Being "subbed"

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Gasp100, May 21, 2019.

  1. Scafeets

    Scafeets Member

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    Since I play guitar, bass and keys, I get a lot of calls to sub when my own band isn't working. Initially, I took on all I could handle; but now I'm a lot more selective. Some not-very-good bands need a sub because they lost or chased away their regular. I also found that I had to un-learn some songs so that I could play the same wrong chords as the guys I was subbing for in "those" bands. In my own group, we have "regular" subs for bass and drums because our regulars have day jobs that sometimes put them out of town. The subs are good players who know our stuff; but we don't take a gig if the lead singer or a regular sub can't make it.
     
  2. boldaslove1977

    boldaslove1977 Silver Supporting Member

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    I feel like bands use subs a lot more liberally than they did even just 5-10 years ago. And that’s great for me, as someone who isn’t in a band anymore, so I get called for sub gigs fairly regularly.

    I have a few theories on this....

    1. Bands are more willing to give guys nights off on occasion because they pay is.... well... normally not really good enough to force you to give up your life. I’d say 150 per person is probably average around here, give or take. Is that 150 enough to force you to miss your kid’s first birthday party or a friend’s wedding? Probably not.

    2. Lot of people play in multiple bands, because they’re trying to make every dollar possible. I feel like that might be accepted more than in the past.

    3. As my friends who do this get older, guys get hurt! Last summer I did a run of shows for a guy who broke his arm working in his yard. And these past two months, I did a run of shows for a guy who needed surgery on his hand. The clock is undefeated!

    4. There are enough of us out there that know the same songs at this point! I unfortunately just had to bail on a few sub gigs I committed to. Conflict with my day job, which hasn’t happened in a decade. I felt awful telling the band leader, but I didn’t have much of a choice. Well... it took him less than a day to find someone to take the gigs for me.
     
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  3. ned7flat5

    ned7flat5 Member

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    Around here, “subs” are fairly commonplace and it’s mostly down to the individual band member to have their own “back up” or “back ups” for whom they can vouch for as being reliable, either know or will learn the material, have pro gear, know their place and, importantly, can play.

    Among my other ventures, I’ve been this one guy’s “eternal bridesmaid” for the past decade - he’ll head off to pursue other band projects on a dime and I’ll get the call to “hold his place” in the band in the meantime. Now the band just rings me...

    I even had the call to hold his place in the new band he’s playing in for which he took leave from his primary band to join.

    I like the randomness of the playing opportunities and have never sought to “white ant” or lobby to make anything permanent. I guess after all this time I’m kinda trusted but I prefer freelancing too much to throw my lot into one thing.

    I ran into him at the funeral of one of our shared singers just the other day. Hadn’t seen each other for a few years. I jokingly asked him if he had any more bands I could “join” or, better still, “bail him out of”. He did, as it happens - the grass being always greener etc.

    And there’s something affirming about being a “sub” as opposed to being an actual “merely tolerated” band member that appeals to me and has maintained my enthusiasm for playing live.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  4. BlueRiff

    BlueRiff Member

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    I played in a band where singer, keys and bass players rotated every weekend only me the guitarist and drummer were full time members. Everyone knew the standards so it was seemless and a hell of a lot of fun to play with a variety of people and styles.
     
  5. gtrdave

    gtrdave Member

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    I've done quite a bit of sub work over the past few years and the bands always seem happy because I learn my stuff and do my best to make the band feel like they're not using a sub.
    When I use subs in my band, usually either bass or drums, I expect the same from them and will ONLY use guys who I know have been well-vetted and can handle the gig. No surprises permitted here; if you're looking to jam or will "join in when the rest of us get going", you won't be playing our gig.

    We are having to build up a sub list of drummers because our regular guy for the past 2 years needs to scale back on the number of gigs in the future. Thankfully, we've got a couple subs waiting in the wings (one has already gigged with us and is a good fit) and even a couple more who are good possibilities, so it should be a seamless transition when we have to use one of the alternates.
     
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  6. squeally dan

    squeally dan Member

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    I don’t get this. If he can sub for you, why can’t he just play his out of town gig?
     
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  7. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    There is always the chance that your sub will smoke you and you will be looking for another band.
     
  8. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Supporting Member

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    True, but how do you "prepare" for this right? I mean, I just have to deal with things as they are. I'm not missing gigs for stupid reasons. I'm literally working and/or out of the country.
    I will get the information from the bass player post gigs. He is pretty intense (in a super quiet kind of way) and notices any and all f***ups.
    The BL and drummer are supposedly chill and "all set" but I have my doubts.
    We had a fun text exchange back and forth today so it's all good, but I know for certain the sub hasn't asked for the keys of any of the songs yet. And there are 45 tunes in our 4 hour sets, with at least 15 we play that are NOT in record key... and 5 are drop D and 2 are drop C#.
    First gig is Wednesday.
     
  9. 27sauce

    27sauce Member

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    That’s the weird part! I’m not sure what’s going on. When my bandleader asked him for his availability he said he was doing that gig. I’m 99% sure I’m taking his place.
     
  10. HoboMan

    HoboMan Silver Supporting Member

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    We had to use a sub drummer short notice for our last couple of gigs because our guy injured his arm and we had gigs booked. Worked out great.

    I've been subbing on guitar for my friend's band for several years now. Their guitar player plays in two bands and often has conflicts. It's an easy paycheck and I always have fun.
    Lately their guitar player has been having health issues so he's becoming unavailable more and more. Got called last Saturday to fill in two hours before their show and I was an hour away from home. Made the gig but the funny thing was they had a sub drummer who happened to be the drummer from the other band the guitar player plays with. I've never met this drummer before but we had a great gig and at the end of the night he asked if I could sub for their band since the guitar player was becoming more and more unavailable. I said yes.
     
  11. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Supporting Member

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    The "band" I led in Delaware for a few years was all subs. 3 female singers, 2 bassists, 3 different drummers. But it was actually built that way.
    This is a "band" in need of some sub work.
    My drummer actually subs in another very popular band here, I'm hoping to try and glom onto some gigs for them if I can through him. It's all good!
     
  12. bob-i

    bob-i Member

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    More random comments...

    I welcome subs with my bands. Life gets in the way of gigs and it’s great to have someone who can fill my chair when I can’t be there. The unwritten rule is do the gig, but don’t steal the guys job.

    A few years ago I was fat dumb and happy playing classic rock in a band, guitar bass drums female vocals. She’d booked a show on a weeknight when she knew I often traveled for my day job. I couldn’t make it, so she found a sub, great. Turned out the sub started booking gigs for the band. I learned that I was out by calling the soundman who told me the other guy was playing that gig.

    My current band is 5 pieces, we all sing and play well so a member missing a gig isn’t a problem, but we do look for fill ins. They found a last minute sub when a snow storm hit and flights were canceled. Last weekend we survived without the keyboard player, we missed him and his keys. Next month, we’ll have a sub bass player, ours has a family commitment.

    Another band in my area is named Mama’s Stew. Like on Sunday when mama loads up a pot with leftovers from all week and makes a unique stew. The band is not unlike that. Whatever musicians are available do the gig.no set list, they just go around and ask what you want to sing.

    I like the unwritten rule, one does not pilfer another guys gig.
     
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  13. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Member

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    There is ALWAYS someone way better than you are.
     
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  14. MikeMcK

    MikeMcK Supporting Member

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    R,

    I've seen you guys & you'd be tough to sub for... that 1st set is bang-bang, one song into the other, and most have 3 or 4-part harmonies. I'm pretty sure your gig is secure there.
     
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  15. MikeMcK

    MikeMcK Supporting Member

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    I joined a cover band about 20 months ago, and with about 100 gigs behind us I can't think of a single gig where we didn't have at least one sub. Our drummer tours with a metal band (just finishing one now), our bass player is in 3 bands, one of which books a year in advance and our "regular" keyboard player spends half the year in Key West where he can do 10 gigs a week.

    We're in an area full of great players, so if the singer & I are available we'll book the gig and sort out personnel later. We keep the set list off the beaten path so it's tricky but fun when you trust the guys... tomorrow we'll do a $2k+ private gig with a sub bassist fresh of a European tour and a phenomenal sub drummer.

    I'd try to be involved the picking the sub, especially if he might stick around. I prefer the 1-guitar thing... not (solely) because of my ego, but because you'll have to take turns laying back (and sometimes both lay back). That often doesn't always happen and a good dynamic band sound can easily be tanked by a guitar player's ego or insecurity.

    As someone who does a lot of subbing myself, the trick is to remember that I'm not there to "prove myself" by filling every sonic hole. I'm there to make the band good. For better or worse, I get a lot of work because a lot of guitar players don't think that way.
     
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  16. RCM78

    RCM78 Member

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    Thanks Mike. That’s mostly why we don’t like using subs. We all have our vocal parts and it’s just not the same with someone else.
     
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  17. jbviper4

    jbviper4 Supporting Member

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    I only sub. Love it. Yeah I have to learn new stuff all the time, some of which I loathe, but it's a chance to get up and play and I would never steal another guitarist's job. If they would ax their guy for me, it's no band I'd want to be in. I think I get asked a lot since everyone knows my stance (been asked twice, turned them both down - and don't sub for them anymore. Actions speak louder than words.)
     
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  18. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Supporting Member

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    I had a gig last Friday and got the lowdown on the sub situation. Everyone is on good terms, we joked a lot about the whole situation. BL seemed steadfast in his opinion that any one of us can be subbed...
    So the first gig with the sub was last night. As I stated the BL booked that gig knowing I could not make it, but he had 3+ weeks lead time to find someone. Turns out they brought in subs to "audition" on the Sunday of Memorial Day? 3 days to choose "the guy" and have him ready for the gig?
    AND... BL booked ANOTHER GIG for this Friday - one of our better venues and they are touting "us" as opening their "Friday concert series". Again, knowing full well I could not make the gig due to working overnight AND knowing at that point he had no sub.

    Long story short, this morning I get a text from the bassist with everyone copied: "We miss you"

    In summation, I'm okay with everything really. I could actually use the time to WORK and prep for my WORK trip to India coming up.
    What will not be cool is if we start losing gigs at good venues because of the BL's insistence on taking every gig and not at least considering asking for alternate dates.

    On the flip side I'm starting to think I would be an ideal sub for other bands. I would relish in it and kick ass, I'm quite certain of it!
     
  19. bluejazzoid

    bluejazzoid Supporting Member

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    Lol, sounds like your BL needs a special adjustment -- from a chiropractor of common sense!

    And you should start subbing for other bands - heck, why not?!
     
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  20. derekd

    derekd Member

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    I'm the same.

    I haven't had time for a regular gig the past few years due to school but have subbed a few times on both bass and guitar. One was a buddy's country band and his bass player couldn't get to the gig due to car trouble. I stepped up in time for the downbeat and just watched my buddy's left hand all night to get the changes since I'd never played a country set before. Had more fun than I should have.

    I'd never go for replacing a guy in a band unless his parting was a mutual decision. I prefer to see the music scene as a community rather than a competition. I don't need to play for a living so that likely colors my attitude. I'd happily bow out if it was between me and a guy who was doing it FT. There are always other gigs.
     
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