When doesn't "no" mean "no"?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by CJ_Marsicano, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. Been awhile since I visited here. I avoided telling the first part of the tale since I would have been seriously retreading ground but for the purposes of this story as it now stands, I'll tell it pretty much from the beginning...

    This past spring, someone familiar with my past work got in touch with me, wanting me to join their band - the usual type of bar band, which I wasn't really interested in. The guy said he had respect for my playing and felt that I'd be a perfect fit for the group. I asked out of curiosity and courtesy to see the set list, and he e-mailed it to me.

    The "set list", actually a repertoire of about 75 songs, was OK except for a handful of Skynyrd and hair metal songs that I'd prefer never to play again. Ick.

    I e-mailed him back and asked him how often those particular cuts ended up being played every night. He said they were pretty much permanent parts of the set list.

    I replied, "Those songs are why I don't want to play in any more bar bands, so while I'm flattered that you think highly of my playing, I do not wish to contaminate your band by playing songs I cannot put my heart into." I wanted to give him the "replace the Skynyrd songs with Stooges ones and you've got your bass player" line, but I simply wasn't interested. He was bummed out in his reply but said OK and that was the end of it... I thought.

    The other day, he e-mailed me back, pleading with me to reconsider.

    I asked why, what was wrong with the guy they had?

    He responded that the guy they had - a guitar player friend that was filling in on bass - was initially ok but had started the habit of pretending to be Jaco Pastorious during songs whenever he got bored with a song. Been there, heard that before, felt sorry for them... and turned them down again.

    He then called me, begging me to agree to show up at their next show so that I could take the guy's place on the spot.

    I replied, "Excuse me, what part of 'NO' don't you understand? I don't like many of the songs in your set list. I don't even REMEMBER how to play some of the songs in your set list!"

    They: "You've gotta do it, we need a real bass player. That's you."

    Me: "Flatter me all you want - I'm still not interested. I don't remember most of those old songs - I purged them out of my mind after the last band I was in - and I don't have the time to try to relearn them." (Actually, I probably could have - I learned 30 songs in a day before my first rehearsal with my first semi-pro outfit - but disinterest forced me to stretch the truth here.)

    They: "But we'll get kicked out of the clubs if we keep the guy we have now."

    Me: "That's not my problem. I'm not interested in any way, shape, or form in your band or its music. Please don't ask me anymore." And then I hung up.

    I think I did the right thing the whole time. Opinions?
  2. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    OK - my thoughts:

    I looks to me like everything was reasonable, and made sense - except for..
    -using Jaco as an example of a bad bassist, unless 'pretending to be' means somehow mocking him or something.

    -planning on having their gee-tarist-bassist fired AT a gig! ...Very uncool. ..And then to stick YOU right in the middle of it like that - not good at all.

    -you hanging-up on the band leader - there's hardly any reason to outright hang-up on someone. That's a huge "eff-you" as far as I'm concerned - definately; you know that, right?

    As for the rest - particularly this guy's persistance - it doesn't at-all seem unreasonable to me (assuming you're an excellent bassist), in that you were never giving solid "no"s. Each time you 'declined' the offer, you pretty-much offered an overcome-able objection for them to consider. Just before you surprised him by hanging-up (from what I see to the story, I can only picture him being surprized at-the-least, and most likely more-like dumbfounded and hurt) you said "...in any way, shape, or form"; before that it was always more like "not interested because of this", or even "I might be interested if this-or-that changed". Don't you think?

    So!.. this stranger's opinion is: You did not do the right thing the whole time. If you truly-were never considering his offer, then I'd go so-far as to say that from my view you were pretty-much stroking the dude, and then accusing him of being 'inordinately interested' in you or whatever. At best, I'd say that you just don't know about selling products or wooing women, inwhich the well-known, universal wisdom in BOTH cases is that a 'no' isn't a 'no' when it's connected to an overcomable objection - in this case the person with the objection is pretty-much overtly OFFERING you the chance to overcome the objection and 'close the deal'.

    Sorry, Man. I thought it was worth writing this, in case I could help you or anyone else with this kind of situation.

  3. In one of my previous bands - with no disrespect to Mr. Pastorious, who we all liked and respected - we used to say that "doing a Jaco" meant too much soloing and not enough song playing.

    I agree there.

    I do know that. That's why I did it ;)

    Yeah, I see what you mean there. I was trying to be handle it in a diplomatic manner when he first inquired. I did want to see if it would be a different situation than I had been in so many times, hence my asking to see the set list. Maybe I feigned too much interest, but then again, I wasn't about to blow the guy off so rudely right off the bat.

    Not a problem. Thanks for the input
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Wow, someone likes themself a whole lot!

    I can read your blog if I'm lucky? Wow, pinch me...I'm dreaming! :bassist:

    You are, of course, free to play in any band you feel like, but I thought you could have handled it better. On the other hand, so could they, but sometimes you have to be the bigger person about it just so people like me don't say you handled it not so good when you talk about it on Talkbass. But in a contest of who handled it worse, I would say them by far. When someone tells me that I have to play with them, I ask if they're willing to pay me double what the highest paid person gets. That usually ends the conversation quickly.