - $200+ per show). Our take home is anywhere from $100 to $175 per member, on average. That's not much money to me and the drummer... at all... considering most shows mess up the whole weekend for us. Friday shows take up about 7 hours of our night, after a tiring work week. We get home around 2-3am depending on if we get food on the way home. Saturdays we're sore and exhausted... often sick if the bar allows smoking, and many do. So... again... 2-3 shows a month is the most the drummer and I want to do. It seems worth it, and is still fun enough to us, if we keep it to 2-3.

    Our singer doesn't have a job and a couple months back she started trying to book every weekend, both days (Friday and Saturday). She said she'd get sub players for the ones we can't play. The guitarist recently got divorced and is willing to play all the shows with her. "No hurt feelings if you can't do them" she said, "I have to make as much money as I can." We told her to not book them under our band name that we had built a great reputation upon. And, she can't use the PA that the drummer and I own. All was good with that arrangement, even though some venues have made social media posts, mistakenly using the band name.

    The drummer played a show with a sub bassist. It wasn't great, at all. I played 2 shows with a pro level substitute drummer that did a fantastic job, but there was still a few minor trainwreck moments. The drummer and I do a lot more than just play our instruments, so using even pro level players is still not the party we usually bring.

    So, here's the issue: I agreed to play a show in 4 days with a sub drummer that she used (along with a sub bassist) a few weeks back. I figured the drummer has had the setlists for a month or more now, and he would know the songs well. So, yesterday we tried a rehearsal, and there was about 12 or more songs, out of the 40 or so, that he said he needed to work on with us. We planned a 2.5 hour rehearsal. Luckily, we only went over the 12 songs and wrapped it up in about an hour. Any longer, and I would've lost my cool and probably shoved my bass somewhere it wasn't meant to go. I've never met someone so calm about not knowing how to play songs, and sounding like total cr@p! I'm talking totally blowing the beat to smithereens and killing the feel of every song! Ever hear upbeat funky drums in Fiona Apple's Criminal?? I have!! All the while, the singer is chipper and saying "oh, you'll know them by Friday night." Normally, I'm outspoken. But, this is her thing, so I kept quiet and kept my rage and opinions to myself.

    After rehearsal, I called the guitarist and said I wouldn't be playing the show. I asked how they could play such sub-par shows with these substitute players. IMO, it's detrimental to our band since they're playing the same venues we play, to the same crowds. He said they're just trying to get through these gigs. But, there's gigs every dang weekend, leaving no time for the real band to work on new material. I said I wouldn't lower myself to that. I haven't played bass for 32 years to get on stage and sound like total cr@p for a 100 or even a thousand bucks!

    I called the singer and told her the same, adding that she is the face of our band and she and our band are better than that. I'll be waiting for the fallout.
  2. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Time for a band discussion.

    My position would be that the band is the original members. If others want to play on off weeks, no use of the band name. If they ask why, it's because the subs they use are not up to snuff, and are hurting the band image. That and overexposure of the band name is making it tough to get better gigs.

    No use of your PA, because it's yours, you don't want it damaged, and they aren't helping break it down, so you don't want strangers in charge of it.
    BlueTalon, Ggaa, smogg and 3 others like this.

    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    Good points about the band image and overexposure!

    The other rules are already in play and we haven’t had any issues, except for the venue calling her group of players by our band name on social media, by mistake.
    MAXSPINRUN likes this.
  4. Jeff Roller

    Jeff Roller Jeff Roller Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    Maryville, TN
    Oh boy...I saw that your lead singer was booking standalone gigs and figured something like this was going on.

    Take any band out there, whether commercial artists or weekend warriors, if the individual members can't agree on common goals, it's going to put you in a situation like this.

    The only way I see this working is if lead singer gets an entirely different band that consists of pro level players AND they play under another name AND the setlist is substantially different from the other band. The last two items are key, and the very last one more important than you think.

    If lead singer is doing the same set you guys have already polished and honed, has a decent fill in band with her, it doesn't matter what name she's using, that act + the "real" band will get overexposed in this market and it will be hard to fill rooms with either band.

    My 2 cents, sorry this is happening JJ.....

    I know a drummer who could help you out of the immediate problem (upcoming shows) but the long term resolution is more complicated.

    *Flash idea* Have you broached the subject of lead singer doing an acoustic act? Those acts tend to get in places a full band can't, and it's more money for just 2 players.
  5. 51PRI


    Aug 7, 2014
    Long term you guys need to all be on the same page about number of bookings per month, but it seems that would result a breakup of the band.

    Where you made a mistake, in my opinion, was pulling out of a show in 4 days that you had committed to. That isn't professional.
  6. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Sounds like you need a new LS for YOUR project. She wants more gigs than the project vision and is stepping all over your band's image.

    I have no problem with members doing whatever they want on the side so long as 1) they are available for OUR gigs and 2) they are not representing MY band. Some setlist cross over? Sure, we all know that many bands have similar setlists, but there should be a lot of material YOUR band doesn't cover. It doesn't sound like she's respecting the band, so time to get someone who wans to be a member of YOUR band.
  7. Jeff Roller

    Jeff Roller Jeff Roller Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    Maryville, TN
    I have to defend my brother JJ, he's the most honest hard working bass player in our area (talented too) and no greater friend. He has helped me out on MANY occasions when I couldn't be in two places at once. If truth be told, I think my band mates like it when I have a conflict, they know JJ is showing up lol...

    If I were in the exact same circumstances I would have bowed out of the show as well. There is no fun in sucking, especially when you put in the time and effort I know JJ does.

    He isn't leaving anyone in a pinch, trust me. There are plenty of bass players that will line up to fill that open spot. Around here, one FB post asking for a fill in musician for a gig on the very same night will get 20+ responses.

    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    I disagree. I assumed the quality of the drummer, who’d played a show recently with them, was up to my and our standards. That’s my mistake. My singer and guitarist both agree that he is not. But, I’m the only one who seems to care about the quality of our product. I’m not willing to lower myself to play with a drummer that sounds that bad. I don’t want my band’s reputation, my personal reputation, and my credibility jeopardized. I’ve reached out to several quality drummers today that I know would learn the songs by Friday, so I could play the gig. So far... no dice.

    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    Thanks Jeff! And yes... they’ll find a sub bass player that will hack his way through the songs and they’ll sound even more horrible. And, everyone will walk away thinking MY BAND sucks. It’s a pretty crappy “thank you” for bringing her into the band years ago and making something special as a group.

    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    Seriously.... this guy had not even listened to a 3rd of our night’s material. Just try to imagine playing with a drummer with no clue how the songs go. It’s so absurd I feel I have to repeat it.... the beats were WRONG in 1/3 of the material for the night! And, this guy isn’t one of those naturals that can play along with any song and make it better.... he totally destroyed them.
    mikewalker, BlueTalon and Jeff Roller like this.
  11. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    1) We didn't need ANY of the first SEVEN PARAGRAPHS of this story. They added alwcaxtly zero to the conversation. I kept waiting for the part that mattered about all of that and we never got to it. Please edit to include "TL/DR just skip to the issue".

    2) You've already done what you're going to do, so why did you ask? You called the other band members and told them you're done with fill ins.

    3) They don't se as concerned as you are so they'll probably let you go and continue on with another bass player... and some fill in bass players.

  12. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    Expectations need to be dealt with up front when joining a band and can change. If an individual band members situation changes, for instance, loses a job, now needs to gig a lot more, or job gets too demanding and can’t gig as much this is a major problem. Over the years , I’ve found whenever this sort of thing happens, it’s alway better to replace that individual than allowing it to morph in to a hodge-podge of musical entities.

    The short answer and this is a though one, it’s time for you, the drummer and the guitarist artist to reformulate.

    BTW, before you do, make sure you have a good recording of all 40 of your songs. Trust me, this will make replacing personnel as painless as possible. Just give a candidate a copy, and ask, when can you be ready?

    JEDI BASS Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    1) nah... I’m good. No edit needed.
    2) the question was “What would you do?” It’s a common way to get other people’s perspectives and input on how they would handle something. And so far, the input has been quite helpful, from most who’ve replied.
    3) the guitarist and singer are two that I brought to the band that the drummer and I formed. Drummer and I are a unit, we’re on the same page about this issue, and we own the the 2 PA systems (practice and gig) the microphones, and cables. This is all in the parts you think added zero to the conversation.
  14. commonplayer

    commonplayer Supporting Member

    Mar 7, 2006
    But we totally needed your irrelevant editorial advice...
  15. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    You’re clearly now in a position where you want to be band manager and be in charge of the band as a company even/especially on nights when you’re not performing, but you’ve been trying to delegate those responsibilities to the singer & guitarist- and they’ve failed to rise to the occasion.

    You have to do the networking. You have to book more gigs. You have to find the “subs” but make them band members for whom you and “the” drummer will sub two or three times a month. You probably have to find multiple “subs”. @PauFerro I think is the one who was running a music coalition like this.

    …Or start booking the band as (Band Name) with (last/stage names of singer & guitarist) so as to accentuate to the clubs and fans what they get and don’t get when (Band Name) is in the house.
    Jeff Roller likes this.
  16. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    If there ever was a “fire the drummer” situation, this is it!
    mikewalker and Huw Phillips like this.
  17. Jeez, fire the chick singer. Now she can go get two jobs.

    She’s treating you guys like a couple of sugar daddies.
    DirtDog, Lowendchamp and MattZilla like this.
  18. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    There were two chapters about the old guitar player.

    Anyway..... so are you basically asking what to do if the female singer freaks out? If you and the drummer are on the same page, and own the band, inform the rest how things are going to go. If they don't like it, find replacements. Otherwise, I don't understand the question.

    You two own the band. You two agree on how to proceed. Proceed that way with or without the other two. There's really nothing to decide.
    Kipp Harrington and MattZilla like this.
  19. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Fair enough. That doesn't change the point.
    lfmn16 likes this.
  20. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    sounds like too many agendas by too many people going in too many multiple directions...without real leadership.

    if that's correct: simplify. if it costs you some 'personalities' along the way, big whup. now you're the BL (or co-BL, whatever) --- congrats! ;) good luck! :thumbsup:
    DirtDog, aprod, Lowendchamp and 3 others like this.