When you band falls apart HELP

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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby kurt eye » Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:40 pm

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Fuck him. Move on.
Shall we go, you and I while we can? Through the transitive night fall of diamonds...
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby MattMan » Sat Jun 17, 2017 12:25 pm

For what its worth, here's my take on playing in the band.
1. Playing in a band is all about playing chamber music--the essence is musicians playing together. This requires listening, putting aside egos, having fun, and taking personal responsibility for your role in the group.
2. Most chamber music ensembles require a leader, although over time, every one takes on an emergent leadership role. This is what listening is all about.
3. Rehearsals are essential. The six P's should be a band's maxim--Proper Practice and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
4. Being too stoned or drunk will derail a band .
5. Playing in GD tribute band is extremely hard because the Dead knew how to swing, and most recreational musicians need to learn how to play GD swing--thus, rhythm and tempo can be a struggle.
6. Listening to recordings of your band should be done with the understanding that you will always hear stuff that bums you out.
7. You've got to have fun--as soon as you stop having fun, its time to move on.

My story involves playing in one GD tribute for 6 months (The Grateful Society Band), and now I'm playing in my current band going on 9 months (Deadicated). The first band broke up because of #6 and #7 above, but the musicians mastered #1-5. My current band is working through the 7 steps, and we've got a long way to go, but #7 is super strong so its totally worth it.

I hope things work out for you, MattMan
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby James-T » Sat Jun 17, 2017 3:13 pm

Fantastic music Matt and excellent wisdom.

Your band sounds great and your tone and feel is spot on for the music.

The singer and I founded this band five years ago and this whole discussion of my abilities came about based on a simple question to him in a text. "Where do you seeing us going." Rather than get back a fun and ambitious and inspired answer he turned the discussion around to his grievance about my inability to listen to him.

I thought perhaps I could put us back on the tracks from being derailed by a simple phone conversation. I started with counter question of how do we get the chemistry back.

The issue is people really like us and we've been asked to play two mini festivals in July back to back headlining one. We were asked because the owners of the festival venues just love us.

Rather than look at the positives, like "at least people like us and are begging us to play at their festivals" I got lectured on the phone for 40 minutes on the single point of not listening. That digressed into a lecture of playing too loud at the last practice to taking everything to personally and not managing my emotions.

When I got off the phone my head was spinning and I walked into Starbucks. Not only did I walk away without my change I was about to walk away without my drink. Nothing like feeling like you've got an angry boss. When it's not work, but like you say, recreational music. None of us are making our livelihood from this band.

So it seems there are two realities going on. One that we suck and it's squarely on my back to own up to it. And the other is folks love our music and want us to play for them.

In the midst of getting lectured I was informed by the singer he has no ego.

It seems to me you've touched on an important point. Ego gets in the way of collaboration.

When I tried to make the point if we practiced more we would listen better to one another. The answer back was he doesn't have time to practice. We simply do one practice per gig. Two if we are lucky.

And we've only played three times live in the past year.

And each time the rhythm section has had a different line up, because we've had this tension of bringing back our founding bass player. Because the singers perception is there are better guys out there. I'd say that's an ego issue.

And in fact I'm sure we didn't practice for our last gig because the singer informed me he didn't need to because he knows the material so well.

But I want to say again. I really like the singer or I wouldn't have gone this long playing together. He's actually easy going outside of a band context and I'd consider him a good friend. That's what makes things so challenging.
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby MattMan » Sat Jun 17, 2017 10:59 pm

Thanks. Only you will know if you're listening. Listening can be hard in a band if you are not communicating, particularly if folks are playing too loud to hear the other instruments, or if the other instruments are not loud enough. Ideally, folks will turn down and then everyone will play a little softer if they can only hear themselves. In my band, I'm fairly militant about listening and communicating and I'll keep directing volumes and talking to folks until we can all hear each other. Listening is also with nonverbal (and nonmusical) communication, such as eye contact, head knods, hand gestures and other forms of communicating during a performance. Usually, lack of listening by any one member encompasses all of the above--they're not looking, not hearing, and not communicating. I hope you get to jam again with your mates, and when you do, focus on communicating.
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby chipperj » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:07 am

Thanks. Only you will know if you're listening. Listening can be hard in a band if you are not communicating, particularly if folks are playing too loud to hear the other instruments, or if the other instruments are not loud enough. Ideally, folks will turn down and then everyone will play a little softer if they can only hear themselves. In my band, I'm fairly militant about listening and communicating and I'll keep directing volumes and talking to folks until we can all hear each other. Listening is also with nonverbal (and nonmusical) communication, such as eye contact, head knods, hand gestures and other forms of communicating during a performance. Usually, lack of listening by any one member encompasses all of the above--they're not looking, not hearing, and not communicating. I hope you get to jam again with your mates, and when you do, focus on communicating.


This^

Sounds like your bandmate could definitely use some people skills.

But..... if you can get past the personal stuff, also consider that there might be something to what he's saying?
Listening is the most important part of being in a band. You're all there to support each other and make each other sound better.
If one person is solely concentrating on what his own fingers are doing, it's really easy to miss out on those moments when people are are all playing off each other, not to mention missing cues, chord changes, stepping on vocals, etc. We all probably need to listen more.
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby hieronymous7 » Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:37 pm

I've been following this thread and have a few ideas.

I think your singer has some serious flaws in his thinking. 1) to say "I don't have an ego" is a contradiction - he said "I" so he does have an ego - actually, we need a healthy ego in order to function. His is an extreme statement that actually shows that he is either extremely arrogant or has very little self-awareness. 2) For him to think that him knowing the songs inside out means he doesn't have to spend time practicing those songs with others is absurd. A band takes time to gel - you have to play together to get used to each others' time, feel, groove, etc.

I think it would be worth trying to work things out - maybe he's just having difficulties in other parts of his life and it's causing him to be angry and antagonistic. However, some people, even nice people, can also have very toxic personalities. If this is just the way he is, then I would think that you would also be justified in ending the relationship - you don't need that kind of toxicity in your life, I don't see how it can help. I've met some people that have wonderful aspects to their personalities but they are also extremely negative and just plain mean sometimes. And they end up with no friends because most people just don't want to be around that.

Musically, I'll be honest, I think you guys need work judging by the video you posted. But if you haven't practiced more than 4 times this year and have a revolving cast of characters, then it totally makes sense! A band needs to play together a lot - obviously people like what you're doing. If he isn't willing to budge, maybe it's time to create your own band with the players you want to play with - or just kick him out!
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby James-T » Sun Jun 18, 2017 4:09 pm

Yes! Our band could be much tighter. I totally ageee. And it's nice to see that critical eye to the ensemble rather than individuals. Although I know from listening to us I can always here things in my playing that make me cringe and see where things can be improved.

I think your observation that the rotating and evolving rhythm section and the lack of practice has held this band back.

Many of the comments in this thread I've already discussed with the singer. Such as it being dangerous to see things in black and white using words like always and never. I asked him to look at this project in shades of gray. I discussed bands being like a marriage and that requires good communication and positive affirmations. I discussed listening also that skill also being related to practice time and knowing each other musically. As well as knowing the material. The message back was he had no time for practice. Which I can't fault anyone with. But the more you put into a project the more you will get out of it. There are so many amazing bands and players that get featured on this forum and it certainly inspires me to realize that with hard work things can only get better.

I doubt it's possible to have a great band without putting in the time. No matter how professional the players.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby DHM » Sun Jun 18, 2017 5:24 pm

I played for about 5 years in a comedy/parody/local humor band...sort of Alaskana meets Al Yankovic.....The leader was a guy who basically said "we'll vote on it and then do it my way"....I was lead guitar/steel and as such, often principal arranger....

About the time I quit we were recording a CD...I had the task of doing some basic design/conceptualizing for the cover....I would regularly prepare rough drawings/ideas and bring them to the group...the leader would dismiss them with a shrug...and the other members didn't want to take him on so my work died on the drawing board....when it came time to finalize the artwork...he whipped out some drawings he had done...we had a "vote"....and guess who won......

He would periodically zero in on one member or another....and literally make things so miserable for them that they would quit...a lot of "you're not practicing, you're not pulling your weight, you're never in tune, you never listen, etc...sounds a lot like your lead singer...bass players and female lead singers seemed to be particularly vulnerable...then one day...the turret swung in my direction...suddenly I could do no right...my counts...on material that we'd done for years...was wrong, my tuning was sloppy, my skills weren't adequate...etc etc etc....we were finishing the CD at the time...and he would call me and say he went into the studio and "fixed my part"....I told him if he messed with any of my parts he could re record them all....because I was done.....it didn't take me long to say fuck it and quit.....it wasn't any fun any more....

I had considered the guy a good friend....but it was like a divorce....I really couldn't go back...I knew the guy could be a jerk...watching him berate the other former members...but after he pulled it on me I had to nix the whole relationship. I ran into him at a lodge a few years later...everything was congenial and he ended with "call me, we'll do dome picking".....but I never did....

Ive since moved on, musically and socially....and looking back, suggesting what he could do to himself was one of the better moves Ive made
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby James-T » Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:14 pm

Thanks for this, and all the posts. Your comments certainly echo my situation a bit.

We've only played three times in the past year and my new approach has been to lay way back. On some songs I won't even play for the first eight bars if I can getaway with it and overcompensate on lowering my volume during the vocals and dig in a bit louder than usual for leads.

The last gig I actually felt I played well for the first set, and certainly got some great compliments. The second set was a disaster due to the sub we had on bass as in the story I've already shared.

In my discussions last week with the singer I mentioned that and his response was "well that doesn't really count because you played so awful in the two rehearsals since then". So its just one of these situations that's so hard to deal with.

Here is what I wrote the founding bass player after our second last rehearsal:

We were so rusty. If a band fails to rehearse they will suck.

I swear we spent more time discussing songs they wanted to learn but we don't know individually than we did actually practicing songs.

And (the singer) has now sidelined most of my favourite songs claiming we can't play them well enough. That's Eyes, the Other One, Birdsong, and Cassidy. They want to replace them with simple first set songs. I'm just going along for the ride now. Happy to be playing music.

It's all about not sharing the limelight with the guitarist. As far as I can tell. Anything that I'll shine on he doesn't want to play. And (the drummer) buys into it because it's this funny power trip thing going on.

Which makes me simply want to put the brakes the whole thing. It gets to a point where it's like a bad marriage. It's just a battle over everything and no one seems to be having a good time.
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby brbadg » Wed Jun 21, 2017 9:26 am

So it's call ed ''Walk OFF Dead"? Sorry,couldn't resist. Learn to sing if you don't already.It's hard to
play and sing at first,but gets easier.
Dump the singer,simple.Just find a replacement or do it yourself.
This guy needs the best musicians? Let him go find them.
Also,you have all stopped being friends,it looks like.That aint good.
Last edited by brbadg on Thu Jun 22, 2017 12:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby gratefulredhead » Wed Jun 21, 2017 11:30 am

I've been where you're at before. I've been performing for 32 years and the most important thing I've learned is to only play with people who do pull shit like your singer pulls. There is no changing him, so you need to be the change. It's hard to start over, but just do it. You'll thank yourself. Then spend time finding players who have time to rehearse, and who are mature and experienced. It might take some time to find them but they are out there. Best of luck James!
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby James-T » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:38 am

Well I did the weekend gig. And a practice last week. And surprise. We actually played well.

So the saga continues. The last commitment is this Sat night. It's a four hour drive. Overnighter. And our bass player can't make it. So the singer has found a sub on CL. This morning he springs it on me there is no practice. And I've never met this bass player before. Now the singers tune has changed and we are good enough not to practice. Even though we've never played with this guy.

So I'm digging in my guns and saying no practice do it as a trio.

Like after all this and I'm expected to throw it all on the line and spend a weekend with a total stranger. Risk having him be a total flake.

Am I being unreasonable? I can take the singers criticism on my playing. But listening equals practice. It's hard to have your cake and eat it to.

What should I do? Suck it up and let us wing it with a total stranger. Or be the jerk who cancels the gig. Personally I think it's totally unfair to the organizer to hire a band to headline an event and have them show up unrehearsed. But the constant message I get is I'm the amateur and the singer is the seasoned pro. But I do know that sometimes you just have to wing it.
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby rugger » Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:45 am

The sub is not a brand new issue with this band. Don't act like it is and make threats about cancelling. By doing that, you're becoming part of the problem imo.

Do the gig and then move on. The drama in this "group" isn't going away, find a musical situation that makes you happy.

Good luck

John in San Diego
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby Dwarf Rat » Tue Jul 11, 2017 12:51 pm

After reading it all, I would get new members. My band had a great harmony singer mediocre rhythm guitarist. One day he tried to exert control over doings, arrangements and such. We told him as a friend to be grateful to be playing music live and to remember we brought him into the band, not vice versa. He understood and backed down.

Now our bassist moved to Santa Barbara and his replacement is earnest but thinks he is Phil on acid playing over one chord instead of changes when I take a lead. After the 4th of July parade where we played Space for the participants, we hit some other tunes. He fucked up the changes and I just had to stop. Game over.

I started the band. I pick the tunes, choose the keys, beats, song list, the pa. If it ain't right, we don't play.
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Re: When you band falls apart HELP

Postby James-T » Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:33 pm

John, that's solid advice. I pushed in a few different ways to get a practice and then ceded to winging it. It's the norm in this band. This time we are a bit less protected. The guy is not pro (doesn't play in a band) and no one knows him. But who knows, he could be a player. The worst thing to do is become part of the problem. The singer checked him out a few weeks ago at his apartment and the only feedback we got was he plays his bass like an electric guitar. And he seemed to know the tunes.

Playing with a good bass player makes all the difference. I hope he can play. If he can't it will just make me appreciate our old bass player that much more. And who knows, it might even make the singer appreciate him. There is always an upside to everything. And if it's a disaster perhaps the singer will realize the value of practicing. Even after I told him this was my last gig he was still going on about how we didn't need to practice for this gig. Some guys just always have to be right. No matter what. Four house is a long way to travel to play with a stranger.

And not every band is meant to last. I had high hopes for Walk On Dead. I put a lot of work into this project. It's a disappointment. But everyone on this thread has been awesome. There is lots of great advice, and some excellent insight. Thanks so much!

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