Jump to content
Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Semi-OT - accidentally just became the BL... (LONG read)


Griffinator

Recommended Posts

Or at least that's how it sounded, during my last several conversations with him. Just a bit of background, I've known this guy for 10+ years, though this is the first time we've worked together in a band.

 

A couple weeks ago at rehearsal, he was feeling very, very under the weather, quite visibly so. Rehearsal went on anyway, and I basically did my best to take up his slack by keeping everything organized, calling tunes, the usual "run the rehearsal" schtick.

 

The following week, per my prompting and via my organization, we had a "vocal" session two days before our regular rehearsal, where the four of us actively contributing to lead and/or backing vocals got together to work out harmony parts on certain songs where we were obviously deficient due to lack of organization. I pretty much ran that rehearsal, pounding out parts for each person on the piano, working everyone through the a capella sequences so they could get comfortable with hearing their pitch against everyone else, etc.

 

After that session and the following rehearsal, he commented to me over the phone that he was really impressed with how easily I was able to handle the role of "leading" the band. I thanked him for the complement and didn't think much more of it.

 

Meanwhile, he had been riding everyone pretty hard about getting each song on our (at that point 10-song) list note-perfect before we started adding material, which was really becoming a bore, because the only mistakes we were making in rehearsal were "duh" mistakes, not "I don't know that part" mistakes. Last rehearsal, I raised the issue of needing to add more stuff, particularly since we weren't going to convene for two weeks. He started into the speech about not having these songs down "yet", but was promptly cut off by both the other guitarist (the real phenom of the group) and the singer, who both voiced their agreement with the need to add more material. He backed down, and we added another three songs - not as many as I'd have liked, but it was a moral victory, anyway.

 

So... fast forward to a few nights ago. We got into a discussion on FB about his distaste for one of the pieces (which I had suggested because it's simple, has impact and dynamics, is still very popular, and can be learned easily by everyone but the vocalists, and we're fast studies anyway). I raised the counterpoint that there were several songs on the list that I didn't like, and haven't said really anything about them. He came back with more griping about how that song "just sucked" (for the record, it's "Your Love" by The Outfield) and claimed that the drummer supported his position. The drummer and I have been tight for years, so I posed the question to him (he happened to be online) of "when did you start hating that song?" - his answer was he didn't, just he was concerned about how it meshed with the rest of our motif. Back to BL, he's getting grumpy about my resistance to his efforts to unilaterally replace one song with another, and we end up breaking the conversation off after a tentative agreement that if everyone raised a fuss about songs they didn't like, we'd never get anything done.

 

So today, out of the blue, he apologizes for being a dick and says "I'm just gonna lay back and go with the flow here". We talked a bit about what that meant, and one of the things he said was "I'm trying to make this too much about playing all my favorite songs here instead of trying to play stuff that fits our lineup and can keep a crowd happy, and I finally realized that your suggestions haven't been about playing your favorite songs, they've been about playing stuff that's fun to play, and still fun for the people in the audience." For the record, he knows I'm a prog metal and abstract rock nut, and I've kept those biases under my hat when it came down to discussing set lists.

 

So now I'm in an interesting spot... If I'm reading his underlying message here correctly, he's essentially stepping back and letting me run the show. The question is, how to handle it? Continue doing what I've been doing, which is just trying to keep everything organized and move everyone forward? Try maybe to accelerate the pace a bit, since that seems to be a sentiment shared by the rest of the band (particularly now that we have a permanent drummer)? Or just try to play it by ear and keep a close watch on his reactions, to make sure I didn't misread him and accidentally wind up stepping on toes?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 14
  • Created
  • Last Reply

it sounds like he gave you the keys to the car, dude! I say do what you think is best for the band and it'll all work itself out.

 

Or maybe the BL doesn't understand the difference between a BL and a musical director?

 

 

Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whether or not he's stepping back and letting you run the show, at the very least it looks like he's recognizing your abilities - which, from the history given, indicate the skills of a Musical Director.

Will it be a co-leading sort of thing, or will you move into the bandleader role ? I suspect that time will tell here. I think the wisest choice is to continue what you've been doing and see how things progress. Three of you have already picked up the pace a bit, by pushing past the perfectionism to learn new material. I'd lean on that a bit harder, and move more songs into the rotation. Many years ago I was part of an upstart that, despite having several solid players, couldn't seem to get 'out of the basement'; too much focus on being 'perfect' prior to performing. I was out of that one pretty quickly. Fact is, the "Duh" mistakes are going to happen, here and there, on the first few gigs; and almost all of those little fluffs will sail right past the audience...

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It sounds like he figured out that if it isn't fun for everybody it won't be fun for anybody. It also seems he may be thinking that if everyone is helping drive the bus (to the extent they want) they won't be trying to throw someone under it.

 

He may not be handing you the keys, just letting you be the navigator since you seem to be good at it and enjoy it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Eric; it sounds like the guy is realizing you have organizational abilities and can help keep the band's vision on point, and that he also is realizing a blind spot he had concerning the real reason he was selecting some of these songs (personal preference, not business sense). I wouldn't expect that he is relinquishing his vision, however. He may see you as a powerful ally, a consigliere, a sounding board, whatever you want to call it, and you may really have his trust and respect in a new way now ... but I would be cautious about assuming he is handing over any reins, because you don't want to ruin that.

 

I'd say continue respecting him as the leader to the extent that you do, and see if he loses some of his perfectionism on his own and accepts picking up the pace with developing repertoire. If you don't see that fairly quickly, feel free to nudge him into that action once again. Same thing with song selection, see if his perspective has changed and new songs he brings in reflect that ... but know that your input has value and that you can step up and say something if you have to. I think that's what I'd do if I were in your shoes given what you've recounted here.

 

Original Latin Jazz

CD Baby

 

"I am not certain how original my contribution to music is as I am obviously an amateur." Patti Smith

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BL... or MD

 

Being bandleader sucks. Music director is fun!

 

Depends. In this particular situation, despite me coming to the party "late" as it were (3/5 of the band was already together), the energy I brought to the whole thing was actually well received by the singer and the other guitarist, especially when they realized I was also bringing extensive knowledge and a decent amount of skill, but no ego. If he does wind up handing me the "reins", it's a certainty that I'll be well-supported in the position, and I have plenty of outside resources, my wife being most prominent, to help me along with the "managerial" stuff (bookings, etc)...

 

It's really only a drag to be BL when you're trying to manage big egos. There are none of those in this group.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The last band I was in (back in the early mid 90's) realized that different cats had different skills. I ran rehearsals (with an iron fist, heh), another cat handled booking, another cat handled promotion. It worked well for us. As long as there's a shared vision, delegating responsibilities can be a very effective way for a band to get things done.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its been my experience that regardless of lip service and titles, the true leader is the guy who books the bands (gets the gigs) and pays the musicians.

True dat!

Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
Link to comment
Share on other sites

it sounds like he gave you the keys to the car, dude! I say do what you think is best for the band and it'll all work itself out.

 

 

This! Just keep doing what you were doing before, as long as everybody is comfortable and happy with it. Not all musicians have the balls to do what he did, their egos won't let them. If your project is about putting the crowd before personal taste and he understood that, it sounds genuine to me.

"The purple piper plays his tune, The choir softly sing; Three lullabies in an ancient tongue, For the court of the crimson king"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...