Is counting in during songs unprofessional?

Meh... it's a singer... he/she is holding you guys back anyway :) (not a fan of singers) Personally, next practice i would be counting in with a cowbell :)

I agree on the singer holding them back. With my last band, what we did to reign her in was to key up instrumentals. All she could do was go sit down. Worked like a charm.
Stick click during a break in a song is too obvious and not very « musical » if the original song doesnt feature any counting. It’s too loud. Like a cowbell in the middle of a ballad.
When needed, I play the hihat very softly, it’s enough for the band to grasp it and it blends better in the song.
Apropos of nothing, I've read a few posts on this thread criticising singers in a blanket fashion. To speak specifically, the singer in my band turns up to rehearsals fully prepared. If there's doubt on a song arrangement you can rely on her to have it nailed, plus she has a near supernatural ability in songs that she starts without accompaniment to sing in key without any guide. To speak in general, very few of us would have a "job" without a vocalist.
Re the counting thing. Unless a break in a song is ridiculously long then a band should rehearse that song until they're able to come in and out without an audible count, it's not only tye drummer's role to keep time, the whole band share that responsibility.
It depends. As a drummer, I see it as my job to keep everyone in time. During sections where there’s no drums, I tend to keep time on 2 and 4 with my left foot (hi hats), which can be subtle enough.

However, it’s the whole band’s responsibility to have good time and feel the pulse as a unit. So when that’s the case, the band inevitably sounds slicker / more pro. Working with the band so they’re all in the pocket is therefore important. Everyone should be responsible for good time, not just us drummers.

I hope that helpful.
Three gigs in five years. Look at the upside. You have almost a year and a half to get ready for the next one, LOL
Well, let's look at how other bands do it.

Tom Petty: Break Down. Lots of spaces on the studio recording. Live? Stan plays the ride cymbal through all the breaks.

Joan Jett and the Black Hearts: Crimson and Clover. The drummer is clicking sticks at the intro, in the breaks, and even in the video, and this is the studio version!

Who can forget The J Geil Band hit Centerfold, at near the end the band ends the song, but then the singer counts the band back in, 1,2,3,4 with the drummer also clicking the band back: again, it's even in the video!

Mike Portnoy did a different way, it's hard to see, but he has an electronic drum pad on his left that he uses to count the band in on between sections. The sound from the pad only go to the other band members in-ear monitors, so the audience doesn't hear it, but it's there

Van Halen: Hot for Teacher. How did Alex handle the numerous stops? Well, it depends on which video. He keeps his stick playing the hi-hats through all the breaks. Other versions are different

Josh Freese with Sting does the same thing, just keeps bashing on the hi hat through the pauses

For fun sake, I looked up how Vinnie played the same song, and he pretty much plays fills through the breaks, lol, he doesn't even pause.

Back to clicking sticks: Ansley Dunbar with Journey:

I'm sure there's more out there.....
That's what the hi hat is for. Doesn't have to be loud. Stick clicking is annoying to me even as a drummer. That said, a lot depends on who's calling teh shots in the band.
OP, looking @ the parts I highlighted, why in the world are you still playing with this guy? I mean, what's keeping you there? I think most musicians would've moved on from this project a long time ago. Like, did he rescue your children from the 89th floor of a towering inferno, did he give you a kidney, is he your only compatible mega-rare blood type, are you in the same Dungeons & Dragons group?
Haha! Maybe my tolerance levels are holding me back. I do play in another band (gigging tonight), which is moving along far better and I have my own solo projects, which give me great satisfaction creatively and I have a small but loyal online following. I'm using the band with "that guy" these days more as an opportunity to practice on a full acoustic kit (not possible at home). Most of the time things are ok and the other two members are nice guys. If this project was the be-all and the end all for me musically and took away most of my time, then I'd have left a long time ago. I have left bands in the past and will do the same with this band if the situation becomes untenable.
Here's the deal...

If this isn't your band and there's a leader, and they don't like something, then you don't do it. You don't need to question it, or reason with them, or be an 'artist', or get a consensus about whether they're right or wrong for asking you to stop.

If the band is really having a problem finding their way back after a second of silence, then eventually the leader will suggest that someone - maybe you - count them back in. Then you can click or count or nod. Maybe say "I told you so!"

Otherwise, don't sweat it. If they want to stumble on breaks, let them. If it becomes too embarrassing and frustrating for you, find another band. That's not being a temperamental artist, that's just being happy playing drums. That's the reason for playing at all, right?
Yes, and that is pretty much what I'm doing and we haven't had a bust-up over it. I was just interested to hear what you guys had to say about it as you've helped me so much since I got back into drumming 6-7 years ago.
It's not unprofessional. What is unprofessional is your BL calling it unprofessional. :)

It really depends on the skills of the other players. I can't tell you how many players I have worked with who had skills on their instrument - but had really lousy time. When I see/hear that, you better believe I count us back in with stick clicks, hats, or bass drum. It's for Them, not for me.

Plus, when it is a dance tune, it is Absolutely the Better way - for the crowd.
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Fair point. I have been playing with this guy for 5 years and he's definitely someone wrapped up in himself and can be dramatic at times. We've played only three gigs in that time and every time he's been a nervous wreck on stage and fluffed up at least a song or two. The problem is that despite the fact that he still makes mistakes at every single rehearsal (not to mention the gigs) playing songs that he wrote years ago, he still has the audacity to point out every single minor gripe he has with the other players in the band, while we stay silent every time he has a meltdown. I don't count in on every in-song break either. I just do it when there's a bit of flow. For some of the other breaks, we have to wait for the singer to lean back from the mic and then come in as he's heading back, so we have to be almost telepathic. We have been playing together for long enough now not to have stick clicks and count ins in mid-song breaks, but I refuse to accept that doing such a thing would be considered as amateur and that no top bands would ever dream of doing it.

3 gigs in 5 years? Are you satisfied with that? Sure sounds like he wants to be the leader, but he's only Posing as one.
We've done four already but now we're steady and then they went, one, two, three, four
Hal Blaine... Not the very intro but within the intro to A Taste Of Honey- 1,2,3,4 on the bass drum. And off they went.
Hal Blaine... Not the very intro but within the intro to A Taste Of Honey- 1,2,3,4 on the bass drum. And off they went.
One of my favorite album covers.
To begin a tune, no problem, click away. During a rest in the middle of a tune? No clicking, no tapping, nothing. I love the natural decay of sounds and the space of silence. Any sounds within that rest ruin the effect and intention of that rest. This is very easy with an in-ear click, but without a click musicianship is required. If there’s a bandmate who can’t get it right, tell ‘em to practice and hold them accountable.

One tune that I’m working on now is Mr. Magic. its breaks have always tripped me up, but I’m gonna nail it because I’m practicing, and I don’t want to be “that guy” who botches the breaks. (I’ll let you know if I succeed).

Don't count every song in at a gig with stick clicks, it looks and sounds bad after a while. For breaks in songs i use hi hat hits instead of clicking sticks, sounds more musical like its part of the song. Pauses in songs are different depending on length, not all f them need time keeping.
3 gigs in 5 years? Are you satisfied with that? Sure sounds like he wants to be the leader, but he's only Posing as one.
I mentioned in another reply that I've been gigging in other bands and doing my own projects. I enjoy playing the songs at rehearsals and accept that this band isn't really going to get anywhere. Musically, I'm pretty satisfied in general and if I want to push things further, I do so with my own projects. I gigged last night with another band and a great time was had by all.