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Are band politics hopeless?
Old 27th June 2009
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Are band politics hopeless?

I have been the lead singer in my band for over five years now. We have released one record so far and will be releasing a new record next year. The music we play is hard old school style thrash metal. I have come to Gearslutz today to seek some advice.

As the singer and main writer of the band, I have always worked just a bit harder than the rest of the members of the band, and I have sacrificed more. I have always been the driving force behind the band, and I started the band. Recently, I have had to fire two members of the band for not being dedicated, and for the most part, everything I have worked on for the past five years is crumbling before my eyes.

We had plans of touring outside our home state of Texas and playing possibly New York, Chicago, and LA. Now it seems as if this all may never happen. Honestly, I would be lying if I was to say that I am not a bit tired of band members drinking to much, being not dedicated, and not taking the band seriously. I'm not sure if there is any remedy for this type of problem either, and i'm not looking forward to searching for new members and dealing with yet another set of unknowns.

On top of that, labels are not showing interest, the music business is screwed up more than ever, and for the most part we all figure we will never get paid anyway. A lot of metal bands are noticing that people don't want to come out to the shows, and fans are lacking interest on a local level. I guess it isn't 1980 anymore.

As engineers, you all must see this type of thing all the time. I recently had just read Mixerman and I feel like my life is imitating that book! At any rate, I am wondering at what point should a band throw in the towel? And how do you know when it is time to accept defeat?

Best,

Blackie
Dallas, TX
Old 27th June 2009
  #2
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cavern's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crypticwritings View Post
I am wondering at what point should a band throw in the towel? And how do you know when it is time to accept defeat?

Best,

Blackie
Dallas, TX
NEVER
as an owner of a now succesfull business, i can tell you that never is the time to quit unless you really don't want it anymore.
if you still want it, then the answer is NEVER.

addition: if they're not serious(your bandmembers), keep looking, there are some who are.
Old 27th June 2009
  #3
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It's sad. That is exactly why I don't play in a "band" anymore.

If the members of a group can't get along the band is doomed.

Even if they don't like each other they all have to have to same goal in mind.

If they don't then the band is doomed.

I have a friend who is a guitar/bass player that I get along with that has the same goals as I do.

He's just about the only musician around here I can deal with.

Sad but true.
Old 27th June 2009
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
GREENFENDR's Avatar
Hey Blackie, I feel ya, I have seen and and I've been in bands that have fallen apart. (as I think anyone who plays long enough has) All I can say is that look at it as a positive, a chance to regroup and change whatever you think you were doing wrong. I think its a cop-out to blame the 'industry', lots of original bands are at least making a living doing their music. and even more bands aren't making a great living, but still having a blast trying the best they can.

Another thing is that as main singer and songwriter you ARE supposed to be the one who sacrifices more, puts more effort in, etc... because in the end, it's YOUR project and YOUR Vision. Look at yourself as a general or coach, when the going gets tough YOU have to be the one to rally the guys and get them back on the same page with you, and get them excited about the music again. and yes, sometimes that takes making concessions.

Obviously I don't know anything about your band or the personal relationships in your band, but in my experience the best band leaders are the guys who can see the strengths and weaknesses in the players around them, and adjust their music accordingly...actually when it's done right, thats how new and interesting sounds are created, and usually the players involved end up feeling better and more invested about the music.

my advice: take some time to cool off, regroup and try to meet some new guys to collaborate with, maybe do something completely different then your last band, just to get your head a fresh outlook. Maybe get involved with a band as a sideman, too, you can pick up some goods stuff for your own material that way. good luck!
Old 27th June 2009
  #5
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If you're starting this description by complaining that you're working harder than anyone else, you're already kind of doomed. You can't compare who's doing more or less without generating some really bad vibe. If you're the one driving, you're the one driving. Don't expect everyone in the band to do, or care, as much as you or you will always be pissed off and disappointed.

You have to do it because you love it, not because the commercial chances look good or bad, and if you get lucky and start getting some cake, then be happy that the gods smiled on you and let you profit from doing something you love.

I've been in a band with the essentially the same people for 22 years (only one turnover, ~17 years ago). Different members' commitments and aiblities to contribute wax and wane over the years - you just roll with it and do what you have to do to keep it going... if you love doing it.

Yes, it's hard to find people who have enough overlap of vision to keep a band together - no question. But your chances will increase greatly if you're not looking to everyone (or anyone) else to have the same feelings about it that you do.

Rule One of surviving in the music business: learn how to work with fcuk-ups.
Old 27th June 2009
  #6
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Couple things...

Labels will only be interested in signing a hugely successful act. They no longer take a "great talent/somewhat okay fanbase" combo. You need to develop a big fan base AND be wicked good to get in the running for that game. But that can be done.

One thing bands almost never do that they really should is to establish groundrules before they get together. then you can decide whether it's going to be a kingdom, or a democracy, or whatever. Figuring all that out after the wedding day is a byotch.

Read your own heart...are you in it for fame and fortune? Then time is short, and screwing around with people who aren't serious is a waste of youth. Start over, get serious players, and go for it with a vengeance, focusing on building fans, fans, fans. Seduce them, communicate with them via email, give them deals...but fans are the path to getting signed by a label. Or are you just in it for fun and moderate success? If that's the case, have a beer and lighten up.

Good luck! Band politics are always difficult, like a multiple marriage...but never hopeless.
Old 28th June 2009
  #7
Either it is what you do, in which case you'll do it, no matter what. Or it isn't what you do, in which case you should sell insurance or teach school.
Old 28th June 2009
  #8
Gear Addict
 
Gulliver's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman View Post
Couple things...

Labels will only be interested in signing a hugely successful act. They no longer take a "great talent/somewhat okay fanbase" combo. You need to develop a big fan base AND be wicked good to get in the running for that game. But that can be done.

One thing bands almost never do that they really should is to establish groundrules before they get together. then you can decide whether it's going to be a kingdom, or a democracy, or whatever. Figuring all that out after the wedding day is a byotch.

Read your own heart...are you in it for fame and fortune? Then time is short, and screwing around with people who aren't serious is a waste of youth. Start over, get serious players, and go for it with a vengeance, focusing on building fans, fans, fans. Seduce them, communicate with them via email, give them deals...but fans are the path to getting signed by a label. Or are you just in it for fun and moderate success? If that's the case, have a beer and lighten up.

Good luck! Band politics are always difficult, like a multiple marriage...but never hopeless.
..and there we have it!
Old 28th June 2009
  #9
Gear Head
 

oh man i know exactly what you mean.
i think i agree with the person who said you must just deal with it. i've never actually dealt with it, which is why i'm not in a band now.
i always look at bands that have such good interaction with extreme envy and wonder how the hell that happened. i also wonder if i will ever get that. i'm still young so hopefully it will happen before i get old.
or maybe i'm too much of a control freak and it'll never happen. quite possible actually :(
Old 28th June 2009
  #10
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I don't know what relationship you have with your bandmates so I couldn't tell you what to do. I just hope you don't talk to them or think about them in the manner you appear to express in the original post - as if you are are the centrepeice, the driving force that others must dance around because I've never seen that work. The best and most productive times I ever had with other musicians are ones where there is mutual respect and mutual recognition and gratitude for each others contribution - no matter how big or small it may be.

All I know is that I don't force it anymore. If I get on with other musicians we can work together for a time but there is no rigid structure or heirarchy. There is no pact and when we are done we part ways until it feels like the right time for us make music together again. We are there because we want to be and if we aren't we should ask ourselves 'why am I here?'.

Then again, what do I know? I've been going it solo for years now, not wishing to be burdened by band politics and always finding it difficult to play in that kind of environment and to constantly live up to others expectations and group obligations. After some time I realised I didn't have the technical ability nor the interest or inclination to play with others (plus we sucked anyway). I was pretty selfish. Things are better for me now that my mistakes are mine alone and that responsibility for my auccesses and failures rest only on my own shoulders. Have you tried taking a break from the band for a while? You could always work with session musicians. I mean honestly, the people good enough to do that and get paid for it are seriously professional and seriously organised. If you must be the star around which the planets orbit then thats the kind of environment where it has the best chance of working out. It isn't going to work in a group of friends or strangers whose fate is shared.
Old 28th June 2009
  #11
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by crypticwritings View Post

I guess it isn't 1980 anymore.
you can say that again

On the other hand, you have to ask yourself what is the connection between the state of the Industry and your 'band politics'?

Is your band not working out because the members are listless and no longer care about what they are doing, or because there are no fans and no labels that care about the music you are playing? If it is the former, I say ditch it. You are correct in your assessment that the money and the fame are not there. If it is the latter you can hang in, be true to your Art and hope the wheel will turn again.

If it was me, I think this would be a good time to start a 'side project'

Are there any other styles of music you are interested in exploring, any great players around you might want to collaborate with? Maybe something with some people who are your Equals rather than your "employees". You don't have to break up your band, but it doesn't have to be the Basket that holds all your eggs, either.


Quote:
Have faith,because the Universe will support you in your dreams.- Or It would, if It wasn't so busy and you weren't so insignificant.
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