The "proper" way of firing a band member

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Gas-man, Apr 23, 2015.

  1. Gas-man

    Gas-man Unrepentant Massaganist

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    An adjacent thread got me thinking about this.

    It seems that bands generally do not handle "firings" of band members very well, which often leads to contentious situations and bad feelings all around.

    So what is the right way to do it?
     
  2. MKB

    MKB Silver Supporting Member

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    First, think long and hard as to the exact reason why a member should be fired. Try to narrow down the single reason (and there should be one primary reason). We tend to try to find multiple reasons to let a member go, when many of those reasons existed and were tolerated prior to the desire to terminate them.

    Second, make sure the member is given at least a final chance to fix his problem, and give him all reasonable means and patience necessary to succeed. Make sure the member clearly understands exactly what he is doing that might get him fired, and he clearly understands his job is on the line. This is not a time to be passive aggressive or ambiguous, be blunt and crystal clear.

    If a member must ultimately be let go, the band leader should sit down one on one with the member and give him the bad news. Do not fire a person in front of others to spare them the embarrassment. Show the person respect even if they are being fired.

    Firing a member over email, fax, or social media is disrespectful and somewhat cowardly. That being said, I suppose with a volatile individual that this might be necessary (although I've never run across someone so foul tempered that he couldn't be dealt with directly). It brings to mind how the Allman Bros. fired Dickey Betts via fax; that seemed a bit cheap but apparently Dickey was out of his mind and out of control on drugs (made some vile threats to other band members).

    If a fired person is sore over the situation, at least the band will have handled it respectfully and professionally, and has nothing to be ashamed about. Also a musician that has a jerk prima donna attitude will have that reputation follow him around. I know quite a few amazing musicians that when mentioned in a conversation, the first thing discussed is their talent, and the second is how impossible they are to work with. It happens every time with these same people.
     
  3. MORE BARN

    MORE BARN Member

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    He wasn't fired via fax; he was told he had to get his act together, etc., and the band was going to tour without him that summer until he did.

    In the end, he didn't do whatever it was (go to treatment, etc.).

    So as Jaimoe said in Alan Paul's book, 'I guess Dickey quit'
     
  4. Coldacre

    Coldacre Supporting Member

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    just don't pick them up for the next rehearsal.

    when they get wind that there's a new guitarist in the band, they'll catch on.
     
  5. Ravindave_3600

    Ravindave_3600 Member

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    I've never been fired from a band but was fired once from a job. I never received a negative review and had been given a merit raise a month before. The dismissal papers had a list of infractions that had never been mentioned to me (and were baseless) to cover the fact that I'd just spoken to my boss about what I considered unethical behavior. We both knew the real reason I was fired but he had to find a legitimate excuse.

    OP, I'd say be honest and keep it businesslike.
     
  6. c_mac

    c_mac Member

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    It's very hard not to have bad feelings when you fire someone no matter how you do it. My band let our bass player go a few months back. On a technically level, the guy was an amazing player, truly one of the best I've ever played with in terms of actual skill. However, he knew that he was great and with that he always felt that he didn't need to work on our songs and that he was more than capable of playing the material without practicing. Long story short, he wasn't. He constantly missed chords changed and never really had a handle on the arrangements. Granted, after months of rehearsals he would finally get things down and would sound incredible but after a while, we all got tired of it. I write the songs and I send everyone a rough copy of a few weeks before we are going to practice them. I then record the rehearsals and send everyone a copy the next day. Within a few weeks we all had our parts and arrangements worked out except the bass player. I sent him a few private emails over the course of his time with the band asking him to raise his game and actually work on the material since the rest of us were putting in the work. He ALWAYS had an excuse but acknowledged that I was right and promised to do better. Then when we went into the studio we talked as a band about making sure to show up prepared because we didn't want to waste studio time. We had multiple recordings of the songs done exactly how we were going to track them so there was no reason not to show up prepared. You guessed it, he showed up unprepared.

    I say all of that because when we finally had to let him go, I was the asshole and he hates me now. Go figure.
     
  7. jbraun002

    jbraun002 Member

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    Some good advice so far. I think being direct is key.

    I disagree here. I think there's actually _not_ usually just _one_ reason, but instead things generally build up and a threshold point is passed. Most relationships are like that: they can tolerate pretty wide amounts of stress, but they will break at some point.

    When they do break, it's often easy to focus on one thing as being the cause of the break, and sometimes that's true, but it's usually not been just one thing in my experience.
     
  8. HurricaneJesus

    HurricaneJesus Member

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    Remove one of your shoes. Slam it on the table two or three times. Scream 'YOU'RE ****ING OUT!!!'

    Done. You're welcome.
     
  9. HurricaneJesus

    HurricaneJesus Member

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    So then what? Did you just accept it and move on? Did you fight it?
    This is why I generally try to do my job and stay invisible.
     
  10. Mayor McCheese

    Mayor McCheese Member

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    Bands don't handle anything related to business well, particularly drama filled cover acts. I'd argue that the biggest difference between pros and non-pros is this stuff - how they handle finding people, dismissing people, etc. In the pro world it's just a business thing, you're not the right guy for the job, or they want to change styles and need a different player, etc. Door's still open, no reason to not possibly work together again, no malice, no drama. In the non-pro world it's just ugly because people take it personally.

    Disclaimer: I am a proud member of several drama filled cover acts and by no means fit any definition of a pro player.
     
  11. sws1

    sws1 Member

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    I can tell you how we did it. I call it the passive aggressive approach.

    2 of the members (guitars / bass) decided they didn't want to be in the band anymore, and more or less quit. Me, the other guitar player, obviously quit because there was no band left. After the drummer realized the band is no more, the first 2 members called me and said, "If we find a drummer, do you want to stay with us?"

    1 week later...same band, but drummer was gone.

    To be honest, I didn't know that this was 'plan' hatched up by the first 2 guys, but it definitely was.
     
  12. gennation

    gennation Member

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    Do it face to face or over the phone at least. I was in a band where the leader fired the (female) drummer by email...after that the shitstorm on facebook was unreal!

    I saw just tons of posts from the drummer about how we were all backstabbers, etc... I called the leader laughing and the first thing I asked was "what the hell, did you fire her by email or something?", and he said "yes". He was afraid the confront her hahah. Damn, it was nuts and hilarious all at the same time. The drummer's brain fell out in public and I still don't think she's has a gig in about 6 years...not local anyways.
     
  13. ggwwbb

    ggwwbb Member

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    A while back when we finally decided that we had to let our drummer go, we all showed up at regular rehearsal, and sat down face to face and told him. It sucked because we were all friends with him, but he had a lot on his plate and wasn't really contributing like he should have been. We were direct and honest, didn't attack him, just told him how we felt and why. It actually all worked out well and we have all stayed friends. He even came out to a few gigs and complimented us on how much better we sounded with our new drummer.

    Its a sucky thing to do, but an honest, face to face band meeting is the only way to do it.
     
  14. Structo

    Structo Member

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    Getting fired or firing someone ranks right up there with uncomfortable situations.
    You never know how somebody is going to react.

    Most band members have day jobs that support them, but usually the band requires attendance for rehearsals and gigs.

    When somebody continually misses rehearsals or doesn't show up prepared, then they aren't contributing anymore.

    You can be the best guitar player in the world but if you don't show up and play or know the material, then your ability is a moot point.
     
  15. Zingeroo

    Zingeroo Member

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    I've been in that same exact situation. But it was the singer.
     
  16. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    Best to just say something like "we've decided for this project we want to go another direction. We appreciate the effort you given."
    Better than picking out "what's wrong with him". If he asks after then give him one good reason.
     
  17. katuna

    katuna Silver Supporting Member

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    Honestly, I'd rather be fired by email so I don't have to waste that trip up to the practice space.

    I guess this depends on what kind of band it is. If it's a band where people make their livelihood off of it, that's more like it needs to be pro, like at a job.

    Otherwise, who cares, honestly? It depends on whether you'd like to remain friends with the person or not. I've kicked out so many people at this point, it's not even funny. Some are fine with it; some still hate me, like 25 years later.
     
  18. Guitar Josh

    Guitar Josh Resident Curmudgeon Silver Supporting Member

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    Be direct, be honest, and be FINAL. "A decision has been made to let you go. This is a final decision which we all talked about for awhile and agreed on. As you know there have been some issues and we don't think its fair to either of us to continue down this path. We respect you as a person and as a musician but this is the best way to go for the band. Let us know a good time in the next week for you to come and get your stuff."
     
  19. Guitar Josh

    Guitar Josh Resident Curmudgeon Silver Supporting Member

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    See Ben Folds - Army.
     
  20. Bogner

    Bogner Member

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    Face to face, professional, direct, short and sweet. No phone, email, text BS. That is as weak as weak can be. Take the high road, never look back.
     

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