Firing band members

mrchattr

Gold Member
Hey guys,

So, we just fired our female vocalist from the two main bands I work with. This ends a year of firings. I joined the band in February of 08, and in that time, we have fired:
A keyboardist/guitarist - crappy attitude, didn't come to practice prepared, wrong notes
A male vocalist - crappy attitude, didn't try to improve ever
A bass player - Just not good enough
Another bass player - Just not good enough
A sound guy - He would get drunk, embarass us, and turn us up too loud when drunk
Our female vocalist - She regressed, stopped being prepared at practices, and we got complaints about her. Also, her boyfriend caused drama galore.

In all of these cases, we gave them 30 days to improve, and it never happened. We also never stopped gigging, or even slowed down. Still, all of them were friends and bandmates, which makes me hate the business side of music even more.

So, the point of this thread is to ask if any of you guys have had to fire people, why, and what happened when you did. Ironically, I know we made the right choice every time, because we got more bookings, invited back to places that wouldn't re-book us before the firings, etc, every single time. It still makes me a little sad, though.
 
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trkdrmr

Guest
I never feel guilty about letting someone go for legitimate reasons. You guys are in the entertainment buisiness, and your product is your music. When you develop a weak link, and your product suffers, so goes your rep.

I don't want to pay money to see a crappy band. I especially can't stand it when vocalists are not curbed (happens a lot with female leads) from poor performance. I do not like self-indulgent, clueless or unprofessional soundmen. Been there, done that.His job is to mix and make the band sound as good as possible, not as loud as possible.

I have had a sterling work ethic for decades. I cannot work with someone that is not punctual and ready to work. If the sign says "Band at 9pm" I better hear something by 9:00:01. I didn't pay to see a band fumble with crap hours after they should have been set up.

Success= hard work and team work. Not babysitting idiots that don't want to grow up and do thier job.
 

diosdude

Silver Member
Nothing more detrimental to the success of the band than not having the right group of guys/ girls. You just know that someone will not work out or if someone is your guy. If you ever have doubts, i'd say kick that person out immediately, people are who they are and to expect them to change into the person that you want them to be probably isn't realistic. Also no need to feel sad or regretful after the break, just move on, the other person will find the band that's right for them if they want it bad enough.
 

kwolf68

Senior Member
No firings. I wanted a bassist fired, totally incompetent and was a nasty nasty person. Band wouldn't release said bassist of duties, so drummer (me) turned in my pink slip. I got into a situation 1000% better, better musicians, better songs, better attitudes.
 

eddiehimself

Platinum Member
We fired some girl who was basically a bit of a creep and we didn't like her as well as some girl who never turned up to any practices and then goes off in some other band and never replies to anything i ask her.
 

Aleksandr

Member
I've been playing with two dudes (the guitarist and bassist) in my band for a long time, so it's hard for me to imagine firing either of them. We all have grown tremendously in ability, we all show up to practice every time on time, and we generally have no problems as a band.

In the past we have opted to "fire" band members. I am not a big fan of the word "fire," it makes it sound like music is a job; music for me is, and should be for all, a passion before its a job. In the past if we sense issues, we generally give members a couple months to improve. If they choose not to improve, we boot em.

Nowadays we generally won't add another member unless we know them extremely well personally.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Ironically, I know we made the right choice every time, because we got more bookings, invited back to places that wouldn't re-book us before the firings, etc, every single time. It still makes me a little sad, though.

Tough question, John.

A good working band needs to have a good & realistic working ethic, a professional attitude, and a feel for business.

BUT.It also needs to make good music.

Unfortunately a lot of good musicians aren't made this way & don't come with these qualifications. I could list many great players I've known that got thrown out of gigs for the reasons you've listed.

I too, like trkdrmr, have little patience for BS, tantrums, gear issues, late/not show up for rehearsals, or simply lack of musicianship but a really good player is not someone you can just go pick up off a shelf either...

....its a tough one...
 
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DamoSyzygy

Guest
I make it a point to never again be in bands with 'friends', purely because I know the day may come where Ill need to get rid of them!
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
Thanks for all the support and stories, guys. I feel a little better. I just hate breaking someone's heart...I know I'd be devistated if it happened to me...but I would never let myself get to that point!
 

jer

Silver Member
I make it a point to never again be in bands with 'friends', purely because I know the day may come where Ill need to get rid of them!

This is an interesting comment, Damo. With a couple exceptions, the core members of bands I play with are friends and have been for years. I couldn't imagine spending so much time working towards a common goal with guys I'm not close with. We make an effort to bring new members into the "family", and treat each other like brothers, (or sisters). We've had members leave (or be asked to leave) because we didn't gel with them on a personal level. There's just something about sharing musical experiences with those I consider to be close with that make it all that much more satisfying.

To the OP, over the years I've parted ways with many musicians for various reasons, some took it hard, some were okay with it, some saw it coming. There was only ever one case where the guy completely turned on us, left saying we made a huge mistake and how we were nothing without him. I guess that kinda proved our point and the level of immaturity we were dealing with. I think as long as everyone can be open and honest about what's going on, no feelings should be hurt. Most musicians should realize that the band comes before the individual, and that every member is replaceable. You've got to work hard as hard as every other member in the band if you want to keep your position.
 
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trkdrmr

Guest
that is one of the best quotes regarding running a band i have heard. everyone shoud take heed!

Well, I have had to fire some people, and it may never be easy, but sometimes it's a big relief.

I had to fire a guy that was older than I was. I had no choice, his work ethic and priorities did not lie with the rest of us.

There is only so many times you can be willing to bite the bullet (even for a friend) before you have to be the bad guy and do the right thing.

IMO, it's all about priorities, work ethic, dedication and maturity. The job never gets done unless everyone is doing it, and no one has to pick up the slack.
 
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DamoSyzygy

Guest
This is an interesting comment, Damo. With a couple exceptions, the core members of bands I play with are friends and have been for years. I couldn't imagine spending so much time working towards a common goal with guys I'm not close with. We make an effort to bring new members into the "family", and treat each other like brothers, (or sisters). We've had members leave (or be asked to leave) because we didn't gel with them on a personal level. There's just something about sharing musical experiences with those I consider to be close with that make it all that much more satisfying.
I completely agree.

The problem I found that is when things dont run well (songs are coming slowly, people arent pulling their weight, etc) its easy to tell them to lift their game, but everybody is a little uneasy about putting the pressure on with any sense of conviction, for fear of genuinely hurting their friends feelings. The alternative is that things simply coast along, and the band stops moving fwd.
 

Drumsword

Pioneer Member
I hate it, The band I am with right now...we've lost 4 guitarists in 3 months.

Daniel was really good, and had his own studio... BUT his girlfriend didn't like our wives and girlfriends coming to practice and every time they'd show up she'd get all pissy and leave., etc and after 3 weeks he said things weren't working out "With us" and he had to leave.

2 weeks later we had Mike start playing with us.......... He just had his own agenda and didn't wanna do our music..........

Enter Freddy. Decent enough guitarist but kept picking on the keys player, and 3 weeks into practicing with us, developed an attitude with me on a night I was in a lot of pain and had a headache....As I loaded out my gear he kept getting in my way and not moving for me, then as I bent over to grab my coat, he let loose on the guitar with my head in front of his amp.... (I shut his amp off) After I left he flipped out and said if I was coming back he wasn't, and that he had the skill to take us to the next level..... Well my 6'5 370lb bass playin buddy, Bill told him, "You kinda suck so I guess we won 't be seeing you again, bye bye now".

(At this point I am now on hiatus, pending my shoulder surgery)

Enter Frank, who at the second practice, flipped out during "One way to Rock" and started telling parker that his guitar playing sucked on that song, and turned to Bill and told him to get a "Real" bass guitar. 2 Minutes later he was out of the band.

So now we are again hunting for a new guitarist.... and the stand in drummer is doing a fine job in my absense.

So thus far the letting go of guitarists has actually been joyous occasions..LOL

Before this though, I've never had to fire anyone, though a couple had to leave for availability reasons but always on good terms.
 
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trkdrmr

Guest
Sometimes it's about chemistry, artistic vision or preventing the band from getting dragged down into a quagmire.

On Mike Portnoy's recent "score" dvd he describes the change in lineup of Dream Theater. Jim Matheos was described as simply too close minded and selfish to work with. He was preventing the band from doing what they should be doing. he didn't mesh, and was not right for the band. Kind of like Sting with anybody... ;)

Anyway, Mike said the best thing for DT was to let him go. When Mike worked on OSI, it was clear that he was a hired gun, and it was Jim's show. It was a reminder that you have to put the right person in the right job.

Dave Mustaine and Steve Adler were let go from metallica and GNR for substance abuse. And as talented as Newstead is, I think Metallica ended up with a better bassist in Trujillo, and life goes on. Sometimes the axe has to fall...
 

dale w miller

Silver Member
I fired one singer in my time only to find myself fired from that same project from the singer I got into the band. Go figure.....

I was canned 2 more times after that. One I deserved due to my lack of equal effort another was not my fault. I was actually canned once because I DIDN'T party if you can believe that....and I am not one to pass judgment on those who do either. I just go to bed early on tour. Early meaning 2 or 3 am after the gig. Ha!

I usually find that most gigs that need someone kicked out are usually ones worth quitting. The song-writer/leader really makes the final say in this sort of thing and if he/she really doesn't bring it up, it only causes trouble. Kind of like that quote in Goodfella's about whacking a made guy. " Ya have ta have a sit down and have a good reason or you'll be the guy that get's whacked.' ;)
 

FunkyJazzer

Senior Member
Sorry to hear about your misfortune with band members, Jon.

I am only 18 myself, and everyone I work with professionally are/have been 25+, so if anyone is likely to be "fired", it'd be me I expect.

Like most others have already said, I'd have no hesitation in letting people go if they weren't up to the task.
 

jer

Silver Member
I completely agree.

The problem I found that is when things dont run well (songs are coming slowly, people arent pulling their weight, etc) its easy to tell them to lift their game, but everybody is a little uneasy about putting the pressure on with any sense of conviction, for fear of genuinely hurting their friends feelings. The alternative is that things simply coast along, and the band stops moving fwd.

It's quite timely that this discussion came up, I just lost a bass player. He's been in the band for 4 years, I've been making music with him on and off for almost 17 years. While we've butted heads on many musical matters in the past, I've always reminded him that I value his friendship over any musical endeavour. In this particular case, it's his call to leave, he's had enough of our "Sting-esque" singer / songwriter, to give you some context.

Damo, I understand your sentiment 100% and can agree that when friends are in the mix, it's nice to be considerate of the feelings of those you care about. I guess what it boils down to for me is that there has to be an open honesty amongst band members and an understanding that when we start talking music - it becomes a business. If someone is dragging the rest down, we work in the best interest of the band to resolve those issues. Its understood that it's nothing personal, and that we only want what's best for the band. Sure "what's best for the band" can be subjective and argued, but if members' views of direction vary so greatly that it's causing issue within the band, chances are that it's time to move on.
 

CASP3Rdrummer

Senior Member
i don't really know what to tell you... im on the other side of your story... i want to get fired just because i can't manage to play in two bands the same time and i also don't want to ask to leave because i don't really have a reason to tell them (i don't want them to know i have another band)... so yeah i believe the whole firing thing is kinda weird but it can't be done in any other way.
 
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