My band drama

Channing

Member
So, the singer and I have been friends way longer than he’s been in this band, and we generally like each other, once we even went on vacation together for two weeks and didn’t have any problems, but lately we’ve been having some.. creative differences. Basically he likes to change the songs all the time without telling anyone. A couple days ago it was our last rehearsal before a show and we start playing one of the songs and he just keeps motioning for me to play faster, and I knew I was playing at the right tempo per a recording we’d made a couple weeks before for us to all practice to. He wanted me to play it so fast that I had to completely change the drum beat because the entire feel of the song changed. Originally I had this cool marching snare beat with 16th note triplets, super slow and like a death march kind of feel but with the new tempo I ended up playing just straight rock beat on the ride, so boring and way way faster and just totally destroyed everything cool about the song. So I told him he was going way too fast and played the recording for him and he showed me some video he made of just him playing the song on his guitar and singing and it was like 20-30 bpm faster and I’m like.. the rehearsal before a show isn’t really the time for this but whatever. So we ended up playing it super fast and then adding this outro that slows down at the end with the marching snare beat. Like a compromise. Not sure how that’s going to sound but it’s the best we could come up with. Anyway, a couple of the other songs I’m asking him about the song structure, like, how many times do we play this thing before the song ends or whatever; and he said he doesn’t know and that he wants to vary it based on the crowd or how he feels in the moment. And then just cue us. I guess that’s doable but I kind of am embarrassed to get cues like that on stage because it reminds me of the white stripes how jack always cued meg because she didn’t remember how the songs went. It makes it look like idk what I’m doing. And it’s confusing.

Is this normal? To not know how your songs go until you actually play them? Anyone else deal with something like this?
 
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Otto

Platinum Member
Only when hired to play at the very last minute(like, "the drummer didn't show, are there any drummers in the audience?"...so...no....

...or if playing jazz... ; )
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Changing arrangements or tempo or style (for whatever reason) isn't a bad thing... as long as everyone is up to speed with the changes. Pulling them on the spot without prior discussion isn't cool, no matter how good the leader/singer is at cues. Surprises are never a good thing.

There are times when I've played a song live that I've never heard, or even recorded a track without a chart or listening to the arrangement. BUT... that's only successful when the artist knows how to cue, and there's some discussion beforehand about what to expect: stops, pushes, basic arrangement, etc. Nobody would ever just say "okay new song two three four." But they might change an arrangement: "double the solo, back to the bridge after that, and watch for stops" and that should be clear enough, at least in terms of what to look for and when.

But if a singer - or any player - can't stick to the script because they're scattered or too much of 'an artist' to be consistent, then that's very frustrating and can lead to train wrecks on stage. Even the most non-musical audience knows when a song goes to hell.

Bermuda
 

beatdat

Senior Member
A couple days ago it was our last rehearsal before a show and we start playing one of the songs and he just keeps motioning for me to play faster, and I knew I was playing at the right tempo per a recording we’d made a couple weeks before for us to all practice to. He wanted me to play it so fast that I had to completely change the drum beat because the entire feel of the song changed. Originally I had this cool marching snare beat with 16th note triplets, super slow and like a death march kind of feel but with the new tempo I ended up playing just straight rock beat on the ride, so boring and way way faster and just totally destroyed everything cool about the song.
Years ago, I could have written that word for word, right down to the marching beat part and a drastic tempo increase that completely changed the feel and my approach to the song.

I hope you recorded the show so that you can play him and the band both versions of the song to see what they think.

Changing arrangements or tempo or style (for whatever reason) isn't a bad thing... as long as everyone is up to speed with the changes. Pulling them on the spot without prior discussion isn't cool, no matter how good the leader/singer is at cues. Surprises are never a good thing.
While that may happen at times, I think it's more the case when the players are pros or have a lot of experience playing together. I'm getting the impression that the OP and his band may not be at that point yet, which would make it a lot harder for him and his band to pull it off at the last moment - it's like having an actor prepare for his role and asking him at the dress rehearsal to change all of his lines for the show.

OP, I know you didn't post to ask if you're in the wrong here, I just want to point out that the singer likely was. In my view, what he did comes down to either immaturity or outright jealousy. Don't think that the singer did not want to change the song because your part may have been the coolest part of the song and he couldn't have that.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I had to do this as a hired gun once and it sucked, but I did my best to accommodate it. The artist informed me during sound check that he wanted to play a song differently than we had learned it. This is after we had met just once and had a single rehearsal, not even running through all the music. I had written charts for myself and I had to frantically change one of them during the sound check.

That was an unusual circumstance, so I just did the best I could and it worked out okay. But if I'm in a situation where I'm an equal partner, I don't think I would allow something like that.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
While that may happen at times, I think it's more the case when the players are pros or have a lot of experience playing together.
Familiarity certainly helps with making last-minute changes go smoothly, but there still needs to be some discussion to prep everyone. All of the players can't be expected to be on the same page, on the spot.

I've worked with one local artist since 1981 who's a great leader and communicates cues, chord changes, etc in real time during the song. But he still discusses those things before we start. It may just be 10 or 15 seconds of basic instructions, or a reference to a similar sounding song that we all know, but it's something. We're not flying blind, despite our many years together that suggest we might be able to. Surprises are never a good idea, no matter how much a band claims to like spontaneity.

Bermuda
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
There are actually bands that improvise live outside of jazz, but that's a conscious decision and the members all know what they signed up for. It also involves an incredible amount of communication, musicianship, maturity, and lack of ego to make it work properly.

As the 'forward face' of a band, singers and/or guitarists often assume they're the leader, even if it's completely unwarranted for them based on lack of any or all of those previously mentioned attributes. You should be crystal clear with him about your perspective on the experience you mentioned, and watch what the response is. In his mind he may have had a good reason for doing what he was doing and honestly couldn't see what it did to your part. It's also possible that he didn't care at all, because as far as he's concerned it's his show.

Either way, be up front with him is my advice.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The use of the word "no" is warranted here.

Just no, period.

You won't take part in it.

It's for the greater good.

Ask him to change the lyrics 3 seconds before he sings them and check out how he behaves.

Why do we think we need to go along with this craziness? We don't.

No is a great word.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
The use of the word "no" is warranted here.

Just no, period.

You won't take part in it.

It's for the greater good.

Ask him to change the lyrics 3 seconds before he sings them and check out how he behaves.

Why do we think we need to go along with this craziness?

No is a great word.
That's great in theory, but what do you do if the singer decides at the show to start off the song at his own pace and not at the tempo the song was written and rehearsed at?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
That's great in theory, but what do you do if the singer decides at the show to start off the song at his own pace and not at the tempo the song was written and rehearsed at?

Well then, for the show's purpose, I'd probably have to go along with it.

But I guarantee it will be discussed on break.

But if it's discussed first? You learn it one way and you want to change it now? Really? No fn way. It's completely unprofessional, so no.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
When certain things cross your own personal lines, if they are not respectfully called out, and you accept them, you feel scummy.

He is majorly affecting you at the worst possible moment. He is the offending party here, not you.

There's a better way. Go on the offensive. Nicely of course.

This is a perfect opportunity to rightfully empower yourself. I highly recommend it. Stand up.

To be fair, I learned this just recently and have just started employing it this year.

It feels good.

Finally.

People treat you...how you treat yourself, for real.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
You learn it one way and you want to change it now? Really? No fn way. It's completely unprofessional, so no.
Exactly. There's no excuse for not behaving like a pro. It has nothing to do with the amount of money (if any) being made - it's respect and commitment to the songs, and fellow players, and audience that every band wants to attract and impress. It has little to do with age or experience either. It's about caring, and that's rooted in us long before we get into bands.

Bermuda
 

Jbravo

Senior Member
If you’re newer at being in bands, and really enjoy it, it’s easy to get into the “get along to go along” habit. But unless you’re a hired gun, or earning a living at it, it’s better to gently but firmly stand up for yourself.

If the band goes long term, and you set the trend of never putting your foot down, you're gonna be building up some serious resentment. It’ll come to a head someday, and probably at the worst possible moment.
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
If you’re newer at being in bands, and really enjoy it, it’s easy to get into the “get along to go along” habit. But unless you’re a hired gun, or earning a living at it, it’s better to gently but firmly stand up for yourself.

If the band goes long term, and you set the trend of never putting your foot down, you're gonna be building up some serious resentment. It’ll come to a head someday, and probably at the worst possible moment.
Dang! Wise words here. ^
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
The use of the word "no" is warranted here.

Just no, period.

You won't take part in it.

It's for the greater good.

Ask him to change the lyrics 3 seconds before he sings them and check out how he behaves.

Why do we think we need to go along with this craziness? We don't.

No is a great word.
If no doesn't work then there's and old two word saying that centres around sex and travelling. Ends in off!

Another case of lead singer disorder!
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
If I was into drama I’d be an actor-music can be dramatic but drama with musicians would be counter to such goal. I’d mention I’m not a mind reader either.
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
Some bands (Grateful Dead) change arrangements almost every time the perform the song. Maybe it takes a certain kind of musician to be comfortable with that.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Some bands (Grateful Dead) change arrangements almost every time the perform the song. Maybe it takes a certain kind of musician to be comfortable with that.
While this is true, that band has been together so long that it's a different situation from the one that is the topic of this discussion. I don't think you can compare them with each other.

I think it's incredibly inconsiderate for anyone to even suggest such a thing....changing the song around...right before you go on? Really? They must be insane, right?

Again, no is your good friend here.
 
While this is true, that band has been together so long that it's a different situation from the one that is the topic of this discussion. I don't think you can compare them with each other.

I think it's incredibly inconsiderate for anyone to even suggest such a thing....changing the song around...right before you go on? Really? They must be insane, right?

Again, no is your good friend here.
Yes, absolutely. Completely different scenarios . Can’t realky compare the two . You’re talking more seasoned professional musicians that have been together a long time and knew what they were getting into and have the same mindset . My guitarist brother and I played together forever from pre teen all the way up to his death at 37 18 years ago . We would change things up all the time and played together so long I actually could read his mind and or take his cues for stops , solo’s ( his and mine ) , choruses, bridges , and intros and outros. But that comes with hours of jamming and playing together . Barring this, It can be done , but should be worked on and discussed before hand and agreed upon and not last minute unless everyone is capable . In this case I have to agree with Larry, ....... No ( nicely and tactfully) is your friend here . Good luck .
 

Channing

Member
Thanks for the great replies everyone. We played the show. It went ok, but we definitely had some train wrecks where people weren't playing the right part or didn't change over at the right time. I think that I'm going to have a talk with everyone in my band and just tell them all that I really don't like performing this way; I'd like to have the song structure nailed down before we go on stage and not deviate from it. If they want to practice trying to cue each other and change things up we can do that in practice but for now we aren't good enough at it to be doing it on stage, it's embarrassing because we mess up so much. A couple of my friends who were at the show and I trust enough to be honest with me told me they could tell we were struggling with the song structures.
 
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