Tag Archives: Gigs

The Ups and Downs of Band Life

Hey all –

Wouldn’t you know it – band drama continues.  In the last four weeks we:

1) Added a rhythm guitarist

2) Added a bassist

3) Rhythm guitarist quit

4) Bassist quit

On the surface you might think something is wrong with the band, or we smell funny.  I don’t think that’s it (I hope).  The rhythm guitarist quit citing personal changes in his life, but didn’t go into any kind of detail.  That’s fine, we wish him well.

The bassist quit citing personal issues as well, which we understood, and wish him well too.

And then there were three…..(again!)…this is where we started, for crying out loud!  Me, a drummer and the singer.

Welcome to band life.  Better take some Dramamine, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Seriously, this happens a lot.  There are several factors, in no particular order:

  • Musical conflicts are high on the list
  • Personal issues (marriage, job, kids – these are a bigger factor when you get older)
  • Substance abuse (also a personal issue)
  • Their level of commitment doesn’t match the rest of the band
  • Their goals (gig a little, gig a lot, do originals, do covers) don’t match the rest of the band
  • Their talent level doesn’t match the rest of the band
  • Personality clashes – too many alpha dogs in the pack can bring on fights and no alphas mean the band can just drift and get nothing done
  • …and probably more…

In my previous band, everybody’s goals were definitely different than mine, plus we didn’t have the right kind of alpha in the band.  Just having an alpha – someone who takes charge either a little or a lot, and starts to pull the band one way or another – doesn’t guarantee success.  Sometimes alphas are wrong.  Sometimes alphas focus too much on one thing (say musical perfection) and not another (promotion).

If all this sounds like herding cats, it sure can be.  Again, in my last band, I would send out a long email on how our band website stacks up against others and what we need to do.  I got zero response.  Not a single “Oh wow, thanks for doing that”.  No dialog, no interest, not even a disagreement.  It’s no wonder that only a few things changed on the website in the year I was with the band.

If you’re guessing I’m an alpha, I’d say so.  Certainly not because I want to control everybody, I just don’t see everything getting done if I don’t pitch in and help.  I also use my MBA background for strategic thinking, marketing, evaluating competition and determining opportunities.  That’s actually fun for me (don’t laugh – it comes in handy).  I want to accomplish something for myself and the band I’m in.  Someone else, who may look at the band as a way to get away from the kids one night a week for practice, could care less how the website looks.

Bands are usually a democracy, or at least they start out that way.  Everybody has a say.  Like a marriage.  And if somebody is really unhappy, something will eventually change.

Luckily the three of us that are left all seem to be like minded in what we want to do.  We state our opinions without getting in each others face about it.  Since I’m more technical than the other two, I’m more than happy to help with the web site, the drop box musical repository, sending reminder emails or confirmation emails about time, place, agenda.  Our singer, on the other hand, is a real people person and is very good working out deals with people.  That’s a skill I’m not very good at.  But I’m glad he is.  It’s a skill someone in the band needs to have or you stay in the garage.

We are recording three songs in May over in Emeryville, and playing a gig May 24th.  I have the gig covered (the bass part anyway) with a long time friend and associate from Guitar Showcase.  I’m glad he was free that night. The auditions have started to try to find someone quick so they can help us with the recording.  We have two auditions lined up so far.

Meanwhile I’m still learning new songs and getting the four sets down.  I got the Tascam GB 10 recently so I’ll be reviewing that in my next blog.

Wish us luck!



Sound Advice Part I (The Email)

*** Schedule Note! As of April 2nd, 2012 I have openings Wednesday night 7:00pm, 7:30pm and 8:00pm.  Email me for details ***

Hey all –

In October, something went wrong with my website – while it was up, I could not post more blog entries.  As my daily work and family life got busy, I put off working on it until January when my host decided they were terminating the type of account I had and required me to upgrade to a new site.  That forced me to reinstall wordpress on the new site and get this puppy up and running.

but during the down time…

I got an email out of the blue from a site called BandMix.com.  Someone wanted to know if I was interested joining their dance band.  It seems that their guitarist and founder no longer had the time to stick with a practice and gigging schedule and was quitting (on very good terms) the band.  They had a show in early December, 2011 and then they had to find someone by February 3rd, 2012 for their next show.

This greatly piqued my interest.  First, in the last 3 years I’ve made 3 attempts to form bands, only to be thwarted by personal issues – varying levels of commitment, varying musical abilities, and varying musical directions.  This has been well documented in my previous posts (see Band categories).  I’d pretty much given up on it for the time being, but I joined bandmix.com out of frustration back in 2009.  Besides a brief flirtation with the all original band Lipshok, it was quiet out there.

Sound Advice is a top 40 band, but saying that doesn’t mean a whole lot.  Top 40 now seems to come in 31 flavors.  This band’s material went back to Born to be Wild and Gimme Shelter, and up to Hot and Cold (Katy Perry) and Give a Litte More (Maroon 5).  To say it’s all over the map is an understatement.

Actually, this is the kind of music I do well in.  My teacher never let me box myself in – I was playing rock, blues and jazz in my lessons with him.  Those fundamentals let you branch out into just about any musical style (you may have noticed I left out Country!  Not my forte…)

The band is a 6 piece (with a guitarist) and has both male and female lead singers (that’s a big plus – you can cover a lot of range of material with that combination).  Then there was a drummer, a bassist, and keyboards.  I’d be the only guitarist.  Great!  I like that.

The first thing to do was to go listen to the band.  Their next gig was in early December at Bases Loaded in Antioch, CA.  It was time to do some reconnaissance work and find out:

1) What does the band sound like?

2) What kind of guitarist do they have now (and are used to)?

3) What kind of gigs do they play?

All of this matters.  If the band sounds horrible, well, I’ve been there.  I can’t fix other peoples playing.  If their guitarist is like another Larry Carylton, I would have my work cut out for me.  And if they played dives in bad areas where we have to fear for our lives, it isn’t worth it.

Next: Part II – The Sound Advice Report Card