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More Failed Attempts At Starting A Band....How To Deal With It (?)


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Where do you draw the line & how do you say "f*&#^ off" when you get there? It's such a drag, man. I've started two bands that seem to have hit a wall. Peripheral bullshit always takes precedent: "Oh, I promised my wife I'd clean the garage this weekend." or "My girlfriend wants us to spend time together today." How's about "Fuck a bunch of you!" I'm sorry, but I regard it as a job. When you make a commitment to rehearse and this other BS comes up at the last minute, I lose patience quickly. It IS a job. It may pay SHIT at first, but you'll get nowhere unless you improve. You will not improve without dedicating a large chunk of time to it. Music was a part of these people's lives long before they found their current squeeze (or illness - Whatever). Some of these people are very talented. Poeple I'd LOVE to work with. But I simply do not have the time to "take a number". Pick your priority, people. Okay. That's my bitch. Is there a kinder, gentler way to tell this to these people? Or should I just call them on it? I just do NOT understand. I've never let a relationship get in the way of what I do. If it started going that way, I got out of it. Music comes first. Always will, because It's ALWAYS been there for me - regardless of what else was going on. Thoughts?
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[quote]Originally posted by mdpetrick@yahoo.com: [b]Is there a kinder, gentler way to tell this to these people? Thoughts?[/b][/quote]No!! There isn't!! Life's too short and there are too few oppotunities in this so-called buiness.Project that up fron't,and "tell" them up front.If they can't deal with that then they shouldn't be a part of your'e plans.Also Iv'e had better succsess with using and developing less experienced musicians who had the same hunger as me rather than dealing with a so called semi-pro who's schedule I had to work around.Know your'e Army,and be wiiling to sacrafice yourself a bit.
"A Robot Playing Trumpet Blows"
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Long ago I discovered it was much easier to join a good working band than to start one. Two hard things about starting a band is learning which musicians are roamers and which "good" musicians cannot get along with other "good" musicians. If you can filter out those two groups things get easier. Robert
This post edited for speling.
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I had the exact same problem three or four years ago. I don't know what to tell you, but for me, I'm doing a lot more stuff by myself with only me to depend on. I like this situation a lot better, because I got tired of bitching to band mates who were also long time friends. The band was beginning to strain the friendship. I remember complaining to my father about this problem, and he told me I can't afford the band I want because I wasn't getting the big money gigs that would be the incentive for the band. My argument-How the F#$% was I going to get an even halfway decent F&%!ing gig if these assholes didn't put in the time. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Well, I didn't express my argument quite like that to him(yeah I'm adult but I still respect my Dad), but you can see I know exactly how you're feeling. The thing that really bugged me was all the other things that go into making a band work, like promotion, MONEY, booking, MONEY, T-Shirts, and oh yeah MONEY, and just plain WOOOOORRK. On a brighter note, when I saw CMDN(Erik's band from Philly), the thing that impressed me the most is that the entire band was pulling for what they wanted. You could tell Erik had a leadership or organizing role, but all the guys seemed to pull their weight. I asked him how they did it. Maybe, he can chime in with some wisdom. Hey, Erik, Whatz the secret for getting three to four assholes in line? Sorry for the rant, but I feel you hermano Jedi

"All conditioned things are impermanent. Work out your own salvation with diligence."

 

The Buddha's Last Words

 

R.I.P. RobT

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Well being that I was in the same band for 5 years with the same three other people and also married for the last 2 and 1/2 years, I can tell you, it takes more work to keep a band strong than a marriage. Hows that for head spinning? When you`re married to someone who shares the same ethics and moral code you do, everything is alot easier. The same goes for a band but the exception is we are talking about 3-4 other people so the percentages are alot higher and difficult to find the right band mates. Look at bands like Aerosmith, U2, same members for over 20 years. They are married to each other. Unfortunately marriage gets a bad rap but if you marry the "right" person, your music career will also improve as well as everything else. I have been going solo for the last 3 years since the band broke up and even though it was tremendously difficult going on alone, I am now writing better than ever and I have a select group of very talented and beautiful people in my life helping me to record my first CD. Attitude is everything, you attract what you put out so maybe you need to change your attitude. My wife completely supports what I do and that is the greatest thing I can ask of her. So... in the end if someone is saying they can`t make a rehearsal because of their wife, etc... they do not have the support and therefore they are not going to help you in the long run to get your band to its final destination you are trying to achieve. Cut ties with anyone holding you back and look for other people. If they don`t come right away, write, practice, make contacts, listen and study songwriting, music business, recording, production, etc... There is so much to learn, do and be, so stop complaining and get to it! Peace, Ernest
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The polite way to tell 'em is: "Thanks for all the effort you've put in, but this is not working. Take care, and hope you find a situation that works for you." Unfortunately this business is like every other in many respects. If you're looking to do an original act, you gotta go with young, unattached, dedicated folks. Getting a married 30yo in your band probably isn't the best thing for you. OTOH if you want to play weddings and clubdates, go audition for some of the local entertainment orchestras! You won't have the hassle of booking - you just go play where they tell you and you pick up a check every couple weeks. And despite the reputation of these gigs, you get to play with some really good players who are dedicated PROS.

I used to think I was Libertarian. Until I saw their platform; now I know I'm no more Libertarian than I am RepubliCrat or neoCON or Liberal or Socialist.

 

This ain't no track meet; this is football.

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Jedi & Crew... I'm feeling the pain with everyone here. Jedi, you are correct -- I am the person in my band I call "that guy." Every decent band needs one. This means I'm the person who makes connections, organizes things and handles the details. I don't mind being "that guy," but everyone else has to pull their own weight and then some. Luckily, in our case, they do. For example.... Our bassist doesn't book shows for us, but I can always count on him bringing out a TON of his friends to every local show, ensuring that the club is full and that we make money. He's an outgoing, friendly guy. Now, I don't expect him to design t-shirts or make press calls for the band, but I can always count on him to befriend someone in the club and attract a few new people to future shows. That's his forte. Of course, he's also an excellent bassist and songwriter who loves the music we play. That last bit is really important. How do you get people in line? Well... you don't. They have to do it themselves. Except for a few rare situations, you're not your bandmates' parent, and you can't make them do anything. Your bandmates have to really enjoy being in the band and care about the music you play. However, it's also key to be somewhat understanding when rehearsals are missed or latenesses occur. Yes, it's a job, but it's also a relationship. That should really come first. I think professionalism is really an extension of common sense and basic respect. So, if the people in your band have common sense and respect, they'll act like professionals and do the right things to make the band work. I'm very, very lucky to play with three guys who love our music and have committed themselves to being in this band. The only advice I can really give about this is to be professional and talk to your bandmates A LOT about what needs to be done to make your band a solid, well-oiled machine.

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Oh boy I have been there. In some ways, I still am. My bandmates are married and I'm not, one of em has a kid, and while I totally respect that it's difficult sometimes because my values are just different. If it were up to me, we'd go off together for six months to a year and do nothing but gig, write and record, and just be shit hot by the end of that period. But that's just me, and really, even I wouldn't want to do that forever. Having a strong relationship is important to me too, it's important to most people really, once they get past age 25 or so. I don't really consider music or a relationship more important than the other, I think I need both. And the same thing that frustrates me sometimes about my bandmates is also a strength, because the fact that they're married means they actually have some social skills and are capable of commitment and negotiation - which are important in the band situation. I've been with my share of perennial bachelor bandmates who are just completely over the top, can't compromise about anything or get along with anyone, and expect their bandmates to be babysitters. So I see my bandmates being married as a positive in that way. And it's certainly not like I can complain that they don't work hard at the band or that we aren't improving constantly. I'm VERY satisfied with their level of commitment, in fact we get a lot more done with the time that we spend, than most bands who tour and practice more regularly. So these things CAN be worked out. The first thing you just have to accept is that you are hungrier than the average person in terms of music. Music isn't just your job, it's what fulfills you emotionally as well. For most people, they get that kind of fulfillment from their spouse. There's nothing particularly wrong with that except that your values are different from theirs. So some kind of a compromise is necessary. That said... how much time are you asking of these guys? How often would you prefer to rehearse? Gig? Etc. Try to get a clear idea in your own mind of how you'd like things to work and then discuss this with your bandmates. Personally, I find that if a band doesn't play together at least twice a week on most weeks, it's hard to improve. Our band usually has one gig per week, maybe two, and one rehearsal or recording session per week. So we end up being together 2-3 times a week. The guys have let their wives know that this is what the deal is, and really, this is a reasonable schedule that still leaves them time to spend with their wives. If it were more than that, though, it would probably be a problem, and I think that's understandable. This way, nobody can really have a legitimate complaint. So it really boils down to you communicating with your bandmates, voicing what your goals are and letting them do the same, and then they have to tell their wives/girlfriends in no uncertain terms what the deal is and stick to it. Communication is key. Nobody has to be nasty about it, it's just a matter of defining everybody's expectations and realizing there will have to be some give and take on both sides. On the other hand if you practice once a week or something, and there are still people cancelling at the last minute, then they obviously just are not committed. I'd have one discussion with them about it in that case, not a nasty one, just tell them that their level of commitment isn't going to allow for the band to get better and that you NEED them to commit a certain amount of time per week, period. If they can't do it, find somebody else. As someone else mentioned, maybe somebody else who isn't quite as talented but is committed enough that over time they can become the perfect person for your band. It sounds like maybe there's just a communication problem and/or lack of clear definition as to what everybody wants. It's great when you meet musicians who have the exact same values as you but it's pretty rare. That still doesn't mean that it can't be great, given some time and effort in working out the details. --Lee
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Well put, Erik. I was in a group in CA that was going pretty well...but some friction started around the fact that I wasn't able to commit to a scheduled set of days regardless of all else. I was working freelance audio, so sometimes I had to bow out to take a gig. I felt that I was as committed to the band as anyone - doing my job was how I kept up my end of the rent for the apartment I shared with the singer AND the rehearsal space we had, not to mention the other expenses. But they insisted it was an insurmountable problem, rather than take the opportunity to practice as a rhythm section. I found out later that there was another agenda at work as well, which I won't go into - but, at that point, I bowed out. So, if you like what you guys are doing together, then definitely talk about it. It's really more than a business - if you want to treat it that way, then you should use hired guns. But if you want a band of friends, then take the time to work something out, because at the end of the day each other is all you have.
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I agree with a lot of what Lee said. After a few failed bands, I realized how important it is to make the goal of the band clear and how each member must agree. For my current band, we have no delusions of making it big (we're a cover band, duh!) but we decided our goal was to have a gig once a month, maybe twice a month. We all have regular jobs and we're just in it for fun. Another thing we did was set up a regular practice schedule. In our case, we only do Monday nights unless a gig is coming up which we'll add more. Having a regular schedule should help in schedule conflicts since everyone knows it beforehand. If members still continually bag out - especially in the last minute - then I'm afraid they are not commited enough and it's time to move on. Of course, it is a relationship and my band is flexible about re-scheduling or cancelling practice. The key is, it can't happen too often that it hurts the band as a whole.

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I agree with what Erik and Lee said. When you reach the end of the line, say "I'm sorry, this isn't working out for either of us. It's just not a good match. Good luck with your next experience." Say it because despite the fact that you are aggravated, there is a mismatch in desire and expectation. I know some of your post has to do with frustration. People don't always have their act completely together - in their head or their home. Ultimately, the family of a member must be on board with what the player wants to do (they don't have to like it, they have to support it). Without that, you have trouble. The band I'm in now has set our expectations to meet our career/family obligations. Most of you would say that things are set so low that it couldn't work, but it does. We play covers, gig a few times a year, and rehearse every 4-8 weeks. In 4 years, nobody has missed a thing, because they know that it takes a lot of coordination for some members to make it to practice. Obviously we're not going far like this, but we are having fun, and sound better than we should (the guys can play!!). Erik, I'm "the guy". Or as I like to say - "I drive the bus". It's not nearly as much work as you are doing given our situation, but I have to do it all. The challenge is to watch for disagreement, and deal with it. I know the guys well enough to read each person's way of letting me know that I need to alter direction on something. Once I sense that somethings up, I drop back and we talk. We do disagree, and we do convince each other about stuff, but it has worked out well. And my lead guitar is shy (talk about having to overcome stereotypical expectations). Sorry about that stuff, but I think you have to learn your people quickly, communicate well, and make tough decisions. No way around it except Ted's 3 words... Hope it gets better for ya. Tom

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Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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[quote]Cut ties with anyone holding you back and look for other people. If they don`t come right away, write, practice, make contacts, listen and study songwriting, music business, recording, production, etc... There is so much to learn, do and be, so stop complaining and get to it! Peace, Ernest -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [/quote]Personally, this right here has been my strategy. I didn't mention it, because it's a hard choice to make, but it's been working for me.(Peace of mind) Also, I have always been one of those guys that work really well alone. I'm doing Ted's three word deal, and luckily because I didn't kill the friend relationship with my old bandmates, I can always call on them if I need a full band for a gig. All of the suggestions have been great, and definitely make me feel good about my decision. I hope they've been helpful to you, Mdpetrick. Jedi

"All conditioned things are impermanent. Work out your own salvation with diligence."

 

The Buddha's Last Words

 

R.I.P. RobT

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[quote]Originally posted by Franknputer: [b]I felt that I was as committed to the band as anyone - doing my job was how I kept up my end of the rent for the apartment I shared with the singer AND the rehearsal space we had, not to mention the other expenses. But they insisted it was an insurmountable problem...[/b][/quote]Right. I think that's a key thing, being able to be flexible because you KNOW the person is committed and into it. If our drummer has to cancel a rehearsal every now and then because something comes up with his kid or whatever... that doesn't mean he's less into the band! The fact is that he shows up on time, clean and sober, is a perfectionist when it comes to his playing, takes every gig seriously no matter how small, and works in general his butt off to be an ideal bandmate. If we got pissed at him for the occasional things in life that come up that might have to have to take precendence over the band for that day, we'd be completely stupid. If anything we respect him for being as devoted to his family as the band. I realize that not all situations are that clear cut, and sometimes there can be a question whether it's worth it to keep working with someone, where in our case there is NO question about that. But I think your point is very valid, that a lot of times people see something as an insurmountable problem only because of their own expectations/values. To me the bottom line is whether the band is working musically. If it is, how you get there doesn't matter. If it isn't, you should all discuss how to make it better. And the question SHOULD be framed as "How can we make the band better?", not "Why are you always cancelling rehearsals?" Because that may not be the whole problem. --Lee
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[quote]Originally posted by Tedster: [b]Three words...solo acoustic gig. You can devote as much time as you want to it, pick the songs you want, you are in complete control.[/b][/quote]I hear ya. I have done, am doing and will continue to do just that - regardless of the band situation. I've done a lot of recording on my own as well. It makes sense. I know the sound I'm going for with each track. It IS a lot easier to go that route than it is to locate good musicians who have the time and willingness contribute. (especially while I was still in good 'ol North Dakota.) But now more than ever, I want to be part of a unit. It has been quite some time since I've been part of a band. I miss the chemistry. :cry: I do well enough on my own, playing live. The response is always very good. However, I'm a lot more comfortable when I have a few people along side me. It takes time, I know. I've only been in Colorado for about 5 months. I'm sure the right people are out there. Just have to keep looking. I guess it's time to make a few calls, though. Better just to go it alone than it would be to keep kicking these dead horses. I am a phat platter Phuck Phargo
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[quote]Originally posted by Lee Flier: [b]If our drummer has to cancel a rehearsal every now and then because something comes up with his kid or whatever... that doesn't mean he's less into the band! --Lee[/b][/quote]No it doesn't,and every situation is differen't.I once had a drummer who was very dedicated,showed up on time and everything else.We finally had a showcase set up for Epic Records.Epic waited for an hour and a half before leaving.The drummer never showed up! Why? He said he didn't want to pay to eat in Manhatten :rolleyes: !! Iv'e dealt with every imaginable version of murphy's law.I eventually realized that once you develop a name and power and a set of rehearsal dates and tour/gigs and $$$ to go with it,the unexpected seems to happen less or not at all.Iv'e also realized that not too many people can be expected to have the same drive/passion as you,so I wen't out and did it myself and never looked back.
"A Robot Playing Trumpet Blows"
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