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Need some serious advice here (band interpersonal shiz)


Griffinator

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So I've got this friend who is really an astonishingly good drummer (for this area, anyway). He has a bit of a reputation as being a pushover in a band situation (he won't stand up for himself or much of anything else...).

 

Throughout our 20-year friendship, we've been in a few bands together. One was fine, but it was a short run because one of the guitarists left for Berklee and the other moved back to Michigan. The others, he usually got recruited and invited me in because, for whatever reason, the band had no focus, and needed a leader. I, of course, obliged him, but inevitably someone in the band would openly revolt against my leadership and suddenly the shit is hitting the fan (and, if he had backed me up once or twice, it probably wouldn't).

 

Now, we've been in projects together where the leadership and musical direction were settled before the band even got started, but none were particularly long-term, usually due to reasons similar to the band that fell apart above - nothing personal, just people's lives going different direction.

 

So, it happened again this time. He invited me in because the band was a rudderless ship floating around doing nothing, and I got the thing pointed the right direction, basically taught the bassist how to play his parts, taught the singer how to sing her parts, taught my wife to play the keys so we didn't have to bring in a 5th member just for the small number of songs we were doing that required keys, and we started booking shows and trying to rehearse our way towards being ready. Stunningly, the guy in the band with the least amount of talent is the one who revolts. Wouldn't be a big deal, except he's dating the singer, and convinces her to show solidarity to him rather than the band, and the shit blows up.

 

Now... *gasp*... on to the point.

 

I've already recruited another bassist and another singer. The bassist has been begging to play with me for years, and he's quite good. The singer is the one I'll have to break in this time, but she's pretty laid back about everything.

 

So the question is, do I give my friend another chance, knowing that, when the chips are down, I can't trust him to back me even if he thinks I'm right? Or do I take the chance again, knowing that there has never been a need for him to "back me" in situations where I am the unquestioned bandleader, primarily because I surround myself up front with people who are ready, willing, and able to do what is necessary without the associated drama?

 

It's a difficult decision for me right now. One half of me feels like I'd be betraying the guy by moving forward without him, and he's a damned good drummer that I get along with well and understands my passion for music and how that affects my interaction with people in rehearsal. The other half says he's a fucking boat anchor and I need to cut him loose.

 

What would you do?

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Your buddy sounds like he's conditioned to avoid conflict, at any cost, which means he will probably never, ever stand up for anything - well, maybe in a life-or-death scenario, but I don't wish that on your band. If he's a good, drama-free drummer, no serious drug/alcohol issues, no screwed-up GF, you have to judge his value on that basis - he's not going to back you up in a stand-off, it's not in him. It's up to you to decide what you can need more, a good drummer, or a second-in-command, so to speak, then you'll know what to do.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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Or you might consider turning the camera on yourself-do you see a band without a designated leader as a rudderless ship? a power vacuum? the band sets goals together, right? if you have different goals there`s no need to go on. If you have similar goals, maybe you should ask yourself if you can stand-well, standing down. You see where something can be improved but in that model it`s not your prerogative to jump in and say `here`s what you need to do`-if it`s going to happen it will happen. If you can`t hack it then maybe you should find a way to work with your friend that doesn`t involve band stuff-studio projects or something.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandid=602491

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WP - you're right, and there's probably no guarantee the person I replace him with would be any different. It's tough for me, because in several of the bands we've been in, I've gone to the mat for him when the rest of the band wanted to fire him for various reasons, and I'm still a bit hurt that he doesn't seem capable of returning the favor.

 

Skip - when I mean rudderless ship, I mean they have no fucking clue what they're doing or how they intend to do it. This band, when I first showed up, didn't even have a set list, never mind goals for when they intended to be ready for a first show.

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Skip - when I mean rudderless ship, I mean they have no fucking clue what they're doing or how they intend to do it. This band, when I first showed up, didn't even have a set list, never mind goals for when they intended to be ready for a first show.

 

Well that`s another advantage in sticking to studio-right from the start there`s a defined goal. If it`s for someone else your friend doesn`t have to decide anything-just back up between the cones, parallel park, K-turn, done.

Same old surprises, brand new cliches-

 

Skipsounds on Soundclick:

www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandid=602491

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My take on it: keep the talent, its much harder to find than an ally.

 

IOW, keep your conflict averse drummer buddy in the mix, and just grow some extra balls! :laugh:

 

Besides, musical talent is more honest than allegiance. You can convince someone to back your positions for a variety of reasons- see your own example above of the dating couple who formed a "voting bloc"- but talent and skill is something you simply can't just make show up.

Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: âNinety percent of everything is crapâ

 

My FLMS- Murphy's Music in Irving, Tx

 

http://murphysmusictx.com/

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My take on it: keep the talent, its much harder to find than an ally.

 

Eh... I have access to equal and/or better talent. My struggle is with the friendship component. I mentioned that he was damned good because I didn't want there to be any question that I was hanging on to dead weight in that department...

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It's tough for me, because in several of the bands we've been in, I've gone to the mat for him when the rest of the band wanted to fire him for various reasons, and I'm still a bit hurt that he doesn't seem capable of returning the favor.

 

Skip - when I mean rudderless ship, I mean they have no fucking clue what they're doing or how they intend to do it. This band, when I first showed up, didn't even have a set list, never mind goals for when they intended to be ready for a first show.

 

If your buddy is inviting you in to act as bandleader, and then failing to back you up, that puts you in an untenable position - it may also be that these other bands have turned on him, because they sense weakness, like any pack. Forgive the Darwinist outlook, but there it is . . .

 

Having said that, I agree, at least in part, with Dannyalcatraz - appreciate your buddy as an old friend, and a great, maybe even intuitive drummer, both rare and valuable qualities. Don't expect him to be anything else, that way you won't be disappointed. If you want to be the bandleader, take responsibility for being the leader, and don't take any crap.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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I have always encountered problems when 2 of the band members date - so won't get involved in those situations EVER again and neither should you.

 

If the drummer is a good player, use him for what he is (as mentioned above). It isn't a good management strategy to try and make him into something he isn't...you can't change his personality at this late date. Keep the drummer - keep your wife.

 

Don't allow yourself the luxury of doing business on an emotional level - forget about who backed you up and who didn't. The situation you had probably would have gone south anyways. It's always the no-talent players who start shit - it's a personality problem and possibly the reason they don't play well.

 

Negotiate your desires musically in a manner so as not to cause conflict but still get your point across. Am not trying to be harsh or give you a hard time - I understand that all of this is easier said than done. Your goal is to achieve positive results regardless of circumstance.

 

Make it VERY clear up front but in a nice way to anyone new that it's YOUR group and you're a fair guy but you make the rules, set the repertoire, etc, but you value other opinions. That should cut out a large amount of future bs.

 

If a new guy or chick coming in gives you a problem --- pass on them immediately and keep looking for the right person until you have a team that wants to work together - not an easy task.

 

Sometimes it's better to give in on certain points to get your message across on other things. You have to decide if you want to be the Leader or run it like a democracy. We both live in democratic countries, however a business venture usually won't survive if everyone thinks they can call the shots.

 

If you can line-up gigs it becomes easier as most players will not bite the hand that feeds them plus it's way easier to find staff when there's $$$ coming in as an incentive.

 

Keep in mind that the drummer has asked you into various situations so has shown some loyalty - 10 years with a shrink may give him a back-bone...or maybe not.

 

Sorry to be a windbag - that's my 50 cents.

Been round the block but am not over the hill...

 

http://www.bandmix.ca/jamrocker/

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I've tried to function in bands where I wasn't the leader. It's never worked out. There can be only one...Highlander quote...Your drummer is one of the Sheeple. Nothing wrong with that, but lots wrong with expectations you already know he can't meet. Sure, he's a bud, but ya need to think of him as a bandmate with a job to do in this context, not as a co-pilot. Ya need to be able to pull it together without his support. Definitely try to keep him as a bandmate. Juggling personalities, obligations, addictions, afflictions, etc. are all glorious parts of being the honcho. When it proves to be worth it all is when great things happen.
Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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If his only downfall is that he avoids conflict, then you should keep him. Musicians, as I'm sure you know, can be a strange bunch. If you drop this guy, you could wind up with something worse.

 

As for the band leader thing, it is the difference between a bunch of friends getting together to jam at the local pub for free chicken wings and a professional band that shows up, does their job, gets paid and is asked back a few weeks later.

 

Remember, it IS a job. If you are the band leader, then you are the "owner" or "manager" of that band. You provide the equipment, you take the financial hits when they come and you pay your employees.

 

Get a set list together. Find musicians and hire them to play the gigs for you. They get a set amount, regardless of what the club pays (with the exception of gigs like New Years Eve etc.) Run it like a business. Be professional, courteous and diplomatic.

 

As the "owner" you don't need to be "backed up". Treat your employees fairly (ie. don't be a crazed dictator) and they will follow you. Keep getting them gigs and show that your formula works. At the same time, don't be afraid to listen and consider suggestions but as the owner, you have to have last say.

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Craig said it

 

It's a BUSINESS - should run like my computer networking business, same principle. Just becase musicians "play" does not mean that it is not work.

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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If his only downfall is that he avoids conflict, then you should keep him. Musicians, as I'm sure you know, can be a strange bunch. If you drop this guy, you could wind up with something worse.

 

As for the band leader thing, it is the difference between a bunch of friends getting together to jam at the local pub for free chicken wings and a professional band that shows up, does their job, gets paid and is asked back a few weeks later.

 

Remember, it IS a job. If you are the band leader, then you are the "owner" or "manager" of that band. You provide the equipment, you take the financial hits when they come and you pay your employees.

 

Get a set list together. Find musicians and hire them to play the gigs for you. They get a set amount, regardless of what the club pays (with the exception of gigs like New Years Eve etc.) Run it like a business. Be professional, courteous and diplomatic.

 

As the "owner" you don't need to be "backed up". Treat your employees fairly (ie. don't be a crazed dictator) and they will follow you. Keep getting them gigs and show that your formula works. At the same time, don't be afraid to listen and consider suggestions but as the owner, you have to have last say.

 

Ultimately, you're right. I've wasted too much time trying to do the "captain of the team" thing rather than the "owner/operator" thing.

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Ultimately, you're right. I've wasted too much time trying to do the "captain of the team" thing rather than the "owner/operator" thing.

 

In the end, it's not such a bad thing. The band I went out on the road with, had a band leader. In fact the band was named after him (we were "The Downing Bad" and his name was "Larry Downing"). The truck picked us up, it was full of gear, PA, Lights, sound Board etc. etc. We drove to the gigs that he had set up, played the set list that he had come up with and made our money. There were a few times when he got screwed over but paid us anyway (although, in the end, we often refused to be paid when that happened).

 

It can be a good thing, going into a band where everything is "tried and tested". You show up, play and get paid. No hassles. No arguments.

 

Look for guys that are still green and they can learn from your experience as they work with you.

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Since I've started building and selling guitars, I've met a number of people with unbelievable talent. One or two are very successful, most are failures. Why? Because they were not able to form a cohesive team with a chosen leader, (them or otherwise), who could actually manage the situations you will encounter.

If you are as good as you say, and I always take people at their word until they prove me otherwise, start your own, (if inclined), and lay down the rules, all of them including music, recruit the best that YOU can handle, and make a go of it! At least the band will know who is managing and leading the group. And if they are so immature as to not like you down the road, simply replace them. After all, in the end, it's only business. If you are in it for the artistry and music only, you are in the wrong business...The world is full of starving artists, but there are more than a few rich musicians.

Want a custom guitars for prices you can afford? Check out www.tsunamiguitars.com
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I only read the OP, Griff, so bear w/me if this has been said...

I think there are a couple mistake in everyone's outlook here.

 

First you got things going in A DIRECTION but it may not have been, as you put it, "the right direction".

Sometimes ppl don't want things do develop !

Stunning, but true!

 

The other thing that strikes me is that you brought yer wife in...that may've created some attitude for some folks...

 

More to the point, there doesn't seem to have been any real discussion as to who's taking what roles or any of the other defining aspects that organizations really need to settle to get past this sort of snag.

 

Finally, there's this: it was "the least talented member" who threw the sabot in the works...I think that demonstrates the likely source of that person's resentment---fear of being left out---but THAT WASN'T yer friend tha ace drummer, right ?

All he's guilty of is being a follower rather than a leader.

 

 

I think a good clearing of the air---1st between you and him, then with the other ppl involved, is in order.

The biggest problem with most groups is the lack of specific planning & the lack of attention to the biz of bizniz.

All that needs to be cleared up.

If yer buddy likes what you're up to he may want you to push that wheel & there's no need to either expect him to be different than his nature or to cast him aside because he's not as assertive as you.

He needn't "back you up", just play his role, dig ?

 

 

Now I'll go back & read what I skipped...

...see here, same BatTime, same BatChannel...

d=halfnote
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Read most of it...

I don't advocate leaving personality or friendship outta the mix.

 

I prefer the collaborative over the dictatorial but there does need to be planning & goal setting for anything to develop on a biz level.

That also has to be dealt with for creativity to flow, b/c the thing that will bite you later is "Well, I thought we/I/were...(whatever it is)".

 

You seem to be the dynamic cat in this scene.

Go with it & involve others as they fit & agree to be involved.

Don't let things get too cut & dried, though, or y'wind up with mere mercenaries.

 

Remember the old song "Y'gonna need somebody on yer bond

Yes y'will"

 

d=halfnote
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Keep your friend as true friends are hard to come by...I wouldn't worry if he doesn't back you in a confrontation with the other band members as it may be his way of letting you make your own stand and be a band leader...as long as he backs you on the drums and does a great job, he's the guy I want to play with...I'd be letting the other no-talent complainer go first...
Take care, Larryz
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You mean some of your chronic complainers have NO TALENT???

Who would ever have known?? LOL

 

Yes I know I moan and bitch

It's my way of getting rich

And yes I know I gripe and kvetch

It's my way to be a good catch...

 

Etc. etc. ad infinitum and maybe ad nauseum....

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Just don't expect the guy to back you up, because for whatever reason, he's not gonna. In the meantime, make the bookings, lead the band into making music in them, then take your money and go home.

 

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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