How to fire a band member

Erberderber

Senior Member
Myself and two other members of the band I'm in all agree that our lead guitarist is seriously hampering our progress and is out of sync with the rest of us in many ways. I could list the reasons why we want him out, but I'd be here until tomorrow.

The question isn't if we should fire him, it's how we should go about doing it. The singer has suggested doing it at out next rehearsal, but is this a good idea? Would we do it as soon as he arrives or afterwards? Or would it be better to have a separate meeting? We all feel really bad about it, especially as he and the singer are childhood friends (now in their 30s), but we know it's the only way the band can move forwards.
 

octatonic

Senior Member
Don't do it at rehearsal and especially not after a rehearsal.
How would you feel if you'd just spent 2-4 hours working with someone only for them to all turn around at the end and say 'you're out'.

Go and see him, ideally on neutral ground that doesn't serve alcohol.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Pretty much the same as any other break up.

In person.

Over the phone is OK, in person is better.

Know what you want to get out of the conversation, and make sure that you never waiver from that.

Keep it professional, if tempers get frayed, keep calm and stick to your point(s). Ideally somebody other than his mate should do the firing.

Be resolute.

"This isn't working out. It's not us. It's you. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Before rehearsal. Save him the drive.

Ring Ring... Jack, this is Bob. You're out. You can come pick up your gear on Tuesday. Doug will be around to lock up and help carry it all out. Leave your keys in the beer fridge.

Give him his $75 share of this month's rehearsal area rent back in an envelope.

Hell... If you want, PM me and I'll call the guy with you on the line so you can see how it's done for next time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXEtOPMW2hM
 

Erberderber

Senior Member
Thanks guys. I'll tell the others that rehearsal wouldn't be the right place for it. The biggest problem seems to be the lifelong bond between the singer and the guitarist. I know him the least, so is it up to me to do it?

Nice clip by the way Kamak.
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
Is he conscious of his flaws ?
to me the best- progressive way - would be to be behind his ass (French expression translated sorry) during two or three rehearsals, to record them and to show him his flaws. If you first tell him that he really needs to be serious and to improve, he will understand better. If you feel he doesn't give a damn, OK, he's out. That way he'll understand.
We record almost each of our rehearsals, that way everybody can listen and judge one's performance.
 

Steven_E007

Junior Member
Is this a pro band? Is it a financial undertaking and is he damaging your career prospects?
Or is it semi-pro? One that earns, or you hope will earn, money?
Or is it a bunch of friends who are out to have fun?

The reason I ask is that the 'Bullet to the head' approach in Kamak's video applies to pro ball players. The emphasis being on 'pro'. It is a working relationship, they're not friends. I've been in an out of a lot of amateur bands and looking back - none of them were worth sacrificing a friendship for. If it isn't a very serious band, then don't take it, or yourselves, too seriously.

I've only ever been fired from a band myself once. It was about 20 years ago and yes, I am still really angry about it. Not because I was kicked out of the band - it was a mediocre pub band with an egomaniac singer that played covers. I've played in much better since. What stung was the way they did it, the fact that they had obviously been talking about me for weeks behind my back (but not talking to me), using me as a practice drummer even after deciding I was to be replaced, letting me put in hours of time into learning songs and rehearsing - and taking money off me for the hire of the room. Then one day, bang, "We've found someone else" (I found out later they'd been advertising for weeks). It was completely out of the blue and I was not very happy about it. They weren't friends, but if they had of been... that would have been the end of that.

As Tamaefx says, far better to be upfront with people. He should know why you want to fire him before you do it, talk to him - not about him...
If he knows it is coming and he knows why it is coming that softens the blow - a lot.

If you're just amateurs having fun and can afford to have a break... then the really 'softly softly' way to let someone go without hurting their feelings is for the band to split up and stop playing. Wait until the guy you want out finds another group - then reform without him!
 

Juniper

Gold Member
It's always better the whole band being present for this type of meeting.

I had to do the deed a few years ago with a band member. The rest of the band wanted him out and I didn't agree but it was 3 against 1 and they claimed they wouldn't carry on with him in the band.

They wanted to just ignore him and get someone else they knew without telling him. The only reason he found out is because I called him with the news as he deserved to know they decided he was out and someone else they lined up was coming to the next rehearsal. The lack of respect to someone else's feelings was unreal and I was disgusted with them over that. They didn't leave any time for a meet in person to give the bad news.

I could hardly look any of them in the eye knowing what cowards they were inside and I left that band soon after. I have now been in another couple of bands with the guitarist and he's now one of my closest mates where I have lost contact wth the other members, not my kind of people.

It's always better coming from the whole band. It's not a pleasant thing to have to do but just ask yourself how you would like to be treated if in his shoes.

Treat the guy with respect and it might be an amicable meeting that ends on good terms where your paths musically may cross again.
 
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Erberderber

Senior Member
Is he conscious of his flaws ?
to me the best- progressive way - would be to be behind his ass (French expression translated sorry) during two or three rehearsals, to record them and to show him his flaws. If you first tell him that he really needs to be serious and to improve, he will understand better. If you feel he doesn't give a damn, OK, he's out. That way he'll understand.
We record almost each of our rehearsals, that way everybody can listen and judge one's performance.
We've been recording our rehearsals from the beginning, which has been very useful. As I said before, I could list countless reasons why we want him out, but it would take too long. He's just not on the same page as the rest of us and never will be. He plays for himself, whereas we play for the band as a whole.

We've already decided we want him out and we're not going back on it, it's far too late. When he doesn't show up at rehearsals because he's stuck at work, we learn a new song (all our songs are originals) in two hours, which is something we could never do with him and we now know 3 songs that he hasn't even started learning. He would be far better off in a covers band. It's too late to think about keeping him, I was just asking what the best way to fire him was.
 

VitalTransformation

Silver Member
We've been recording our rehearsals from the beginning, which has been very useful. As I said before, I could list countless reasons why we want him out, but it would take too long. He's just not on the same page as the rest of us and never will be. He plays for himself, whereas we play for the band as a whole.

We've already decided we want him out and we're not going back on it, it's far too late. When he doesn't show up at rehearsals because he's stuck at work, we learn a new song (all our songs are originals) in two hours, which is something we could never do with him and we now know 3 songs that he hasn't even started learning. He would be far better off in a covers band. It's too late to think about keeping him, I was just asking what the best way to fire him was.
Citing the fact that he's too busy for your needs should be a safe and gentle way to let him down. I'd simply fire him by email, as I have in the past with good results. Getting the message in writing gives him time to process the disappointment and cool down before replying. Everyone showing up and gathering around him like it's some surprise intervention session is likely to end in tears and shouting.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Citing the fact that he's too busy for your needs should be a safe and gentle way to let him down. I'd simply fire him by email, as I have in the past with good results. Getting the message in writing gives him time to process the disappointment and cool down before replying. Everyone showing up and gathering around him like it's some surprise intervention session is likely to end in tears and shouting.
What about simply breaking up the band, and then re-forming with a new guitar player, and a new band name? This would (hopefully) communicate to the former guitar player that his presence was meaningful, and that his contributions were respected, which will go a long way towards preserving the friendship between him and the singer.
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
How to change a band member should be the same technique of saying "no" to someone who has an obstinate idea or personality, even if they don't have that personality.

The technique is simply: "we love you, but no, and we love you".

It goes like this:
"Hey bud, we think you're an awesome guy, and we love you, but things aren't working as well as they should, so we've decided we need a different guitar player. And I just want to repeat again that we really think you're an awesome guy, truly.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
IMO, since he is closest with the guitar player, the guitar player should probably handle it. This way it doesn't look like everyone else is ganging up on him.
 

Dwight

Junior Member
I think his friend should tell him. He could do it in a manner to preserve the friendship (if desired). Tell him his style of playing doesn't really fit in with the rest of the bands "vision". That's not so hard.
 

uniongoon

Gold Member
Neutral place, all should be there and just be straight forward and honest about it. I would rather get straight truth instead of dwelling over what the real angle behind the game playing was. The truth sometimes hurts, but it is always a better way of dealing with people.
 

VitalTransformation

Silver Member
Neutral place, all should be there and just be straight forward and honest about it. I would rather get straight truth instead of dwelling over what the real angle behind the game playing was. The truth sometimes hurts, but it is always a better way of dealing with people.
Being told by a group of people that "we need to talk", and then meeting them at "neutral ground" where they proceed to make a rehearsed speech in concert is just about the last way I myself would like to get fired from a band...

I'd much rather just get a text saying: "You're a nice guy and all, but we've decided that you're out because reasons". I'd like that text to be sent by the bandmember I had the least personal connection with.
 

TheElectricCompany

Senior Member
The only time I've been a part of kicking a guy out of a band was in high school. Our bass player really, really sucked and the rest of us didn't, so after two years it was time to cut him loose. We picked him up and drove to a park near our neighborhood. He had no idea what was coming and he was in great spirits during the car ride. I remember thinking it felt like we were performing a hit.

The three of us told him it wasn't working out and that it wasn't personal. He took it really poorly and kept pleading with us to give him time to improve. We stood firm and when we offered to give him a ride back to his house he refused. When we drove past him walking down the street he was crying.

And of course because this was 2007 and we were teenagers his parents called the parents of everyone in the band asking why he was kicked out and saying it was so unfair. Shameful, shameful parenting. It wasn't unfair. Your kid flat-out sucked and that sort of parenting encourages mediocrity.
 

liv_rong

Senior Member
What about simply breaking up the band, and then re-forming with a new guitar player, and a new band name? This would (hopefully) communicate to the former guitar player that his presence was meaningful, and that his contributions were respected, which will go a long way towards preserving the friendship between him and the singer.
This. We just went through an awkward situation of not being happy with someone and ultimately this is what happened, but not exactly like this. The story is I joined up in an existing three piece but the drummer moved over to guitar providing me a spot. After about 7-8 months we came to the realization that it wasnt working, well really we knew for awhile but kept giving him time to get his stuff down. We made the mistake of not talking to him enough about his flaws, or what we saw as flaws. We gave him opportunity to breath within the band, but I guess a little too much and without any kind of positive or negative comments on his playing so by the time two of us wanted him out it became difficult to talk about his flaws to him. I said multiple times that Id leave and let him come back to drums and everyone could go on without me but that wasnt going to work either for reasons.

At our last show someone recorded audio and sent it to us and it was terrible listening to what this guy was doing. It was time to do something because this wasnt fun anymore. Even though we are not a pro band we still want to have fun and create music we like and you cant do that if someone is not being a positive part of that. Ultimately the band leader told everyone he wanted to be a little more serious and talk about everyones dedication, positive input and flaws. At this point the dude rage quit and told us that we were not practicing enough and it was our fault he couldnt come up with parts.

So now that he is gone we are not playing anything that they wrote before I came along, which was about 75% or our set and we are going to change the band name as well. We should have done a lot differently, mainly by being direct at the get go and not letting it fester for so many months, practices and shows.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I don't agree inviting him to a 'neutral place'. He then has to waste his time, get ready, go down to the 'neutral place' only to be told a long speech that he's fired? That would piss me off.

Do it by phone, he doesn't have to leave home, and neither do you. Save some time, gas and CO2. He'll get over that you never did it in person.
 
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