Join A Sub Par Band Just To Get Back Out There?


Senior Member
I could use a bit of advice here. I’ll have been out of the live playing scene for a little over a year now. I’ve been looking to get back in a gigging band for several months now, but there has been literally nothing happening around here. So, I hear of a band looking for a drummer; I like their set lists, nice guys that are my age, everyone has good equipment. They all have years of experience under their belt; everything seems great. Then we start playing,’s just not good. Vocals are pitchy and off, guitar parts do not sound correct to me, no vocal harmonies. I was really surprised, not in a good way. I mean, they’ve all been at this for a while. Anyway, they asked me after the 5th or 6th tune if I was in, can they put me on their website. I politely responded that I’d like to get together once more before making a decision. We’re supposed to get together next Thursday again.

So, what to do? I could join this band, maybe it gets a little better, I’m back out playing, maybe make some new contacts. Of course, maybe this is as good as they get. Or, do I politely decline and remain on the sidelines indefinitely?


Senior Member
Like....exactly how...bad?
Bad enough that I couldn’t believe it was that bad. Translation, as in they can’t be this bad so I’ll go again next week and give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was the moon phase, or the polar vortex throwing them off, or a black cat ran across the road before we all got there. Nice guys though; I don’t mean to come off as insulting but I gotta call it like it is.

No Way Jose

Silver Member
Well if there are no other bands in the area that you can gig with then work with these guys. It's either that or nothing.


Platinum Member
If given the option of being in a crap band or no band at all, what would you choose? Are they a fun hang? You could offer to be hired gun and turn down being on the website. You may or may not make connections out gigging. That depends on your area. If you are out there make sure other musicians know you're out there.


Senior Member
Just say no to bad bands. But do get together with them one more time, just in case they were having a really off day. Though if they’re bad enough that you’d be embarrassed to have your friends/girlfriend/whatever come see you perform, then you know what you have to do.


Staff member
I get your dilemma, but if these guys have been at it a good while, any improvement is likely to be only incremental. If you join, you know it's only going to end one way at some stage.

The deal breaker for me, is pitchy vocals. That's a bar no act can surpass, and the single biggest audience recognition turnoff. It may be that the instrument players can polish up a little, but if your singer can't pitch, the likelihood of improvement is close to zero.

In my band, we carried a sub standard vocalist for far too long. He wasn't "bad", but he wasn't good either. That held the band back massively, and was a constant source of frustration.

Do they have gigs booked? That would make my decision easier.
It would certainly make a decision easier for me. If they have gigs booked fairly soon, yet are clearly far from gig standard, that tells me they have no ability to recognise their issues. That makes it even harder to envisage a positive progression.


Platinum Member
I've been there and over time little things that you think will improve over time become major peeves because a lot of these guys don't listen to themselves or what's going on around them which is lesson 101 in being in a band. All the gear, no idea springs to mind from what you're saying and I always feel sorry for good gear that's in the hands of folk who can't get the most out of it.

You're being cool and offering to meet for another jam.

I just went through this with a band that actually argued the fact that they were getting booked as if that made it all better. It doesn't. I left. If you have standards, stick to them. There are always other bands to play in.

Bang on


Senior Member
I'm going against the grain here...I say do it! Here's why: it worked for me!

After I had to leave New Orleans due to Katrina, I found myself in rural GA about an hour from Athens. I was obviously without a band and starting up in a new locale, so I started looking around for drumming opportunities, which proved limited. I finally landed an audition with a band...and they really weren't good. They wrote some painful originals and had some 'fresh takes' on classic covers that made me cringe. Beyond that, their choice of name was straight-up embarrassing, and their equipment selection was straight-up amateur.

But here's what I figured:
I'll play with these guys until we start landing some gigs in Athens. While I'm there, surely SOMEONE will see us and recognize that while the band is lame, the drummer's actually pretty good, and I'll be approached about playing in some side project or something like that. From there, I can network, and eventually become a full-fledged member of a band or two.

And you know what? worked! Perfectly! After our second Athens gig I was approached by a sound man who had a concept for a side band. Fast forward to today, and I've been playing up there consistently for nigh-on 15 years, and jam with about a half-dozen great bands.

So it can work! Just keep your eye on the prize and don't let the current band define you.


Well-known member
I'm okay with doing this if the music is a style that's a little uncomfortable for you and you're looking to improve on a certain aspect of your playing.
For instance, I'm simply not a great improvisational player. When it's unknown going into a solo how many bars it will be, if the band leader may call out "keyboards" for them to solo, and as the drummer the next section may be a verse or a chorus (who knows, the leader will call it out, oh the fun!) I do tend to get a little uncomfortable. I know there are drummers who handle this pretty well, can sense what's going to happen next and roll with it pretty well.

I tend to stay a couple bars ahead in my head of where a song currently is, so when something gets called out just 2 beats before the change, I sometimes don't pull it all together as smoothly as I wish. But, it gets better with practice.

If it's more compositional playing, music I like and play well, and the players/band were below my expectations, then I would never say yes to a group like that unless they were all eager to improve and committed to lots of self-practice. Groups that don't admit their weaknesses are difficult because they will never improve and they also don't spend the time to craft their sets to the players strengths and weaknesses.


I'm in a similiar situation as a drummer but been there many times as a bassist.
What really gets me is they send out a load of tunes and I learn them cause I love playing drums. Get to rehearsal and it doesn't take me long to realise that they haven't learned half the tunes properly.....its so frustrating but where Iam there is simply nothing else and the singer is good, great voice I'm sticking with it , for now.


Senior Member
I would say to do it only if you will still enjoy it. I've been in two different bands that could have been good, but for the band leaders (both guitarists) who thought they were great and didn't listen to themselves or anyone else. I got something out of playing in those bands, but eventually the frustration got to be too much and I left. But it did lead to other, better gigs, since being out there playing gets you noticed.

I would also be inclined to give it a shot if the members of the band recognize that they have problems and want to learn and practice to fix them. To me that is a way better situation, and one where you can use your talents to help others. But more often I think bad bands are bad because some of the band members are oblivious or in denial.


Senior Member
Maybe I'm backwards on this, but I don't mind making noise with a bunch of guys. It's a night out and a couple of beers. But I really don't want to get on stage with them and be embarrassed. It's fun in the garage, but...


Silver Member
Personally i never get why people would need a lot of advice or opinions from other people, in this case mostly 'strangers', regarding starting or quiting a band..

Unless someone is a complete beginner and/or likes a lot to be busy with drama..

But someone with some real experience is able to tell within 10 minutes if a band has potential or not..

If in your own opinion they have potential, then accept the offer and give things a serious try, and if not, then not..

But not start with them just because they maybe have a few gigs and then start complaining a few months from now to other people that their level is not ok..

Like i said, 10 minutes should be enough (even if they had an off-day)..

Simple as that..:)