Replacing band members etiquette

Pastafarian

Member
Messages
5,428
Recently had to replace our bass player and lead guitar. One was complacent never doing homework on time and the other had too many personal issues that got in the way. We had their replacements in place and ramped up leading to a break we are taking and they both think it was a scummy thing to do.

I can see their point but a working band that has obligations (some contractual) needs to make sure it is fully staffed to handle those obligations if they are going to continue as a band.

I do feel bad that I went behind their backs to replace them but we did talk to them many times about our concerns before we went as far as to seek out replacements. Neither one of them addressed the concerns so they were replaced.

So whatcha think? Was I in the wrong to go behind their backs? I don't think so but I always like to hear others opinions. If you think I was wrong, how would you have done it?
 

Lewguitar

Senior Member
Messages
5,663
Replacing band members is often like the changing of the guards where for just a short time both the old guards and the new guards are there.
 

radicool

Member
Messages
2,033
Every situation is different. It mostly depends on the personalities involved - ALL the personalities; both the members soon to be departed and the ones remaining. Some guys hate confrontation, other guys love it. Once you've made up your mind that someone's gotta go, you won't stop thinking about it until they're gone. Do it, but be professional about it - especially since you're justifying it because of your obligations as a working band. I would have given them one last ultimatum - "you're on probation - do what we've asked you to do by next week or you're gone."
But then, I don't know if these guys are the types who'd be waiting outside rehearsal with a bat to break my knees.
 

Yer Blues

Member
Messages
9,490
If they didn't want to leave there's really no good way it could have been done. Regardless of how it was handled the outgoing party wouldn't have been happy.

If they wanted to quit it would be a different story....
 

Matt Sarad

Member
Messages
1,059
About 20 yeas ago I started a band that played Celtic, bluegrass, and old time music. The hammered dulcimer player won her first time at Winfield. The bouzouki player was also a killer guitarist who could play circles around me blindfolded. The fiddler was superb, and the banjo player was at my level. We were in way over our heads. I read the writing on the wall and he and I quit before we got canned.

Made it easier for the other three.
 

plektrum

Member
Messages
284
This one has caused me a lot of problems in the past because changing band members means changing the DNA of the band. From my mistakes I learned the following:

- go out for drinks every weekend for a month and bond. Or pizzas and bad movies if you don't drink. Bond. Bond. Bond.
- Talk about where the band should be going. Everyone's vision of where they want to go.
- Talk about favourite songs that you have all written together
- Talk about where you are in life and where you want to be.

Notice the odd one out? He or she will notice it too. Be honest and frank about where you all want to go and let him or her make the decision to leave if it's really not working while constantly considering the fact that his resignation will alter the DNA forever.

Bands like marriages are labours of love. Treat it kindly. Treat the people kindly. And never never never gang up on anyone and throw them out.

(I have never been thrown out but have had to throw people out. In my first band I had to throw out the singer because he was apparently acting too dominant. He was the voice and the chick magnet. The band didn't survive after that. He still won't talk to me and I really regret not knowing then what I know now. I've forgiven myself for being young and stupid though!)
 

tiktok

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
25,073
Recently had to replace our bass player and lead guitar. One was complacent never doing homework on time and the other had too many personal issues that got in the way. We had their replacements in place and ramped up leading to a break we are taking and they both think it was a scummy thing to do.

I can see their point but a working band that has obligations (some contractual) needs to make sure it is fully staffed to handle those obligations if they are going to continue as a band.

I do feel bad that I went behind their backs to replace them but we did talk to them many times about our concerns before we went as far as to seek out replacements. Neither one of them addressed the concerns so they were replaced.

So whatcha think? Was I in the wrong to go behind their backs? I don't think so but I always like to hear others opinions. If you think I was wrong, how would you have done it?

It's business, that's how it's done. When people leave, it always destabilizes the remaining members while you're looking for replacements. If you have to start cancelling gigs, it gets worse.
 

Ferret

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,909
You did what you had to do. If you don't want to cancel gigs, you have to have replacements ready. I understand why people would prefer to do it slowly and gently. But no matter how much bonding you do, the odd one out never senses that that they are the odd one out. Or they think that you should leave, not them. Once you've explained to people what they need to do and they don't do it, or at least offer a workable compromise, that's end game. Despite the warnings, they likely still won't get it. Even if they get it, they won't like it. People on the receiving end of a well deserved sacking who can come to understand it become better musicians or at least better people. But that's for them to work through. You can't hold their hand while it happens or, more likely, doesn't happen.
 

Pastafarian

Member
Messages
5,428
I have had to let many people go in my days as a band leader and/or band decision maker. I guess what prompted me to post this was for closure and confirmation. They were decent guys with good attitudes and I felt bad but they both did get quite a few mulligans and they both know how seriously I treat this band in a business like way. So far so good with the new guys. Both leagues above what we had talent and ability wise.

Hopefully it works out as this is my last go round with a cover band. If it falls apart I'm done with that chapter in my life. I will obviously continue to play but it will be writing my own material after this is done. 25 years isn't a bad run to stay working in bands.
 

wire-n-wood

Tin Supporting Member
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,066
During good times in a band, I make it clear... if anyone needs to be replaced, we tell them honestly. If anyone needs to leave, then give notice and work out any gig commitments. Obviously, it's still no guarantee that someone won't go rogue. But it sets the standard. I'll tell you if I'm talking to a replacement.

Do unto others...
 

stevel

Member
Messages
15,784
Recently had to replace our bass player and lead guitar. One was complacent never doing homework on time and the other had too many personal issues that got in the way. We had their replacements in place and ramped up leading to a break we are taking and they both think it was a scummy thing to do.

I can see their point but a working band that has obligations (some contractual) needs to make sure it is fully staffed to handle those obligations if they are going to continue as a band.

I do feel bad that I went behind their backs to replace them but we did talk to them many times about our concerns before we went as far as to seek out replacements. Neither one of them addressed the concerns so they were replaced.

So whatcha think? Was I in the wrong to go behind their backs? I don't think so but I always like to hear others opinions. If you think I was wrong, how would you have done it?

If it's a working band, and you're the band leader, you should talk to the person and say, "you need to do your homework or I'm going to have replace you". Obviously not in that way (more savvy) and you need to be sure you can find replacements if there's a negative reaction.

Obviously, it helps if expectations are made clear at the outset of hiring someone as well, which you should do with current and future members if you're haven't already or aren't doing already.

Tough call on how scummy your actions were without knowing more details.

Are you paying the guys?
Have you clearly laid out expectations?

If not, maybe there was a lack of communication about the band's leadership, goals, methodology, and so on.
 

S1Player

Member
Messages
3,448
I'd keep an eye on the new lead guitar player and the new bass player. If they are willing to secretly audition and take a job - they are willing to exit the band in the same way. Also, they might be a bit paranoid - as they might suspect that you could be doing the same thing to them in a couple months.
 

tone4days

Member
Messages
6,715
from the way you tell the story, it sounds like you did everything as best as might be expected

you say you gave em a chance to fix things and they did not

finding replacements was the only real next step - sucks, but had to be done

i am sure they have their version of things but at this point, it doesnt matter

i was thrown out of a band that i was a founding member of ... we all agreed to some things when we founded the band (i.e not taking unpaid gigs that required taking time off from our day jobs to play, always hiring out sound/lights so we didnt have to buy, schlep heavy gear, etc) ... then one or two guys changed their mind about those two agreements and got the other guys to go along with the change ... it was a deal breaker for me so i didn't get on board ... i saw it coming but doesnt mean it didnt suck
 

PFunk

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,013
We finally had to pull the plug on our longstanding drummer this past weekend. I'll spare the details, but briefly the individual was a self-centered under performer who could never make rehearsals and was full of excuses while having had plenty of chances. Our bandleader is loyal to his players- in this case to a fault, because the guy was an old friend. Others have left the band because of this guy and once the bandleader was finally convinced, we tried a new candidate out who will work and then he called our guy with the news. On Monday, this "old friend" sent a one line, pouty kind of statement about being fired and then an hour later he "pulled the plug" our Facebook fan page. (Apparently, someone didn't change password that he had access to ahead of time).... Small price to pay though to be rid of an ongoing problem and now we can move forward.
 

Pastafarian

Member
Messages
5,428
You did what you had to do. If you don't want to cancel gigs, you have to have replacements ready. I understand why people would prefer to do it slowly and gently. But no matter how much bonding you do, the odd one out never senses that that they are the odd one out. Or they think that you should leave, not them. Once you've explained to people what they need to do and they don't do it, or at least offer a workable compromise, that's end game. Despite the warnings, they likely still won't get it. Even if they get it, they won't like it. People on the receiving end of a well deserved sacking who can come to understand it become better musicians or at least better people. But that's for them to work through. You can't hold their hand while it happens or, more likely, doesn't happen.

One thing that I have noticed through the years is that even when I explain the expectations in minute detail, many people always hear what they want to hear and then claim certain things were never explained to them. The new lead player is another testament to this. He is learning up songs we have on our "possibles" list and coming to rehearsals having learned every single note of the songs when no one else has even touched them because..well they are on the "possibles" list. The good thing is he doesn't seem pissed that nobody else worked them up. Before he got in the band it was explained to him that we will get the existing song list down tight as a band before we add any new songs. I'm glad that the guy is a quick learning sponge but we have a little way to go in order to call the entire list tight. Sure we could gig tomorrow with what we have but it wouldn't be as good as it can be.
 
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