Taking the right gig...

Ethan01

Senior Member
Here's a hypothetical... Say you are offered a touring gig with a band of which you aren't entirely fond of their music or sound. For whatever reason you don't like their sound but you decide to take it, it pays something and you could use the tour as a means to network, and most importantly the band likes you.

Does real-life work this way? Can you get valuable connections with other musicians while on tour drumming for a band you don't entirely like to play for? Is it worth it, do you then use those connections after the tour is over and play for the band you like better? Or, do you pass initially and just keep looking and auditioning till you find a touring group you like?
 

chaymus

Senior Member
Here's a hypothetical... Say you are offered a touring gig with a band of which you aren't entirely fond of their music or sound. For whatever reason you don't like their sound but you decide to take it, it pays something and you could use the tour as a means to network, and most importantly the band likes you.

Does real-life work this way? Can you get valuable connections with other musicians while on tour drumming for a band you don't entirely like to play for? Is it worth it, do you then use those connections after the tour is over and play for the band you like better? Or, do you pass initially and just keep looking and auditioning till you find a touring group you like?
Well I can think of two approaches, music as an art with personal integrity versus a job that pays. I have no gigging experience myself.

I've worked at places for a paycheck & experience and put up with undesirable things for quite some time before I felt confident that I got what I wanted and could quit. If the guys are nice & your connections are of more value to you than being a professional (one who does things not necessarily because it's their cup of tea but because they are capable of doing a good job despite) it would still be worth doing.


The other side is there are some jobs I simply won't do if I can help it because my heart would never be in it. If it's going to get you down all the time and affect any connections you might make, or worse the band's current favorable opinion of you, it's not worth burning any bridges.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I'd say it depends on how much you don't like the music.

For me, if I wasn't totally into it, that might be one thing, but if the music offended my artistic sensibilities, I wouldn't do it, no matter what the exposure might look like - and maybe large exposure corny gigs could hurt more than help with future prospects. There are a lot of bands that are very defensive about their artistic cred, so if you started drumming with the Mouseketeers and artistic cred is something you're worried about, then that's probably not going to be a wise move in the long run.

A good example might be Taylor Hawkins. In the '90s Nirvana was humongous and was largely seen as having sacrificed zero in the art department, but Alanis Morissette was a little more polarizing as an artistic force. It took him a while to overcome the perception that he was a hired gun with no artistic sense of his own after he'd secured his place with the Foos. Some still argue that he hasn't really established himself, or managed to come out from behind Grohl's formidable shadow, despite that Taylor's probably the better drummer strictly from a technique perspective.

Similarly, Johnny Depp took a lot of years to overcome his Teen Beat, 21 Jump Street beginnings before he was eventually accepted as a legitimate artist.
 

Pimento

Senior Member
Ah. I can tell you from my experience that i have played in a band just for money. It was a punk band, and they landed a gig for $1500 cash a week, playing 5 nights in this seedy kind of bar. They needed a drummer so i signed up, learned their songs (simple, if i did anything complex they couldnt play to it) and i did that for a year.

I hated it, i had videos of me playing and i even look miserable, i couldnt get into what they were doing, the parts were boring and the $500 a week wasnt enough.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
I'd rather be drumming right now, playing the nastiest craptastic music imaginable, than sitting here in my cubicle...waiting for the day to end (so I can go play my drums.)

Just a thought.
 

Ethan01

Senior Member
So then you'd take the position? I'm not a picky guy anyways and more importantly I don't want to keep waiting and waiting for the perfect opportunity, while I just throw away good ones that are in front of my face. I'd understand passing on a "mouseketer's" gig because the audience isn't the one you hope to play for and the connections wouldn't be there. But let's say you're a rock drummer and a rock band wants you, but it's not 100% your taste, maybe more like 50%. Those networking connections you make on a tour, do those pan out in real life?
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Does real-life work this way? Can you get valuable connections with other musicians while on tour drumming for a band you don't entirely like to play for?
Yes, absolutely- if you aspire to be a professional musician, and nothing better is immediately available, you take the gig. If the music isn't entirely to your liking, you suck it up, act like a pro, and bring your best attitude and performance.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
These are somewhat contradictory statements/scenarios.
I'm not a picky guy anyways...
If you're not picky and being a working musician is what matters most, then Todd is right - you take what you can get in order to keep working.
...But let's say you're a rock drummer and a rock band wants you, but it's not 100% your taste, maybe more like 50%.
If your heart is only half into it on some artistic level, then you should hold out until you find something closer to the 80-90% range (100% being too impractical to wait for). That way you'll be available to do what your heart is into without abruptly quitting on someone and burning bridges. Regardless, you should always act like a pro.
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
I am in this situation now.

To keep my personal artistic projects on schedule I took the gig at a famous club chain to earn a paycheck after Daybreak went its separate ways. Then over the past two months I've had to wait for my producer to get back to my project while another person showed up with a lot of money in hand to have her new stuff produced, which was legit since I'm paying nothing. Then what made it even more galling was that the person slowing me down with a big wad of cash from her new backers was none other than Ana, the old singer from Daybreak. What that teaches me if anything is that this business is very small, meaning you have to play your piece like you're on a chess board, sometimes exchanging a knight to get a rook, a bishop to get a queen etc. And while you're doing this you have to try to be entirely ethical when everyone else is pretty much just screwing you because people have very long memories about stuff like that and it's just wrong anyway.

For the first month or so I justified my steady paycheck in a glorified cover band as a way to learn a lot of new material, branch out etc. And for a while that was the case. But now after learning my 120 pop songs and 100 or so 70s to 90s covers I'm dreading the gig every night while the leader is trying to force a very binding extended arrangement that will pin me in big time if I'm not careful. In the meantime the gig is already restrictive enough because I am no longer available for the jazz gigs that got me in the door at the big Euro festivals in the first place. This means that I now play almost exclusively with guys, who although fine musicians don't share my vibe at all and aren't nearly as versatile.

So the current choice is to last out another month and quit no matter what before the current situation goes into typecast mode, while in the meantime have another thing lined up. But had I known how quick not feeling it would sour your art and your business I would have had the backup ready to go much sooner. Well, now I know that it is often as important to keep up appearances as it is to put food in your mouth, meaning I will now knock down the doors required to finish my music and eat a little less for a while knowing that better times will be ahead if I do that.

So at least in my experience, I think you can do just about any kind of gig for a short period of time, but you've got to know when to push the button and move on.
 

Witterings

Silver Member
I think it's the same as any job, if you don't enjoy it you'll end up hating it !!!

The person who 1st sat me behind a kit wen I was 12 was a friend of one of my dads friends, he was a music buyer for EMI for a living and played in bands at weekends as a hobby. He took early retirement to become a session musician and ended up doing studio work and then on the QE2 for 6 months.
A year later he packed it an as he was constantly playing stuff he didn't like to the extent he couldn't bring himself to even look at a drum kit let alone actually play one and in his words "his hobby that he loved became a job playin stuff he hated".
I didn't see him for about a year and I asked if he was playing again and all of a sudden you saw him come to life his eyes light up and he said he'd sat behind a kit for the 1st time about 10 days ago and he had his hobby back - he'd also managed to get his old job at EMI back as well so happy days all round.

I think at the end of the day it depends how much you dislike what they're playing but if you really don't like it now you'll absolutely hate it after you've played it every night for 3 weeks.
 

Travis22

Senior Member
I'm confused, is this a question about who you play with or who your band plays with? If it's my band, then absolutely I would tour with anyone who would have us. I look at it as exposure for my group even if I don't like the band(s) we are touring with. As for who to play with, I too think a person should stick to what makes them happy. I also think doing things that are out of your comfort zone is good to some extent because it helps you grow as a musician and gives you a different viewpoint. But I agree, if you are doing something that isn't your cup of tea for too long you will hate it.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
If your heart is only half into it on some artistic level, then you should hold out until you find something closer to the 80-90% range (100% being too impractical to wait for). That way you'll be available to do what your heart is into without abruptly quitting on someone and burning bridges. Regardless, you should always act like a pro.
Right, the opposite of what I said is also true- if a drummer can't bring his best performance and attitude to a gig, he shouldn't take it. He'd only end up hurting his reputation and making life miserable for the other guys on the job. If I were that cat I'd be questioning my commitment to my chosen profession, though- unless it were absolutely ridiculous and wrong. G.G. Allen when you're a dedicated Mormon, Up With People and you suffer from clinical depression, or something.
 

Ethan01

Senior Member
Thank you to everyone's advice and perspectives. It's really helpful and this is pretty much the only forum I can goto for this kind of advice. My situation is more akin to, do you take a cover/wedding band gig and get paid well, branch out and make connections, challenge yourself to learning new material quickly, or just keep auditioning and looking for the perfect fit. The real question is HOW LONG do you do it for, and to be sure you aren't contractually tied to it at an in-opportune time.
 
Top