Don't hire a sub better than you are.


Senior Member
Last night I filled in for a drummer friend of mine. His band got an early evening gig and he couldn't get off work in time to get there. I filled in for him another time a few months ago. The gig itself had a few quirks. They sent me a set list of about 60 songs and I only know 20 of them. He said they were only going to play for an hour. I asked if they could narrow down the set list a little bit but they said to be ready to play any of them. I ended up making charts for all the songs I didn't know. I figured it would help me in the future if I needed to fill in again. It was a political fundraiser and we were background music while everyone stood around and talked. I ended up playing brushes the whole night. Between the speeches and what not, we played about 10 songs. Overall it went pretty well.

This morning, the leader calls me and wants to know if I would be interested in being his full time drummer. He's not happy with how my friend plays and doesn't think the band can move forward with him playing. We talked for a little bit and I told him I would think about it.

Right now I play in two bands. A country band and a blues band. Between the two bands, Im playing almost every weekend. Both bands are decent, but I don't think either one has the ability to go very far. I would like to get better gigs, and while this new band does play some better places, I'm not sure it would be the right move. My current country band is a three piece and the new one is a six piece. They would have to be making more than twice as much money per gig for that to be any different. The new band wants a contract that they take priority even for last minute gigs. That means I would have to quit both my other bands.

Lately I have been complaining to my wife that I wish I was in better bands. I want to challenge myself to play better, but the current bands I'm in talk about how they are interested in going to the next level but don't want to change anything to get better. While the new band is a little better, I'm not sure they are enough better to justify moving from one local bar band to another. One thing that I really enjoy about being in two bands is that I get to play more of a variety of stuff. I'm also good friends with everyone in both my other bands. Do I want to give that up to play one style of music at a slightly higher level? I have been saying I want to be in a better band, but now that the opportunity has arrived, I'm hesitating. Am I scared of change, or is this move really not worth it? I would also feel really horrible for taking my friends gig when he called me to help him out. He's doesn't know it yet, but he's getting fired anyway. I don't know if that would make me feel any better.


Platinum Member
Is there a possibility that you can make it beneficial to everyone and get your friend into one of the bands that you're leaving? This would keep your friend playing, and you wouldn't feel like such a Jody afterward.


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I think I would decline for the sake of the friendship. I would also ask this band leader not to mention this conversation to your friend. If they need to find a better drummer let them look elsewhere. I taught a friend to play drums right after high school. He got in a band and then a few months later joined the Navy. He came to me and asked if I would fill in for him for the summer while he was in boot camp. The leader asked me to come for a semi audition. I went , things went great, I played 8 or 10 gigs that summer, and was aked if I would stay and they would deal with my friend. I told them no after all he was a friend. He came back thanked me for subbing for him and the band went on. I just don't like it to appear that I have stabbed someone in the back.. My opinion.


Silver Member
Flip a coin. Heads take the gig, tails decline it.

Try not to think about it in advance, but when the coin is in the air, say out loud which one you want it to be and there's your answer.


Senior Member
I've been thinking about it all day and I don't think I am going to do it. As I said, it's only a slightly better local bar band, and I would be giving up two groups I like to do it. Hopefully I'm making the right decision.


Gold Member
I've been thinking about it all day and I don't think I am going to do it. As I said, it's only a slightly better local bar band, and I would be giving up two groups I like to do it. Hopefully I'm making the right decision.

I think you are, I think you'd regret screwing over your friend. If he gets fired then so be it, at least you weren't an accomplice. As far as your two current bands go, sounds like you might be out growing them. Just because you aren't taking this offer doesn't mean you can't start looking for something that is the perfect fit for you. Good luck.

Matt Bo Eder

All of the "atta boys" comments is good and all, but at the same time, remember that in music, you could quickly go from playing to not playing really quick. You don't have to take their offer, but you could also keep them in your back pocket as someone they could call if they ever need a sub. Always keep the contacts going even if you didn't accept their offer, that seems sensible. The two bands you play in now could decide they don't like you, or just disband. You see enough of that out here in SoCal.


Platinum Member
Do you make your living from playing? If so it needs some thought.

Would playing background music at charity fundraisers be a "Step up"?

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
This happened to me.. the guy that I filled in for was more of an acquaintance but I couldn't in all good conscience take his gig from him.

I still get the odd fill in spot there, someday I'll prob get it full time but I don't want it on bad terms.


Gold Member
Hobby or living, I couldn't do it to anyone whose friendship I valued (and vice versa).

Anon La Ply

Hobby or living, I couldn't do it to anyone whose friendship I valued (and vice versa).

Ditto. I'd also not be inclined to play in a band that would give me the heave-ho, just like that.

Once a band settles their arrangements, and you have worked out all those little kicks and combinations with the bass and other instruments, ideally the band would miss those interactions when you've been replaced. If the replacement drummer is good then they are still going to enjoy the fresh, different approach.

Kind of like relationships - the first time with your partner has a freshness and excitement that's pretty unlikely the 300th time around.


Senior Member
Definitely wouldn't take it

1 - You'd be doing over your friend and lose him
2 - Unless a band is paying you a weekly wage / retainer they have no entitlement or exclusivity over last minute gigs. That's going to be a whole bundle of trouble I guarantee it. At least you are warned

Good luck


Platinum Member
I think that you are doing well on not taking the gig.

I remember I was playing a small-town festival gig with a friend of mine. After we got through with our set, I was approached by the lead singer and bass player (I think) of the band that was going on after us. I know I'm not supposed to judge a book and all, but these guys looked ROUGH. They walked up to me and said, "Hey man! Why don't you sit in on our set? I don't think our drummer is even going to show up, man. You're good. You should play with us..." etc. It was totally sketchy. It wasn't five minutes later when their drummer showed up, and he was just as rough-looking as the rest. Not really tough, but just lived a really rough life, you know? Poor guy looked like life had chewed him up and spit him out a few times. As he was setting up, he kept looking at the ground. He looked so tired of life. I would have been a total anus to take that gig from him, and I'm glad I didn't even try.


Gold Member
The new band wants a contract that they take priority even for last minute gigs. That means I would have to quit both my other bands.

I had a similar situation a while back, where I filled in with a jazz quartet for a friend, and they liked me better, so they started calling me more and more... That's pretty typical here, where musicians are constantly shifting and interchanging.

But this right here is a red flag.

They are expecting you to be available all the time. What if you and your wife were going to take a vacation for a couple of days? Would they expect you to just cancel that and take the gig for $100?

Trip McNealy

Gold Member
Anytime something comes with "conditions" such as making a contract, like availability in your case, that's a red flag. The only time I'd concede to something like that is a full-on professional touring gig where it becomes my way of life. It also seems that this third band isn't leagues above opportunity than what you've got right now. That's two things against it right there.

So I think you are making the right choice by sticking with your two bands.