Jump to content
Happy Jack

Auditions in Hell

Recommended Posts

This subject, in various guises, keeps cropping up on Basschat, and not without reason.

I've been compiling my recent experiences (just the last couple of years), originally with a view to starting a blog, but Silvie assures me that this stuff is classic Basschat fare so that's where I'm putting it.

I imagine that there will be others with stories to tell, so please note that the accounts I have given here are entirely and 100% factual. The whole point of taking the trouble to write them down is that you couldn't make this stinky poo up. Nothing has been invented, nothing has been exaggerated for effect.

Please note also that I have been at some pains to keep these stories anonymous. These people aren't villains, or malicious, or somehow deserving of punishment, but the circumstances are always good for a laugh and perhaps even educational. In the unlikely event that you recognise anyone from these descriptions, PLEASE don't start naming names. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Morden

TTT is the guitarist who placed the advert. He fancies singing some of the material, and he knows that I sing a bit, so he reckons we can split the vocal duties  between us ... if a decent vocalist can be found later then all well and good.

Yes, everybody involved will be an experienced gigging musician, this is no 'hobby band'. The drummer from his old band is already on board with the project, so straight away we have a functioning 3-piece if we want it.

We agree a date for a week later and a studio to meet at, and TTT sends me a list of 12 songs we'll do, who by and which version, and the key that we'll be playing in. This is all very professional and not something to be taken for granted with pub bands.

I pick out three songs that I'm happy to sing straight away, TTT does the same, and we agree that we'll busk the remainder on the night and see who makes a better job of it. This is looking good.

Next day TTT sends me an email saying how much he's looking forward to this. The day after, TTT sends me an email asking how I'm getting on with the songs. And then the next day he sends me an email saying that he's now got a 'really good vocalist' who's going to join us, so there's no need for the two of us to do vocals. The day before the rehearsal, he sends me a final email checking that I'm fully up to speed on all the songs.

 Finally I turn up at the studio. TTT is a big guy (sideways) but just as bouncy and enthusiastic as his emails suggest. The drummer is a big guy (like Mick Fleetwood) and very laid-back. There's no sign of the vocalist ... apparently he's spent the afternoon at the dentist and now can't make it. Allegedly.

Oh dear.

Neither TTT nor I have actually been practising the vocals for these songs. At least I know the lyrics of 'my' songs, I'm blessed with a good memory. TTT has pieces of paper.

Then the second guitarist arrives. What second guitarist? Oh, he answered the ad too so TTT invited him along.

We start with Shakin' All Over, TTT on the vocals. The drummer sounds like a man with a wooden leg walking along a wooden pier ... boom thump boom thump. That's all he does. The guitarist, who must be about 60, doesn't seem to recognise the song or know how it goes. He's kneeling next to his Fender Twin as if he can't hear himself (he's actually deafeningly loud) and he's staring at his fingers as if he's never seen them before. TTT is trying to sing while glancing at a piece of paper resting on a ledge to his side, so that he sings "when you move ... close to me ... that's when I ... all over me".

Oh dear oh dear.

Move on to the next song. Guitarist says he hasn't practised it and isn't really ready to play it. OK, the one after that then. Guitarist says he hasn't practised it and isn't really ready to play it. It's I Saw Her Standing There, fer Chrissakes, how can he not know it?

Fine, turn this on its head ... what songs DO you know?

Grand, he knows Summertime Blues. He launches into a series of power chords, in the wrong key.

What the hell are you doing? I'm playing Summertime Blues. No you're not, that's the wrong intro and you're in the wrong key. Well I'm playing The Who's version from Live At Leeds, and it's in A. But we all agreed we'd do the Eddie Cochran original, and it's in E.

Oh dearie dearie me.

By this stage, the drummer has completely lost interest, TTT is visibly as frustrated as I am but has done enough to show that he can't actually sing, and it turns out that I'm the only vocalist in the room.

In desperation I call the simplest 12-bar in G that I know. It's yer standard two verses and a solo, third verse and a solo, repeat third verse and out.

I sing the first verse. When I start to sing the second verse the guitarist widdles ineffectively all over my singing. TTT and I start exchanging glances - what is this fool doing now? He plays a simple but actually quite reasonable solo, still kneeling by his amp, still staring at his fingers. I start to sing the third verse and he goes back to his useless widdling.

Sod this for a game of soldiers. I stop playing, switch off and start packing up. Words are exchanged, and it very nearly comes to fisticuffs as I leave.

The next day, TTT sends me an apologetic email. He doesn't suggest we try again. Neither do I.

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2
  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Uxbridge

BBB is the guitarist who placed the advert. He's building a new band from scratch to replace his recently-imploded previous band. He has a drummer, and he has a second guitarist who also wants to try vocals, so he's looking for a bass player and he's also keeping an eye out for a dedicated vocalist ... the material he wants to do (Guns n'Roses, Lenny Kravitz, etc.) will benefit from a proper front man.

He's had three applicants who he thinks could work, and we'll each get an hour in the studio. I'm up first, 6pm start. BBB turns out to be very easy company and a very competent guitarist; he is also very clearly The Boss. This is his band and he'll make the decisions. I have no problem with that approach so long as I know about it in advance, so that's cool.

Although BBB is about 50 (and I'm a bit older than that) his drummer turns out to be a 20-something lady, which is unexpected. She is really rather good, and is absolutely there on merit rather than to be decorative. There's no sign of the second guitarist.

The three of us get ourselves properly set up, chatting as we go, but the clock is ticking. BBB mentions that he's asked a vocalist to come along later for a try out.

At 6:20 the second guitarist breezes in carrying two guitar cases and wearing a large rucksack. He's about the same age as BBB, so the average age in the rehearsal room goes back up. I'm pretty frustrated that one third of my allotted time has been wasted. Then it gets worse.

Second guitarist - who is, incidentally, a lovely guy - opens his rucksack and takes out half a dozen cardboard boxes, each one containing a pedal. Then he opens each box and places the pedals around the base of his mic stand, along with a power supply and some patch cables.

One of the pedals is a VoiceTone Harmoniser, which will add the appropriate harmonies to your voice depending on what key you are in. For this to happen, of course, you must route both your mic signal and your guitar signal through the pedal.

2nd G shuts down the PA in the rehearsal room (which BBB has carefully set up), starts moving XLR cables around so as to have the extra connection he needs. It's now 6:25, we haven't played a note, and 2nd G is nowhere near being ready to contribute anything. Enough already.

Drummer launches into Are You Gonna Be My Girl (Jet), I come in with the bass line, BBB comes in on guitar, we get to the first line ("one two three take my hand and come with me") after the regulation 30 seconds, and 2nd G drops everything, grabs the working mic from BBB and starts singing. He's not good but I've heard worse.

Halfway through the first verse his singing falls apart. "I feel totally naked" he says. "I can't sing like this". He picks up his (unplugged) guitar and we start again. With a guitar in front of him he sings a bit better, still not good.

It's 6:30, 2nd G is standing in a puddle of unconnected equipment, in front of a switched-off Marshall stack. This ain't great. BBB persuades him to give up on the clever stuff and at least get his guitar working. He plugs in, switches on the amp, lights glow, but there's no sound. He twiddles knobs and checks connections, but there's no sound.

To hell with this, on to the next song. 2nd G is now visibly distracted by his lack of an amp and his singing isn't improving. When we finish the song he starts twiddling knobs again. Nothing. BBB goes over to join him and they both twiddle knobs. Nothing.

Finally I've had enough. I step over, look at the amp, and say "you're on stand-by".

It's 6:35 and we finally have a functioning 4-piece band. We play the third (yes, third) song and actually we don't sound at all bad, though BBB keeps telling 2nd G which settings to adjust to make him sound right.

Then BBB says that the new vocalist is due. What - during my audition? BBB goes to look for him and comes back with a 20-something guy, so the average age plummets again. Thanks to the re-wiring by 2nd G it takes a few more minutes of downtime to get the vocalist set up with a functioning mic.

BBB tells him which of the songs he has supposedly prepared we will play next, and the vocalist immediately whips out his smartphone, goes online, and gets the lyrics up on screen. Apparently it was too much like hard work to actually learn them. Then he sings. Flat. He has no sense of the phrasing of the song and, given that it was a big hit some years before he was born, it is entirely possible that he's never tried to sing it before.

Jesus wept.

BBB makes encouraging noises, which are entirely inappropriate under the circumstances, and we try another song. Same result. It's very hard to sing convincingly when you're staring fixedly at a 4" screen just in front of your face.

Then BBB says that the next bassist is due. Hang on - I've got another 10 minutes yet! He goes to look for him, leaving me with the other three. As we chat, it emerges that the third and last bass player who will be trying out that evening is a friend of the drummer's.

Well thanks a bunch for mentioning that guys. If I'd known that sooner I wouldn't have bothered to turn up. I don't actually reveal my feelings (I'm not entirely stupid) but I am now aware that there isn't a cat in hell's chance of getting this gig.

I pack up and leave, friendly to everyone, a smile on my face. Next morning BBB emails me to thank me, compliment me on my playing, and confirm that the gig as bassist went to the drummer's friend.

Quel surprise, mon brave!

 

  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Greenford

PPP is the guitarist who placed the advert. This is an established 3-piece + female vocalist which has been playing the West London pub circuit for several years. Their Lemonrock site has some mp3s which give an indication of the band's quality. They're not great but they're OK, and I'm not exactly Jack Bruce myself.

PPP has given me half a dozen songs to be ready for, and I turn up ready for the session. He's about 50, the drummer is a much younger guy, and the vocalist seems surprisingly disengaged during the setup process. While setting up, it doesn't take long to recognise that the drummer is VERY full of himself ... he barely stops talking, very loudly, cracks dreadful jokes that only he laughs at, and is generally a PITA before a note has been played.

PPP calls the first song and off we go. Only what he's playing bears no resemblance to the song he's called. Huh? I stop playing in confusion and look at him. He stops too and explains that "we always kick off that song with this little mini-jam thing". Well thanks for warning me. I soon discover that this approach applies to every single bloody song they play, and that all I can do is play root notes until each song reaches a point that I recognise.

Worse news is that the drummer has heard the expression "less is more" and decided that it's completely wrong, actually "more is more". More of everything. More toms, more cymbals, more flourishes, more paradiddles, more look-at-me look-at-me than you can imagine. It's like playing with a 5-year-old.

The icing on the cake is that the vocalist is simply dreadful. It's not that she can't sing, more that she has no conviction, no confidence, no presence.

I grit my teeth and stick it out. It might improve.

It doesn't. After an hour, we've actually been playing for about 40 minutes and I'm wondering how soon I can leave without it being insulting. Then the door opens and a very attractive woman walks in. Guitarist's wife? Friend of the vocalist?

No, it's the vocalist. The woman who has been singing is actually the guitarist's girlfriend, and she was only singing because the vocalist was running so late. Nobody had thought it necessary to mention this to me, of course.

We try a song with the proper vocalist and the difference is pretty obvious. This woman can sing, and she's also got what it takes to be a front person. I can see why they get repeat bookings. The drummer remains as childish as ever, the guitarist as wild as before, but at least it sounds a bit like a band.

In truth, though, I'm no longer interested. The whole experience has been so off-putting that I can't imagine ever being in this band, so it's thank you and goodnight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Park Royal

HHH is the guitarist who placed the advert. This is an established 3-piece that has been playing around London and the Home Counties for many years. Their long-standing bass player is retiring to the South Coast later in the year so they're getting ready for that by recruiting his replacement.

This isn't technically an audition. HHH has already come to see me play (and sing) with the other pub rock band I play in, he knows exactly how capable I am, and he wants me to dep for two gigs he has coming up later in the month where the current bass player can't make it. Those two gigs will effectively be my 'real' audition.

HHH has been very professional indeed. I've been supplied with full set lists for the two gigs, plus good-quality mp3s of the band playing all those 36 songs live, and he's been quick to give me very comprehensive answers to any questions I've asked. It's all looking good.

With 36 songs to get gig-ready from a standing start I've invested a lot of home practice time. By the time I get to the studio I'm pretty ready. There are a few songs where I don't feel 100% confident but in the main I'm pretty happy.

The session goes well, but there are some worrying straws in the wind.

First, By God but they're LOUD! We're in a small rehearsal room and they have the PA, drums and amps cranked up to volume levels that I've rarely even gigged at.

Second, HHH has really very fixed views on how each song's bass part should go, and it usually comes down to straight eights played with a pick. He doesn't want me to play fingerstyle, he's "not a big fan of arpeggios" (that's an actual quote) and he doesn't much like shuffle beats.

Now I'm not used to being told how to play bass by a guitarist, but with so little time and so much material I decide not to argue about it. There'll be time enough later.

Third? Oh yes, there's a third. HHH and the drummer have played together for 40 years. The two of them are like [cliche alert] an old married couple. They're virtually telepathic, complete each other's sentences, and will never be able to form a balanced band with an incoming bass player. Oh dear.

Two days later the band is playing an Irish pub in Finchley with their current bass player. My wife and I go along to check them out. An old drummer I used to play with is a local so we call him and invite him to join us. The three of us sit there watching, and I am struck by how many of the songs have the lead vocals taken by the bass player. HHH has mentioned how important my BVs will be, but not that he himself is not actually the lead vocalist most of the time.

Meanwhile a strange expression has come over Mick's face. He yells a couple of questions in my ear and then starts laughing. At the break he explains to us that he was in a band with HHH a few years back. "He's a complete bastard, and utterly mental" he says. "Absolute control freak, totally ruthless - just watch yourself". Then he leaves, still laughing.

HHH comes over to ask me what Mick has just said about him. I tell him the truth. He laughs and seems quite unaffected by it.

Our first gig together is a social club north of London on the Friday night. The band's PA is strictly 1980s ... two huge, heavy tops mounted on stands built (apparently) from scaffolding poles, and all of that on stage with us where it takes up perhaps a third of the frontage. I ask why we don't put the stands on the floor in front of the stage and get put in my place quite sharply with a load of bollocks about health & safety.

The drummer brings in his shells, then his traps case, then his cymbals case, then his second traps case, then his second cymbals case. He's brought in enough kit to outfit three rehearsal rooms. He starts building a truly magnificent rig, including three floor toms, five rack toms and at least eight cymbals of varying sizes and shapes.

A third PA stand with a large top now materialises at the back of the stage to the right of the drummer, apparently for (very loud) on-stage monitoring. This contributes to the drummer drifting his kit over to his left, thus pushing me against the wall where I'm standing under one of the PA tops. All sorts of alarm bells are ringing by now.

My wife sets up her recording gear - she videos all the gigs my bands play. HHH sees this and delivers a lecture to the effect that nothing, nothing at all gets online unless he approves it.

Hmmmm.

We play the gig. My playing is fine. Not brilliant, but I'm always where I'm supposed to be and it will all sound fine to the audience. I drop a few minor clangers, as you might expect, but that's nothing compared to the list of cockups by HHH. He is clearly very uncomfortable at having to do all the lead vocals and that's spilling over into his guitar playing, which is all over the place.

After the gig, the band breaks down and loads out in almost complete silence. Not a good sign.

The next night we play another social club, this time south of London. The gig is virtually a carbon copy of Friday in every respect.

On Sunday morning I'm in the queue at Sainsbury when my mobile rings. It's HHH. He tells me that I'm hopeless, my bass playing is "going backwards fast", it's just not going to work out, and they're going back to their previous bass player.

He's clearly forgotten that I have a complete video recording of both gigs and he doesn't. I think we both know where the blame really lies.

On looking at the footage carefully, I realise that the drummer never actually plays most of that enormous kit. It's just there for show.

Frankly, I consider this one a bullet dodged. It was always going to end in tears.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Acton

Unusually, this time it is me who placed the advert. Dispirited by how many auditions for other peoples' projects have turned out to be fiascos, I decide to try starting a band myself. With a drummer friend ready so that we have a decent rhythm section to build on, I advertise for a vocalist - guitarists are easier to find.

Once I've weeded out the obvious flakes & fantasists by email, I'm left with one decent candidate for the role, so I invite him to my studio in Acton for a try-out. He's keen to accept, and he also knows a really great guitarist he'd like to bring along. He sends me some links.

MMM, the vocalist, has some YouTube showing him doing a pretty impressive Van Morrison at some sort of open mic, he seems to be an intense, focused sort of person. VVV, the guitarist, is apparently an American now based in London, whose self-published album (recorded in New York) is available on Spotify and contains some very nice guitar work.

When the two of them arrive at the studio MMM is very much as he appeared on YouTube. VVV isn't, and things go all to stinky poo very quickly. Actually he isn't American, and his name isn't VVV. He's a Spaniard called JJJ. Huh? What's going on here then?

It turns out he loves Americana so much that he'd wanted to record his first album in the States, under an American pseudonym. OK, so far so weird. We try to play a simple blues and it very quickly becomes obvious that JJJ (the artist formerly known as VVV) is no great shakes as a guitarist. In fact, he's pretty rubbish. He explains that he didn't know the song.

Erm ... it's a blues mate. What's to know?

We try another song. Same result. Well if you can't play those because you don't know them, why not tell us a blues that you DO know. "Fine", he says, "let's play Red House".

We wait for the famous guitar intro and ... he plays something completely different. We ask him, what are you playing? He says, I'm playing Red House. No, we say, you're not. Ah, he says, maybe this is a different song called Red House.

Game over. Insert new coin.

As we're packing up I ask JJJ about his album, and how he'd set about recording it. Simple. He'd recruited a bunch of NY session musicians to play on it. That, plus a decent sound engineer, had produced quite a good album.

Having shoo'd the pair of them out of the studio and then wet ourselves laughing, I call MMM the next day and ask if he'd like to meet for a beer. I explain that there's no future for any band with JJJ in it, but that we haven't had a chance to hear what he, MMM, can do. Would he like to come back for another try, this time without his mate JJJ?

He accepts the offer, so I call up an old friend to play guitar for us and we set the date. MMM arrives and we play the first song. I wasn't wrong about his Van Morrison persona - he's got that whole Brown-Eyed Girl thing down to a T. We play another song. It sounds ... erm ... just like the first one, that strange barking, almost-coughing delivery, very gruff, very distinctive.

Very repetitive.

As long as we're playing material that works with the that vocal style, it's sort-of OK. When we try a pop song it just doesn't work. When we try a gentle blues it's horrible.

We point this out to him and suggest that he tries a different style occasionally. He reacts badly, says that's the only style he can sing, in fact we get the impression that he's not even aware that other singing styles actually exist. All very odd.

The session breaks up in some disarray and it's not looking good.

Next morning, MMM emails me to apologise for both his performance and his attitude. He explains that he has a serious problem with autism and is at the far end of the spectrum, but that he's being treated for it. Incidentally, he has now signed a recording contract (!) with an agency looking for new talent, and would the three of us like to be his backing band?

I make my apologies and leave ...

  • Like 2
  • Haha 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once had a drummer answer an ad. At that time we were semi-pro. He said he was more of a jazz drummer but could play all styles. We picked him and his drums up, lugged them and their cases up the narrow attic steps to where we rehearsed and watched him set up his impressive kit in anticipation. 

Finally, it came to the time where we would play one of the songs we had given to him on cassette a week earlier. Two second later, it becomes apparent that this clown cannot play at all! He was the worst I have ever heard. Maybe it was some obscure jazz he played? No, turns out he was a rich kid living in fantasy land. He literally sounded like a five year old picking up sticks for the first time! Now normally I'm very patient in rehearsals but not this day. I had to look at the singer and say "Get him flipping out of here before I throw him and his kit down the stairs".

Now that would have sounded like jazz!

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^^^ might have been tempted to say "Boom, tish!", but I don't think your drummer could even manage that.

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Happy Jack said:

Park Royal

HHH is the guitarist who placed the advert. This is an established 3-piece that has been playing around London and the Home Counties for many years. Their long-standing bass player is retiring to the South Coast later in the year so they're getting ready for that by recruiting his replacement.

This isn't technically an audition. HHH has already come to see me play (and sing) with the other pub rock band I play in, he knows exactly how capable I am, and he wants me to dep for two gigs he has coming up later in the month where the current bass player can't make it. Those two gigs will effectively be my 'real' audition.

HHH has been very professional indeed. I've been supplied with full set lists for the two gigs, plus good-quality mp3s of the band playing all those 36 songs live, and he's been quick to give me very comprehensive answers to any questions I've asked. It's all looking good.

With 36 songs to get gig-ready from a standing start I've invested a lot of home practice time. By the time I get to the studio I'm pretty ready. There are a few songs where I don't feel 100% confident but in the main I'm pretty happy.

The session goes well, but there are some worrying straws in the wind.

First, By God but they're LOUD! We're in a small rehearsal room and they have the PA, drums and amps cranked up to volume levels that I've rarely even gigged at.

Second, HHH has really very fixed views on how each song's bass part should go, and it usually comes down to straight eights played with a pick. He doesn't want me to play fingerstyle, he's "not a big fan of arpeggios" (that's an actual quote) and he doesn't much like shuffle beats.

Now I'm not used to being told how to play bass by a guitarist, but with so little time and so much material I decide not to argue about it. There'll be time enough later.

Third? Oh yes, there's a third. HHH and the drummer have played together for 40 years. The two of them are like [cliche alert] an old married couple. They're virtually telepathic, complete each other's sentences, and will never be able to form a balanced band with an incoming bass player. Oh dear.

Two days later the band is playing an Irish pub in Finchley with their current bass player. My wife and I go along to check them out. An old drummer I used to play with is a local so we call him and invite him to join us. The three of us sit there watching, and I am struck by how many of the songs have the lead vocals taken by the bass player. HHH has mentioned how important my BVs will be, but not that he himself is not actually the lead vocalist most of the time.

Meanwhile a strange expression has come over Mick's face. He yells a couple of questions in my ear and then starts laughing. At the break he explains to us that he was in a band with HHH a few years back. "He's a complete bastard, and utterly mental" he says. "Absolute control freak, totally ruthless - just watch yourself". Then he leaves, still laughing.

HHH comes over to ask me what Mick has just said about him. I tell him the truth. He laughs and seems quite unaffected by it.

Our first gig together is a social club north of London on the Friday night. The band's PA is strictly 1980s ... two huge, heavy tops mounted on stands built (apparently) from scaffolding poles, and all of that on stage with us where it takes up perhaps a third of the frontage. I ask why we don't put the stands on the floor in front of the stage and get put in my place quite sharply with a load of bollocks about health & safety.

The drummer brings in his shells, then his traps case, then his cymbals case, then his second traps case, then his second cymbals case. He's brought in enough kit to outfit three rehearsal rooms. He starts building a truly magnificent rig, including three floor toms, five rack toms and at least eight cymbals of varying sizes and shapes.

A third PA stand with a large top now materialises at the back of the stage to the right of the drummer, apparently for (very loud) on-stage monitoring. This contributes to the drummer drifting his kit over to his left, thus pushing me against the wall where I'm standing under one of the PA tops. All sorts of alarm bells are ringing by now.

My wife sets up her recording gear - she videos all the gigs my bands play. HHH sees this and delivers a lecture to the effect that nothing, nothing at all gets online unless he approves it.

Hmmmm.

We play the gig. My playing is fine. Not brilliant, but I'm always where I'm supposed to be and it will all sound fine to the audience. I drop a few minor clangers, as you might expect, but that's nothing compared to the list of cockups by HHH. He is clearly very uncomfortable at having to do all the lead vocals and that's spilling over into his guitar playing, which is all over the place.

After the gig, the band breaks down and loads out in almost complete silence. Not a good sign.

The next night we play another social club, this time south of London. The gig is virtually a carbon copy of Friday in every respect.

On Sunday morning I'm in the queue at Sainsbury when my mobile rings. It's HHH. He tells me that I'm hopeless, my bass playing is "going backwards fast", it's just not going to work out, and they're going back to their previous bass player.

He's clearly forgotten that I have a complete video recording of both gigs and he doesn't. I think we both know where the blame really lies.

On looking at the footage carefully, I realise that the drummer never actually plays most of that enormous kit. It's just there for show.

Frankly, I consider this one a bullet dodged. It was always going to end in tears.

Put the video up on here, we can give it marks out of ten.👍

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have only had one really iffy audition....so far, I auditioned for a band called Dry Till Friday who were a pretty decent rock band playing original songs, they sent me material which I liked and learnt over a week or so, we agreed on an audition date and the singer said bring your full set up (which at the time was a TE AH300H amp and 2 4x10 cabs, I thought it would be somewhat excessive for a rehearsal but did as asked, I turned up, the others were set up waiting, guitarist with 2 4x12 cabs and 100w Marshall head, ditto vocalist / 2nd guitar, a fully miked drum kit and something like a 5k pa with bass bins....impressive set up indeed and possibly slightly overkill for a small village hall that fortunately was a good few hundred yards from the nearest house, so we kicked off....I swear Motorhead would have been quieter, these guys played everything at full volume, it was painful, anyway I played the songs well, the vocalist liked my basslines and it all looked good....we had a chat as we packed up and it became apparent that they loved Guns and Roses, I said I liked them but they were not my favourite band......A week goes by and I get a call to say thanks but they were going with another bass player purely because he liked Guns and Roses more than me (we didn't even play and GnR songs ffs!)....I was slightly relieved that I wasn't going deaf but was annoyed because they were a good band with good songs and a good singer....a couple of weeks later I got a call from the vocalist....the new guy works shifts so can only do every 3rd weekend and would I fancy depping for him on the weekends he couldn't do....I politely declined

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Happy Jack said:

Uxbridge

BBB emails me to thank me, compliment me on my playing, and confirm that the gig as bassist went to the drummer's friend.

Quel surprise, mon brave!

 

I've posted many threads on auditioning.

I ask a lot of questions before I'll committ to an audition 

I always ask  if the band is auditioning any friends of any members. If they are I will decline. Very difficult to win when friends are in the picture 

I remember I lost to a guy who came to the audition unprepared and didn't have his own transportation. He was a good friend of the guitarist.

Blue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, itsmedunc said:

Once had a drummer answer an ad. At that time we were semi-pro. He said he was more of a jazz drummer but could play all styles. We picked him and his drums up, lugged them and their cases up the narrow attic steps to where we rehearsed and watched him set up his impressive kit in anticipation. 

Finally, it came to the time where we would play one of the songs we had given to him on cassette a week earlier. Two second later, it becomes apparent that this clown cannot play at all! He was the worst I have ever heard. Maybe it was some obscure jazz he played? No, turns out he was a rich kid living in fantasy land. He literally sounded like a five year old picking up sticks for the first time! Now normally I'm very patient in rehearsals but not this day. I had to look at the singer and say "Get him flipping out of here before I throw him and his kit down the stairs".

Now that would have sounded like jazz!

Did the band ask this drummer about what experience he had before inviting him to audition?

Blue

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All dreadfully familiar. Before I moved to Finland in the mid 90s, I spent 15 or more years living in West London, so when I moved back to the UK (my native Oxford this time), I was amused to answer an ad on JMB for a bass player for a blues band, supposedly accomplished, experienced, plenty of bookings, etc, in Uxbridge. Well...band leader was a serial guitar buyer who simply had no idea how to play (I attended 3 or 4 rehearsals...ended up having to tune his guitar for him). Lead guitar guy was pleasant and reasonably good, but just got a lift to the rehearsal rooms and played whatever the BL brought along for him from his collection. I had to tune them, as well.  Drummer was a decent bloke, but had to take a few days away from rehearsals ( no gigs booked at this stage) for family matters, so BL decided to get in a dep. Except he hadn't told the pro drummer who stood in what the deal was...nor had he told the original drummer. Played 3 or 4 songs during which the drummer and myself were struggling to control our mirth as the BL launched into unrecognisable versions of well-known blues songs... then the drummer packed up, told them thy were wasting his time, that none of them had a clue about music...except the bass player, he added. BL through a fit, threatened drummer with all manner of physical violence...and I never went back.

Did several gigs withe drummer in other bands later though, and was once in a music shop in Oxford when I heard my name, turned, and there was the talentless BL in the process of buying yet another guitar or six. He insisted on showing me how they did certain songs now...exactly  as they had been a year or two earlier. He still had to watch his fingers and carefully put each one in place for every chord. I left, rapidly. A few days later I had an email from him with a link to some video of a gig he'd done...it was completely unwatchable and unlistenable.

Good idea this thread, it's very cathartic and I suspect that just about every gigging player will have similar tales to tell.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

London, late 1977. I’ve been working as a ‘pro’ bass player (not having to get up in the mornings)  since ’73, but am frustrated at having to keep on taking gigs just because they’ll pay the rent, to hell with finding a band with talent or potential.

So here’s yet another band doing the smarter end of the functions circuit –  well paid work in those days – looking for a replacement bass player.

They don’t want to give me a set list – fair enough, they want to see how quickly I can learn a number on the spot, including quite complex harmony arrangements.

So I’m asked to go to rehearsal studios in Walthamstow. The band seem OK, although the front singer seems very intense, to say the least. The audition is pretty demanding but going OK, until it comes to ‘Jive Talkin’ (BeeGees) The bass on this is all synth bass, and has a low C as a root note (first fret on the B string on a 5 string these days) Back then I was using a standard 4 string like pretty well every other bass player, and after they’d played the song to me on a tinny cassette player I said I’d obviously have to play it an octave up from the record…………..whereupon the singer suddenly goes absolutely apoplectic, throws his mic down, calls me a useless c*** and storms out the room.

It all goes a bit quiet, and then the guitarist says………”yeah, all the bass players we’ve tried come unstuck on this one”………………………… turned out the vocalist was insistent that the bass should ‘sound just like the record’, and had vowed to keep searching until they found a bass player who could make a bass guitar sound like a Moog bass.

Tall order.  – I mean, why not just get the keyboard player to play it? Cheap mono synths were readily available by then. I never quite understood what was going on there, and needless to say I was relieved not to get to gig with a possibly slightly unhinged singer.

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, FinnDave said:

Good idea this thread, it's very cathartic and I suspect that just about every gigging player will have similar tales to tell.

I agree, it's a properly good read. Enough of these and they could be compiled into a good book.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, BreadBin said:

...they could be compiled into a good book.

Worth thumbing through; Good Stuff ...

5197QZDoZcL.jpg.32934b0212f3619cd179210c84de1f54.jpg

Edited by Dad3353
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not really an audition but a few years ago I was asked to play bass for a friend of mines "British Legion" type band. C&W, Rock N Roll etc.

The previous drummer had left under a cloud and they got this fella in without even auditioning him.

Turns out he played with a friend of a friends band so that was good enough for them.

Anyway, this was his first gig with them.

The bassist was in hospital having an operation and they asked me as I knew most of the stuff.

Anyway we started the first number and it went reasonably well until it came to the ending. I looked at the drummer to give him the nod to end the song.

He never looked up from his drums at all. I played some sort of rundown on the bass to end the song and the whole band ended...... Apart from him.

All we could hear was  :'Tap tap tap tap' from the drums as he carried on oblivious. O.o

I will never forget the bemused look on the punters faces as they finished their waltz or whatever it was, to this disjointed drumbeat.

It started badly and got steadily worse.

Next time they called me, I was  'Busy' ¬¬

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Park Royal 2002

The drummer in our pub r'n'b band went back to his Merseybeat outfit (better money) so we needed someone to fill some previously booked gigs. We saw about five potentials, two of whom stood out for all the wrong reasons.

Drummer B was a rather ethereal little Scottish chap who sidled nervously into the room and approached the rehearsal room kit as if it would bite him. It became clear that he was both terrifically shy and entirely unacquainted with the concept of 'the shuffle'. In the hope of jollying him along I walked over during a break and started chatting to him, whereupon his eyes filled with tears. 'Please don't stand so close to me,' he said in a flutey Highland accent (I was about five feet distant). 'It's very intimidating'.

Well, he didn't get the job.

Drummer D was your archetypal skinny rock dude, just back from the States and keen to get gigging again. After one song his face turned crimson and he collapsed over his kit.

'Just ... getting ... my ... breath ... back, ' he wheezed. 'Bit ... out ... of ... condition'.

We gave him a quarter of an hour and counted off a mid-tempo blues. After a couple of minutes he collapsed again so we gave him the soft word and sent him on his way. A day or two later he emailed me saying how much he wanted to be in the band and attaching pictures of himself in ladies' lingerie including one horrifying shot where he was bent forwards, his butt cheeks clearly visible through the sheer silk panties which swaddled his nether regions.

Pass.

Eventually we gave the gig to drummer E who after the audition professed his undying admiration for our musical skills then called me a day later to say his wife had listened to our tape and she thought we were sh*t so he wouldn't be coming again.

Back to the drawing board.

 

Edited by skankdelvar
  • Like 2
  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Happy Jack said:

Park Royal

HHH is the guitarist who placed the advert. This is an established 3-piece that has been playing around London and the Home Counties for many years. Their long-standing bass player is retiring to the South Coast later in the year so they're getting ready for that by recruiting his replacement.

This isn't technically an audition. HHH has already come to see me play (and sing) with the other pub rock band I play in, he knows exactly how capable I am, and he wants me to dep for two gigs he has coming up later in the month where the current bass player can't make it. Those two gigs will effectively be my 'real' audition.

HHH has been very professional indeed. I've been supplied with full set lists for the two gigs, plus good-quality mp3s of the band playing all those 36 songs live, and he's been quick to give me very comprehensive answers to any questions I've asked. It's all looking good.

With 36 songs to get gig-ready from a standing start I've invested a lot of home practice time. By the time I get to the studio I'm pretty ready. There are a few songs where I don't feel 100% confident but in the main I'm pretty happy.

The session goes well, but there are some worrying straws in the wind.

First, By God but they're LOUD! We're in a small rehearsal room and they have the PA, drums and amps cranked up to volume levels that I've rarely even gigged at.

Second, HHH has really very fixed views on how each song's bass part should go, and it usually comes down to straight eights played with a pick. He doesn't want me to play fingerstyle, he's "not a big fan of arpeggios" (that's an actual quote) and he doesn't much like shuffle beats.

Now I'm not used to being told how to play bass by a guitarist, but with so little time and so much material I decide not to argue about it. There'll be time enough later.

Third? Oh yes, there's a third. HHH and the drummer have played together for 40 years. The two of them are like [cliche alert] an old married couple. They're virtually telepathic, complete each other's sentences, and will never be able to form a balanced band with an incoming bass player. Oh dear.

Two days later the band is playing an Irish pub in Finchley with their current bass player. My wife and I go along to check them out. An old drummer I used to play with is a local so we call him and invite him to join us. The three of us sit there watching, and I am struck by how many of the songs have the lead vocals taken by the bass player. HHH has mentioned how important my BVs will be, but not that he himself is not actually the lead vocalist most of the time.

Meanwhile a strange expression has come over Mick's face. He yells a couple of questions in my ear and then starts laughing. At the break he explains to us that he was in a band with HHH a few years back. "He's a complete bastard, and utterly mental" he says. "Absolute control freak, totally ruthless - just watch yourself". Then he leaves, still laughing.

HHH comes over to ask me what Mick has just said about him. I tell him the truth. He laughs and seems quite unaffected by it.

Our first gig together is a social club north of London on the Friday night. The band's PA is strictly 1980s ... two huge, heavy tops mounted on stands built (apparently) from scaffolding poles, and all of that on stage with us where it takes up perhaps a third of the frontage. I ask why we don't put the stands on the floor in front of the stage and get put in my place quite sharply with a load of bollocks about health & safety.

The drummer brings in his shells, then his traps case, then his cymbals case, then his second traps case, then his second cymbals case. He's brought in enough kit to outfit three rehearsal rooms. He starts building a truly magnificent rig, including three floor toms, five rack toms and at least eight cymbals of varying sizes and shapes.

A third PA stand with a large top now materialises at the back of the stage to the right of the drummer, apparently for (very loud) on-stage monitoring. This contributes to the drummer drifting his kit over to his left, thus pushing me against the wall where I'm standing under one of the PA tops. All sorts of alarm bells are ringing by now.

My wife sets up her recording gear - she videos all the gigs my bands play. HHH sees this and delivers a lecture to the effect that nothing, nothing at all gets online unless he approves it.

Hmmmm.

We play the gig. My playing is fine. Not brilliant, but I'm always where I'm supposed to be and it will all sound fine to the audience. I drop a few minor clangers, as you might expect, but that's nothing compared to the list of cockups by HHH. He is clearly very uncomfortable at having to do all the lead vocals and that's spilling over into his guitar playing, which is all over the place.

After the gig, the band breaks down and loads out in almost complete silence. Not a good sign.

The next night we play another social club, this time south of London. The gig is virtually a carbon copy of Friday in every respect.

On Sunday morning I'm in the queue at Sainsbury when my mobile rings. It's HHH. He tells me that I'm hopeless, my bass playing is "going backwards fast", it's just not going to work out, and they're going back to their previous bass player.

He's clearly forgotten that I have a complete video recording of both gigs and he doesn't. I think we both know where the blame really lies.

On looking at the footage carefully, I realise that the drummer never actually plays most of that enormous kit. It's just there for show.

Frankly, I consider this one a bullet dodged. It was always going to end in tears.

these are sooo good!!!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Eastenders

Nothing too in depth,  but I do remember auditioning 2 drummers over the years with electronic drum kits. Both felt duty bound to regale me with a well-known soap theme tune intro...

 

Love the preceeding accounts too!

Edited by yorks5stringer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Bluewine said:

Did the band ask this drummer about what experience he had before inviting him to audition?

Blue

 

No, we were young, very naive and very drunk when "poached" him! xD

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bolton

Our singer in an old band developed terrible trouble with tinnitus. We decided to find a new singer, as he kept cancelling gigs, leaving and then not leaving.

Our guitarist would stare balefully at anyone else who turned up with a guitar and even though they were really good and learned the songs, he had decided (ALL BY HIMSELF) that he was going to be the only guitarist in our band and turned his guitar up to an unpleasant volume and stuck his bottom lip out, so much that it became a trip hazard.

If he didn't like the look of a singer, he would just do the same thing. We had no chance of finding a singer. We couldn't find a singer who met his exacting requirements, so they rang up their singer who has been in and out of the band like a yoyo ever since.

I quit, after only two nights of these futile auditions, so they got their old bass player back, who they spent two evenings describing to me as a man who would turn up to play with them at a top paying function wearing a dirty fleece, with gear smelling of cat pee.

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, itsmedunc said:

No, we were young, very naive and very drunk when "poached" him! xD

Cool, I know it's not a popular position on BC, however age does come into play on some of these issues.

You can only imagine how differently I look at band dynamics at 65 as compared to when I was 20.

Blue

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I've mentioned this before in a previous thread, proof that I didn't make it up I guess hehe

Probably around 1982 a mate tells me his mates are reforming their punk band just for a big party they were hosting in a month's time, they even wrote a set's worth of originals, with titles like Burn Bradford Burn (it was just after the disaster,so I was uncomfortable with this, but hey, it's punk, right?). Anyway we go through their set, ok not very good, but it's punk, right?

So the next week, I am THE ONLY ONE who learnt the songs properly......it's THEIR SONGS.

So I pull out of the gig. My mate rings me as the band reached out to him. "Please play the gig"

Me "no way never ever,I have too much pride in my performance to play with them"

"it's just a party, wear a bag so no one recognises you"

I never saw those guys again, their name? Too Sick To Sing lol and they were !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

The year was 2007. The place... A farking long way from Southampton, where I had moved, naively. I responded to an ad asking for a bassist to play in a funky pop band with two awesome female singers. One of the singers had a pub that was closed on Sunday evenings (last time I saw this pub since those days it was boarded up) so we could rehearse there.

I went to the audition armed with my Warwick bass and having learned some songs the guitarist sent me. Guitarist was in charge. Well, it wasn't funky pop more 80's power ballad, Heart's "how do I get you alone" sounded amazing. Excellent, I think. Anyhow first audition I'm the only bassist, they like my gear and that I have learned the songs so I'm in after the first song. Endless guitarists are arriving and ejected, none can hold a candle to the band leader who in fairness was good. Some guy about forty turns up with his Yamaha Pacifica beginners set from Argos and recognises he is not up to scratch and leaves very quickly. An excellent guitarist is a bit too good for the band leaders liking so he unfortunately gets his marching orders. 

The singers are good, the drummer wants to play System of a Down so he's gone. It's me, the singers and the band leader.

Next week, new drummer. He's actually deaf. You have to shout to him. I feel sorry for any drummer though because one of the singers is married to a guy who's job is to play drums. In the army. And he's there all the time. Now he's a nice bloke and he never said a bad word to anyone, but his constant presence unnerves every single drummer. But we think that the deaf guy is ok so we keep him.

We get a second guitarist. He's good and a nice down to earth guy.

Keyboards. I will never play in a band with keyboards. Long haired Rik Wakeman wannabe brings a whole Glastonbury of kit. Moans about festivals not providing some weird power box thing I've never heard of. Sets up staircases worth of key boards. Starting late we go for some songs. Not only has he not learned them he has never ever heard them. This becomes a game of "name the pop song" until he recognises one. "Stereophonics? Welsh band? Not heard them, no." Band leader asks him to learn three songs for next week.

I forgot to mention. Despite the girls being amazing with the 80's power ballads we have somehow become a Stereophonics tribute act by stealth,because the band leader knows all their songs so he doesn't have to learn anything. I begrudgingly go along with it but say to get bookings we need a theme and 80's power ballads with these great singers will be dynamite. I'm not listened to.

Keyboard player turns up, hasn't learned anything. I'm told pack up and when he's gone get all your kit back out. I pack up and then say f this it's getting late I'm off home. Keyboard player has been told he's out and he's upset. I've nearly driven the half hour home when my phone rings "I know you've not got them but can you check all your gear, keyboard player has lost his car keys". I check and I haven't got them. He's been there an hour after getting his marching orders but can't find his car keys anywhere. Just over an hour passes with the whole pub turned upside down and he finds his keys. In his pocket.

Band continues, more Stereophonics, less listening to me, 2nd guitar and drummer. Messages replying to my song suggestions become borderline abusive. I get fired just as I was about to quit. So did the drummer and second guitar. We form a band ourselves, drummer and guitarist don't learn any of the songs, we never even arrange a second rehearsal. 

What a waste of time.

Edited by uk_lefty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   1 member

×