Band Confidence

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Moxsam, May 9, 2015.

  1. Moxsam

    Moxsam Member

    Dec 16, 2014
    I'm currently playing in a band that as a group lacks confidence.

    The band is comprised of 5 good friends and 3 of us have played together before in another band that did quite well locally. We were in our late 20's back then and took that band as far as we could. Played some pretty big stages in front of big audiences, and had our music briefly on the local radio, etc. Ironically we weren't that good. We had a good vibe and original songs that caught on and got people dancing. Musically though, we were pretty sloppy and raw.

    Flash forward a decade and we've added two other guys who had zero experience playing in bands or even with other musicians. When I think back to how we sounded at our first few practices, we have come a LONG way. We are to the point now where things are really coming together quickly and we are sounding quite good. In my opinion we are WAY better than the old band ever was.

    In the past year or so we have been the opening band several times for other acts. Usually other friend's bands. In each case we have literally stolen the show just playing one short set of high energy party dance music despite some mid song screw ups etc. It has been great and really inspiring for me but for the other guys it doesn't seem to motivate them. For them it seems like "Whew! Glad that's over."

    For some reason this group of guys is very resistant/afraid of playing live and it is causing us to stagnate musically and we are missing out on some great opportunities. We have about 30 songs that we can play decently enough but we are stuck trying to perfect a set of 10-12 songs and it is going no where. Every week we get together and work on the "set". Some songs we can nail in our sleep week after week so we "put them to bed" for awhile. Then one practice we pull them out again, lose focus and screw them up. This shatters any confidence we have gained and it's like we are constantly starting over. Also, inevitably something comes up each month, we miss a week here or there and we get further behind.

    One of the new guys in particular, has a somewhat self defeating attitude. Ironically he is one of our strongest players right now and seems to be practicing the most on his own. His negative comments spread to the other guys and there seems to be this attitude that "We suck" or we aren't a "real band" or we are some kind of joke.

    I am the lead singer and play rhythm guitar and I don't have any problems getting on stage and letting it rip most times. I'm not a great musician or singer but give it my all when I perform. I try my best to instil confidence in the others but I feel like they look at me like I'm a freak. Comments like "It's easy for you cuz you've done this so much before" etc. Admittedly I do have a bit of a history of not giving a sh!t and I'm totally comfortable making a fool of myself for a laugh. I don't do stupid or embarrassing things on stage but I guess it is possible that they are afraid that I might. :)

    We were just offered an opportunity to open for a very successful act at one of the better venues in our area. A performer who is coming in from out of town and happens to know a friend of a friend. Basically a friend of ours throwing us a big bone. We talked about playing this gig at our practice last night and it was almost comical to watch the anxiety it caused and the excuses that were formulated as to why we can't play it. Total groupthink.

    We've had other good opportunities to play as well and each time someone comes up with an excuse or finds something else to do that night and can't make it, etc.

    I've tried explaining that no matter how well rehearsed we become it doesn't guarantee anything. It's more about letting go and having fun on stage and playing with good energy. Our music is upbeat fun party dance music. Playing everything perfect isn't critical to the drunken crowds we are going play for anyway. You'd think the two other guys from the old band would remember some of our past experiences but they aren't helping.

    I've begun to record our practices and play them back and it sounds great. Everyone agrees on that but still there is lack of confidence. I think there is a serious problem with comparing ourselves to other bands and musicians and it is paralyzing us as a group.

    Everyone "says" they want to gig but we aren't moving forward at all. It's getting VERY frustrating. We've invested way too much time and energy to be stuck the way we are.

    We've semi-agreed that we are going to play an open mic night next week. I'm doubtful it's going to happen. Even if we do it's usually a pretty quiet place and I'm sure our rockin' party music is going to be very out of place which may cause even more issues. :(

    Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Turi

    Turi Member

    Jan 2, 2011
    Don't play the open mic.
    The wrong venue will crush these guys hard when there's no applause.

    You guys have got a great opportunity here and I hope they understand and embrace that.
    Definitely need to get them to relax and just smash it.

    I don't have any advice to help with that.

    I'm at a point in my life where I simply haven't got the time to hold anyones hand like you have to, and I'd totally tell them to man up or I'm out.

    I'm sure there'll be better advice from more compassionate people with more time on their hands that will be of more use.

    All the best, hope it works out.
  3. DanSimon

    DanSimon Member

    May 9, 2013
    I think it sounds like you've tried, would think theoretically they'd listen to you cuz of your experience level but in my experience in bands, this is usually not the case.

    For some reason, in a band people often have passive/aggressive attitudes + are very stubborn.. if this was your guys' paid job they might behave differently.

    now, it could be that u guys are messing up a lot + they are afraid of a trainwreck live, but it doesnt sound this way to hear you tell it.

    If its not technical music nobody else can play, then maybe its time for u OR the worst offenders to strike out on your/their own. Good luck man, i feel for u.
  4. BobK

    BobK Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    The last band I was in, the leader constantly cancelled gigs at the last minute because he felt we weren't ready. The band split up because of that, and he is now doing the same thing with his current band. I lead my own band now, and we have never cancelled a gig, although the first few we played, we were pretty shaky. After a few gigs we became more confident, and the last couple of gigs we played we had a great time. We still make mistakes, but we are the only ones who notice.
  5. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

    Sep 20, 2005
    under the stars
    Never been in a band where every single song every moment was perfect. The thing is, it's okay to be constructively critical at rehearsals, but when it is time to gig to me it's the time to say "we do what we do...enjoy it" and stop the critic in us and just let loose and play.

    Some take it too seriously...some can't manage to turn off the inner critic. Playing anything from a viewpoint of "fear" of "God I hope I don't mess up" is a bad start point...and actually can make everything, every tiny mistake magnified.

    One should lighten up, with focus, hope, joy to play for people.

    Still, even though I love playing, I also love that moment when it is over and went's like letting out a big old sigh. Contentment.
  6. sleewell

    sleewell Member

    Sep 10, 2012
    Don't play the open mic

    I think you need to be honest with them about how you feel. Positive and negative.

    Hear how they respond. Ask them what their goals for the band are. It sounds like they just like getting together for practices which may not be inline with what you want. You can't force them to want to gig but you should have a real talk about what you want in order to find out if this is the band for you.

    MORE BARN Member

    Jan 11, 2009
    And there it is.

    Quite frankly, I think it's a minor miracle any band ever gets, or stays, together. For me I finally realized that it is SO hard to find people on the SAME PAGE. That's the key. If you aren't on the same page, I think it will always be like swimming up a waterfall.

    I always had the same problem. I love to play. Love to play, always did, always had a ton of enthusiasm for it. Anyone I ever played with didn't seem to be like that. No problem, but just the way it was. I feed off of enthusiasm. It's inspiring. The no-enthusiasm thing really deflates me.
  8. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2007
    North Myrtle Beach, SC
    Agreed maybe it's quite possible they don't want to gig but say they do? Maybe it's possible you think it sounds "awesome" but they don't and have reservations. Confident and experienced players would never turn down a good gig they could make. Covers or originals?

    Open mic for an established band is a mistake unless you are testing new material or trying acoustic versions of the lineup, something like that.
  9. topperdoggle

    topperdoggle Member

    Oct 23, 2011
    I think that if the attitude is broken, it doesn't matter what you play or how you play it. I recommend you all read Zen Guitar, it all sounds very competitive at present. :)
  10. Moxsam

    Moxsam Member

    Dec 16, 2014
    Thanks guys I'm not really sure what to do here. As I said these guys are all really good friends and I do believe that they genuinely want to get better. We are just stuck in a big rut.

    In terms of being on the same page I don't think any of us are looking to gig every week like a working band. However it's been too long and our practice-to-gig ratio is way too lopsided. If we averaged one gig a month I think that would keep me happy at this point. Summer is just around the corner and there are lots of parties and events we COULD be playing at but when we discuss these things I realize that the other guys feel we are MILES away from doing that. Whereas I feel like we could get up there right now and kill it if everyone just let go of their fears and just had fun like we do at practice.

    I don't want to paint a picture like we are super awesome sounding, but we ARE sounding really good. Certainly good enough for drunken parties, etc. It's not just in my head. Yes we have screw ups here and there but who cares. I'm not overly critical as the other guys seem to be. Our music is super basic. Nothing technical at all. IMO if you are playing party tunes it's much more important to play with tons of energy and convey that to the audience than it is to play the songs perfectly. We've had the odd friend come to practices just to hang out and they've all had nothing but great stuff to say. Still when I hear the other guys talk to outsiders about the band I hear comments like "We're not that good" or "We're kinda sh!tty."

    There is a video a friend took on his phone from our last time on stage. The sound quality sucks in the recording but the crowd is absolutely loving it. Girls screaming, everyone dancing, big applause, etc. My wife described it as the "me show" because I'm up there giving it everything I got, rocking out and the other guys are standing there like corpses or deer caught in the headlights. I watched the video just now and it's true.

    The other thing is we do a lot of vocal harmonies during choruses etc. In practice the two back up singers get up on the mic and actually sing. (Although I do have to encourage them from time to time). On stage though they are too far back on the mics and sing too quietly and shy. It kills the energy of the songs when you need a big chanting chorus and only one guy is singing it.

    Mr. Self Defeating (lead guitar) also has a nasty habit of stopping playing if he makes even the smallest mistake. He'll be doing a solo and miss a note and get embarrassed and say "Sorry, sorry, sorry". I've told him dozens of times to never stop playing. Play thru those mistakes. Nobody is going to notice and if they do they don't care. He's getting better but its painful.

    Regarding the open mic I guess the rest of the band feels like we just need to get up on stage in a low key environment to get our live chops. I'm going to try to explain that our party music isn't going to translate well to a dead room so nobody can take a poor crowd reaction to heart. I don't know. I'm hoping that just being up there is going to show them that we CAN get thru our material, make mistakes, have fun, and life will still go on.

    Funny thing is I would get up on stage right now in front of hundreds of people without a care because I know our music gets the party rocking. I'm more nervous about playing to a dozen stiffs at the open mic!

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