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Venting here (band, drummer problems)


bottle12am

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Alright guys--

 

Feel free to throw in your own advice or horror stories so I don't feel so bad here.

 

I'm in two bands -- my 'permanent band', a goth-rock project with a distribution deal. Everything fine there.

 

Then there's the 'temp band' which I've been a hired gun for for the past 2 mos or so -- a blues/rock project that gigs a lot and makes nicer coin than my buddies in black.

 

Problems lie with second band. First, they're complaining that I can't practice with them longer (changing their original agreement with me, and forgetting I'm driving 1.5 hours to practice with them AND that I have two kids at home that already see me less than my Carvin and Ibanez)

 

Reason for their complaint is that I'm not learning their original material fast enough. They have around 75 originals so-said (learned the first 40 of them in about 4 weeks' time, plus 15 of their covers).

 

We never play more than 40 total songs in a 4-hour set, plus I think they are getting testy when they start bitching the guy who is sitting in to help them out only knows 55 of their 90-song arsenal.

 

Am I wrong here?

 

Second problem is the drummer.

 

I think we can all agree there are two points of maturity in a musician's life. One is the eye-opening moment when they realized they have learned and studied their instrument enough to play anything their idols ever played on any album, and now they can take those licks to places unknown; The second moment is when they realized they DON'T have to play all those licks for a song to sound good.

 

Drummer is solid in the first category of maturity. He is a friggin incredible drummer, but I'm not sure if he's a good MUSICIAN.

 

Imagine any Stevie Ray Vaughn song; now imagine it played with Neil Peart doing a solo from first song lick to last. That's what this guy sounds like. Though I don't wan't to say anything as the 'hired gun', sometimes I feel like impaling the SOB with his own cowbell.

 

I know a lot of licks myself, but I feel no need to turn every song of a 4-hour set into a Jaco/Rocco/Victor worship service.

 

He doesn't even try to lock on with the bass. Our last gig, he played with headphones on, with only vocals coming through -- no guitar, and definitely no bass. It's all about him (and the other two guys in the band are just in love with him, though in secret they've admitted to me how it took 'so long to learn to play with his style').

 

Sorry, I just had to vent. Advice, sob stories, etc., are most welcome.

 

Thanks.

"Women and rhythm section first" -- JFP
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To paraphrase Charlie Christian, there are three reasons to take you instrument out of it's case: To make money, to learn something new or to have fun.

 

Sounds to me like you reside in category number one with this band.

 

As long as your irritation does not exceed the financial benefit of playing with these guys, I would say stick with it. Once your annoyance gets passed that point it's time to walk.

Mudcat's music on Soundclick

 

"Work hard. Rock hard. Eat hard. Sleep hard. Grow big. Wear glasses if you need 'em."-The Webb Wilder Credo-

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I have to agree with IhateBobGoodenow on this one ... Since - I assume- you're doing it for the money, ask yourself if it's worth it. If it is, suck it up. If it isn't, wave bye-bye with yer picking hand.

 

That said, drummers are a different kind of breed, aren't they? :D

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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I nearly did a double-take and my reply was going to start with something like, "I didn't know my drummer was playing in your blues band!"

 

But then I realized that was a weak attempt at humor, and there's really nothing funny about your (or my) situation. My situation is exacerbated by the fact that I actually do play in a prog rock band, and the drummer is supposed to sound like Neal Peart...I just wish that he would do a fill every four measures instead of every four beats. Lately, every (and I mean EVERY) time we sit down to compose something by jamming, we (bass, guitar, and keys) inevitably peter out right about the time he switches to machine-gun double-bass and kicks up the tempo 20 beats faster than whatever it was, apparently in an effort to see just how fast he can play double bass...for the fifth time in the last twenty minutes...

 

Your situation is exacerbated by the fact that you are a sub and laboring under the gun of learning an enormous amount of originals.

 

I wish, bottle12am, that I had some insight to offer, but I do not. If you come up with a solution that doesn't involve telling him to cram his next lick up his (censored), please share it with us/me. Thanks, and good luck.

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Originally posted by EddiePlaysBass:

That said, drummers are a different kind of breed, aren't they? :D

He he...I'm a drummer too, and I grew up on Neil Peart as well. There's a place for chops, and there's a place for just groove (and there's a place for both!) Groovy chops are OK, but choppy grooves aren't. :thu:

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Neil Peart in a blues band? No matter how good you are you are there to serve the music the best you can. Sounds like he needs the take the cotton outa yer ears and stick it in yer mouth speach. Learning to listen is hard to do for some people. If the money is worth it follow the drummer. (It's so hard not to say follow the Dumber) Sorry just a joke not a insult.
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Is the 1 1/2 hours each way or round trip?

Do what you originally agreed to do. I think you are learning their material at a reasonable rate; you're more than half way there now, with a solid evening's material to choose from. Maybe they could suggest what songs to learn next?

As for the drummer, I hope the pay is good.

"Start listening to music!".

-Jeremy C

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Is the 1 1/2 hours each way or round trip?
1 1/2 each way-- I know it seems crazy, but that's what happens when you live in the country and want to be playing to more than the cows...

 

While I live in Cajun Country, the Cajun scene consists of 400 bands playing the same 10 traditional songs to the same 15 people who share the same 12 teeth... hard to adjust when you originally hail from New Orleans and cut your teeth on the jazz/funk/rock scene in the Crescent City

 

Zydeco scene in my neck of the woods is pretty incredible though (Check out Beau Joques or Keith Frank to open your ears), but still not my cup of tea

"Women and rhythm section first" -- JFP
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You're the hired gun? They're the boss. Aim to please. Ask them their expectations.

 

How are you learning the material? Charts, recordings, or group practice?

 

I hope it's not group practice. If it is, there's the problem.

 

If it's the other two, you all shouldn't need that much practice or rehearsal time, eh? Learn the tunes, play the venues, and get on with life.

 

There's nothing you can do about the drummer. Its not your band if you're getting paid. Bite your lip if the cash is worth the pain.

 

Good luck. I hope it works out.

 

Me, I do this as a hobby. The second it starts to suck, I quit and find another band. ;)

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How are you learning the material?
They have one 14-song CD out; memorized that. The rest of the songs are learned, unfortunately, from group practice or on the fly during the gig itself (dead serious here).

 

Singer/guitarist doesn't believe in set lists; will huddle between every song or so, or just play what comes to her. After the first 4-5 songs of the first set, everything else is wide open.

 

Nice when you've played together 2 years+ and wrote the songs; not good if you're taking the crash course.

 

Me, I do this as a hobby. The second it starts to suck, I quit and find another band.
Like I said, my first band (the Goth band) is great. That band has got to be the coolest bunch of guys I've met in my 15+ years of playing. Granted, two gigs a month is a world tour to us and there's been a lot of payments in 'draft beer and gas money' but the crowd is dedicated as hell and there's not a gig I've played with these guys that hasn't either turned into a great party or had a great after-party.

 

I took the hired-gun blues-rock job as something to keep my skills up, fill the voids in my calendar, and earn a bit o pocket money. Apparently I've been away from the real world just long enough to forget how many egotistical EEP's (Eeyore Exhaust Ports) there are out there in music.

 

Saving for GAS is nice, but keeping sanity is quickly becoming more tempting now.

"Women and rhythm section first" -- JFP
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I have this simple rule that works well for me...

 

I only stay in a band if it satisfies musically in a big way, and continues to progress forward.

 

One gig with a blues band that has a Neil Peart wannabe as a drummer would be enough for me to say GOODBYE before the next gig! Break one of that idiot's arms! And then maybe write the word 'CONTEXT' on each one of his drum heads with a black marker.

 

It's threads like this one that make me glad that I have a good dayjob, and can pick and choose the bands I want to play with!

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The Charlie Christian quote is great. My take on this is there are 3 reasons to be in a band: musical, social, and financial. It's a simple cost/benefit equation: if you aren't getting enough money, musical satisfaction or social fun to compensate for the work you are putting in, knock it on the head.
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I have never played with a Neil Peart fanatic/drummer who didn't suck the life out of every groove with their bombastic suckiness.

 

If the money is good, just do your best to play with him and make it work. Hell, even follow his sh**ty lead if you have to...they may like you for it.

 

How badly do you need the gig? If you don't

need it and it's driving you nuts, then quit. You don't need that kind of aggravation.

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It sounds like the 2nd band is a little bit selfish and asking for a bit more than needed,like you said your the hired gun you really dont know if your going to be employed or not so they need to have a little respect because you could leave anytime and they would have to go through the samethings agian sounding by the attitude of the band.

 

And speaking of your drummer I once had the same problem with a guitar player I used to play with,when we played it pretty much me playing a rythem while he run solo's left to right,and i didnt like that at all, hell I couldn't even through any flavor or variations,he was using me for a metronome in a way,and I told lets play together as one or you play by yourself.After that we quit playing together, then he jions a blackmetal band and try's to rub it in my face, its doesn't bother me because I'd rather be myself than to fit into a crowd like him. Real musician follow their heart instead of whats cool for the crowd.

pete combs
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I would explain it to those guys exactly as you've explained it here. If they're cool, they'll understand.

 

As to the drummer, take him out for a beer one evening and talk nicely to him and let him know your concerns. Don't try to talk for anyone else but yourself. Introduce him to Robert Fripp's Rules for Drummers and say "hey if Bill Bruford could lay back, so can you". :)

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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Originally posted by petec:

...Real musician follow their heart instead of whats cool for the crowd.

I also say, real musicians use their abilities to make the over all song sound the best it can, and not use the song as a platform to show off. There is nothing like the synergy of a group of real musicians who truly want to craft good music.

 

I try to show up at every gig with the attitude that I'm there to make everyone else sound good. So I focus first on laying down a solid groove. I find it EXTREMELY frustrating to work with people who don't share a simular attitude. Like the others have said, I weigh the costs against the benefits to determine if its worth the trip. Also, if I don't feel I can give 100% commitment, then I feel it's better for everyone else if I quit. If your heart is not in it, it will eventually come through in the music and in your relationship with band mates.

 

Just my $.02.

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I've tried taking drummers out to dinner, explaining to them the difference between playing drums and playing songs, giving them Led Zeppelin and Motown CDs, etc.

 

It's only worked once. But it did work. The other five times or so it didn't.

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I am currently in a similar situation, that of a "less than perfect" (whatever that means :) ) gig, not entirely satisfying musically, etc. Lots of material to learn (around a hundred originals)and it's also a paying gig.

But it IS a paying gig, a job, and not every part of every workday is going to be enjoyable.

Sometimes you have to just have to shut up and play.

 

I try to have a good time, and find the positives.

Pros and cons. When the cons list is longer than the pros, I'll probably walk. Or renegotiate. :)

 

I'd say you are learning the material quickly. But I'm not the guy paying you. ;)

 

Regarding that drummer... I am also pretty sure that I have played with the guy. :D

 

Definitely try to arrange some time for the two of you to play, if possible. Just the two of you, no guitarist interference. Just you guys, jamming, "feeling each other out" so to speak.

This may force him to listen to you.

And definitely try to get the guy to put you in his monitors, that's just odd and rude IMO.

 

Maybe do go have a beer, or a bowl, a long walk on the beach, or whatever with the guy, talk about your approaches to the music you play.

Maybe a philosophical change in headspace would help, for both of you. I mean, playing together is a two-way street, right?

Play him some "better" music, maybe make him a tape or cd with some groovier, blusier music.

Even if it's just Zeppelin. :D

 

Good luck...

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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As to learning the songs, just keep learning them. Explain to the leader that it takes time - and that means that he'll call tunes that you aren't ready for. It'll get better as time goes on. If he wants to consider a songlist, then you will focus on what he wants next as a priority (good you've got the CD material down).

 

I have no problem with the drummer advise above. It could be that they like that sort of arrangement and since you are the hired gun, just hang on.

 

Meet Ricky, who alternated Wednesdays playing in the house band at Black Eyed Sally's in Hartford, CT. I got to sit in with him a few times. Not Neil Peart, but lots of stuff going on. I kept it straight and managed to feel when to do a few rhythms in unison (I'd seen him play for a while). It was different (because usually I'm the overplaying band member), but cool because it was so well done. When we got done one night, he told me straight out - you keep the rhythm while I'm doing my thing. I'd play with him again...

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

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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Dunno about that.... some very good music has emerged from musicians under duress.

Originally posted by DWBass:

Hmmmmm........I would say 'buh-bye'! Nothing worse than unhappy musicians. When you're unhappy, all creativity is lost! Not good for musicians!

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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Originally posted by EddiePlaysBass:

That said, drummers are a different kind of breed, aren't they?

I have never met a drummer whom I would call "normal".

 

Drummers are to music what kickers are to football.

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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