Audition Stories

Three times in the hour I was there we had to stop playing while he sold drugs to people coming up to the door.
Hah! This reminds me... I had an audition once with a couple of guys for a blues band. They played pretty well and by the end of the 60-90 minutes expressed that they'd like me to play with them. But they got absolutely BAKED while we played. Lotsa weed and a couple of quart beers each. If this is how practices go... I don't mind a beer now & then but - Not my thing. I politely declined.

I usually enjoy auditions having had maybe 7-8 over the last decade. Meeting new musician contacts, different styles of playing, it's generally a broadening experience and almost never a bad thing. It's helpful to remember and remind myself that I'm also auditioning them (above paragraph example). I come fairly prepared on the material that's given. As Pork Pie Guy said, you usually end up in the bands that you're supposed to be with.
 
I know. I guess they like his playing and that overrides his repellent personality. He's a good drummer, but a very heavy hitter who'd probably do better playing Zeppelin, AC/DC, or something like that. They played a club in NY I like a few weeks ago, and I thought about going, just to try and make "Butch" uncomfortable by staring at him all night, but decided it wasn't worth it.
🤣 Next time
 
maybe he owns the PA!!! Sounds like they are working around this guy for some reason, Their loss man!
I'm not sure about that now, but when I joined, the lead singer, a nice guy, older hippie type dude, owned and carried the PA which was quite extensive. He did sound for other bands as well. But, he had a blowup argument with the keyboard player, who I believe was the leader, and either he quit, or was fired. I don't know what they're doing for a PA at this point. None of my concern.

It was a shame things turned out the way they did, because the band was really good, and I would have liked to have stayed with them. As I mentioned previously, they've gone through a LOT of musicians over the years, so maybe there's a reason why that has happened.
 
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Played for the first time on Saturday with a new band who I’m now depping for.

Last saw them back in March, we had a two hour audition / rehearsal. We all left and went home after an hour of playing and chatting as they were happy I’d done my homework.

Turned up on Saturday for two gigs that day knowing their set inside and out (as they call songs rather then follow a set list) having not seen them since.

Getting more gigs from them, glad I put the work in.
 
Played for the first time on Saturday with a new band who I’m now depping for.

Last saw them back in March, we had a two hour audition / rehearsal. We all left and went home after an hour of playing and chatting as they were happy I’d done my homework.

Turned up on Saturday for two gigs that day knowing their set inside and out (as they call songs rather then follow a set list) having not seen them since.

Getting more gigs from them, glad I put the work in.
In my minds eye juniper I can see you doing the homework. Forgive me I can't think of his name right now but the drummer in Dweezil Zappas band put in alot of work to get that gig. You remind me of him. I need more of that work ethic.
 
I'm jealous of these kids now who can post playing on YT and give the bands a cold idea of what they're getting, as opposed to having to show up, music prepared, but not really knowing what you're getting into.

One band, a fairly straight-ahead rock band, but in one song the verse was in 7/4. Nothing super hard, but you had to be on your toes. Well, the bass player couldn't groove. The bass player insisted on throwing in lots of runs and fancy showing off licks all through the songs. He was never in time, which threw me out of time. It was impossible to create any sense of groove with this guy. So they thought I was terrible.

A year later I jammed with the lead guitarist from that band, and he apologized to me. He said he didn't realize how good I was, and in retrospect, it was the bass player. But at the time, because the bass player had been in the band the longest, everyone deferred to him. Ugh.

Another band wanted everything to a click. OK. As we were going through stuff, I casually asked the bass player what happened to the last guy, as I thought he sounded pretty good on the recordings they had sent me. The bass player ripped into the old guy for "playing the same stuff over and over again" which didn't make sense to me. He sounded creative to me. The bass player also mentioned a lot of songs are the same parts, rearranged. So wait, you re-use song parts, but you're mad at the old drummer for playing the same things? That makes no sense. It also became apparent the singer and bass player didn't like the guitar player's haircut. The bass player and guitar player were worried about the singer's girlfriend. Whoever walked out of the room got talked about behind their back. It just seemed like too much drama. They had drummer-wanted ads for months and months after that.

One other time, I learned the material, showed up. No singer. I asked where the singer was, and they said he doesn't come to practice. Huh? It was just weird. I knew most of the stuff well enough to play without the singer, but the whole vibe was weird. A few weeks later I heard the band broke up.

I'm not saying I'm a great drummer who nails every audition, but too many bands have no idea what they're even looking for. Or they're looking for a drummer to solve band problems that don't have anything to do with drumming.
 
I posted this back in September 2023. I added a few things.:

The last band I auditioned for was a tribute band with a guitarist, bassist, and female lead singer. I thought that was kinda light on the personnel(no keys?), so I showed up anyway, knew the songs cold. Was promised we'd be playing places in Atlantic City.

First thing the guitar player did was tell me he watched my band's videos and told me he thought my singer wasn't that good. Uh-huh.

We began playing the songs, and I wondered when the singer was going to show up. The guitar player again endeared himself to me, as he commanded me to play a steady beat where there were multiple fills on the record. Uh-huh. He also outlined his "plan"(whenever someone like this has one, it always sucks) to show up at a gig, play an hour, split, and "leave them wanting more". Uh-huh.

It became obvious that the singer was NOT going to show and was never supposed to. Uh-huh. No one told me, and that's a deal breaker. I might be auditioning for the band, but in my mind, the band is doing the same for me.

After more songs, we sat down as they played a tape of the "singer", which turned out to be the control freak's wife. Uh-huh. All of the songs were tuned down considerably. She sucked.

So, as they led me outside, they were asking about my availability. I was hesitant after that experience and was just glad to get out of there. I liked their FB page. They went through at least 3 guys before they packed it in after about 3 months, possibly less. And they played tiny places to no one, NOT Atlantic City, surprise surprise! Haven't seen or heard from any of them since, and I like it that way.

It's an unconscious statement about the band when they have to lie and dangle a carrot in front of you(AC gigs) in order to get your attention.

Over the years, I've learned that an audition goes both ways--I should fit in with them, but they should be a good fit for me, as well. And I also avoid control freaks who have world domination plans a la The Brain wherein they imagine taking over the world with some nonsensical plot.

You can say "no time wasters" in an ad, but nobody thinks that they are.


Dan
 
Years ago I responded to a drummer wanted ad and went to this guys house. I don’t even remember the music style. The music room was covered in posters of XXX porn. Three times in the hour I was there we had to stop playing while he sold drugs to people coming up to the door. I politely declined the gig and he was arguing with about why I auditioned if I didn’t want the gig.

Hah! This reminds me... I had an audition once with a couple of guys for a blues band. They played pretty well and by the end of the 60-90 minutes expressed that they'd like me to play with them. But they got absolutely BAKED while we played. Lotsa weed and a couple of quart beers each. If this is how practices go... I don't mind a beer now & then but - Not my thing. I politely declined.

both of these stories remind me of an audition I had on bass years ago...early 90's..., with a band that actually gained moderate success on the heels of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but they would not take me b/c I "would not party". And they were sort of disappointed that I wouldn't give up my morals for the gig. I am still friends with some of the guys in the band, so I don't want to mention names. Those guys were always apologetic for the other 2 who thought that the band needed a "wild" image to help sell their product.
 
I'm not saying I'm a great drummer who nails every audition, but too many bands have no idea what they're even looking for. Or they're looking for a drummer to solve band problems that don't have anything to do with drumming.
This reminds me of what happened to me recently. I got a call early last year from the lead singer of a Stones tribute band. The leader had been the drummer, but his Mick Jagger had quit, and he couldn't find a replacement, so he assumed the role of lead singer. He asked me to come to a rehearsal studio, gave me the sets, and told me to be prepared to play the songs exactly the way Charlie played them on the studio recordings. He was adamant about that. OK, fair enough.

I show up, and this guy, well in his 60's, has hair halfway down his back, dyed black, dressed vaguely like a rock star, with a big wide brim hat that he never took off. OK, I guess he has some degree of baldness going on. No big deal. It was just him and I. No band. He starts playing the songs from a digital device over the PA, and talking me through all of them. Of course, I knew all the songs inside out. They're all Stones hits or album cuts. At one point, he said, "You don't look like Charlie Watts." I said, "Well, you don't look like Mick Jagger," to which he laughed. He thought I looked like Kenny Rogers. OK, if you say so. Keep in mind this band works about 7-8 dates a year. Not exactly setting the calendar on fire.

He gave me about six dates through the year, and always complimented me profusely after the gigs. I put a lot of work into the songs, making notes about breaks and endings, putting them on the iPad, being as professional as possible. The other people in the band were nice guys and good players, and we all got along beautifully. I thought to myself, "Yeah, this is going to work out well." Then, I noticed that he was running an ad for a drummer on CL. Did he think I wouldn't see it? I called him and asked him if he was unhappy with my playing, to which he dodged the question by replying, "I need someone who is committed." I told him I was committed, and reminded him that every other musician in the band was playing in other bands. He said, OK, no problem at all and that was that.

He called me for a gig in January '24, which we did, and it went well. A few days later, he once again ran an ad on CL looking for a drummer. Exasperated, I called him and got his VM. I said, "Why are you looking for a drummer again after we had a discussion about this a while ago? I thought you were happy with what I played. You were very complimentary. I don't get it. If you weren't happy with my playing, I wish you had told me upfront. Man up, R***. Tell me the truth. I think I deserve that, don't you? Please call me back." No reply. Crickets.

He's been running a constant ad on CL in a few geographical areas ever since, looking for a drummer. The ad is still up. He can't find anyone. His problem is, he's a drummer and probably very picky, so he should just be the drummer, and then find a lead singer who can do Jagger convincingly. What a schmuck. Whatever, I'm glad to be away from his toxic personality.
 
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Nothing as exciting as some of these stories for me...my current band, i kinda audtioned for them, and them for me. It was very casual getting together if we all thought it would be a fit. Guess it was, I've been with the guitar player for 10 years now.

About 8-9 years ago, the most successful local cover band had a drummer who was leaving, and they put out notice that they were auditioning for the seat. Very unusual, as they usually knew someone and would handle changes internally. I knew the guys casually, would go out to see them and try to learn something. The guitar player asked me if I was gonna audition, I almost laughed at him. "Uhhh no, you guys are out of my league, but thanks." At that time, I couldn't play their schedule, in any event, so it I saved myself from the embarrassment.

When I was a kid, I told my guys that I was leaving our garage band for a full time job. Our guitar player at the time chose to step back as well, to concentrate on college. The other two guys asked me if I'd play with them to audition guitar players, and of course I said yes. First guy came over, rolled in his Marshal Stack, pulled out his Les Paul, and started shredding, and ripping it up. I smiled at the guys, saying I think you're in good shape here. ;) They were together for a few years after that.
 
And they played tiny places to no one, NOT Atlantic City, surprise surprise! Haven't seen or heard from any of them since, and I like it that way.

I'm pretty sure I'll never find a band that doesn't at least one or two members who tend to take an incredible amount of license when embellishing the truth.
 
Any audition I have been on that ended in me not getting the gig turned out to be a blessing. Either the band was out of my league or I was out of theirs. In all but one of those instances everyone realized the gap in ability and after a bit of awkward breaking down and loading up all's well that end's well. Once I auditioned for a "band" that consisted of two dudes that owned guitars but had obviously not spent the time to learn to play them past what can only be considered beginner level at best. At that point, I had been playing for 15 years or so and gigging for maybe 10 so I was, at worst, better than beginner. Man, these guys thought we sounded great! We did not. We were not playing music in any sense of the word as far as I could tell. They were very happy to offer me the gig.... Oh, and also, "do you know a bass player or anyone that can sing? Do you have a full PA setup? Lights? Ability to run sound and play?" It was quite comical actually looking back on it now.

In 2021 I started a rock band with my brother and a friend who I have played with in a few bands over the last 25 years. It took us until about 6 months ago to find a bass player. We auditioned probably 15 people over the course of a year and a half. Most of them showed up having obviously not practiced the 5 songs we gave them AT ALL. These aren't songs that the average player can just walk in cold and play either (Welcome to the Jungle, Love in an Elevator, Misery Business, etc) One guy showed up with no equipment and didn't remember what the songs were that we sent him. He was politely asked to leave. We had a guy long enough to play one gig and then he started epic drama with the guitar player and his wife so he had to go. We have been rehearsing and writing for the last 6 months now and have a festival gig next month during which we will have an opportunity to play 5 of our original tunes which will be awesome!
 
In 2021 I started a rock band with my brother and a friend who I have played with in a few bands over the last 25 years. It took us until about 6 months ago to find a bass player. We auditioned probably 15 people over the course of a year and a half. Most of them showed up having obviously not practiced the 5 songs we gave them AT ALL. These aren't songs that the average player can just walk in cold and play either (Welcome to the Jungle, Love in an Elevator, Misery Business, etc) One guy showed up with no equipment and didn't remember what the songs were that we sent him. He was politely asked to leave. We had a guy long enough to play one gig and then he started epic drama with the guitar player and his wife so he had to go. We have been rehearsing and writing for the last 6 months now and have a festival gig next month during which we will have an opportunity to play 5 of our original tunes which will be awesome!

man, I am a bass player as well as drummer, and the stories I hear about people trying to find a legit bass player are countless. It seems like the old percentages are true:

for every one good bass player, there are:
10 good vocalists
100 good keyboardists
1000 good guitar players
100000000000000 guitar players
 
I really hate auditions, and try to avoid them. The band or artists already knows what they want, it's just a matter of "do you fit the mold?"
So there's a strong possibility that even though you might play great, you're still not gonna get that gig. I've also found that if someone just hires me without an audition I perform much better because the anxiety and edge is taken off.
This "mold" line was a big thing for me.

I auditioned cold for a very popular rock cover band here in town. Got a notice from a buddy of mine this band was looking for a drummer so I figured, "what the hell". They sent me 5 songs to work up, set the date & away I went.
The set up was fine, we talked during it & we all seemed to like the same things. First 2 songs were great, I played a third & they were fine with what I offered them.

The next day, I got an email saying, "It took all of about 5 minutes of discussion to say you're our guy!" Then we went back & forth about schedule, rehearsals & whatnot.

2 months of shows later, the honeymoon was over. 😑

The bass player & I just didn't get along. He was a perfectionist and made it clear that I wasn't doing "what the old drummer did". I was either too loud, too fast, dragging or some other issue. He told me at the audition that he liked what I brought to the table, and now is trying to change everything I brought. This is the "mold fit" issue quoted above.

They brought their pervious drummer back for a show I couldn't do & when I showed up for the last set of the gig, their drummer told me what the deal was:
Seems he had asked them to come back the day after I was hired. So now the band was in a pickle: The bass player & he were really good friends & it became clear to me that he wanted his buddy back in the band. So what he was doing was trying to make the situation so intolerable for me that I'd quit & he wouldn't be the bad guy for sending me down the road.

I purposefully hung on until we could all talk & then I let them know I knew the deal. Then I bowed out gracefully & told them it wasn't personal, just business and I understood why they were doing what they were doing. I did, however lambast them for not being honest with me from the get-go as that alone would've prevented all the issues in the first place. They agreed & we parted peacefully.

I took away a feeling of relief and having learned that bands will say what they need to in order to solve issues without concern of how those involved feel. I still go to their shows & am still friends with at least 3 of the 4 members. They're really good & I'll never take that away.
 
man, I am a bass player as well as drummer, and the stories I hear about people trying to find a legit bass player are countless. It seems like the old percentages are true:

for every one good bass player, there are:
10 good vocalists
100 good keyboardists
1000 good guitar players
100000000000000 guitar players
How many drummers?
 
man, I am a bass player as well as drummer, and the stories I hear about people trying to find a legit bass player are countless. It seems like the old percentages are true:

for every one good bass player, there are:
10 good vocalists
100 good keyboardists
1000 good guitar players
100000000000000 guitar players
It's funny, around here at least, it always seems to be what is in need, is what is the most rare. For a while, there seemed to be lots of available drummers, but no available bass players. Then it would switch around, the other way. Even tho guitar players often seem available, a few months ago there was a local band struggling to find one.

The one thing that has remained constant...there are never available keyboard players around here ;)
 
Played for the first time on Saturday with a new band who I’m now depping for.

Last saw them back in March, we had a two hour audition / rehearsal. We all left and went home after an hour of playing and chatting as they were happy I’d done my homework.

Turned up on Saturday for two gigs that day knowing their set inside and out (as they call songs rather then follow a set list) having not seen them since.

Getting more gigs from them, glad I put the work in.

Sounds like my dep last night. The call was late 1 morning with a gig the day after next. The musicians are evidently well known in our community but weren't known at all to me, so it was a bit intimidating. Thought I knew the guitar player, but didn't. I prepped those two days for perhaps 7 hours total amd it came off pretty well.

The referral came thru the drummer of the band I sat in with the previous 2 weeks. He was called for fill in but was busy and went out of his way to find my number.
Hopefully I'll get a few more calls to sit in with other bands before I end up committing to 1.
 
Two years ago, I was contacted by a "band" in Sparta, NJ, consisting of guitar, bass and keys. I dragged some drums to the keyboard player's house and set up. I had met the bass player before. The guitarist was playing an electrified acoustic guitar, and was little more than an "inspired beginner." There was no lead guitarist. The bassist was doing all the singing...with no PA system. Just trying to yell over the music. The song selection was OK; pretty well known classic rock stuff, but it became immediately clear that these guys were a basement band of older hobbyists with little hope of gigs. After an hour, I packed up and left. I wanted to split right away.

Now, I specify, "no basement jammers" at all times.
 
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Two years ago, I was contacted by a "band" in Sparta, NJ, consisting of guitar, bass and keys. I dragged some drums to the keyboard player's house and set up. I had met the bass player before. The guitarist was playing an electrified acoustic guitar, and was little more than an "inspired beginner." There was no lead guitarist. The bassist was doing all the singing...with no PA system. Just trying to yell over the music. The song selection was OK; pretty well known classic rock stuff, but it became immediately clear that these guys were a basement band of older guys with little hope of gigs. After an hour, I packed up and left. I wanted to split right away.

Now, I specify, "no basement jammers" at all times.
Doesn't that suck when you feel you have to stay awhile instead of leaving in 10 minutes. Probably one of the longest hours of your life. It's bad when not playing at all feels good. I felt in my gut exactly what you went through. 😥
 
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