Band dynamics

Discussion in 'The Cellar' started by Kim Lucky Day, Dec 31, 2019.

  1. Kim Lucky Day

    Kim Lucky Day Well-Known Member

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    Wasn't sure where to post this but I'm at a crossroads in my band's tenure that I'm guessing many of you who play/have played in bands can relate to.

    First of all, this is only the 2nd band I've ever been in and by far the greatest in longevity. So I cannot claim to fully understand proper band etiquette and/or healthy dynamics. A little background- we are a 5 piece cover band, 4 instrumentalists and one full-time vocalist. Age ranges from late 30's to mid 60's. Musical tastes are wide ranging but the music we play is chosen democratically, as well as based upon our technical abilities to do the original justice. We tend to get along well, there aren't any ego issues and I believe most, if not all view this as a fun hobby that occasionally makes us m

    My problem- dealing with others' varying skill levels. Our other guitarist has slightly beyond beginner level skills (okay, that's harsh but he really has difficulty playing and maintaining basic strumming rhythms and has zero dynamic awareness). Our vocalist is has a great voice but cannot memorize even his favorite song and is forced to rely on printed lyrics. The vocalist and guitarist were a "two for one sale", if one were to go, the other would likely follow. Our drummer is literally 90% deaf, making communication difficult. I could accept this but he tends to play one rhythm style whether the song calls for it or not and due to his hearing issues, he cannot reliably follow a song to know where to play a fill pattern.

    We have our moments but because of the issues with the two musicians, most songs suffer from a lack of definition and dynamics. We pretty much have been together for about a year and have a few gigs under our belt, with the plan to expand on this. Question is for me, is this something I either want to be part of going forward or do I influence radical change to the group? Drummer and I started the group.

    Which circles back to the proper band etiquette part. This isn't a full-time job, it's meant to be done for fun. I don't want to come off as a dick or a holier-than-thou. I'd also be willing to attempt to help bring along the other guitarist so as to improve his skills (I've kind of attempted this before in a way that didn't suggest "hey, you suck and need help" but he didn't take the hint... Can lead a horse to water but can't make him drink, I guess). But the drummer issue is one that I'm afraid is unsolvable.

    I'm probably opening a can of worms here and am fully expecting some of you to point out that it's me who has the problem (which maybe I need to hear). Just trying to consider all angles on how to move forward here before I invest any more time/money on this venture. Sorry for making this long-winded...

    KLD
     
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  2. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member

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    I fully get where you are coming from and it doesn't mean you are being a dick, you are just being honest.
    Some people will never accell on their instruments, some will remain stuck at a certain point in the learning curve and never progress, some have physical issues that cannot be easily over come, some have dependency issues that will drag it all down into the gutter time and time again all the while they will swear up and down that the drugs makes them so much better playing, some can't follow anything more than simple 3 power chord riffs, ect.

    I ran into this shit for years, this is primarily why i gave up on trying to have a really good band, now i just jam for fun and my own amusement but even the guys i currently jam with fall into most of the above categories, but since im not lugging gear around everywhere and footing the bill for everything i can basically ignore most of it.

    But if your intention is to take this band further you will most likely find you are going to need to give a few of them the boot and try to get better players to work with.
     
  3. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member

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    PS, i also found that trying to execute a democratic environment in a band so that no one feels left out of the decision making process and prevents butt hurt is a double edged sword, there are times when one person has to be king and step on all the rest otherwise you end up in the undecisive shitshow.

    this was where i liked owning the bulk of the gear and transport for it because it gave me the leverage needed at times to keep things focused under the threat of pulling the plug on the whole deal.
     
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  4. Michael Roe

    Michael Roe Well-Known Member

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    I feel for you. I wouldn't last one rehearsal in that situation.
    I recently tried the, "jam for fun" with some drummer who was let's just say......I can't even say it :)
    I came to the conclusion that I would rather jam in front of a mirror by myself then deal with inadequate musicians.
    Your band is only as good as the worse musician.
    Only suggestion I could give you to help make it work: Put on some really thick mittens and find the worse sounding amp and guitar you can find and maybe that will help inspire you to "deal with it". :)
    Or go to next rehearsal and announce that you have now taken up drums and will be the new drummer!
     
  5. pedecamp

    pedecamp Well-Known Member

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    This is so simple it wreaks of simplicity - join or start a new band! :shrug:
     
  6. BanditPanda

    BanditPanda Well-Known Member

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    If you're just in it for laughs well enjoy it. Having a deaf drummer is definitely laughable!
    Having a rhythm guitarist who can't keep a rhythm also falls into that category.
    A lot of vocalists use tv monitors with scrolling lyrics or at least have them on their phone or an i pad for referral. A "great" voice is definitely not an easy find.
    If you all get along with nothing serious going on in terms of ambitions and it is just a hobby then it's you that is making this an issue.
    Do you have ambitions as a guitarist? You know that you will not better yourself musically by playing with guys below your skill level.
    If you want more you've got to go out and get more. Nothing is going to change unless you change it. Play with the group. Look for another band or players that compliment or better you.
    I'm of the opinion though that if you take that route " etiquette " dictates that you give them fair warning and enuff time to find your replacement.
    I feel I haven't been of much help but that's my :2c: worth.
    BP
     
  7. Lance Chambers

    Lance Chambers Well-Known Member

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    I would like to audition for the rhythm slot. I have excellent timing and enthusiasm. :shred:

    Oh wait! Stage fright would make me shit my pants. :iough:
     
  8. Beyer160

    Beyer160 New Member

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    This.

    In my personal paradigm, there are only three reasons to be in a band- having fun, making money, or learning something. If you're not getting at least one of those things, it's time to move on.
     
  9. BanditPanda

    BanditPanda Well-Known Member

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    We can make that part of the show !
    BP
     
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  10. mcblink

    mcblink Well-Known Member

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    You can't really compensate for a skill gap...it is what it is.

    How bad do you want it? Enough to replace members?

    Enough to find or start a new group?

    Enough to enjoy it for what it is?

    For the record, I understand your situation, I have a similar problem with my own group...
     
  11. ampmadscientist

    ampmadscientist Well-Known Member

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    Start the reactor... Free Mars!
    Well just think about how awful the Grateful Dead was when they started out.
    (Or the Ramones...)
    35 years later: the world's top draw act ! (then they all died)
    Bob Weir couldn't sing a note or play the guitar worth a crap. Now he's a rock star.
    Hope you are looking forward to that by the time you are 73.

    Before:
    [​IMG]

    After:
    [​IMG]

    "#dysfunctional band members..."
    It worked for Van Halen.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2020
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  12. JimiRules

    JimiRules Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like a slippery slope to me. If you're wanting to take things to the next level then you're probably going to have to start fresh with a new band because it sounds like the problems you're having with your current group aren't gonna go away.

    But at the same time, sometimes what you wish for isn't always the best scenario. You could end up starting a new band and wind up with killer players, but they could be complete douchebags that you hate being around. Then you're stuck with a new problem.
     
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  13. AlanH

    AlanH Well-Known Member

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    My thoughts were also initially along the lines of you forming another band but can you provide some more info to give us a better idea of your situation/position?
    -Are you one of the older members or younger members (and maybe therefore more marketable)
    -Who, if anyone, owns the PA, cables, lighting etc?
    -Who, if anyone, does all the marketing, promotion, arrangement of gigs/rehearsals etc?
    -Who does the transporting, set up, breakdown, returning of gear to base and the extra hours that that involves?
    -How often do you gig, what do you make and how do you divide up the proceeds given all of the above?
    -Who are the band's drivers, and who takes the back seats?
    -What are your own talent levels, and also those of the, as yet, unmentioned band members such as bass player?

    The answers to all these questions will throw some more light on the powerbase and dynamic.

    If you really want to take things further you could call a meeting about "the way forward". Be perfectly honest about how much/what you all want to do/where to go and state your case for wanting to do whatever it is you want to do, be that increasing the numbers of gigs, increasing payment from those gigs (and thus target focus of band such as weddings/corporate Vs bars Vs tribute etc.); increasing your musical challenges etc. If you want to make more money for example your front man might need to commit to learning lyrics so he can effectively interact with the audience and do his job.

    With everything in the open you may find that some members don't want to do any more gigs, don't want to improve themselves, don't want to take on a specific job etc. and you can then make it clear to the others what you want and that this, therefore, might mean you leaving and/or forming a side project with musicians who might invite to join in with you etc. You may also offer to still help/support the current band members/be a sub for them etc.

    I think the above is an honest way of dealing with the situation which might make some members decide to pack it in and others to move along a newly agreed direction (which might have musicianship or committment conditions attached); join the side project or whatever. When there is work or committment involved that has to be signed up to (a simple written agreement/constitution is a good idea) this can make people think about whether they are being fair to the rest of the team if they want something different (and this also includes yourself).
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2020
  14. Kim Lucky Day

    Kim Lucky Day Well-Known Member

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  15. Kim Lucky Day

    Kim Lucky Day Well-Known Member

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    I answered your questions by quoting your post. It didn't do what I thought it would so you'll have to read through your questions to see my answers added.

    I can say I will be checking out the possibility of playing with another group, got an invite from some more seasoned musicians. I'll let the chips fall where they may. Regardless, I don't want to burn any bridges or otherwise act as a selfish dick but how else do I look for ways to better what I can offer musically?
     
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  16. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Well-Known Member Sponsor

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    Yeah boy, KLD...I hear you. 20 plus cover bands in 9 years and I think I've seen most of it, if not all. You have a tough one here. I always went with honesty, and it got me kicked out of 3-4 bands because of it.

    However I was a working musician for quite awhile and you can't let someone else's poor skills or lack thereof dictate your paycheck.

    Even when playing for fun, you don't want to limp along and feel dragged down by one or two of the others, it just kills your desire to play.

    Good luck!
     
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  17. AlanH

    AlanH Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the additional information.

    You could definitely get yourself set up quite cheaply to own most of the gear for another new project e.g. cheap used mixer, two or three powered monitors and some extra XLRs (forgot to ask about mics and mic stands).

    It does sound like you're ready to move on, but maybe you owe it to the guys to have that meeting so you can at least give them a chance and/or let them know what you want to do. If you want to hold fire on that meeting for now you could still get yourself a rhythm slot elsewhere lined up, which wouldn't be a problem if you don't have many gigs lined up at this time of year, and you could even be in both bands initially. Another thing you could do is line up another band/side project maybe taking the bass player with you. You could become the leader of that project, especially if you invest in the additional gear.
     
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  18. purpleplexi

    purpleplexi Well-Known Member

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    Been in similar situations. When it gets too much for me I generally spit my dummy ( thats a pacifier in the US....) and walk out. If you're a more reasonable person than me which is quite likely my advice would be keep playing because playing is better than not playing even if it is in a band you're not happy with. Meanwhile look around for something better. Bands don't grow on trees. Despite being a reasonably talented singer and guitarist I have many long career breaks simply because my standards were too high.
    Or you could tell them they suck and walk. Have I helped?
     
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  19. Bogmonster

    Bogmonster Active Member

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    It's definitely worth being straight up. I was burned by an old band and when I said I was leaving I was pretty much told I was crap and didn't have the ability to play what I wanted. When egos take over, it's miserable. And when you're miserable in your hobby it becomes a job.

    Take the chance and discuss it with them. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. And if they're your buddies, it's best not to burn bridges.
     
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  20. Crikey

    Crikey Well-Known Member

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    I had a bad experience cause I wear too many bandannas like Aerosmith. Band kept getting them caught in the flight case wheels, high hats, kick pedals, pedal boards, tweeter cones, etc and over reacted.... what the hell is wrong with having bandannas. LOL. just kidding TGIF!
     
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