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Band problems, seeking sage advise


callen3615

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Hey guys, I have some problems that need to be resolved. Id ask someone else, but I dont know anyone who's opinion I honestly trust. Some background is necessary. So ive been in this band for at least a year now, probably closer to a year and a half. It started as me and a very good friend, hes pretty much family. He proposed to sing and I would play guitar. Well after a few months playing covers we picked up a bassist (mutual friend decided to learn), then we found a drummer on craigslist. We spent about 6 months playing as a 4 piece, trying to play covers. We didnt get to practice much because of everyones schedules so after 6 months we only had about 10-12 songs down. The drummer saw the writing on the wall and ditched us, not a big surprise to me. He had been playing drums for as long as ive been alive and we were novices, Id been playing abour 3 years and this was my first band, first time my friend had ever tried to sing, and the bass player was learning to play as well. Well after about 3 months of searching for a drummer the bass player decided to take up drums, and almost simultaneously we found a bassist through a mutual friend.

 

So for the past 3-5 months (im terrible with time) we have been playing covers, patiently waiting for our drummer to learn how to play. And he is coming along great. He took a few lessons initially and he is pretty good, can keep a beat well and can play most classic rock style songs. He loves playing drums, says he practices every night, which is good to hear. He seems like he is getting a little better every practice. Meanwhile we all came to the conclusion that if we ever want to play out were going to have to do originals. We just cant practice enough to learn enough songs to play 3-4 sets, and frankly I dont want to do that. I like the idea of writing originals and so does the bassist. So while we have been working on originals the singer decided that he would learn guitar so I could have much more latitude when it came to lead playing. Well its been about 2 months now and he seems like hes still a beginner. It seems like I show him the same things at practice every week. I eventually found out that he is only practicing about 10-20 minutes a day, and hes only practicing the chords to the originals, plus a few covers. I keep telling him he needs to practice about twice that much and learn some cover songs just for fun. I cant seem to get him motivated enough to want to play the instrument, all he wants to do is play rhythm for the originals. While that is what we need him to do, its the wrong way to go about learning the instrument. At this rate he will never get good enough to play in front of a crowd and sing at the same time. He just doesnt love to play guitar, he likes it. And he says that its cool. But he doesnt sit around the house and play guitar, its almost a chore to him, an obligation.

 

How can I get him motivated enough to want to learn to play, instead of learning a few parts to songs? I honestly dont want a person in the band whos playing an instrument he isnt interested in, it hurts us as a whole. The problem is he thinks hes progressing fine, I cant tell him he sucks. If I knew someone who could play rhythm guitar id get the in the band asap, but I dont. And it will be very difficult to find someone who wants to be in someone elses original band.

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Let it be known that I am very good friends with all the band members, and long after this band is no more I will still be friends with them. So I cant tell them they suck, or that they should quit. Its not that big of a deal. It just irks me that some people in the band settle for good enough all the time. While I dump every paycheck into gear and spend 8-10 hours a week writing originals.

 

For example I write a cool riff, then I add a verse, then a chorus, then leave a spot for a solo or something. Then I present this to the band, or bass player if I can get up with him first. Next week the singer will come back with 1-2 verses and a 4-5 word chorus and say "I think this song is pretty much in the bag".

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Put him back on the bass and find a drummer. Frequent the local music spots and any open mic nights you can find until you find the drummer you're looking for. In the meantime, learn as much material with your singer and bass player that you can so when a drummer gets involved he can play catchup.

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Do you record your practice sessions? That is a good way to actually hear what you sound like. Often times, because we "feel" what we are playing, we tend to not always be aware of what it sounds like. Listening to a recording is a good way to hear what you REALLY sound like.

 

Anyway, recording the session might be a good way to let him see what you want him to see without having to convince him.

 

I will also add that being a good MUSICIAN is not the same as being a great player. And part of being a good musician is knowing when to lay back, to not get in the way of what the others are doing. And that applies to every skill level.

 

Also, if you are trying to play covers close to the origonal recording, and that does NOT have the singer playing guitar while singing, his inability to do it might not be because he isn't very good, it might be because it is just real hard. Even if the guitar part is easy and the vocal is easy, there are some guitar tracks that are impossible for most avereage/good musicains to play and sing at the same time.

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Do you record your practice sessions? That is a good way to actually hear what you sound like. Often times, because we "feel" what we are playing, we tend to not always be aware of what it sounds like. Listening to a recording is a good way to hear what you REALLY sound like.

 

Anyway, recording the session might be a good way to let him see what you want him to see without having to convince him.

 

I will also add that being a good MUSICIAN is not the same as being a great player. And part of being a good musician is knowing when to lay back, to not get in the way of what the others are doing. And that applies to every skill level.

 

Also, if you are trying to play covers close to the origonal recording, and that does NOT have the singer playing guitar while singing, his inability to do it might not be because he isn't very good, it might be because it is just real hard. Even if the guitar part is easy and the vocal is easy, there are some guitar tracks that are impossible for most avereage/good musicains to play and sing at the same time.

 

We are in the process of buying a room mic and an interface.

 

At this point he can play the rhythm to songs like fly me courageous(drivin n cryin), hard to handle(black crowes), and shine (collective soul). But every practice I have to show him the chords again, or help him tune to drop D. Maybe I will let it ride and he will eventually find out he is over his head and needs to put more into it.

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You cannot be someone else's motivation. If he's not into learning he'll never learn. He's relying on you to play the guitar for him with his hands. I've gone through this more times than I can count in my formative years, seems like a good idea at the outstart. After all, I learned everything so fast that I blew right past the beginner stage in a matter of a few months, so in a few months this (drummer/bass player/guitarist/keyboardist) should be able to catch up pretty quick. Sadly, such was never the case.

 

I quickly learned my lesson, however, and by the time I was 22 I was completely over playing with friends who wanted to learn so they could be in a band, and started playing with people who played for the same reasons I did. Most of the time those kinds of players were at least 10 years older than myself, 20 years older in most cases.

 

After making that decision I had a much better time playing and a much better time hanging out with my friends. Win Win! [thumbup]

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Let's put it this way: I thought of some things to add to what the other guys mentioned and...

 

Tell you what, they've got in their own words 99 percent of anything I could say.

 

How you make changes, if you actually want to play in a band, will be difficult if it's with friends. There are a number of exit strategies. OTOH, if you have something "real" come up elsewhere ... it might be one way out. But you know your buds.

 

Your decision is to hang with your buds or look for, or crank up, a real band.

 

m

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What Milo said. Your options are to hang with your buds or play in a real band. Geez whenever I poke my head in here, I always seem to parrot Milo.

 

Not always, but damn near always, whenever "craigslist" plays a part in forming a band ... it doesn't go so great. Hustle & drive are crucial, sometimes more important than talent. Most of the people trying to meet musicians on craigslist do so because they have no game. Hang out in the clubs & bars where bands play, where the scene is that you want to break into. Make the scene & meet people. I've played in lots of bands - some of them were CL bands. The CL bands are never as fun or exciting -- and I've never made any lasting friendships on CL. That's for sure.

 

Start hanging out in the clubs and meeting people. If your buds can't (literally) get their act together, join a band that's as motivated & dedicated as you are. Sounds like the best way to save your friendship with your buds, if the music is getting in the way. Always make sure somebody in the band has a van.

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Move on, find a band full of people that want to play. Playing with friends because they want to do what you do is no way to get anywhere with this. If they really want to play the'll catch up, and maybe later all ya'lls can do something. Sounds like at this point you need to be in a band with other people that want to play.

 

rct

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If they really want to play the'll catch up, and maybe later all ya'lls can do something. Sounds like at this point you need to be in a band with other people that want to play.

 

rct

Thanks for the replys guys.

 

 

I honestly think the drummer will get there. He is practicing every night and taking lessons periodically. The singer however has no drive when it comes to learning guitar. He likes it, but I think ultimately we will either have to find another guitarist or write simpler music.

 

The problem is that we are all on the same page on alot of things. We all have jobs and understand that we cant practice all the time, we want to write original music and play out whenever that time comes. I dont want to leave them for a more professional band because I dont have the time to gig 3 times a month, I dont want to make money, I dont want to play covers. But right now we are focusing on getting the drummer good enough to play gigs. I figured while the drummer was learning the singer could learn guitar, turns out he doesnt have the drive.

 

The bass player and I agree that the singer is either gonna have to kick it in gear or let us find another guitarist. He doesnt want to learn guitar, he wants to play the rhythm parts to the originals, but he doesnt want to learn how to play. He wants to take short cuts instead of learning how to play.

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One of the hardest things to do is to form a band from four people when most of them have very little experience. In that situation, there has to be a "boss." You sound like you are the one who knows what you are doing, but don't want to take on the role of being the band "nag" and telling everyone else what they need to do. I don't blame you. That's a lonely role that doesn't win many friends. Sooner or later, someone will yell "what gives you the right to tell us what to do" or complain that "being in this band is no fun since you got so serious about everything." I one had a drummer shout that at me while exiting the door. We just got a better drummer who didn't think I was "spoiling the fun" by asking him to actually count things, and not to get so drunk that he fell off his stool.

 

Even if this band works, as the individual who appears to have the most drive and talent, I doubt you'll stay in it forever. If you keep working as hard as you say on improving your own playing, you'll advance much quicker than everyone else, and start to find their limitations annoying. I assume you've been in only a few bands. I'm 53 and have probably been in at least 20. However, I remember that the first few times something breaks up, you worry that there'll never be another band as good as this one, and that your friends will hate you. Don't worry about not being friends with the others if this doesn't work out. I exited a couple of bands in a fairly acrimonious atmosphere when I was young. It almost never lasts. The first time they get another gig, they'll want you to come and see them, and vice versa. If I wasn't speaking to all my ex-band mates, half the musicians in town would be on that list.

 

 

Given your apparent level of expertise, keep this thing going, but keep an eye out to move into something in which you're not the top dog. You'll learn much quicker as the worst musician in a band than you do as the best, and will be able to devote your time to your own performance, instead of trying to hold everything together.

 

 

Best of luck, and remember that the guitar will stay with you for many many years if you make the right decisions now.

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Get a new drummer, get a new rhythm guitar player. If these cats are really your friends, they might be mad at you at first, but they'll get over it. It sounds like you have a different view of the band and where you want it to go. Seriously, if someone is holding you back, and they're not making an obvious effort to change, you should find other people. You can waste a lot of time worrying that you might hurt someone's feelings. I am speaking from experience.

 

One thing though, don't make it seem like work. Making it like a job will kill it. Rock and roll should be fun, but you do need a little bit of discipline to keep the ball rolling. Set a practice night, and stick to it. If people are late all the time, lose 'em. You'll thank yourself when you have gigs and everyone shows up on time.

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Sounds like one person is not wanting to give 100%. If you honestly got something good and have plan's then get with others who feel and can do the same. Other wise your living in Drama Land! If your going to stay with your regular job and do this band thing as a side deal with no real push to go any where then don't worry about it, just get people to your once a month gig! I'd say go with the 2nd choice and see how you like it, being in a successful band that is.

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Thanks for the replys guys.

 

 

I honestly think the drummer will get there. He is practicing every night and taking lessons periodically. The singer however has no drive when it comes to learning guitar. He likes it, but I think ultimately we will either have to find another guitarist or write simpler music.

 

The problem is that we are all on the same page on alot of things. We all have jobs and understand that we cant practice all the time, we want to write original music and play out whenever that time comes. I dont want to leave them for a more professional band because I dont have the time to gig 3 times a month, I dont want to make money, I dont want to play covers. But right now we are focusing on getting the drummer good enough to play gigs. I figured while the drummer was learning the singer could learn guitar, turns out he doesnt have the drive.

 

The bass player and I agree that the singer is either gonna have to kick it in gear or let us find another guitarist. He doesnt want to learn guitar, he wants to play the rhythm parts to the originals, but he doesnt want to learn how to play. He wants to take short cuts instead of learning how to play.

 

 

It's all good dude.

 

Just go back and read what you wrote and you'll have your answer. You're in no hurry, you like everyone you play with, you're all on the same page for the most part.

 

And your only real complaint truly starts with "YOU'RE DOIN' IT WRONG!!", if you're being completely honest with yourself. He's a singer, not a guitar player, and offering to pick it up so he can play on a few tunes sounds pretty "normal frontman" to me. How cool will it be when he turns to you on stage and goes "Uh.... what were the chords again?"...... /chuckle

 

Seriously, FM is right. If you need a rhythm player, find a rhythm player. Then the front man can play or not play to suit his fancy.... you know, like front men do :).

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Sounds like none of you are serious [confused] ....... But that's okay...

 

Let's look at it logically...... You have a beginner drummer and a beginner guitar player, so what did you expect???

 

You had an established drummer, but was too advanced for your band so he left.... That should tell ya something...

 

You have a singer that doesn't want to play guitar..... that isnt headline news [rolleyes] .... Usually it's a miracle a singer has his or her own PA system to sing out of [biggrin] ...LOL!!!!

 

If the singer can sing, then just get a guitar player.... Singing is the most important part of any band anywhoo... Well except if you're Jimi Hendrix or EVH [biggrin]

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The fact that you're friends is what's clouding ya'. You sound like a man who wants a REAL band.

 

If the band is for fun do not stress over it. If the band is a serious project it will be hard to get a thing done if you're not willing to be clear and honest with band-mates. Band mates may become friends but are first of all WORK MATES.

 

My ex had a band with his buddies. He learned to sing, the guitarist was awesome, the drummer sucked hard but was a "good friend," and I always heard the line, "he's getting much better." Truth is, that poor guy was a worse drummer than Megan White and was one of the worst I've heard. They're back together and I can only imagine what a horrible waste of time it would be if anyone treated the band seriously.

 

Maybe you can start a "new band" on the side with the good players and keep this band as a practice fun band with the less commited players.

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Are you agonizing because your 'buds' stink at their instruments? Send them back to what they do best. Continue to search for replacements. Are you sticking with it because of personal friendships? Then what you have is a garage band and that's it. Get used to it.

 

Do you want your 'pretty much family' member to practice more? Unless work and family commitments are getting in his way, force the issue. Go over to his place for 'lessons' or a jam session, just you and him. The only way he is going to get any better is to practice, practice, practice. (GOD! I sound just like my piano teacher of yore!). Do this a couple times a week between full band rehearsals... it's called a sectional. Until you can get this vocalist to do more than vocalize, you're going no where. Put the writing thing on hold for a while. No sense paintin' the car if the motor is shot, so to speak.

 

If work and family commitments are getting in his way of practicing, relegate him to what he knows (vocals), then get another picker. Work and family come first.

 

If you and he are really best buds, he should relish in more face time with his best bud. [wub] You may also find out what is getting in his way for practicing.

 

Recordings are also a good idea. That way when he gets into a motivated mood, he can have a back-up to practice to.

 

I too have noticed that when professional singers, who also pick guitar, usually don't play when they are singing. Some times they will play the intro, then a few filler riffs or a solo break giving the illusion of doing both (but not at the same time), but when they are singing the guitar is behind them. It's kind of like rubbing your tummy and patting your head. Some folks just can't get the hang of it. And... they also realize that while their picking is stellar and their singing spectacular, if you can't do them at the same time to those same standards... people stop buying your music.

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Bands that view themselves solely as a business rarely make great music. Great music comes from passion more than skill, a shared vision more than a plan, brotherhood more than a business partnership. This is why we have managers and accountants, to handle the drudgery of the "business". That said all great bands have a strong personality to drive them forward, to lead. This is often not the best player. Leaders don't fire the weak links if they contribute to the passion, the vision, the brotherhood. Band leaders find the strengths of all the members and exploit them in a way to realize the shared vision.

 

Peace

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Bands that view themselves solely as a business rarely make great music. Great music comes from passion more than skill, a shared vision more than a plan, brotherhood more than a business partnership. This is why we have managers and accountants, to handle the drudgery of the "business". That said all great bands have a strong personality to drive them forward, to lead. This is often not the best player. Leaders don't fire the weak links if they contribute to the passion, the vision, the brotherhood. Band leaders find the strengths of all the members and exploit them in a way to realize the shared vision.

 

Peace

 

That's true.....And I agree.....Yet, a band that is based upon non-business "let's jam" principles will always encounter the OP's problems.......

 

I don't mind playing with players of any skill level as long as they realize that my time spent is about the music, and not b*llsh*t.........................

 

When a musician approaches his art as a buisness first, he/she avoids the pitfalls and idiotness that the OP is going through...................................

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And, I have as much "work" as I want in the music industry as I desire......Why ???? Because I approach it from a business point of view.......

 

It is not my priority at all though...........Kinda a been there done that thingee.........I like it that way...........

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