You can't go home again OR Earl makes a boo-boo...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Blackbird, Feb 3, 2002.

  1. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Caution, long thread. For optimal comprehension read whole mess. If in a hurry, read last three paragraphs.

    I have a great friend called Earl, with whom I have a lot in common. We're the same age, we grew up in similar situations and like the same things. By dumb coincidence (not really), Earl and I are both bassists whose skill levels are similar. We like the same music and go to school together. We also talk about a lot of stuff. Today, Earl asked me a question about a situation he was in and how he handled it, and I (actually, Earl) would like to extend the question to you.

    A week ago, Earl got a cal from an ex-bandmate whom he had not seen in many (well, about four) years. She was getting a band together and wanted to know if Earl wanted to play bass. Earl's friend had called him once and he declined because his schedule was full and the former bandmate’s musicianship proved unremarkable at best. This time however, Earl, for old time's sake, accepted the invitation and went to a rehearsal with the new group. Besides his friend, who sang and played keyboards (A 5 octave non-touch sensitive Casio), Earl met the guitarist, who had a lovely '76 Les Paul (so Earl tells me) and a drummer, who had custom made drums and 4 or more cymbals which prevented eye contact with any other player in the room.

    The band played a bunch of 70’s Top 40 tunes, songs by The Police, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Earl’s friend’s musicianship remained unremarkable, although she now sang and played simultaneously, meaning some improvement had been made. This lack of musicianship didn’t bother Earl at all; if anything, it showed him how far along he had come. He could detect the flaws in his friend’s performance, know what was wrong and adapt faster than he ever could before. The guitarist, a sorta shy guy who was muddling his way through the poorly written charts even complimented his playing a couple of times. After muddling his way through jazz charts for years, three-chord pop tunes were child’s play.

    Unfortunately, all was not well. Earl would have played quite happily throughout the entire rehearsal if the guitarist and the drummer didn’t hijack the songs on occasion, transforming them into extended go-nowhere jams. This was caused primarily by the drummer, with whom no eye contact could be established. Oftentimes, the “Jam” part of the song went longer than the song itself, with no end in sight.

    When the band played “Come Together”, it evolved (?) into a long and pretty much unproductive jam. Earl felt very frustrated, because it was more than apparent that the Keyboardist/ Singer, the Guitarist and Earl would sometimes try to move on, yet the drummer would keep on pounding away. After a while, Earl, who had a long cord, walked up to the drummer and stood next to him. Still, the drummer wouldn’t stop. Earl stood next to the drummer for the better part of two minutes, and had to basically tap the drummer on the shoulder to get his attention. The drummer looked surprised. Earl asked the drummer if he still was playing “Come Together” the drummer said yes. Earl said he felt that the tune had basically degenerated into noodling and the drummer was doing “exercises” instead of playing the song. The drummer took offense and told Earl he’d been playing for 25 years. (Earl was the youngest person in the room, mind you). Earl’s friend said that it was good to express one’s opinion sometimes. The drummer said he didn’t mind the opinion, but that it could have been done without “Earl’s attempt to pick a fight”, then he said needed to take a break and left the studio. The other three members then played another tune, drumless. The air hung a tad heavier. My friend started feeling bad, and asked if he should apologize. The guitarist said he would if he were in Earl’s position, so Earl went out, found the drummer sitting in his car and apologized. It went smoother than he dared hope. The drummer said he was playing with his eyes closed and was startled by Earl’s sudden appearance next to him. The group played for another hour or so, then split. Earl got into his car, drove back into town, bought a 12-pack of Miller and came over to my house.

    What would you have done if you were Earl? I’m sure that was not Earl’s finest moment and he now knows better, but the guy’s only human, for crying out loud. Anyway, thanks for reading. Impressions, anyone?
  2. old_skool


    Aug 17, 2000
    Milwaukee, WI
    What was the big deal? Whos Earl? He tapped the drummer on the shoulder? Ive bonked our drummer on the head with my bass when he was screwin' around to much. I think what your friend did was perfectly fine. Its not like they where playing live and made an arse of the dummer. No big deal.
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I would have slogged through the rehearsal and declined further invitations to play with the group.

    Classic passive-aggresive strategy.
  4. Like you said Earl's only human.

    I probably would have just stoped playing. And that I would have gotten my migraine. Sorry, darling not tonight.;)
  5. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    I wouldn't say Earl has committed any foe paw here. Someone needed to take the wheel of an errant ship apparantly.

    Here's my story (which has been told on these pages previously I think...), and I think you'll find after reading it that Earl was a shining example of being polite in a bad situation.

    I got a call to do an audition from a band that was an hour's drive from home. The girl that called assured me that they were already in touch with a booking agent, had gigs lined up as soon as a bassist could be found, and had a full 50+ set list ready to go.

    So, I pack up, make the drive, get there, unload, go to set up...

    WARNING SIGN #1: Both the girl singer/guitarist's and drummer's rigs were shoehorned into a bedroom. Not an empty bedroom mind you, an in use bedroom. No PA in evidence, just a mic plugged into the 2nd channel of the guitar amp.

    WARNING SIGN #2: The drummer's kit consists of parts of 3 different CB 700 kits, the guitarist/singer has a Hondo guitar and a Crate amp.

    Ok, I ignore the warnings, and figure I'll give 'em a chance to prove the stereotype wrong.

    They didn't. :rolleyes:

    The bandleader/singer/guitarist says "OK, "Plush" (Stone Temple Pilots), let's do that one". I'm cool with that, played it several hundred times previously. Drummer counts it off, and immedately, the guitarist is playing wrong chords. Not the wrong key, just chords that aren't even close to what are actually in the song, basically some combination of major chords that just DON'T work. I do my best to ignore it and just do my thing. She starts to sing. Well....she thought she did, I was just looking for the cat that was being tortured. All the while, the drummer is flailing about without a shred of an idea of what the tempo is.

    Being the good sport I am, I decide to just ignore them both, and finish the song.

    Song ends, the two of them are all happy, congradulating themselves, etcetera etcetera, I quietly turn off my amp, and start packing up. They finally decide to notice what I'm doing, and get all upset by it. Well, I tried to be polite..."Sorry, I just don't think I'm the right guy for you..." that kind of thing. Wasn't working. They kept pushing me and pushing me for a reason. Hey, I aim to please, and if they wanted it...who was I to deny them? ;)

    I proceeded to explain, in detail, why I wasn't "the right guy". Things like I'd prefer to play with a guitarist that actually knows the song (I knew the guitar part very well as well as the bass part), and having a drummer that could at least stay within 10 bpm of the starting tempo from measure to measure were really strong requirements for me personally. Seeing as neither of you are within these requirements, I'm not the right bassist for you.

    Some people just can't take constructive criticism!!! ;)

    I continue to tell them that they don't seem "ready for prime-time" just yet, and I didn't think they would be for quite a while. So the girl gets all huffy with me, gives me a real nasty attitude and says "well hot shot, when you get a gig, call us, we'll come see you". Yeah, right. Like I'm gonna keep your number....

    She made some snide comment about me returning to my pizza delivery "gig" as I was leaving.

    The funny ending: A year later, I'm at a friend's project studio laying down lines for some demos for him. It's late, we're hungry, we call for a pizza. Guess who delivers it.....:D
  6. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I think Earl did exactly the right thing by telling the drummer what he did. I'll even give him props for apologizing to him for it as well, thats something i would not have done.

    A country band I was in had a drummer who couldnt keep time well at all, and I mean this when I say it, A broken clock kept better time than him. The guy didnt have a kit of his own to play on for starters, so i know he couldnt learn his parts at home, he'd say to me, man your way off, and get really snippy, i had to tell him, look dude, ya dont even own your own gear, so i know you dont play these untill you get hear, so please dont tell me im wrong cos im not.

    or the metal heads. good drummer but 2 of the worst guitar players ive ever had the displeasure of jamming with. by nights end, i told them Im not used to playing with musicians of their caliber, and they were all like yeah, serious musicians are hard to find, and i had to say no man, im used to much better.

    It really makes me laugh now, with both of those bands because they were all so serious about it/had gigs lined up, etc. because i havent seen them or heard of them being at clubs in the area.

    Earl is not alone in his plight, i honestly believe that
    f your a musician and cant take constructive/negative feedback, then give up music. cos if you cant handle being told you need improvment or outright suck then you have no right playin, cos thats all part of the teritory IMO
  7. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    Bigwheel,your story was almost as long as zanderstarr's infamous "diarreah of the fingers" thread!;)

    I don't understand why the drummer got so angry,there's no purpose to turning a 3-minute song into a 10 minute jam session.
  8. Earl did the right thing. Sometimes other musicians need to get a clue and remember they're not the only people on stage. Zoning off like that on stage can often lead to disaster.
    Thing is, I would never have apologized. Just because I'm not that nice of a guy. ;) I think the drummer was being way too sensitive when he took offence at Earl for stopping him.
    Go Earl. You da man. :D

    Gard...did the end of your story <i>really</i> happen?? :D :D :D
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999

    ...sure there is! ;)
    (If the players are capable, that is).
  10. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars

    ....YES!!! :D
  11. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars the way, there is a trick I've used to stop this situation musically in the past when it's necessary. Pedal the tonic note of the key up an octave, just play straight 1/4's for a few measures. That usually get's their attention... ;)
  12. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Thanks for all the replies.

    I forgot to mention that Earl told the drummer something along the lines of "It sounds like you're doing drum exercises. If you're gonna do exercises, I don't need to be here. I can just go and do something else".

    Something to that effect.
  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Don't know exactly what happened there with Earl; I do know, in the past, I have been involved with taking tunes a little 'out' & off...we were auditioning guitarists & the purpose was to see/hear how they reacted. I distinctly recall doing "Black Magic Woman" in about every 'feel' possible(including a couple verses in 6)before working its way back to the 'original groove'...the whole process took, maybe, 20 minutes(who knows? Didn't time it).
    Some guys, I'm sure, thought it was BS; I dunno, IMO, it did evolve into something(sometimes)...again, the point was "Are they listening, can they adapt to a different vibe, blahblah".
    So, I didn't believe stretching "Black Magic Woman" out to the point of being ridiculous was 'unproductive'...on the contrary, it let us know how much mettle a guy brought with him; I did learn some very good players only like playing to the script.
  14. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    The most dangerous thing in the world is a drummer playing with his eyes closed. It sounds to me like he ADMITTED he wasn't paying any attention, and Earl startled him. He was in that drummer "zone," and couldn't care less what anyone else was playing. If he did care, he wudda had his eyes open looking for cues.

    Earl was more tactful than I would have been. Letting yourself go into that Happy Place is fine when you're jamming to a CD in the bedroom, but when you're playing in an ensemble it's just plain rude. Personally, I would have grabbed his cymbals - kssh, kssh, kssh, THONK, THONK, THONK. HELLO...MCFLY. WAKE THE **** UP.

    Earl has nothing to apologize for.
  15. Usually ....But not always. ;)
  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    I love this story! The situation a year later is truly poetic justice.
  17. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Hey Gard, your story sounds a lot like my last "tryout."

    Since being fired from my last band, I have been trying to put together another "party-type" cover band (I still want to know what it's like to please the audience, instead of playing what I want to play). I met with a drummer and thought that I fully explained to him the kind of music I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it and we arranged a get-together. He informed me that he knew a guitarist that was interested in forming or joining a band and that he (the guitarist) thought that what I wanted to do sounded like fun. We set a date to meet and decided on the five songs that we would play when we got together. My would-be drummer informed me at this time that he had no access to the Internet and didn't think he would be able to get a hold of these songs by the time we were to meet, so I downloaded the five songs, made a tape for him and made a special trip to drop the tape off at his place of employment for him. I called him two weeks prior to our first official meeting to make sure that everything was still cool. He informed me that everything was indeed cool and that both he and the guitarist were looking forward to doing what I wanted to do.

    The day of the meet, my van wouldn't start, which meant that I had to push it down the driveway into the road, so I could jump start it with my car. I pushed it into the street (partially running over my foot in the process) and jump started it, backed it into the driveway, loaded it with my bass, gig bag, 1x15 cabinet and amplifier and started the 15-mile trip to the drummer's house. We all got to know each other a bit and then I suggested that we get to work (keep in mind, in my mind, these two are trying out for my would-be band). We run through the first two songs with very little problem. When we get to the third song, the guitarist admits that he doesn't know it. When I mention the next two, he admits that he has never even heard either of them! One of the songs was "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones. I had the drummer play the tape while I showed the guitarist the notes. Okay, he's ready to go. We stumble through the song, with him laughing to himself about how simple it is all the whole time. When we got done, he and the drummer start doing a little jazzy jam-type thing. I say, "I only know one jazz-type riff" and start to play it. They both look at each other, shrug and join in. The jam goes on for about 3 minutes, while all the while, my wrist is starting to cramp and I am thinking about how we should be running through the songs I told these guys to learn. Finally, after 3 minutes or so, I just stop playing. They both kind of look at me funny and stop as well, telling me that they "sometimes go off like that for awhile." I said to them, "If you don't know these other three songs, I might as well go. Do you (the guitarist) want to get together with me sometime and go through these songs?" He replies, "Yeah, that would be cool." The drummer helps him take his gear outside and comes back in. He tells me that the guitarist isn't really into what I want to do and that he was disappointed in the fact that I can't improvise and that he doesn't want to get together with me -- he would rather get together as a group and learn the songs together. He (the drummer) also tells me that he thinks being in a cover band is the same as selling out and that he's not interested either. I pack my gear into my van and leave for the day, disappointed.

    I guess my point is that Earl may not have handled his situation as "professionally" as he could have, but he handled it the same way I would have. There's a time for and a place for an impromptu jam and in my opinion, it's not in the middle of a decided-on set.

    EDIT: Stupid typos! I hate 'em!
  18. 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
    LOL, Gard. Did you give them a Rico Monaco CD as a souvenir?

    Lately, I've been playing in a second band (to do more gigs than my regular band). When I first got together with them, there were two guitarists and a drummer besides me. One of the guitarists (G1) has picked it up after a hiatus of several years, but really can put together tones and licks that work well in our blues/rock thing. The other guitarist (G2) is one of those half-hour jam guys, who also drinks lots of beer and never practices the assignments at home.

    After my first half-hour with them, I thought I'd like to stay, but I wasn't willing to do incessant jamming, especially with a guy (G2) who was lit on beer by 10 a.m. I got into a conversation with the real guitarist (G1) and told him that the other guy was either going to have to learn the music at home, or I'd be seeking a different gig. Of course, G1 tells G2 this (they're kinda buddies) and G2 gets in a big snit, and quits. I believe, by the way, that G2 was drunk during that convo.

    So now the drummer (also kinda buddies with G2) gets wind of this, and rags G1 for not talking G2 into staying. So a little sweet-talking goes on, and G2 says he'll stay in. OK, next rehearsal on Tuesday. G2: "I can't make it." Meanwhile G1 has invited a girl singer and acoustic guitarist/boy singer to come over and audition. Oh my, they're very good, and want to join. And, we haven't heard from G2 since. Cool. So here we are.

    Guess I won't be teasing you junior high-schoolers about your adolescent politics any more, eh?
  19. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Stupid question:

    Why didn't you just get into your car and drive it to your van?






    I'll be quiet now.
  20. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000

    Maybe his car wouldn't RUN, but it had a good battery?