You've got a band going with some of your good friends that you've known since you were little. Everyone in the band mutually agrees that it's going good and you couldn't possibly be having more fun writing and playing together. Your band has started soaring on a local level, played out a few times, and even gone to other cities and performed in front of audiences of thousands. There are people constantly asking for contact information, demo CDs, anything they can get their hands on concerning your band. Your band has put together a demo CD of about 5 songs, you're about to get yourself a record label and given airtime on a local radio station.
Then, you realize that it just isn't fun anymore. Maybe all the tedious hours you spent recording your demo has gotten to you. Maybe you've gotten tired of spending so much time with your band members that you were friends with that you can't stand them any longer. But you wouldn't want to just drop it and ruin everything for your other band mates now that they've come so far and are so close to attaining what they seek, would you?
I was in a band not too long ago with 3 other friends of mine, and that's exactly what happened to us. It wasn't my first band, but it was for everyone else. To understand how this all came about, you'd need a scenario of how we used our talents together in a band, and how we acted to each other in our everyday lives.
I was the lead guitar player and the backup singer. Everyone knew me to be the best guitarist they'd ever seen, the other guys in my band admitted to me several times that they were not as good of musicians as me and greatly respected me for my level of skill and knowledge of music. I appreciate most styles of music and am particularly influenced by bands like Metallica, SRV, Rush, and Van Halen, to name a few.
The drummer was only mediocre, and many also knew this. He wasn't good at varying his beats, and he scarcely did any impressive fills. Hell, my little brother could play drums better than him. All he was good at was keeping the beat. He was not very cultured as far as music goes, and therefore, his playing ability was also limited.
The bass player was a very quick learner, much like I was, and enjoyed the same styles of music as I did. We usually agreed on most things when we had discussions and seldom had any arguments when writing songs. Though he had been playing for the shortest time of the 4 of us, it was scary how much better he got every time we practiced.
Now for the final member: the lead singer. He was, by far, the most difficult to get along with. Not only did he not know very much about music theory, but also his singing voice was sub-par at best. He could have been much better if he had listened to the people that knew what they were doing when they offered him suggestions, but true to many bands' lead singer, his ego was growing ever larger (like it wasn't big enough to start with). He did play acoustic guitar and was extremely fond of John Mayer and other artists like him. I never cared much for John Mayer, myself. Because of the lead singer's seriously limited musical tastes, he only played about one kind of song that usually consisted of 4 chords or less and always in the only key he knew how to play in. Every time we would practice, he would constantly play the same damn C Major, G Major chord progression over and over until I wanted to kill myself (seriously, it was that bad!).
Now that you know our background, we can look into our downfall as a music group.
We had just returned from a show that we played in front of an audience of about 2500. It was a fun gig and afterwards, a man approached me and handed me a card for his radio station, saying that he wanted us on the air. I was only slightly shocked, though, because I knew we were a good band and we deserved to be on the radio. Our demo CD was finished and we planned to begin selling them as soon as we mailed the copyrights in to Washington
Before this, we had several talks about where we wanted to go with our overall sound. We never achieved an actual result, however, and we continued to write progressively more boring and worse songs. I didn't want to put up with it! I considered myself a rocker and would not stoop to a level (or several levels) below me to play songs that I didn't enjoy playing. I grew more distant from my band, and began to come up with songs completely on my own (minus the lyrics).
Finally, I called a meeting with the 3 of them and I announced to them that I was leaving the band. I had talked about leaving earlier to the bass player and drummer, but not worked anything out. Whether the 2 of them told the lead singer beforehand what I was thinking, I'm not sure of, but when I told them collectively at our meeting, none of them had much to say except "Why?"
Indeed. Why would I take all of the money we were about to make, the friendships we had strengthened, and music we had written, and just flush it all down the crapper? I had several reasons for doing so, and hopefully, this will help those of you that may be in this situation, or have already experienced it and want to stray as far away as possible from your mistakes.
1. My musical ideas were not being used as much as I had hoped. More often than not, we were writing songs that the lead singer wanted to write. Songs that were usually slow, acoustic, and just outright boring. Not putting down acoustic music, though. I love to listen to great acoustic songs and solos, but the acoustic guitar playing I'm talking about is comprised of only a few chords and very little variety.
When I showed my new creations to the other band members, the bass player was the only one who supported my ideas. The drummer really didn't care and the lead singer was almost completely against it. Needless to say, they were rejected as a whole, once again.
There was a huge and obvious genre clash between the lead singer and I. He liked acoustic ballads. I like metal, blues, and funky jazz. Perhaps those can be combined without having to argue about how a new song should sound, but not in this band.
2. We began as a band that was set out to "make music and have fun." As we progressed, our goals changed to more of a "get things done, less time for fun" attitude. One of the original reasons I was in the band was to have fun, and now that it wasn't fun anymore, there wasn't much of a reason for staying.
3. I wanted to become a better musician. Sure, everybody does! I believe that there are many ways to accomplish this, but one that I have found to be true is to play with people that are better than you. (The other most effective and obvious way is to practice often and start slowly until you can increase speed without making mistakes) You won't get much better by playing with a couple of rookies that just started last Tuesday and want to be in a band because they know how to keep a steady rhythm for most of the time.
While the 3 of them used the argument that it was selfish of me to leave them when I was the one who could make or break the band, I insisted that it was time for me to move on and try to find some different people. At the time, I didn't care a great deal about how much it meant to them, because it was all about me! I was the hotshot guitarist that could blaze through these songs in my sleep!
I've come to understand now that I'm not the greatest thing ever since sliced bread. Whether I thought it or not, I was the one with the ego that needed to be humbled. That's what happened, too. I started listening to Steve Vai, Liquid Tension Experiment, and other progressive rock bands of that sort and it blew my mind how good they were! I couldn't believe how much they could do and how little I knew about music.
So, for a recap:
1. Make sure that when you get in a band, you have similar musical tastes. They don't all have to be the same, and it would make for a boring band if they were.
2. If you aren't having fun in your band, then there's no point in continuing. You're only torturing yourself. Unless you are someone that just started and is becoming frustrated with learning your instrument, you should find a band that you enjoy playing with.
3. Find some people that are better than you to play with. You don't want to end up with a mix of a Van Halen for a guitarist and a kid who just bought a $90 starter Squier guitar pack. You'll both become frustrated with each other and will ultimately result in the lack of passion for the band.