Bad Audition


Platinum Member
And when I say Bad, I don’t mean performance wise.

Long Post Follows:

I had an audition over the weekend for a major regional band in my area that plays all the big festivals, venues and even backs up national touring acts several times a year. This would be a great gig musically, financially and artistically. I was very excited about getting the drum slot of this band.

I was given material for the audition four days in advance to which I worked on and had it down. The band called me to schedule my time and gave me the address info. There are several large buildings in this area so I called and left several messages to verify which building number. The messages were never returned leaving me having to literally drive around “listening” for a band, (this was the first red flag!).

I was told that a small set of drums would be provided and I was to bring my snare, cymbals and pedals.The drums were comical! I was stunned but all I could do was smile and get to work setting up. The kit was literally a “kid’s “set, one step above a “toy” set. The heads were trash and the bass drum had a concrete block sitting in front to prevent “creeping.” The kit was stationed behind a plexi-glass drum shield and was very cramped. I could only fit one ride and one crash plus my hi hats and snare but I could work with that. I also had to find a chair since there was no drum throne and that’s the one thing I forgot to bring (doh!). The band was friendly but lacked class. So disappointing, being such a well known regional act around my area.

We played through the material but all I could hear was the bass. The horns, guitar and piano all had major cues, setups and punches but I could not hear them so I had to rely totally on the charts I transcribed. After we played, I was told no matter what the decision; I was to expect a phone call the next day. It never happened. I assume the new drummer had already been chosen well in advance and my audition was simply a “going through the motions” exercise.

I feel good about what I played but left the audition disappointed over the way the whole thing went down. The band had no concern or understanding of just how bad an impression they left of themselves. Steve Smith talked to me at a clinic one time about “drums du jour” meaning to expect the worst in regards to “provided” equipment. He’s even written a few articles on that.

I’d like to pass along a few audition tips (to the youngsters especially) that may help you get through any audition or interview:

1. Know the material.
2. Be professional.
3. Introduce yourself to the band. Don’t wait to be introduced and shake everyone’s hand. Make an impression, show confidence (but don’t overdo it) leave with everyone knowing your name.
4. Bring at least a snare, cymbals and pedals as a minimum. Expect the worst in “provided” equipment.
5. Someone in the band may be unhappy or know someone looking for a drummer. Stay pleasant and they will remember you down the line.
6. Smile no matter what.
7. Write notes or charts of the material to follow if possible.
8. Expect sound problems.
9. Be on time…. even better, be early to account for bad directions, bad equipment etc..
10.Thank the band and wish them well.

I left the audition knowing I didn’t get the gig but that’s okay. I did my best and stayed professional and I’m the better person. I’m more disappointed with the band’s lack of professionalism. As I said earlier, this is a high profile regional act. Based on how the band carried itself, I think I’m better off having no part of that outfit.

Thanks for reading! I needed to vent and hopefully pass along a few tips and highlight that these things happen. If you are prepared for them, they won’t rattle you.

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent

I'm sorry to hear about the bad audition.

I really hate when I cannot play my own kit, you know, the feel of the bass drum, the fine tuning that makes YOUR sound, all gone! Very difficult to get the better of yourself in these conditions. So if you were happy with your perfomance, considering the conditions, it is already an achievement in itself.


Senior Member
Sorry it went so badly. Sounds as if this were a blessing though. You left with a bad impression of the band- maybe something you would have regretted soon if you had gotten the gig?
You gave some great advice for the "youngsters". Same advice that I keep telling my son who wishes to have a career in music. Talent is really just a small part of it. Professionalism goes a long way.
Best of luck with your next audition(s)!


Platinum Member
It seems that they clearly hold drummers in low reguard considering the "drum kit"that was provided.You're certainly better off without that crew.

I admire your attitude and your "i'll do the best with what I have" work ethic,as probably more than a few guys,would have blown a gasket in your situation.

You sir are a class act,and the universe has something better planned for you.

Steve B


Platinum Member

i've been through a few of these, so i feel for you. i think those are great tips ( and the red flags ) you've listed. this list should be in the stick bag of every gigging drummer.

Its sad really when people who you have high expectations from, disappoint you but i guess its part of the biz. If they had already picked their guy, they had to go through the motions anyway with you. Too keep it classy all the way would have been nice, but expecting too much, imo. im not surprised they short circuited your audition.

i'd mark it down to a great life lesson to have under your belt. You are better for having gone through it, sucky as it might feel at the moment.



Gold Member
Just curious, why did the other drummer leave? Maybe he experienced the same treatment you did, got fed up, and left?

I think you handled yourself professionally even if they didn't. I feel for you. You Sir, are better off without them.


Senior Member
Thanks for the head-up, I'll keep it in mind for the next one. Now how come different types of guitars do matter but setups of drums don't?

For now, I'm still in a band. Because they are at the same (crappy) level I am so I got in easily...


Platinum Member
Just curious, why did the other drummer leave? Maybe he experienced the same treatment you did, got fed up, and left?

I think you handled yourself professionally even if they didn't. I feel for you. You Sir, are better off without them.
Drummer is going back to school fulltime but still living in the area. That was the only hang up i had before the audition. It probably wouldn't have been long before the drummer would have wanted back in.


Platinum Member
Muckster, I'm impressed with your approach. With an attitude like that - plus having transcription and reading skills - a good gig may not be far away.

Funny thing about crap kits at auditions. I guess it's cheap and easy. After all, they could supply garbage tins to play on and the cream will rise to the top.

But it's a risk for them ... would someone who can make garbage cans sound good want to play with a band that supplies them at an audition? They could easily scare off the best applicants.

Guess it shows how tight the scene is when a major regional band is prepared to take that risk by scrimping.


"Uncle Larry"
One good thing that came from that, is your account of it for the world to read. Nothing like accounts of real life situations to help you better understand this endeavor we all sacrifice for, thanks Muckster.