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Another failed band

levous

Member
Messages
793
I'm having a very hard time keeping a band together. I had assembled a four piece cover band where everyone was committed and got along very well. This took at least 6 months of searching and then about 2 months of rehearsing together. The music sounded superb, we all agreed, better than any band any of us had been in and better than most bands we see playing out. We are just polishing up our first set and looking for a gig. I say "we", but I really mean "I". On one hand, I am the singer and lead guitarist and my parts are taking some time to master. On the other hand, I have been calling venues and bands and friends and looking for a place to play. I created a reverbnation page, recorded our rehearsal and compiled a sample demo with which to promote us. I provided the rehearsal space and coordinated rehearsals. We went through our whole set list, last week, and identified that half of our songs are stage-ready and half need work. Last night I practiced my parts from 10pm (after the kids went to bed) until 2am. It was not fun but I was doing my homework. I woke to an email from the other guitarist that she was bowing out to find a regular working gig. The drummer then responded that he was in too many projects and would be focusing on other things, also leaving the band. I haven't heard from the bass player, yet. Last year, I had an original band that fell apart for entirely different reasons. Prior to that, I had a Radiohead tribute band that made it to our first gig, with fantastic response, only to have the bass player marry and move West and the drummer's grandfather fall ill so he moved home to NC. It's been an awful lot of work. It's what I love and what I want to do. I'm willing to stick it out. I am not sure if I am going about it all wrong.

I'm not a kid with time and freedom on my side. I'm a dad with a pretty tight schedule. If I try to practice before the kids are settled, then my marriage falls apart. My wife is supportive so long as it doesn't inconvenience her at all. She could really care less whether I play or not. So once per week, 8 - 10, is my availability. I also can't practice on my own 4 hours per day. I can learn a couple songs per week, max. Truthfully, I do best with just one new tune each week so that I can spend time refining the ones I've been working on. I am thinking that I should require my next band to be comprised of only people with kids in school. Then I think there would be more understanding of commitments and schedule challenges. But, perhaps, I should be focusing on my solo work. After all, since forming this band, I have not written or performed my original music at all. It's not a total loss, I learned 20 or so classic rock songs that give me a much more diverse and generation spanning repertoire.

If it sounds like I am whining, that's because I am. That's what we do here, on TGP, after all. I'm fresh from my dumping and I have no one to complain to so y'all are my drinking buddies this morning. (coffee, for now)

I'm prepared to be told by TGP, "you must suck pretty band," and, "time to give up." Perhaps. What I'd also like to know, after these necessary words of discouragement (hey, I've been on TGP long enough to know better)…

Is this typical?
 

billyg121

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,311
Absolutely typical. I'm on the exact same situation at home . Very limited practice . When you sacrifice and set aside time to put in your homework..get gigs , etc. it really sucks when the other guys don't have the same enthusiasm or commitment. It's best this thing imploded on you before you put in 6 months thinking you were really getting things going , then the others flaked out. Keep up the detication though. Practice, write , record and jam with others as much as possible. Those damn late night bar gigs are overrated anyway. Getting home at 4am..being a dad and husband AND a gigging musician is taxing. Hopefully the right band situation will come along eventually. In the meantime, just keep jamming .
 

Jon Silberman

10Q Jerry & Dickey
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
42,573
Become a one man band (solo performer). Then one person may make or break you but at least you'll know him well. :)
 
Messages
17,931
I'm having a very hard time keeping a band together. I had assembled a four piece cover band where everyone was committed and got along very well. This took at least 6 months of searching and then about 2 months of rehearsing together. The music sounded superb, we all agreed, better than any band any of us had been in and better than most bands we see playing out. We are just polishing up our first set and looking for a gig. I say "we", but I really mean "I". On one hand, I am the singer and lead guitarist and my parts are taking some time to master. On the other hand, I have been calling venues and bands and friends and looking for a place to play. I created a reverbnation page, recorded our rehearsal and compiled a sample demo with which to promote us. I provided the rehearsal space and coordinated rehearsals. We went through our whole set list, last week, and identified that half of our songs are stage-ready and half need work. Last night I practiced my parts from 10pm (after the kids went to bed) until 2am. It was not fun but I was doing my homework. I woke to an email from the other guitarist that she was bowing out to find a regular working gig. The drummer then responded that he was in too many projects and would be focusing on other things, also leaving the band. I haven't heard from the bass player, yet. Last year, I had an original band that fell apart for entirely different reasons. Prior to that, I had a Radiohead tribute band that made it to our first gig, with fantastic response, only to have the bass player marry and move West and the drummer's grandfather fall ill so he moved home to NC. It's been an awful lot of work. It's what I love and what I want to do. I'm willing to stick it out. I am not sure if I am going about it all wrong.

I'm not a kid with time and freedom on my side. I'm a dad with a pretty tight schedule. If I try to practice before the kids are settled, then my marriage falls apart. My wife is supportive so long as it doesn't inconvenience her at all. She could really care less whether I play or not. So once per week, 8 - 10, is my availability. I also can't practice on my own 4 hours per day. I can learn a couple songs per week, max. Truthfully, I do best with just one new tune each week so that I can spend time refining the ones I've been working on. I am thinking that I should require my next band to be comprised of only people with kids in school. Then I think there would be more understanding of commitments and schedule challenges. But, perhaps, I should be focusing on my solo work. After all, since forming this band, I have not written or performed my original music at all. It's not a total loss, I learned 20 or so classic rock songs that give me a much more diverse and generation spanning repertoire.

If it sounds like I am whining, that's because I am. That's what we do here, on TGP, after all. I'm fresh from my dumping and I have no one to complain to so y'all are my drinking buddies this morning. (coffee, for now)

I'm prepared to be told by TGP, "you must suck pretty band," and, "time to give up." Perhaps. What I'd also like to know, after these necessary words of discouragement (hey, I've been on TGP long enough to know better)…

Is this typical?
"you must suck pretty band?"

:dunno

It is not easy finding the right members - tell me about it. We have someone who constantly causes friction - and seems to have unconscious desire to secretly break up our band. I've heard that every famous band HAS ONE. It's only the money and the fame that helps them all deal, and put up with that member.

Keep looking. Or as Jon says, try solo...
 

tonecrush

Member
Messages
69
Sounds pretty typical to me. There are 2 reasons I've identified to have a cover band. 1. To play out and make cash like a working musician so you can justify all the time, etc. 2. To master tunes every one knows so they can see how great you, individually and collectively are, again to justify all the time, etc. With the first one, it is a given that musicians will come out of the woodwork for money or gigs, especially when both are involved. With the second it is an iffy affair. Both scenarios are valid, just the second one is 'iffy' and disappointments abound. As a TGPer you should know I don't mean a put down because you have the same disease I do. Sucks to be a responsible adult musician doesn't it?
 
Messages
17,931
And one musician's "master" is another musician's "slave." You have to find people who all agree on the level of detail you're going for. I'm told constantly that I learn things that aren't that important, but then hear after the gig from people that "I'm incredible - how did you ever learn all of those difficult songs from that many different guitarists?"

To me - that's the main reason I do it.
 

RocksOff

Member
Messages
7,456
It's the nature of the beast. Fully functioning bands are the.exception rather than the rule.
I do think that it warrants mentioning; your time constraints on availability to rehearse with the band might be a problem.
 

2HBStrat

Senior Member
Messages
41,223
It's not atypical for bands to break up for the reasons you stated, but, based on your OP, and not intended to beat you up at all, what I would say is maybe ask yourself, based on your experiences starting bands, whether you are really cut out to be the leader of a band or not. Maybe a good next step would be to join another band where you can just be the guitarist and concentrate on being the best guitarist and bandmate that you can be, before starting up another band sometime later on! Either way, good luck and hang in there!
 

cgallent

Member
Messages
72
It's certainly tough. I went through the same thing. IMO, it's tough making these things work with hired guns. I went through three bands from 2010-2012 that I put together and each failed for different reasons. In each situation, I wanted "it" more than anyone else in the band and that was my big mistake. So, I just started looking to join an existing band and have been with them for the last 18 months.

It sounds like you may have been out of the game for a while and don't have the contacts/relationships with the places to play out in your area. Perhaps you should table the idea of your band for a while and join an existing band who is already playing out. Keep going with your homework and keep learning so you're ready to go when an opportunity arises. This will give you a way to get out and play, build some relationships and then re-evaluate the idea of your band later. And, be very selective about the band you decide to join - find the right fit.
 

Mark Barna

Member
Messages
1,089
I was in a band from August till end of November. I learned 40-50 songs. We gigged twice. I made $50 for each gig. Leader of band hasn't booked any other gigs as he's a perfectionist, even though he doesn't learn the songs. He says there will be plenty of gigs since he has contacts and has played the area for 20 years. In December he decided he wanted his old friend as drummer, so the drummer auditions without having learned any of the songs. And so on. I haven't heard from the leader of band now for two months.

In the meantime, I played two gigs with a country band but quit for a few reasons, one of which was that their gigs are in smoking bars and I was drawing $50 because there are six people in band to split proceeds.

This month I have a second gig with a pickup band. We rehearse once and play the gig. We got paid $50 extra at the last gig we played in November.

Such is the band world. But, truly, I can take it or leave it. I went 10 years and barely picked up a guitar at one time.
 

RockStarNick

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,636
I'm married, have a 6 month old daughter, and I'm playing in a cover band that gigs very, very regularly. About 8X a month. If it wasn't for the fact that the extra money coming in was SO good, I'm sure my wife wouldn't tolerate it as much as she does! (I really found a keeper in that department...)

Anyways, I've seen your situation happen with lots of bands.

There's so many "compatibility factors" that come into play when forming/joining a band. Home life, kids, work schedule, flexibility, musical ability, etc.

But one thing that people often overlook is how quickly you can learn songs. There's no right or wrong timeframe or answer to this, but lets do the math:

If you know 20 songs, and you can learn one song per week. An average cover band needs Three 45 minutes sets. That's roughly 45 tunes. So for you, that would be 25 new tunes. That's 25 weeks - almost HALF a year - as preparation, before you can even think about gigging.

For lots of folks that have been in bands, or play in bands regularly, they probably already have a repertoire of 50-100 songs in their brain, and would be ready to gig in 2-4 weeks. For folks like that, joining a band that will be in a holding pattern for 6 months or more, is unacceptable. All that energy you feel when you first jam with those people, will fizzle pretty fast if you're practicing for 6 months, and not gigging.

Me personally, I like bands that work quickly. I can learn about 5-7 songs in a week. Many times, I'll "learn" a song on the way to rehearsal in the car, get there 10 minutes early, and work out the details. That's how *I* work, but it's not for everyone.

If you want to find success with a band, make sure you find people who have the same time frame in mind, as far as band inception to launch.
 

R2112

Member
Messages
1,645
I feel your pain. Been playing with the same three guys for almost three years. We are all in similar life situations....Dads with limited time to gig (we average once per month) and someowhat limited practice time (although we pretty religiously got in three hours each week).

We've enjoyed a pretty solid and fun run over the last few years, with each gig getting a few more folks than the last. Then, unexpectedly, our bass player had to leave right before X-mas due to his wife's medical issues. That part was sad but understandable. Then, our singer/keyboard player informs us that he's taking advantage of the down time to leave as well.

So now the drummer and I are trying to rebuild, and trying to stay optimistic. We're finally starting to find some good candidates for replacements, but it isn't easy.

The best advice I can give is to be really open with any new players you find about limitations, especially prospective gig frequency. Make sure you are absolutely on the same page with respect to the music you want to be playing. And be patient. The people are out there, but it may take time to find them. And you are correct -- having folks in a similar place in life as you WRT spouses, kids, etc, can be a big help.

In short, your story isn't unique and that's why stable, good bands are a rare thing. Just keep plugging on and you'll be OK.
 
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straightblues

Member
Messages
9,671
You are the band leader. As a band leader, you chose the songs for the band. You need to know the songs you are doing, and teach the rest of the band. Learn them, before you get a band together. As singer and lead guitar, you have the toughest parts to learn. Learn the 20 songs you want to do, then find a band who wants to play those 20 songs.

Set the ground rules and expectations before they join. If you have paying gigs, I am sure you can get lots of musicians who could play those 20 songs within a very short period of time.
 

Echoes

Senior Member
Messages
6,218
only a very very very small segment of musicians actually keep a band together for a few years. Even the high profile bands everyone knows about break up after a few years. So, because these things are true, you have to adjust your expectations to match.....I play music because of the love of the instrument and music, my expectations beyond that are low, therefore, anything above that is all good! solution: adjust your expectations.
 

R2112

Member
Messages
1,645
But one thing that people often overlook is how quickly you can learn songs. There's no right or wrong timeframe or answer to this, but lets do the math:

If you know 20 songs, and you can learn one song per week. An average cover band needs Three 45 minutes sets. That's roughly 45 tunes. So for you, that would be 25 new tunes. That's 25 weeks - almost HALF a year - as preparation, before you can even think about gigging.
There can be intermediate steps though.

A band with 10 songs can play in a multi-band lineup at a Spring Festival -- right around the corner.

20 songs will get you on a double-bill with another band. Many clubs are going in this direction anyway. Find a band or two you are friendly with and market yourselves together. The side benefit is a bigger audience at the club and cross-pollination of audiences for the bands. Also, since you are presumably adding songs as you strive for that 45-song target, you can rotate your set list, keeping it fresh for you and your audience.

You can easily spend months playing these sort of gigs while you build your audience and your set list in preparation for the 4-hour set you do by yourselves.
 

neastguy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
15,428
argh I have to learn 22 songs this week to fill in with a band for two nights making $270 lol.. and I have a wife and 5 and 6 year old... pulling hairs to find the time...
 

madspirit

Member
Messages
505
I'd say your experience is nearly 100% typical to maintaining a band. I've played in bands for 28 years now. In all that time, only one (the best and most successful by the way) had all four members firing on all cylinders (creatively and commitment). The rest have all been, to one degree or another, me carrying or partially carrying other musicians. Musicians, generally speaking, are lazy and flaky. I've also booked/promoted shows for 30 years (for bars, bigger venues etc). I'm slammed daily with examples of how flaky bands/musicians are. I recently had a band cancel a show because one of the member's girlfriend broke up with him. He needed some "time off". But, actually inquired about a future date while canceling (no thanks). My point is, some of us are main motivator guys but most are not. Just perusing a lot of threads on TGP, I get the sense that the actual playing of music isn't the prime motivator for many. Weird to me. People join bands left and right with no forethought as to what that means. I often think of just being solo but truth is, at least in my music world, there's not much call for solo artists. Plus, I really like a band presentation. I try to think of it as "what do I personally want to do artistically?" and move towards that. With my latest project, I told everyone upfront that I've done the "do-over" thing 3 times now because of the irresponsibility (or whatever) of others. From here on in, regardless of whom I'm playing with, my name is "X" (current band name). I finally realized I'm always the last man standing when the others realize 1) there's no real money in it, 2) it takes time/effort to be great and 3) everyone has to be responsible/respectful of each other. One thing that has helped me is my/our drummer. It's one guy I can relate too/count on. Just having that one other peer/compadre goes a long way to keeping your sanity. Good luck.
 

s2y

Member
Messages
19,645
Could be worse, my last band actually told me a beginner could play my bass parts. :argue With friends like that, who needs enemas?
 

stratotastic

Senior Member
Messages
7,239
You are the band leader. As a band leader, you chose the songs for the band. You need to know the songs you are doing, and teach the rest of the band. Learn them, before you get a band together. As singer and lead guitar, you have the toughest parts to learn. Learn the 20 songs you want to do, then find a band who wants to play those 20 songs.

Set the ground rules and expectations before they join. If you have paying gigs, I am sure you can get lots of musicians who could play those 20 songs within a very short period of time.
If someone wants to be a band leader, they need to bring something to the table that other individuals are attracted to and be someone others want to be led by. These can be talent, paying gigs, personality, charisma, experience, etc. If the OP is still struggling with getting an initial catalog of basic cover band songs together, he's probably not ready to be a band leader yet.
 






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