This might be one of the most common questions ever

I recently joined a band which has great musicians and great potential. As we are writing original songs, we are also focusing on playing some covers (with our own twist) so we can have enough for an hour's setlist and start playing local gigs. So, we are in the process of arranging the covers. Now, the problem.

I am not on the same page as the band on some of the arrangements. So much so, when I said that I don't like a particular arrangement, they just ignored me and discussed amongst themselves about how awesome it is sounding. Although, I do write a lot of stuff, my ideas are frequently parked. Also, while, I am more focused on having a productive jam, the band members just want to have fun and waste several minutes aimlessly noodling. But they are pretty serious about the band too.

I have been told in the past that my tone is pretty rude, so I am avoiding saying anything to not come off as an asshole. How would you guys tackle it? Should I just take a hit for the sake of harmony of the band and let majority win? How do you get people to focus and have a good jam?
I think you may need to do some separation of the sessions.
Have jam/shed sessions where you experiment as a band, noodle, try new things etc. These are the fun nights where you just make some happy noise together.

Have practice sessions where you may only work on 1 or 2 pieces but hit them hard. These can be a bit of a grind, but this is where the pieces that have been practised at home get to be worked on together.

Have rehearsals where you work on a set list for a gig. The pieces should have been played in the practice sessions, and you are ironing out the wrinkles in transitions etc.

The band need to discuss these in meetings, and know when to expect what to happen. My group get together twice a week after work. Once to jam, and once to practice or rehearse (depending on if we have a gig coming up). We do a mini meeting at the end of each session to plan the next one, 10-15 minutes tops.

As for resolving the disagreements, you might need to present ideas in a different way. The jam sessions are a good way to start, as it's a case of "try something new." I can't give you advice on how to vocalise it other than try to be open to their stuff, then add suggestions for improvements, "I like how that sounded, can we try it again, and try adding this into it, I think that may add to it" You don't want it to come across as "that was a pile of w@nk, this sounds amazing" because that 's a quick way to being Billy-no-mates. Constructive criticism is a balance of putting improvements forward, without overtly offending the other person. If you can explain why the improvements work, the better. Don't go too softly either and end up just kissing @ss for the sake of it.

The whole band is about compromise to make the music better. You may need to have a meeting (no instruments) and discuss the matters openly, and all get on track for where the band is headed.
Last edited by Sephiroth976 at May 14, 2014,
I'll try and help, but I don't think there really are any real solutions for this.
I'll try and explain how it is in my band, if you don't want to read the essay just skip to the ending and that's my conclusion on it.

In my band there are 2/3 creative minds out of 5 members. (it's a technical/progressiveish metalcore band I guess) Me, the guitarist, I write all the riffs, all the different textures, take care of the harmonies and all that stuff.. the chords.. and I am fine by that I love writing music and if I'm honest, if they told me to write every single thing, I would. However the drummer in my band hasn't really got any knowledge on harmony and that kind of music theory whatsoever. But he does have a creative mind for rhythm and that...

So because of our genre, writing songs is often based around me writing a riff or 2 that everybody seems to like, I think of an alternative, harmonised version or so for the other - rhythm guitarist as well as the bassist (who don't write things and rarely participate in the writing process properly other than "I like that")
After we got the riff/s and the drummer finds a beat to it, we often just play the riff/s and see where it goes. Sometimes I make another riff, sometimes I start playing another riff I remember, sometimes the drummer comes up with some rhythmic thing... In the meanwhile while we write the instrumentals, our vocalist always just makes lyrics on the go or when he's working/driving or whenever he feels like it really so he has a bunch of lyrics, some with more priority than the others. After we get a couple riffs together and it starts sounding like a song he comes into play and says he's got lyrics for them parts and just thinks of things off the top of his head. Sometimes it's singing a riff or he says "we should go into a chorus there" or "we should have a really fast part there" etc. With him it's usually that we either like the idea or we don't so we just take it into consideration and about half the time we do something following or inspired by his ideas.
Overall he is fine with that as he understands that we are the actual writing force and he just throws ideas into the work we're in the middle of doing. Which is good, he gives us space to create the music, but also tries to contribute in helping us out with our parts.

However, with me and the drummer it tends to be different. As I said I am the harmony/riff creative force in the band, while he is more of the rhythmic force. So most of the breakdowns and some heavy parts are made by him. So it is a good balance in away, but on the other hand we come to disagreements very often. I think there should be some kind of a fast paced, shredding riff while he thinks it should be a very slow and complicated breakdown pattern. The key I think is trying to combine these two and put both elements together but it just does not work every time. So one of us has to simply step down and maybe use their idea later on in the song. However if we simply do not step down from our ideas... we obviously start arguing about the ideas, then we ask all the others to vote out what do they think and ask them for input. If after that we are still undecided or the others don't have much opinion about it, we usually just scratch them ideas and go back to it next week or just apply other ideas there. Very often though we decide to try and use both of these ideas in different places. So let's say after some part of a verse I think we should go into a very melodic, clean part, but the drummer thinks there should be a complicated breakdown, we simply use a clean part there and the breakdown after the next verse.

I hope this helped somehow. Sorry about the big essay, I tried to give as much detail as possible to see if any of it inspires you a little bit more. Basically try and find compromises, if you really like an idea, show that, but don't fight over it. Offer things like "what if we try to combine these two" or "what if we use one now and the other later" etc. Sometimes you will HAVE to step down though, but that should be the same with the other members too though. If the majority do agree, and you disagree though, sometimes it is better to step down than get them to step down though seeing as more members like one idea than the other.

OH YEAH! And most importantly of all. Talk about this. Talk about this openly and calmly after or before a practice. Or even go to a pub for a drink and talk about it.

EDIT: The comment above is definitely right. My band for example only gets one practice session a week, so what we do is we start off by going over a bunch of songs, and then the second half of the practice is having a jam and working out some new things. However if we have a gig to prepare to we often leave out the jam part. After all, each and every single one of you has to think "Why do we all prefer to be together in a BAND rather than just writing our own music and getting people to play it for us?"
Last edited by Carl LOG at May 14, 2014,
Don't just say 'I don't like that arrangement'. Say 'I'm not loving this arrangement, can we try it like this:'.

Bands are about compromise, but at the same time, you need to have a direction you want to take something you don't like. A suggested solution to your own problem.

I run into a similar problem with my drummer. He'll say something 'doesn't sound right' or 'can you play it higher/lower/etc'. Most of the time it's a load of bullshit. I make an effort to fix it (which your band doesn't seem to want to do), but unless he has a solution, 9/10 I keep what I was originally playing.

If your band won't give you the time of day with that, than you need to either accept that they don't want your input and just play, start writing better parts, or find another band.

If they're not loving what you're bringing to the table, then maybe it's time to record some demos at home of your ideas and bring them in and then they can add/change their parts to fit the sound of the band.

It just sounds to me that when you bring something to the table, it's not getting communicated well. Whether that's because of your presentation (they just can't 'hear it'), or they're not willing to give what you're saying a shot, you guys need to work it out, and that may involve talking on the phone with one of them.

The other thing it might be is that you say you just joined. I was in a band once where, even though I had some good ideas, I was just the 'hired gun'. They basically told me what to play and the only freedom I had was during guitar solos. I eventually got sick of it, but I stayed in that band for nearly a year because I was actually playing out at mid-sized venues and that was cool.

In either situation, it sounds like you need to talk to them and get your role straightened out. If you are just the 'hired gun', than that's something you need to know. Get on the phone! I wouldn't do it in the middle of practice because that's a hell of a lot more awkward, but if they value you as a member, than no one's going to take offence to you calling and saying: "Hey, I kinda feel like I'm not being allowed to contribute to what we're doing, and I'd like to be a part of it. What's the deal? Do you guys not like what I'm bringing to the table? Is it in the wrong style? Am I not communicating it well? etc etc".

You'll get an answer, provided that they're somewhat decent human beings.
Quote by Heminator89
I recently joined a band which has great musicians and great potential.

If they really are great musicians, I would trust their decisions as far as not liking a riff or an idea, but still giving input. Like mjones1992 said, you are the new guy so they might have not opened up to you yet.

I have been told in the past that my tone is pretty rude, so I am avoiding saying anything to not come off as an asshole.

You don't have to say anything to come of as rude. Your actions, body language, and all that can give off a bad vibe. If I were in the band and we had a new guy come in a throw down all of these ideas in a rude way, I wouldn't be to stoked either. I'm not saying you ARE being rude, I'm just saying to stop and think about if you're being over dramatic.

The best thing to do is just talk to the guys and figure out what works for the band as a whole.
Last edited by Hardlycore at May 15, 2014,