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Bands and band members - aaagh!


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All excellent points made here.

Here’s my experience - I’ve played with the same drummer (also my best mate) in bands on and off for 20 years. The two of us are always on the same page and live playing as a rhythm section together. When we decided to walk from our last band (the usual woolly no commitment or even minimum effort stuff from the other half of the band) we decided we could t keep putting up with the BS. We’re now a two piece, I’ve delved into pedals more to help make it work, stepped up to the mic for the first time ever and, despite not playing for 6 mths at all (and barely in over 12) I couldn’t be happier. Doubt I’ll ever play with other musicians now in a ‘proper’ band context now.

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My last band was together, unchanged except to add a member, for almost 12 years. It was great. It will have been a once-in-a-musical-lifetime event, I don't doubt.

The OP's lament is all too normal and frustrating, unfortunately.

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Perhaps remarkably for such a big band, my 12/13-piece party bunch has had a very stable lineup in the 15+ years I've been with them. We've had a tiny turnover of members in that time, mainly due to either availability issues or maternity and, sadly, one passing-away. We're all being sensible about getting together again, luckily our 'rehearsal space' (village hall) is big enough that we can all get in there and still socially-distance.
There's been no turnover in my other band but then I've only been with them for a couple of years. One member is starting to get a bit frustrating if I'm honest though, keeps putting obstacles up in the way of us gigging again -- first it was covid-related, now there's an added refusal to do anything that doesn't pay well. The rest of us are quite happy to do our part to help rescue the beleaguered hospitality/ents sector by playing one or two gigs for expenses only for the first few months to help places get back on their feet, but this member is dead against it. I'm reluctant to suggest replacing this person with a dep for the few gigs they don't want to do, but I'm wary of said person getting a cob on with me -- I don't think it'd take much TBH, I already get an impression that I'm not their favourite person anyway.

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5 hours ago, BigRedX said:

You can't expect these people to have any kind of serious commitment - especially for a covers band where it simply regarded as a bit of fun and hopefully some beer money.

Sorry, I completely disagree. 

The whole point of a band is that the members commit to it - otherwise it just becomes a loose collective of people who meet once a week to play music together.

If that's your thing, then fine, but if I'm in a band I make sure I learn all my parts, turn up on time, and try not to let the other people down, unless completely unavoidable, and I'd hope (and, recent travails aside, experience tends to suggest) that the majority of the people I play with are the same.  

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Jakester said:

Sorry, I completely disagree. 

The whole point of a band is that the members commit to it - otherwise it just becomes a loose collective of people who meet once a week to play music together.

If that's your thing, then fine, but if I'm in a band I make sure I learn all my parts, turn up on time, and try not to let the other people down, unless completely unavoidable, and I'd hope (and, recent travails aside, experience tends to suggest) that the majority of the people I play with are the same.  

I agree, but it's seriously complicated to get everybody on the same page, especially when not fully pro. Level of committment is vital and level of ability is very nice if you can get it right. You then have a whole bunch of variables that can be subject to change at the drop of a hat. A while back, our guitarist was having a miserable time at home and relished time with the band. He then got divorced and his new girlfriend wants him home a lot more which he likes. You can then chuck in family and work committments which can cause havoc. I've been in a band in the past which was up to 13 piece for functions. Fantastic musicians but temperamental as you could get. On stage everything was fine but as soon as the music stopped the bickering would start. Some wanted to play good music and some just wanted maximum money and were happy playing generic functions dross. The divisions quickly became irretrievable. If you can get it right you're really very lucky.

Edited by Japhet
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Jakester said:

If that's your thing, then fine, but if I'm in a band I make sure I learn all my parts, turn up on time, and try not to let the other people down, unless completely unavoidable, and I'd hope (and, recent travails aside, experience tends to suggest) that the majority of the people I play with are the same.  

No it's not my thing either. For me playing in a band is a serious commitment and in the past I have made some lifestyle choices that other people would find unpalatable simply to be in a situation where I could give my band commitments the importance I thought they deserved. 

However it has been my experience, especially in covers bands, that this is how a lot of other musicians treat it. Which is one of the many reasons why I don't currently play in a covers band.

Edited by BigRedX
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6 hours ago, Rich said:

The rest of us are quite happy to do our part to help rescue the beleaguered hospitality/ents sector by playing one or two gigs for expenses only for the first few months to help places get back on their feet, but this member is dead against it. 

I agree with him.

3 hours ago, Jakester said:

Sorry, I completely disagree. 

The whole point of a band is that the members commit to it - otherwise it just becomes a loose collective of people who meet once a week to play music together.

 For a lot of people music is a hobby, so it will always be secondary to work and family life, and being in a band is more of a fun night out than a serious commitment. Personally, I've found that the best way to get people to commit is to offer them regular, well paid gigs. 

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Lat flow tests are irritating but they're free and it's half an hour out of your morning (well, five minutes plus a bit of waiting while you do something else) so hardly the most onerous requirement. Luckily I have been taking them for work every Monday/Thursday anyway but most large industry setups seem to be doing them as standard these days. 

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6 hours ago, Jakester said:

Sorry, I completely disagree. 

The whole point of a band is that the members commit to it - otherwise it just becomes a loose collective of people who meet once a week to play music together.

If that's your thing, then fine, but if I'm in a band I make sure I learn all my parts, turn up on time, and try not to let the other people down, unless completely unavoidable, and I'd hope (and, recent travails aside, experience tends to suggest) that the majority of the people I play with are the same.  

Well if you're up for one more journey Jake, drop me a line. My last band has folded due to COVID and I'm currently all dressed up with nowhere to go. 

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On 13/05/2021 at 08:50, Jakester said:

I'm not sure how many times more I want to have to go through the audition/rehearse process again myself. In fact, thinking about it, the last stable band I was in was from 2008 to 2013, which I ruined by moving away for work. Every band since then has been "in flux".

I've come to the same conclusion and will not be looking for another band.  My experience of covers bands is that its difficult to  find a bunch of people who can play together and have a roughly equal vision of the band and you make compromises to get the thing going.

Once you have started building a setlist and are ready to gig a few things happen.

1. The compromises you made start to interfere with the original vision of the band - eg that bloke that likes blues wants to introduce blusey stuff into your metal/alt rock/prog rock set* (*delete as appropriate) and it becomes increasingly difficult to agree on new material.  The old material starts becoming stale and people get bored.

2. Some of the band see gigs as a necessary evil and want to rehearse the new material which isn't even what they want to play anymore and gig once a month, others want to gig every week and can't afford the time to do new material as well.

3. The personality flaws that you were prepared to compromise on start to aggravate more and more because 1 and 2 mean the band is lacking direction.

4. Gigs are hard to come by but the band is unable or unwilling to coordinate holidays and other commitments meaning that half the gigs you get offered have to be turned down which is a relief to some and a frustration to others.

5. You end up playing the same old material cos you can't agree on new stuff, with people you find it difficult to tolerate , in the hope that you might get a gig or two that you can commit to playing and the whole thing appears to be more a frustration than the bit of fun it was supposed to be.

6. Repeat.

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By and large, the best solution is usually to play in a 3-piece.

Each additional band member increases the complexity and the likelihood of problems by - quite literally - a geometric progression.

I have my own problems and issues to deal with, but that's just me so it's problems of one to the power of one = one.

Add one other musician and we're dealing with the problems of two to the power of two = four.

A 3-piece band is therefore three to the power of three = nine. It is NINE times harder to coordinate a 3-piece band than a solo artist, but on the other hand it is 90x as much fun to play bass in a 3-piece than it is to play bass as a solo act.

And a 3-piece is way easier to cope with than the classic 4-piece line-up (16x), let alone a 5-piece (25x).

This is of course a very simplified model. The numbers should really be re-stated with weighting in place to account for the ego of vocalists, the selfishness of lead guitarists, and the reliability of the drummer's van.

 

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Good points there Jack, and yes, having been in a 3 piece there`s no hiding place, everyone has to pull their weight so in general you get 3 band members with the same attitudes & drive.

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43 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

Good points there Jack, and yes, having been in a 3 piece there`s no hiding place, everyone has to pull their weight so in general you get 3 band members with the same attitudes & drive.

Yeppers. I love 3 pieces for this exact reason. 

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I've been in the same band for 4 years and we get on pretty well, both musically and socially and we're all pretty competent musically. We often have (had!) band nights out and bring partners along which helps. The band that drinks together stays together?

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21 minutes ago, ricksterphil said:

I've been in the same band for 4 years and we get on pretty well, both musically and socially and we're all pretty competent musically. We often have (had!) band nights out and bring partners along which helps. The band that drinks together stays together?

not necessarily, grievances can be aired a little bit too forthrightly when lubricated with a little alcohol. 

We've done fairly well, the first line up stayed together 10 years, before the drummer and guitarist left amicable, the second 4 years before the guitarist left (there's a theme here), tbh we were glad to see the back of him, but we have struggled to find a permanent replacement.

Funnily enough me and the singer have the biggest fallings out, usually over politics, he's a gobby hate filled intolerant lefty, but we get over it, some people can't.

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3 hours ago, Happy Jack said:

...Each additional band member increases the complexity and the likelihood of problems by...

[pedantry] (sorry...)...

3is not 9, but 27 (3x3x3...)
Similarly, 44 = 256, 55 = 3125

These are, however, the correct complexities when working with groups of people, for music or anything else. I shan't post the likelihood of problems arising from institutions such as the House of Commons. -_-

[/pedantry]

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1 minute ago, Dad3353 said:

[pedantry] (sorry...)...

3is not 9, but 27 (3x3x3...)
Similarly, 44 = 256, 55 = 3125

These are, however, the correct complexities when working with groups of people, for music or anything else. I shan't post the likelihood of problems arising from institutions such as the House of Commons. -_-

[/pedantry]

Bloody Hell Douglas! I used to be quite good with numbers ...

:S

Too quick with the typing, too slow with the thinking.

 

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You get these issues with all music groups of whatever genre, including classical. You get different types of choirs/orchestras - community ones that accept all-comers, auditioned ones, pretentious ones doing ridiculous repertoire etc. This gives rise to similar issues. The main difference is yo usually have a music director / conductor in charge of the music decisions. I've been chair of various ones over the years. When you're working to a deadline of a concert date and you need to rehearse and you haven't got the same team from one week to the next... it can get painful. 

My sax ensemble is fortunately very stable, but due to distances involved we can only meet monthly.

As a relative novice on bass, I'm not in any sort of group/band yet...  

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6 hours ago, lowregisterhead said:

There's a few bands I can think of where those two things seem to have kept them going! 😄

The problem we had was the guitarist was so stoned most of the time he'd forget practice even if I phoned him in the morning to remind him. The singer was doing so much ketamin and coke she was always getting sick or she'd be just plain hungover. 

If they were particularly good or even just good people to be around I could forgive it. I soon realised the guitarist only knew three chords which weren't power chords and the singers lyrics were just absolute gibberish.

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Posted (edited)

I've been lucky with current band who all share same interest in what we want to do within this band. We have kept in touch on Zoom meets thru the past year, got some rehearsals in when we were allowed, took on a new femle backing singer who sings in drummers other band and we rehearsed last week first time in 8mths. It went really well and a lot better than we expected.

Before covid we had gone thru a few changes. The core 4 that started the band have all been constant but we wanted keys to help fill the sound out a bit. We tried 3 or 4 different keys players, all good in their own way but had different outlook to us and either left or were kicked out for being a complete plonker in every other way. (I just didn't like him) Last year we invited Lynn from drummers band into one of our rehearsals just to let her get singing again. She learned lots of the songs just for that days fun. It wasn't a serious rehearsal but a freebie in a friends very large house with function room. We couldn't believe the difference the female backing vocals made to our songs and we all agreed that this was more important than trying to find another keys player. 

We have adapted to the point oue existing singer now plays guitar in some songs and our guitarist who is very multi-talented now plays the more important keys parts. Covid has helped push us down this route to improve as a band.

Not sure we would have taken on the backing singer and others taking on other instrument parts had we not experienced Covid lockdowns.

I'm still waiting on my other rock covers band to make their minds up what and when they want to start up again. I'm new to this bands current line up but played with singer and guitarist few yrs ago.

Dave

Edited by dmccombe7
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I think I’ve been lucky both with my last band and my current band.

The current band is a classic rock covers band with no vocals. It’s not a gigging band, just mates getting together once a fortnight and for various reasons (all of which happened before I joined) there are no vocals. We had a mate come and do some singing for us on Thu and the general consensus was that it put us all off and we prefer it instrumental. Nothing to do with his ability mind, we just prefer it instruments only. Probably helps that we’ve chosen difficult songs to play, there’s a lot of work in them so it doesn’t get boring.

The last band was a 3 piece originals punk/Oi band, all of us completely committed. I only left as the constant gigging and touring combined with a full time job got too much for me. 

So two bands completely different but the same in one respect, all band members wanting the same from that current band. 
 

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