Another Band Drama Thread

DrumDoug

Senior Member
Last week the band leader, called a meeting. Apparently several venues we play at have said they don't want us back because we are too loud. The drama then ensued with everybody blaming everybody else for the volume problem. "I have to turn up because ____ is too loud". Of course it came up that the drums are too loud. I don't consider myself a hard hitter at all and when I see other bands playing those venues, they seem to be playing much harder than me. Last night at a open jam session, I asked another band leader I know if he thought I tend to play too hard. He has set in with the band several times. He has played with some pretty famous people and his band is made up of people who play with him when they are not on the road with fairly well know acts. In other words, I respect his opinion. He said that whenever he has set in with us and when he has watched our shows, the drums are drowned out by the rest of the band and he can barely hear them. He said the problem is the lead guitar player and the harmonica. Another drummer friend of mine who plays for a living, told me that I tend to sit way back in the mix volume wise. He thinks I need to hit harder to give the band more energy. I'm not sure what to do at this point. The band is already blaming me for some of the volume problems, but outsiders are telling me that my volume is fine, and if anything, it needs to come up. I can already hear the defensive comments if I were to suggest that I need to play louder. I'm just not sure what to do at this point. If I have to start playing much softer, I going to have to switch to brushes and rods. I do that when we play little acoustic shows, but I don't think I should when we are doing the full on electric set. Has anybody else had this problem?
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
Last week the band leader, called a meeting. Apparently several venues we play at have said they don't want us back because we are too loud. The drama then ensued with everybody blaming everybody else for the volume problem. "I have to turn up because ____ is too loud". Of course it came up that the drums are too loud. I don't consider myself a hard hitter at all and when I see other bands playing those venues, they seem to be playing much harder than me. Last night at a open jam session, I asked another band leader I know if he thought I tend to play too hard. He has set in with the band several times. He has played with some pretty famous people and his band is made up of people who play with him when they are not on the road with fairly well know acts. In other words, I respect his opinion. He said that whenever he has set in with us and when he has watched our shows, the drums are drowned out by the rest of the band and he can barely hear them. He said the problem is the lead guitar player and the harmonica. Another drummer friend of mine who plays for a living, told me that I tend to sit way back in the mix volume wise. He thinks I need to hit harder to give the band more energy. I'm not sure what to do at this point. The band is already blaming me for some of the volume problems, but outsiders are telling me that my volume is fine, and if anything, it needs to come up. I can already hear the defensive comments if I were to suggest that I need to play louder. I'm just not sure what to do at this point. If I have to start playing much softer, I going to have to switch to brushes and rods. I do that when we play little acoustic shows, but I don't think I should when we are doing the full on electric set. Has anybody else had this problem?
Personally I'd tell them that they're talking shit and if they continued to do it I'd leave the band.

Bands aren't, in my humble opinion, supposed to implode because of a bit of outside criticism. They are supposed to work together to try to resolve whatever issue may exist.

Covers band I was in a few years back played a bad gig and rounded on me as the main cause of it (I was, in part, but not on the whole...but they'd all gone into bully and scapegoat mode). I just walked and told them I thought they were a bunch of bell ends. Simple as that. No time for it at all I'm afraid.

Good luck in resolving this issue.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Explain to the rest of the band what the respected musician told you, he has no vested interest. If they wont accept it ask the guy if he will repeat his views to the rest of the band, and you can take it from there.

If they are not prepare to accept an outside comment regarding the problem then you will need to think hard about this band.
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
Betcha 5 bucks after listening it's the guitar player. 9 times out of ten it's the guitar player.

Seriously though, things like this are not a matter of opinion. The recording will show the truth.
Good God man you've nailed it.

I think one of the joys of playing drums is that you can play with one eye on something else. Be that a pretty girl in the audience, or a fight kicking off at the back of the room, you can still continue to belt drums out whilst watching.

For my part, I often study my fellow bandmembers. I find it absolutely fascinating. And I have sat there and watched guitars turn his knob (both on the guitar and on the amp), then bass do it, etc. And this is AFTER we have done a full sound check and are happy with the sound.

You're 100% correct....watch the guitarist. Always it's him/her
 

julius

Member
While getting an outside opinion is great, I don't think it will help to say "Well, this guy thinks I'm playing just fine". In fact I think it will just lead to more arguments about whether that guy plays too softly, or is deaf, blah blah. Volume is relative.

What matters is that the band get on the same page volume wise and learn to blend. If everyone has the band's interests at heart, each member (including you) will admit the possibility that he is to blame and work to fix the problem.

In addition to recording and playback, I'd dedicate a rehearsal to playing one song, starting ultra-quiet and gradually increasing the volume smoothly and evenly the whole way *without touching any volume knobs*. A band's primary volume knob is touch and technique.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Last week the band leader, called a meeting. Apparently several venues we play at have said they don't want us back because we are too loud.
If the venues say you're too loud, you're too loud... that's not subjective, it's apparently a fact.

What I do when players around me get loud, is I back off until they realize they can't hear me anymore, and they turn down. Works just about every time. It's an old speaking technique. When you want someone to pay attention, you speak quietly.

As for correcting the problem, each person has to do their part. If they're in denial about the volume issue, it will probably never be resolved, and you should find other more experienced, professional players.

Bermuda
 

opentune

Platinum Member
You're 100% correct....watch the guitarist. Always it's him/her
+1. Every gig the guitarist turns up, and up, and up. After every gig, he then complains he could not hear his guitar well.

Agreed, every band, drummer musician should record, even practices are useful to record for this and a variety of other reasons.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
Record.

Listen.

Decide.
This is usually the case.Guitar players egos are usually tied to their amps volume knobs.After all,they are THE most important piece in the band.....just ask them.Record your selves and just listen to the recording.....the tape dosen't lie.

If several venues are telling you the same thing,then it has to be true.If objective ears are telling you the reason why that is,then heed that advice.

I went to a Springstein concert at Giants Stadium in the early 80's,and in the first hour of the show,I could barely hear the drums at all,so sometimes,the sound guy is falling down on the job also.This is the main reason bands do a sound check,so the levels and mix are right....so the BAND sounds good,not just the singer or lead guitar.

Lastly,that's SIT in with the band,not set in.Just FYI.If this volume/ego/blame passing thing still continues after hearing a playback of a band performance continues,then.......leave .Once it's not fun anymore,and you become the whipping boy from band troubles,it's time to go.

Steve B
 
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8Mile

Platinum Member
If the venues say you're too loud, you're too loud... that's not subjective, it's apparently a fact.

What I do when players around me get loud, is I back off until they realize they can't hear me anymore, and they turn down. Works just about every time. It's an old speaking technique. When you want someone to pay attention, you speak quietly.

As for correcting the problem, each person has to do their part. If they're in denial about the volume issue, it will probably never be resolved, and you should find other more experienced, professional players.

Bermuda
This.

I tend to fly off the handle when some idiot tells me something that is demonstrably not true. But this is the best thing you can do.

My problem is I would probably accompany it with a remark like, "Okay, you want quieter? Here's some quiet for you, mother*****r. Choke on it."

I do not recommend my approach.
 

philrudd

Senior Member
I'd like to introduce another concept to this thread...'quality volume'.

Basically, a bad band playing at a quieter volume can often be perceived as 'louder' than a great band playing at a higher volume. My first band started out horribly and garnered lots of complaints about being too loud; as we progressed and improved, the volume complaints dwindled and eventually disappeared - despite the fact that we actually got LOUDER as we went on.

Precision and technique can be enhanced by volume. A lack of either/both can create a distracting, grating presence that sounds louder due to its offensiveness.

And DrumDoug, I am absolutely not suggesting that your playing has anything to do with the volume complaints; rather, the fact that you already consider yourself only moderately loud, and are still taking pains to become quieter, indicates to me that you are absolutely NOT the problem.

But your guitarist...how would you rate his skill? He may be no louder than the rest of the band, but if his playing itself is painful - tasteless and/or sloppy - he's going to 'appear' louder to the average onlooker. And let's not forget that while most guitarists love playing with feedback, not many of them do it WELL. And there's nothing guaranteed to clear a club faster than a mediocre guitarist struggling to control feedback. I've seen it happen too many times. The horror...

That is, it might not be time to turn down...but it might be time for a new guitarist.

Apologies for the long post, but I think it's a concept worth cogitation.
 

ncc

Silver Member
The drummer is always too loud. It does not matter if the guitar player has 4 hiwatt stacks set to 11 on the volume dial and the bass play users 2 18s. It is always the drummers fault. :)

Ok, humor mode off. You did not say how big the venues are, what kind of music you are playing, of if you use a sound person and monitors. Good monitoring can solve a lot of problems if everyone is mic'd for the monitors correctly.

But the main thing is one which Bermuda hit on point: 'If the venues say you're too loud, you're too loud... that's not subjective, it's apparently a fact.'

Some other things you may want to discuss is positioning on the stage, angles of amps, what is already coming though the monitors, etc. Lots of good info on the internet about that kind of thing.

Also consider that if there are 4 or 5 open mics on the stage, a lot of the drums will be picked up.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
Betcha 5 bucks after listening it's the guitar player. 9 times out of ten it's the guitar player.

.
When I see a band, I always listen to the mix more than anything else. In my observation, 9 out of 10 times it's the drums. In the old days, I never realized how loud the freaking snare drum was.

I saw a band last week however, and it was the bass, followed closely by the drums on some accents.

Then again, last year, I saw a guitarist walking around wireless, out front, and he still had no clue that he was overbearingly loud.

The bottom line is that the problem may originate anywhere.......but it's probably the drums :) We can't hear diddly stuck back in the corner so we bang hard, thinking that we are fitting in.

It is tough to figure out your sound without a quality sound guy. A lot of players don't even seem to hear the mix. I started paying more attention a couple years ago when I started recording.


There shouldn't be any drama though. Just sit down and find solutions. I would try to figure out where the amps volumes are set and what the ranges on the guitars volumes are. A good guitarist will adjust his instrument volume during different parts but I'm pretty sure the amps are a constant. If I had my way, I'd be in charge of all the knobs :)

In one of my bands (3 piece) , we all run thru the PA, including E drums. It solves more issues than it creates. We all hear the same mix that the audience hears. The beauty of that system is, once you get a good mix dialed in, all you have to do is turn the master volume up or down according to the venue.

In my other 3 piece, the guitarist plays thru a Marshall but he has a good enough ear not to play too loudly. If anything, I think he may sometimes be a bit low in the mix. Bass and drums go thru the PA.

And, recording with a proper mic will indeed tel you a lot about your mix. A crappy mic however will seriously distort what the actual mix sounds like.
 

T.Underhill

Pioneer Member
+1. Every gig the guitarist turns up, and up, and up. After every gig, he then complains he could not hear his guitar well.

Agreed, every band, drummer musician should record, even practices are useful to record for this and a variety of other reasons.
I also recommend recording but I wonder if they'll tone down the volume if they're aware of the purpose of recording. If you say "ok, we'll see who the problem is!" I'd suspect they'd quiet down.

My experience in multiple bands is also the guitarist EVERY time. Once we would set a stage volume, the tinkering would begin. Up...up...up on the amp...up on the guitar. So loud that people can't hear the monitors.
 
If the venues say you're too loud, you're too loud... that's not subjective, it's apparently a fact.

What I do when players around me get loud, is I back off until they realize they can't hear me anymore, and they turn down. Works just about every time. It's an old speaking technique. When you want someone to pay attention, you speak quietly.

As for correcting the problem, each person has to do their part. If they're in denial about the volume issue, it will probably never be resolved, and you should find other more experienced, professional players.

Bermuda
A couple of years ago, I helped a bass player friend's band out by filling in between drummers. The two guitarists were ridiculously loud. They started out too loud, but (as is often the case), they would start turning up a notch or two at a time. When one guitarist turned up, the other guitarist turned up, etc.

The rhythm section suggested that perhaps their volume may have possibly contributed to our now bleeding ears. We were ignored (maybe they didn't hear us). Anyhow, I tried the "sit back" trick. I laid off so much that I couldn't even hear myself. They continued to turn up until they ran out of volume knob. This was at one of the three gigs that I did with them BTW.

Fortunately, my obligation to them had ran out. The bass player quit around the same time also. We still talk about that experience.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Aren't you guys doing sound checks? The management doesn't stop it right away if it's too loud for the venue? The sound guy doesn't turn those idiot guitards down?
 
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