The wheels are coming off

The past few months, the band I'm in has begun fragmenting, mostly due to issues with our singer. In an effort to hold us together (if that's even possible) I want to describe the situation as I see it and ask for some input from the forum.

We started about three years ago by renting a rehearsal room after talking about music at work for awhile. The bass and guitar players, along with me, have many years of experience playing live. The singer was a neophyte but talented. Bass, guitar and drums clicked immediately and we all became enthusiastic about gigging from time to time. After a year we began playing out occasionally and have been asked to return to every venue we've played. Then comes the bombshell: the singer has decided he doesn't want to do it anymore. Or maybe he does. Or maybe no gigging and just playing for fun. Or maybe spend a few months working on his stage presence before booking a gig. Or maybe, etc. The guitar and bass players are well and truly pissed. I am not angry, but I am frustrated because all of the band members (and their friends) are coming to me to discuss what to do and the guys are not talking straight to each other. Last week the singer told me he wanted to stop. Evidently he thought that meant the band would stop. Yesterday I mentioned to him that the rest of us are rehearsing tonight. Now he feels as if he has been thrown out of the band. I found that odd, but after talking with him a bit, I begin to understand that his inexperience is perhaps the root of the problem (aside from the mixed messags he sends) and I hope there may be a way out of this that keeps the band together yet allows him time to learn stagecraft. But I would like to have your take and input. The bottom line is that we want the singer to stay, but we want to gig. Ideas?

Phil
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Sounds like you need to let him go and so he can go and find himself. There might not be a way around that. If the three of you are together and are willing to continue and one wheel is not rolling in the same direction, it's easier to get rid of the errant wheel sometimes than it is to try and fix it. If you really like this singer, I can understand trying to keep him, but if he isn't on the same wavelength as the three of you, there may be no getting around it.
 

Bad Tempered Clavier

Silver Member
If your singer feels he ain't ready yet but is still interested in playing in the long run, why not get the band to give him a crash-course in being a frontman? If he agrees, spend an intensive period in the rehearsal environment focusing on the vocals and the singer and give him as much attention and encouragement as possible.

Set a suitable deadline and stick to it - if at the end of this period neither he nor the rest of the band feel it's going to work then maybe it's time to look for someone else. If your singer isn't interested in even trying to work at the problem as a group then I'd ditch him ASAP. Bear in mind that the longer one harbours the feeling that friends are getting in the way the sooner they will no longer be friends.

Good luck.
 

mikeyhanson

Silver Member
The bottom line is that we want the singer to stay, but we want to gig. Ideas?
It sounds like the band is lacking something, and that's a leader. Not someone to make all the decisions, necessarily, but someone who can be the best functioning communicator of the group and get them to actually talk like humans, and not behind each other's backs like the socially awkward musicians that they are. You sound like you may be a candidate for that position as band leader, based on what you wrote and how they all come to you one way or the other. I'll bet you're the guy with the reliable transportation, too...

The singer problem is certainly a problem. Is this guy so great that he's worth risking the whole band over? He sounds like he doesn't want to gig, but only goof off. If it's a situation where he's a buddy and was drafted to be the singer because you're bros and you wanted him in the band even though he had no experience, then his reaction is understandable. It could be that he feels inadequate to be a frontman. It's not easy work, as many find out quickly when they try it.

If I were you, I'd tell the guy "look, Guy, you said you didn't want to gig, but we still do, so we're going to continue playing." It may be a situation where his services don't feel needed and maybe he just needs a little confidence boost. Or, it may be that he REALLY DOESN'T WANT TO DO IT and you guys should just cut-and-run. The longer the drama strings out, however, the more it drags the band's progress down.
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
Agree with all above but it seems that if the singer wants to continue and the stage makes him nervous, the best way for him to improve/practice/learn to relax is going to be to continue on with you. It might be the end for him if he leaves...

You also may never find someone as good so it may also be the end of your popularity. I would not burn any bridges and keep the door open to him. Find someone to see you play without him with the understanding that he might want to stand in. let him see how good you are and what he has stepped out of. Very hard to arrange I know but sounds like he needs to see from the outside how good he/you are and realize that he is totally in or out..
 
All good suggestions and I think you all for responding. It's a tough situation for a number of reasons: I think the singer does want to continue, but lacks the self-confidence and live experience. He can only gain the confidence and experience by performing. Secondly, I feel that the other guys are a bit too impatient. We do love gigging, but I worry that it comes at too high a cost right now. My feeling is that if the singer needs a little more time, no problem although I do want to have the goal of gigging again fairly soon in all our minds. And last, but certainly not least, I am friends with all the members. I don't want this to turn into a more adversarial situation that it already is. However, the bass player has invited another singer to 'audition' tonight. There may be no way back.
 

mikeyhanson

Silver Member
It sounds like you could be getting into a situation where if you insist on keeping this guy it could fragment the band, which could be even worse. If the band's impatient, but you want to wait, you should tell them that and state your reasons. If they have reasons that are different, at least with you guys airing all that out you'll get to a place you can agree on, even if it means you may have to bite the bullet and get a new guy.
What happens if you guys take on this new singer and you old singer harbors bad feelings? Or wants back in?
Sorry, playing devil's advocate a little...

Honestly, I think for a band to work, it has to be the whole band. You're only as good as your weakest link. Try the new guy out. You never know.
 

Daisy

Senior Member
I think I understand how your singer feels. He was the new guy, inexperienced. He didn't feel he was good enough for the rest of you. Now the bass/guitars are impatient with him, which he reads as "not good enough". You are (very kindly) trying to help him develop, which he still reads as "not good enough". He doesn't want to leave, but can't get past the feelings of inadequacy. Him suggesting that he wanted to leave was a way of trying to get some sort of validation. He hoped your combined reaction would make him feel better about himself, give him the confidence boost he needs. That didn't work - he finds (some of) you are prepared to let him go. So there's that message again - "not good enough".

This might be a load of tosh, but thought I'd throw it in in case it strikes a chord.

If he was asking for advice, I'd suggest he find a new band and re-invent himself. Don't tell them you're nervous on stage, not had much experience etc. etc. Just blag it, they'll treat you as an equal, not as "the baby", and you're likely to respond to that. I don't know how you can do that with band members who know your history.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
People are too quick to replace band members, or visa-versa, too quick to quit a band.

The singer is probably 75% of what makes a great band. If he's really good and unique, you should try to keep him. If he is just so-so, let him decide to go or tell him how it's gonna be if he wants to stay because he has caused a rift in the band.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
As others have said, he's new to playing in bands and the complex relationships within bands are not something that can be immediately picked up. It takes experience and talented noobs always often faux pas in their dealings with band members.

Our singer is a talented guy but he was new to the band situation and there have been some lumps and bumps along the way. I've helped him out a bit and I quite like the term he coined for it - band craft. Some people pick it up quickly, some never learn.

Your singer sounds like he can learn because he seems to have that commodity that's so rare amongst vocalists - humility! But ... having an inflated ego can often be a useful thing for singers, who are so exposed on stage.

Sounds like a good time for the band to have a civilised, amiable adult chat about things, if you can swing it.
 
P

plangentmusic

Guest
I must say, I have a different perspective from most of the responses. But I'm an old timer from New York.

If someone doesn't want to be in a band, my response would be " See ya. Good luck."

I don't even want to hear the reasons. Professionals don't have time to mollycoddle malcontents.

Trust me -- it's like any bad relationship. You'll never make him or her happy. They have to want it. It's hard enough without the drama. The end.
 
Again, thanks very much for the additional replies and perspectives. I spoke with the bass player and guitar player last night at rehearsal before the new singer showed up and asked them to discuss their grievances with our former (?) singer. Whether or not they do and what comes of it is another question. We auditioned the potential new singer and it worked well. Good voice for our style of music and as an added attraction, he's a good rythym guitar and harmonica player, so it gives us added depth. I enjoyed the session and he's enthusiastic about joining us. The band, as it stands now, needs to discuss it and make sure the new singer understands the situation to prevent possible disappointment, although I would be happy to have the new fella join even if the old singer continues just because we have more range with an additional voice and instruments.

Ya know, I don't think I've had this much fun since my last toothache.
 

markdrum

Silver Member
The "old" singer sounds like he's pretty high maintenance. You guys have built up some momentum and he might be just the thing to kill it off. You don't have time for some prima donna type. I made that mistake a few years back. The singer was good and she was very easy on the eyes. She also made the view from the drumthrone a lot nicer! Unfortunately she got a big head really fast. She started thinking of the band as her backing band and wanted the mic all for herself. We got rid of a lot of baggage when we got a new singer and she even improved the view from where I sit. Perhaps you coud go with the new guy and invite the "old" singer up to do backup vocals or cameos. Let him build up his confidence without torpedoeing the rest of the outfit with his little "episodes". There's a reason that they call bands "groups".
 

johnnylaw

Senior Member
Lots of bands rehearse in a configuration where they are more or less in a circle facing one another facilitating timing, changes within the arrangement, dynamic cues, etc. Useful tool, and dangerous crutch.

If he really wants to work on his "chops", put him "out front" at rehearsal as he may be positioned on an actual stage and have him face a full-length mirror to help him dial-in whatever it is that he imagines the audience would appreciate seeing.

I know a guy with good pipes that went so far as to take dance lessons to support his frontman role. That endeavor was not a waste either.

He's got to want it though (obviously).

Good luck.
 

TDrum

Junior Member
Give your singer and yourselves some space. I'm sure nothing's that urgent that you can't afford to let him take a month out. Chances are he'll miss it like hell and get his stuff together real quick and come back a new man. The rest of you can carry on rehearsing. Stuff always gets heavy time to time when you're always on top of each other. Don't forget to communicate.

I've quit bands before, and no matter how much thought you put into it you always have a "did I make the right choice" after. Fortunately, I always have. Let him reflect and go through that thought process without making him quit first for him to have the time to think it over.

If after that he's not up for it, you've only lost a few weeks off finding a replacement. No biggy unless you've got a tour looming?
 

groove1

Silver Member
I'd try and find another singer. When I think back and reflect on all the time I've wasted with
bands because we did like the singers voice but.....sigh.
 

Spreggy

Silver Member
I would just tell him you're gonna play gigs, and for him to make a decision quickly so you can find a singer.
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
The singer sounds like a no win situation. If you coddle him, he will keep being a little bitch until everything melts down. If you are honest with him, he will cry about it.


My advice is, everybody else should start singing.

Putting all your efforts behind one player is not a great plan. You may not be able to sing all the songs you want to play but you can find music that you enjoy and is in your range.
 
Thanks everyone for the input. Here's how it has shaken out as of last night: I convinced the bass and guitar players to talk it out with the old singer. The position they all have now is that the singer is welcome to join us for a few numbers from time to time, but that we are going ahead with the new guy. As I mentioned, in adition to a good voice, he brings rythym guitar and harmonica to the group. We hope to be back on stage within a couple of months and that's what it's all about. I am glad the others have thrashed things out because I had grown tired of trying to keep everyone happy. I'm a drummer...all I want is to hit stuff and maybe find a groupie to carry my gear.
 
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