So You Want Me To Be In Your Band: Singer & Drummer Problem

A follow up "So You Want Me To Be In Your Band: The Basics" articles. Dealing with a srummer and vocalist problem: finding the right drummers important because rhythm determines what style of music you're playing. Most of the time musicians don't understand the frontman's role: no, he's not just another member of the band.

Ultimate Guitar

What's up all? Boy Wonder here, I was the guy that wrote So You Want Me To Be in Your Band: The Basics. I read the responses and zakk_wylde4's response stood out. He said I wish someone would write an article about why it's so hard to find singers and drummers. I decided that I would take a stab at it. Now I'm gonna be going all over the place trying to explain this cause I'm a bit of a scatter brain but I'll do the best I can to organize my thoughts

We've all been in this situation, we've got songs, and we've got passion. We even have something resembling a lineup but we don't have anybody to keep the beat. Finding the right drummers important because rhythm determines what style of music you're playing. Hell it took me 3 years to find someone I was completely happy with.

  • Drummer Problem # 1: Drummers are hard to find

    They just are (I know they are in Philly). Drum kits are expensive so not a lot of people have them. There aren't a great deal of music programs in public school so kids aren't learning how to play them. You don't have a whole lot of options unless you have a friend that plays drums.

  • Drummer Problem # 2: Good Drummers are even harder to find

    You finally find someone, you guys talk on the phone a few times, he seems like a cool guy personality wise he's a really good fit so you set up an audition. He shows up on time, you bring his kit to wherever you rehearse, you start to play, and he's terrible. To top all of it off it took you six months to track this guy down. You're back at square one. It's really Slim Pickens unfortunately

  • Drummer Problem # 3: You need a drummer, and they know that

    A good drummer always has a plethora of options. They know that so a drummer can really have you by the balls. That can be a problem. I've often found that the other members of the band are always accommodating the drummer. You have to rehearse at his house because he doesn't wanna lug his kit around. You tell him not to play so loud, he ignores you. He feels like he can do whatever he wants and he has no problem walking and finding another band if he' not into what's goin on.

  • So how do you find one?

    Try the whole six degrees of separation thing. Somebody you know knows somebody that knows somebody that plays drums. Ask around. As bad as it sounds go to shows and talk to the drummers in the different bands and see if you can borrow or steal them for your group. Play out. Even if it's just you. Play at open mics and stuff, you never know when you'll run into a guy that happens to play drums. That's all I have on that subject

    Moving on to a topic that's near and dear to my heart...

  • The Frontman

    Being a singer myself I can understand how difficult it is to deal with them. I feel like most of the time other musicians don't understand the frontman's role, they just see them as another person in the band. Be nice if it were that way but it's not. When your looking for a singer and you find a good one, one that can really front a band there are certain things you have to understand about them.

    First off they have a huge ego! He/She might not be an ass but someone who commands attention from a crowd of people has to think very highly of himself.

    Secondly you have to understand the pressure that he/she's under. The singer is going to make or break your band. The rest of the band gets to hide behind your instruments while all eyes are on him. If he doesn't deliver your band sucks. That's why when a band's on tour and the drummer get sick he can be replaced, and no one will be the wiser (nothing against drummers) but if the singers got a sore throat the show's cancelled.

    He/she has to feel like he can trust and rely on the rest of the band for backup. I can do whatever I want on stage cause I got two guys playing behind me that I'd take to war. If your singer doesn't trust you it'll never be as good as it could be cause he's waiting for it all to spin out of control. If he/she can trust you they'll let go every show and they'll kick ass.

    You can't change them, they are who they are and it's best to find someone else if you're not satisfied.

    I find a lot of friction exists between the singer and whoever's the leader of the band (if it isn't the same person) whoever that may be. Once you settle on someone and you get a few rehearsals in and the honeymoon period is over the fights start. So what do they fight about?

    Mainly the music. The bands been practicing for months and this prick with the microphone wants to come in and change everything cause he's got an ego problem. Why doesn't he just do what I tell him?

    Now in this situation there's one thing you have to know; you may be the leader but he's the boss. The guy with the microphone has to be in control of what's happening on that stage. If he wants you to slow down or speed up, drop or raise a song a half step, or to go on his cues it's only gonna enhance your performance. You're the coach and he's the quarterback and you gotta give him the ball and let him score with it. Why? Cause everybody's looking at him. You have all the time in the world to be equals. But when it has to do with being on that stage he needs to be in charge. If you don't want some premadonna taking over your band step in front of the mic yourself. If the songs are good and don't require vocals that shake a room than you'll be alright. Hendrix couldn't sing a lick, Dylan can't either John Mayer's not the best vocalist on the planet, neither is Clapton (I'm sure you get the point). An honest vocal goes a long way.

    All that to say, singers are so hard to find because, there aren't many great ones and when you find one you wanna control them, once you find the right person and you realize that you can't control them you might find that you have something special on your hands. I hope all this rambling helps.

  • 62 comments sorted by best / new / date

      With singers though, the ONLY times I've dealt with them since my first band in high school oh so many years ago have been with "sit-in" or "hired gun" arrangements when I've needed the practice and/or extra cash and have done some cover-band gigs. At least till recently, when I started working with a singer for a new original project. I found that this person can't do the job any better than the bassist or myself, and now I'm having to tell the "frontperson" to do their job or ship out. One problem I've always had is that 99% of ALL people whose "job" it is to hold a microphone just don't impress me. To me, unless someone is just an undeniably POWERFUL presence (like Brian Johnson, Glenn Danzig or even Lady Gaga), I don't wanna' have that lukewarm mundanity fronting my band, especially if they can't sing any better than the rest of us. To top it off, most vocalists also love to take credit (even when they haven't written ANY material to speak of) for the glory of the band, and think they're too good to either own a good chunk of the PA gear (aka: THEIR "amp") or to help with loading and/or setting up. Yeah, I think I'm just gonna' get 'faced on JD one night and bring all this up nice and
      I'm not sure if I necessarily agree with some of the stuff you said here. It's a great article for sure though. However, I am a singer/lead guitar player in a four piece, and I think that our music works much more cohesively if we all work together to write our songs. Granted, the creative edge is normally split between me and the other guitar player, but we all value each others inputs. Plus, great bands like Tool have a similar writing approach and sound, where all things have a part. The idea that the lead singer/frontman is the boss seems kind of archaic to me. But yeah, I do have a pretty huge ego, but it's only because I'm beautiful.
      AHHHHH!! !!!!! GENIO US!! PURE GENOUSITY!! YOU ASSHOLE!! good job, u dick ;p
      im kinda stuck.....there's only three of us in the band, but each of us can do different stuff. me- guitar+vocals, steffi- vocals, piano+basic guitar, and kirsten- bass, drums, and piano. arghhh wot do we do?
      original_rocker let steff do lead vocals and have her play bass cuz its easier than guitar, u do back up vocals and guitar, then have kristen play drums (good drummers are hard to find)
      *** both r hard to find. What i do is just amke everyone in the band practice singing and eventually u all get good enough to get by on a song u obviously cant hit notes like freddy mercury but it sounds good and the drumming problem i fixed by getting my little brother a drumset. that worked out nicely
      haha i totaly agree im a singer in a band and they cant repace me for two reasons 1. Im the only person that knows all the timeing right 2. im not the best singer in the world but im the only one that they all get along with and that can play every thing we write.. We can replace the drummer quickly tho we have had 3 im the past few months not because we didnt get along tho now we have all the original members agian.. Great Article i Enjoyed it
      Great artical again! Im the singer in our band and I have add that sometimes you have to cater to the singer because they have to sing songs appropriate for there voice. For example we are just a cover band right now and my drummer and lead guitar player and myself all love jammin to AC/DC. But try and sing like Bon Scott or Brian Johnson not everyone can do. I for one am not going to stand on stage and give a lame ass performance of a great AC/DC song cuz my vocals cant scream like that for an entire song. As for Nirvana or Skynyrd all is well
      What you should really worry about is when your band has two leaders who arent the singer, im the singer, and the drummer and one of the guitarists are most definatley in charge as they "formed the band". plus they have some egos on them, which doesnt help me or the other guitarist who are the main songwriters, we wrote a song recently, showed it in rehersals, everyone except the other guitarist liked it and he refuses to do it. prehaps someone should do an article on dealing with band egos other than that of the singer lol. plus i dont have an ego at all, really and im pretty sure most of my friends would agree.
      man, this is a great article. I'm the frontman-er woman of the band and i had no idea what type of power i've got! This boosted my ego! that o good thing? lol
      I Walk Alone
      Ahhh, good article, I need a drummer so bad...I'm a singer though so I know what you mean. In Texas bass players are hard to find, but I got one by being lucky...
      Really good article, I play bass and im the only person in my school that plays bass, and I'm in two different bands and both of the singers think they control everyhting, and it pisses me off. I'm sick of that bullshit, the bassist never gets any credit. But great article.
      mm Im a singer myself, the thing is, due to the area i live in i had to find a band with people whom i enjoy being with, may they be good or bad at their instruments, i was purely a singer and later i became a guitarist to show the kind of chords i wanted or the way i wanted it and we share ideas, a band is a thing of creativity also a social activity, you must have both, you cannot live one without the other. As far drummers are concerned, i found a band with a good drummer who turned out to be a guitarist as well. its best to know people who understand all intruments to be able to create good music as then you can have opinion from either side. -Adeem
      This was pretty damn good. We have a drummer, but can't find a singer, and can't decide which of us should sing if we ultimately can't find one. I think this gave me a good idea of what to expect out of a frontman, or at least what qualities to look for.
      AMAZING ARTICLE!! Except I have to say, John Mayer is a great singer, and Clapton's not bad either. Hendrix really isn't that great, but he at least gets the job done.
      goood article. being a singer/frontman is hard. i'm glad at least some people realize that.
      kromatik wrote: Too damn right about singers wanting to control everything. We're trying to play metal along the lines of Megadeth and he wants us to sound like bloody Linkin Park!
      yeah know what you mean got a singer who sounded like ozzy but he wanted us to throw some rap songs in there just cause he thought it would be "cool".....he's gone now lol
      original_rocker wrote: im kinda stuck.....there's only three of us in the band, but each of us can do different stuff. me- guitar+vocals, steffi- vocals, piano+basic guitar, and kirsten- bass, drums, and piano. arghhh wot do we do?
      well you can do guitar and vocals so do that. your freind steffi can do basic guitar so put a bass in her hand and have her do backup vocals then have kristen do drums and maybe some backing vocals if shes into it and that should be a good lineup but if that dont work find a really good lead guitar
      Awesome article. Very true. I'm the singer/guitarist/pianist of my band. And i often do feel as though i am pushing the rest of the band around a little. But now i've read this article, i'll definitely be a little more aware about what i'm doing. I have to point out that our drummer is the complete opposite of your description. He's really good but he's not up himself at all. THat may be because there's heaps of awesome drummers at my school.
      Great article, it's all true! I'm a singer/ band leader so I'm happy I don't have to be only one of those things now that I see the trouble it can cause. I lucked out in my old band because I made friends with a really good drummer, but now I moved to Gainesville, Fl and its almost impossible to find drummers. That is so true though that drummers try to make everything revolve around them, when they're in the back and get to hide behind they're set at shows.
      Too damn right about singers wanting to control everything. We're trying to play metal along the lines of Megadeth and he wants us to sound like bloody Linkin Park!
      You hit the spot on the singer potian of your artical . But i dunno about the drummer , sincee i know 5 drummers , they are all really good . Guess im lucky
      Geldof the Grey
      I thought this was going to suck because the title looked like one I've seen here 4 times before, but this was fun to read. Well done. 5!
      Unlucky, kromatik! Good article. Best one I've seen outside Frigginjerk and a couple of others...
      good stuff, damn lead singers taking up all the attention..... i guess that means i just have to riff our more ! haha
      good job ps drummers and singers are even harder to find in kentucky (especially for a punk band)
      Great analysis on singers! I am one and I fit that categorization perfectly. Although that description would be the ego tends to be in check...
      i like this article and i am looking for bothactually i am looking for all parts of a band except a guitarist cause i iam F*ckin Awseme guitarist
      The problem with "steppin' in front of the mic yourself" is that you'll get that ego a frontman does, too after awhile. It'll happen. Other than that, nice article, man.
      The singer/ego thing is bulls**t. Sort of. I sing in a band, and I'm in choir at my scohol, so i come into contact with singers every day. The good ones are either dicks or really good people. There is no gray area. I like to think im not a dick, but you'd have to ask my friends. P.S. Drummers ARE hard to find!
      another problem with drummers is that they can't be still for two seconds. They're always pounding on something... so if you need to tune you have to do it with a freakin' drum solo every time. (at least with all the drummers I've ever had)